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Elmsford's Grady, Dixson Welcome New Principal

ELMSFORD, N.Y. – When September rolls around, students at Elmsford's Alice E. Grady Elementary School and Carl L. Dixson Primary School will meet their new principal, Madeline Paneto-Gonzalez.

"Welcome to the start of the 2012-2013 school year," she said at a morning meet and greet session last week. "We are going to have a great year. I believe that great things are going to happen."

Fresh off of her June 25 appointment to the job, Paneto-Gonzalez said she aims to improve instruction and get to know each child individually to improve the schools.

"I love children and children know that I love them by what I say and by what I do," she said. "But I run a tight ship because I expect the best of them. So there will be no nonsense. They are better than that, and that will always be my message to them."

About 20 parents and staff members gathered in the Grady library to listen to Paneto-Gonzalez talk about her goals and objectives for the upcoming year. Expressing that she enjoys reading to children, she read the children's book "It Takes a Village" by Jane Cowen-Fletcher to symbolize that it is a group effort to raise a child.

Paneto-Gonzalez said she wants Grady and Dixson to be associated with greatness. She described them as being the children's "home away from home" and said the students should be a reflection of the environment.

"I always have the belief that you get more bees with honey than with vinegar," she said with a laugh. "I will always have my jar of honey out and ready to go. However, the bottle of vinegar is not far."

Moving into her new position, Paneto-Gonzalez said she wants to make as many families as happy as possible, but she realizes that not everyone will be happy with all of her decisions. She said she brings a wealth of experience with 26 years as an educator, which will help her make the most efficient decisions, but she is also a lifelong learner and is open to suggestions.

In an effort to learn more about the Elmsford community, Paneto-Gonzalez encouraged parents to send ideas and feedback that she will share with the Grady and Dixson teachers. The school is also planning to implement "early release Wednesday" for staff planning.

Paneto-Gonzalez was an assistant principal in Ramapo for a decade, and she has taught kindergarten through grade 12. She has been married for more than 20 years and has four children.

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