AMHS Spotlight: Ms. Stephens!


Hey reader! We’re pretty sure you’ve already heard that our high school has a new principal this year, and if you’re anything like us, you must be at least a little curious about who she is and what brought her to Amityville. Well, you’ve come to the right place (!) because we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Stephens for the ECHO.

Ms. Stephens proudly told us that high school is her favorite age group. She loves the students and loves the processes involved in high school. She thinks preparing students for their future, college, careers, and educational programs is fantastic. When she was the district’s ENL director, she used to visit all of the schools in the district and quickly saw that AMHS was the place for her. “I just saw myself fitting in here and encouraging students with their opportunities,” she said.

When asked to rate her experience so far, she happily gave it a “10+” rating. She went on to say how welcomed she feels by the student body and the staff. Reciprocating their affection, she makes an effort to greet the buses in the mornings, visit classrooms and the cafeteria, as well as say hello to students in the halls. 

Although Ms. Stephens absolutely loves working here, some aspects of the job are better than others. For example, Ms. Stephens pointed out that her least favorite part of the day is the early start (we feel you on that, Miss). Driving in the dark to work has been a shift for her that she’s had to adjust to, but it’s worth it since her favorite part about being in the high school is getting to work with its students. Ms. Stephens told us that she really likes building relationships with students, even if they don’t always display the same enthusiasm. Ms. Stephens seems to truly care about her students and what they go through. 

We then asked Ms. Stephens if she sees anything within AMHS that needs some sort of change. Although “change” isn’t the word she would use, Ms. Stephens does aspire to add onto the existing culture here. Being that she is active in a department that deals with inclusivity, equity, and diversity (D.E.I.), she believes that the understanding of culture and diversity is strongly needed in the school for interconnection.  

As amazing as all of this may sound, I bet you are curious about her roots and background…

Ms. Stephens grew up in East Northport and attended the Half Hollow Hill School District. Afterward, she did her undergrad in English at Binghamton, just like some of our teachers here in the Ville! Surprisingly, teaching wasn’t her initial career path. Up until her senior year in college, she was studying and planning to become an attorney, but through a special volunteering program, she discovered that education was her true passion. She moved back to Long Island to become an administrator and worked in the Language Department for 16 years. She became the ENL director for the Amityville Union Free School District for around 6 years prior to being appointed by the BOE to become our new principal. 

“I felt so blessed when the BOE appointed me to be the principal here,” she told us, and then spoke about how she felt supported and comfortable in her new position, especially since she already knew many of the teachers and staff. Being an English major herself, Ms. Stephens admitted that her favorite department is English, specifically ENL and languages. Overall though, Ms. Stephens loves seeing passionate teachers ignite passion in students, regardless of the subject matter.

Some fun facts about her include her love for Bighamton’s Phys Ed. classes! Laughing at the quizzical look on our faces, she told us that she took P.E. every semester, even after it wasn’t required. Horseback riding, ice skating, and karate(!) were some of her favorite activities from those classes, so it’s understandable why she loved taking them! While on the topic of fun things, Ms. Stephens also spoke about her favorite hobbies which include reading, attending spin class, and cooking. She also loves listening to music. Interestingly enough, if she had to choose a different career, she would become a race car driver– a childhood fantasy of hers!

Ms. Stephens admitted to us that she never felt very talented when it came to the arts. As a child, her parents tried to enroll her in piano lessons, but she was never very good at playing an instrument or drawing/painting. In spite of this, she always loved music, especially happy songs. She understands the importance of music in our lives. She believes the addition of the art wing really rounds out the school. 

Although she isn’t much of a lunch eater in general, and has never tried the cafeteria “schoolie,” she believes that the food choices are really good in the school. Apparently, Ms. Buatsi, the assistant superintendent for finance and resources, has been working hard to improve the school lunch quality here at AMHS. Some improvements can be seen in the breakfast menu, with the bagels and other food items actually being catered from a local bagel shop; as well as lunch deli meats coming in from extremely reputable companies. They are also working on including more food options for those with dietary limits or preferences, as well as diversifying meals to incorporate more cultural dishes for students. 

Some new policies implemented this school semester are the Mood Meter and the mandatory wearing of IDs for students. When we inquired about these topics, Ms. Stephens made sure to emphasize their importance and relevance to our students. First, the rule that students should wear IDs was reviewed by the Board of Education, just like all other rules and policies, before implementing it in our school environment. Ms. Stephens then elaborated on the safety issues in our modern time which encouraged the creation of this rule. She views the students as if they’re her own children and believes safety should be a top priority. She explains why they check our IDs most frequently during morning entry and cafeteria entry, simply because that is where the greatest collection of students occurs. She briefly brought up the homecoming issues from last year, further supporting her point on the necessity of students being required to wear IDs. In regards to the Mood Meter, Ms. Stephens also stated that, “Awareness about our social and emotional health is important for adults and students,” and “I think this program is going to help us move forward [from Covid’s tragedy].” Ms. Stephens believes that the Mood Meter, which is a part of the RULER program, will help us to increase human connection, recover, and rebuild. 

Overall, it’s safe to say that AMHS has a wonderful principal who is driven and passionate about education and creating positive opportunities for students. She also knows how to connect with the student body and staff– making the building more united, supportive, and loving. She’s all you want in a principal and we are so grateful to have her here. We believe that she will leave a great legacy at Amityville Memorial High School!