Dear Members of the SSIS Community –
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Donna Norkeliunas who will join our elementary school as Assistant Principal this summer. Dr. Norkeliunas will work together with our elementary principal, Dr. Dan Keller, to provide both administrative and curricular leadership for our largest division in the school.
Dr. Norkeliunas is originally from New York in the United States. She earned her Bachelors in elementary education from the State University of New York (Cortland), her Master’s in the same field from SUNY New Paltz, and her Doctorate in education from Lynn University in K-12 Leadership. Over the span of her career she has taught primary (elementary school), served as the Educational Director for the Franconian International School in Germany, worked with diverse populations of students with EAL and support needs, as well as with gifted students, and served on school-wide leadership teams.
Dr. Norkeliunas comes to us from the Community School of Naples (CSN) where she currently serves as Lower School Head (Elementary Principal), a position she has held for the past eleven years. The Community School of Naples is one of the premier private, independent schools in the state of Florida, with a mission to “inspire and empower students to realize their own potential as engaged learners and responsible global citizens.” During her tenure at CSN, Dr. Norkeliunas has had many accomplishments:
- Redesigned the Lower School’s curriculum to focus on trans-disciplinary integration and project-based learning.
- Developed a partnership with Columbia University’s Center for Technology and School Change to support comprehensive curricular improvement.
- Developed a sense of community within the Lower School, where she has been noted for her warm connections with students, staff, and parents.
- Developed a professional learning community by fostering a culture that supports respect, reflection, and professional growth for all faculty members.
- Initiated new programs, including the CSN Summer Institute, expansion of the pre-kindergarten program, and Girls on the Run (a positive youth development program that innovatively weaves training for a 5K run with lessons that empower girls to celebrate their bodies, honor their voices, and embrace their gifts. The success of this program also led to a boys running club, which challenges boys to withstand social pressure and overcome obstacles.)
During our search, we received applications from over fifty candidates including several sitting principals and assistant principals, published academics with administrative experience, curriculum coordinators, and school counselors. We read each application with care and marveled at the wealth of experience and the diverse backgrounds. We had a very talented pool of educational leaders who were clearly drawn by the reputation of SSIS which has been built by our teachers and staff. From that number, we selected seven semi-finalists from both external and internal candidates for interviews and then narrowed down our list to our finalists. Throughout the entire process, Dr. Norkeliunas stood out with her experience, vision, and commitment to young learners on as personal, as well as an academic, level.
Dr. Norkeliunas and her husband John, who works for Adidas, have four children. As a tightly knit and supportive family, their home has always been filled with an abundance of activity and energy, and guiding, sharing experiences, and learning with their children has brought them great joy. Their oldest, Kristin, is an elementary school teacher and working on her Masters Degree, Kate is a junior in college currently studying in London, Jack is a freshman at Marist College in New York, and Maddie will enroll at SSIS in Grade 9 next year. Their family is eager to embrace this new chapter in Vietnam. Dr. Norkeliunas and Maddie are planning a visit after the new year, and we look forward to our first opportunity to welcome the them to the SSIS community.
Mark Sylte, Head of School