Former Teacher Returns to Lead Forest Lake

Former Teacher Returns to Lead Forest Lake

Thomas Burke began his career in education in the Wantagh School District, and now he returns as the new principal of Forest Lake Elementary School. Following an extensive search, Mr. Burke was appointed by the Board of Education and was re-introduced to the community on June 15.

His teaching career began at Mandalay Elementary School, where he taught fifth grade for five years. Mr. Burke then moved to Wantagh Middle School, teaching sixth grade for six years. He moved to the neighboring Seaford School District in 2014, spending two years as middle school assistant principal and the past seven years as principal of Seaford Harbor Elementary School.

“I’m excited about returning home where I started as a teacher and reconnecting with staff and the families,” he said. 

During his previous tenure in Wantagh, Mr. Burke became familiar with the well-known phrase, “Forest Lake is a feeling.” Now, he will get to experience that feeling himself as principal, a position he officially begins on July 1.

Mr. Burke said that as a principal, building relationships with staff, families and children is of utmost importance. He also believes that his experience at both the elementary and middle school levels will be an asset to Forest Lake, which serves kindergarten through fifth grade. 

“I know what it’s like to be an elementary teacher,” he said. “I know how hard they work and I know how much they care. Being in a middle school, I know where students have to get to.”

Mr. Burke holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Molloy University, a master’s degree in secondary education and English from St. John’s University and his building and district leadership certificates from St. John’s. At Molloy, he has led workshops for aspiring teachers on first-year teaching experiences and preparing for job interviews. He was recognized by Molloy as its Educator of Excellence in 2023 and he is a member of the Nassau County Elementary School Principals Association.

“Mr. Burke has an extensive background in elementary education and proven leadership skills,” Superintendent John McNamara said. “He is extremely eager to begin his new journey as the principal of Forest Lake Elementary School. He believes in the power of collaboration and open communication, and is committed to working closely with parents, teachers, and staff to provide a nurturing environment for all students.”