When Principal Michael Ragon starts his day at 6:30 a.m., checking emails, greeting security and custodians, and patrolling the school before the first bell rings at 7:05 a.m., it is the most regimented part of his day. From there, his schedule slowly, and sometimes not so slowly, unravels as he meets with staff and students throughout the day, planning events, disciplining, managing, “things can sometimes change very quickly,” he quipped, “but that’s what makes the job interesting.”
An educator for 39 years, 11 of them in Seaford, Ragon will soon trade in his busy schedule for one filled with family, hobbies and teaching part-time as he begins his . He collects stamps and trains, builds models and is restoring a ’67 Camaro. He also is slated to teach two college-level math courses at Pace University in Manhattan.
Recalling his first day in Seaford, he said, “I knew this position was going to be a significant responsibility and task to move a staff in the direction I wanted to go. I am a firm believer in education, and instruction is very important. Education is really the only pathway to a successful life.”
With that in mind, Ragon took on a leadership style that was “firm but fair. I allowed staff to grow but realized some staff needed guidance and direction,” he said.
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Throughout his years in Seaford, his proudest moments have been when a student acknowledges a staff member or even himself, “especially a student who may have had difficulties and made significant improvements in his or her commitment to be successful,” he said. “Quantitatively, moving the school into higher levels of achievement, and having more students accepted into more reputable colleges and universities have been proud moments.”
Bringing some levity to his day recently was the film club who came in to tape him in a skit they pre-planned.
“They gave me an award for my performance,” he said grinning – The Seaford High School Scott Boegle Film Festival Award for Best Faculty Member Performance. “With staff, we have our moments too. They’ve been ‘ranting’ about my push to conserve paper, so I jokingly sent a memo on paper about conserving paper; one staff member pasted it to his door,” he laughed.
Recognizing the social issues related to today’s teens, Ragon addressed them by bringing in outside speakers, initiating new programs and changing protocol. Under his leadership, the Freshman Buddies program was developed by Assistant Principal Carisa Burzynski and staff. The program pairs upperclassman with ninth-graders to help them become acclimated to the high school. Speakers are consistently brought in to discuss bullying and cyber bullying, including well-known speaker John Halligan who lost his son to bullying.
New safety procedures were enacted for students attending proms, which include a mandatory pre-prom meeting and a contract outlining proper behavior at prom that must be signed by students and parents.
“The community is more knowledgeable and committed to addressing the social issues facing students today,” he said.
When asked what his legacy would be, Ragon pensively retorted, a continuation of raising student achievement, improving instruction and educating parents and empowering people in the community. Every district is unique to its culture, traditions and history. Seaford is much steeped in tradition. It is very important. There are generations who have raised their families in the district.
Ragon grew up in Glendale, Queens, holds a Bachelors from York CUNY College and a Masters in Math Education and an Administration Certificate from Queens College. He was inspired to become a teacher when he began helping friends with different subjects and found that he enjoyed the environment. He worked in New York City as a math teacher and as an assistant principal and worked in Lindenhurst school District before coming to Seaford. A 33-year resident of Mineola, Ragon is married to wife, Joyce, has two daughters and sons-in-laws, Christina and Chris, and Jennifer and Marty, and one grandson, Martin.