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After Four Years, Hersh Moves On From Peekskill

PEEKSKILL – After marching in the graduation procession at Peekskill High School last month, Assistant Principal Emily Hersh is herself graduating after four years at the school. Hersh is the new principal at Mount Pleasant Blythedale Union Free School District, where she started her career as a special education teacher 20 years ago. The district is unique in that it serves the K-12 needs of children being treated at the Blythedale Children’s Hospital.

“It’s very exciting,” Hersh said. “I stayed here [Blythedale] for 16 years and grew into an instructional leader and left here as an assistant to the principal.”

Hersh said she knew that if she was going to grow as an instructional leader she would need to have a broader range of experience. When she was offered a position at Peekskill High School, she said she jumped at the chance.

“Vincent Burrano, the principal at the time, and the [former] superintendent Judith Johnson gave me that opportunity, and I’ve loved every moment of it,” Hersh said. “I was so excited to go there and establish a strong collaborative environment where teachers, students, parents and administrator would work together and the ultimate goal was the success of each student.”

Coming to work in Peekskill was in some ways like coming home, Hersh said. “I grew up in Cortlandt and for my whole life we were known as Peekskill - our ZIP code was Peekskill,” Hersh said. “I came home from college and my parents told me we had a different zip code and for a few years I refused to change my zip code until the post office decided not to accept it anymore.”

Hersh, who is now working on her doctorate at Manhattanville College, said she will miss Peekskill and the students, parents and fellow educators she’s leaving behind. “It’s an incredible, wonderful place,” Hersh said. “There’s so much diversity, which is celebrated in Peekskill. That was evident when I got there and through the time that I spent there. It’s a wonderful small town, and there’s a combination of the city and the suburbs so you have a little of everything there.”

Hersh said her advice to aspiring educators is to take advantage of every opportunity they are given, no matter how small. “You never know what other opportunity that one will lead to,” Hersh said. Hersh ended her tenure at Peekskill last week watching the graduation of her freshman class from four years ago.

“It was nice to see them through, and in addition we had a graduate who was in my kindergarten class at Mount Pleasant Blythedale,” Hersh said. “It’s funny how everything comes full circle.”

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