By Noah Sheidlower
On a given day, Mrs. Jo-AnnEyre Cruz can be found conversing with a large number of students about their schedules, classes, and concerns. In response to these appointments, she develops and implements programs for students who are burdened with school stress to feel more comfortable and confident. After discussing these programs with staff, she can be found laughing with colleagues, making the department a positive work environment.
Mrs. Cruz was appointed Department Chairperson for Guidance, taking over Mrs. Gottesman’s position from last year. “We needed someone who would be comprehensive in approach and understands both the needs of the guidance department and the school,” Principal Susan Elliott said. “Ms. Cruz likes to get a full picture of [her work] and takes care of tasks in an appropriate, efficient way.”
Mrs. Cruz didn’t always have her eyes set on becoming a guidance counselor. After receiving a full academic scholarship to St. Francis College, Mrs. Cruz directed her efforts towards pursuing a career in law. Despite studying law for four years and working as a paralegal for six months, she was persuaded by her husband to give teaching a chance.The idea of guiding young children to success ultimately led her to earn a Masters and a Professional Degree in School Counseling at Manhattan College.
Mrs. Cruz wanted a position on the guidance staff at Great Neck South because she felt that there were many opportunities for her to find new approaches towards helping students and their families overcome obstacles. After years of strengthening the work ethic of the department and her connection with the student body, Mrs. Cruz was promoted to Department Chairperson.
“I think one of the most important qualities of being a leader is having the ability to put the needs of the department and the school in front of your own needs,” Mrs. Elliott said. “I feel that this is something Ms. Cruz is committed to doing.”
Mrs. Cruz hopes to inspire the student body to “take leaps of faith” and try new things. “I never would have thought I would be an educator or work in a high school, yet now it is the best job I could have ever dreamt for myself,” she said. “You never know whether you will like or dislike something until you actually try it for yourself.”