An interview with Harbor School’s Erik Glazner—A New Principal’s Transition
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, we conducted a phone interview with Erik Glazner Supervisor of Instruction for the RKS Associates Schools of New Jersey. Erik talks about how he is transitioning to the role of Principal of Harbor School in Eatontown, New Jersey after the retirement of Anne Gunteski this year.
A Challenging yet Interesting Transition
Given the current situation with COVID-19, I am still on track to start my role as the principal of Harbor School in July after Anne’s retirement. It was just about a month before we were ordered by the governor to participate in virtual learning that my schedule changed to remain at Harbor School full time in order to be mentored by Anne for my new role as principal. Before that, in my current role as Supervisor of Instruction, I was traveling back and forth between Gateway, Alpha, and Harbor Schools. The change to remain at Harbor helped me get more involved in the daily operations at Harbor School. This was crucial to my transition.
Now, that schools have gone virtual, I am involved with the daily operations in ways that were completely unexpected. I am in contact with districts on a daily basis, scheduling IEP meetings, discussing student and family concerns, and providing information regarding virtual home instruction. Based on new legislation and requirements, I also revise Harbor School’s Emergency Preparedness Plan, as well as any other required documents requested by the state or districts.
If we were still in the physical school, all these responsibilities would have been handled by Anne and Brian (Brian Dorgan/Supervisor of Instruction at Harbor) and I would have been there shadowing. But now, in the virtual setting, we’re each taking on our own roles, each one vital to the daily management of the school.
During virtual home learning, it has also been so important that we communicate with our staff, students, and families. This has not been easy for everyone, so we are putting a lot of effort into providing support on a daily basis. Parents have become teachers, our teachers have become virtual instructors, and our students have become virtual learners.
This has been such a big adjustment for everyone, so it has become important, more than ever, that everyone knows we are here to support their needs.
A Strong Background in Special Education
When I was in high school, I was an after-school counselor. In that program, there were typical students as well as students with special needs. Not really understanding my full interest in special education at that time, I gravitated towards helping the students with special needs. I really bonded with them. When I went to college, I majored in English Literature, thinking I was going to become a writer or editor.
After graduating, I did become an editor, but quickly realized that this was not my career path. Working with students with special needs was always in my heart. I decided to go back to school and get a Master’s Degree in Special Education. My sister-in-law was a Speech Therapist at a private school at that time, and she thought it would be a good idea for me to substitute there. The following year, they offered me a full-time position as a Special Education teacher, and there went my career. I was in the classroom for about 11 years. While I loved being in the classroom, I also became involved in so many different aspects of the school. My involvement led the Principal to ask me to go back to school to get my Supervisor’s and Principal’s certificates. At first, I did not want to; I loved working so closely with my students. But I soon realized that I was able to have that close contact with the students while, at the same time, still having an impact on so many other things happening in the school beyond my classroom.
I enrolled in a 2-year program through the NJPSA/FEA (New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association/Foundation for Educational Administration) called NJEXCEL, and I received my Supervisor’s and Principal’s certificate. I was a supervisor for two years, before taking on the role as the Assistant Principal. After a few years, my wife and I decided to move to Southern New Jersey, at which time I found out about the RKS Schools. I applied for the Supervisor of Instruction role and have been in that role for three years. When the opportunity for the principal role opened, I applied for that position and will now assume that role on July 1.
Goals as the New Principal of Harbor School
My first goal as the new principal of Harbor School is to help everyone get back to their normal lives and their normal routines as best as possible. Our whole lives have been changed and shifted due to the Coronavirus. We’ve rapidly gone into a virtual world, and people are craving normalcy.
This has been difficult for so many people in so many ways, but right now we must stay home because health and safety are the most important thing. But there will come a day when we return to school, and when that happens, I want to be right there, along with the Harbor Team, to bring us back to a feeling of safety and security.
Who We Are at Harbor School
We are all in this together! We have a really strong team at Harbor School, and we are going to get through this. We are truly a family that leans on each in good times and in bad times, and it has really shown throughout this process. It has been amazing to see how everyone stayed so strong in the face of adversity. But, during my time at Harbor School, if there is one thing that I have learned, that’s just who we are!
Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ