When putting a team together, we have learned, the most important thing to do is find a leader. A person who can inspire. An individual who can lift a group of men and women, boys and girls, above mediocrity and allow them to sing. To encourage the group to perform at its best.
We are terribly saddened to hear that Joan Frisicano has decided to leave her position as principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School because she has been such a leader. She has inspired a generation of students and led a team of educators to create a school that has been the envy of the East End and has been one of the reasons why so many families have sought a life on this narrow sliver of land.
Ask any realtor what a prospective client, new to the area, wants to know about the community. The answer is, “How are the schools?”
In Sag Harbor’s case, for the past two decades, with Mrs. Frisicano at the helm of Sag Harbor Elementary, we have been able to say “great.” She took a moribund school in a community that was in the throes of excruciating change and made it in short order a Blue Ribbon school, respected throughout the state. Dinner conversations marveled at the way the school had changed, and in a few short years Sag Harbor Elementary became a reason to choose Sag Harbor as a place to live.
Mrs. Frisicano had a vision when she arrived here, to make the school part of the larger community, and to bring the community into the fold of the school. Each morning, she decided, the entire school community and any parents who wanted, were invited into the school’s auditorium/gymnasium to hear the news of the day, to see what students in the various classes were doing and to join together in song. The floor would be crammed with kids, and parents would be plastered against the back wall, straining to seee their own children, or their neighbor’s children up near the podium.
There would be performances and recitations. Applause for kids who won awards. Plans and proposals for students in the school to work together for some common goal: whether to get themselves in shape or raise money for a needy cause. And always there would be song. A sort of sound track for our children’s lives.
Mrs. Frisicano’s legacy will be that, in a large way, she recognized that the soul of a community is its children. It is the students that first pass through the doors to her school and begin their educational careers who will inherit the village and the hamlets. Who will make the laws and who will teach their own children to sing. There are now dozens of accolytes, teachers and mothers and fathers, who have brought her gospel to the high school and to organizations throughout the community. We’re happy to have the chance to sing her praises.