Shoreham-Wading River preparing for life without Copel

12/22/2010 1:18 PM |

The search is on for a new superintendent in Shoreham-Wading River.

Board members said Tuesday that they’ve been researching the best way to go about finding a new schools chief after current superintendent Harriet Copel announced earlier this month that she will not return when her contract expires June 30.

School board president Jack Costas said he’s used the BOCES search service and private recruiters to identify different methods of going about a superintendent search. Vice president Marie Lindell has called boards of education at other school districts who have recently conducted superintendent searches to see how the process works.

Both Mr. Costas and Ms. Lindell said they’ll be evaluating the ability, experience, and educational and administrative philosophy of superintendent candidates.

“We really need someone who inspires teachers and administrators,” Ms. Lindell said. “We want someone that’s going to be transparent, that’s going to make the community feel like they’re involved.”

She noted that at the last few board meetings, and over the years, community members have expressed frustration over not having enough information from the district.

“It’s really important that we have openness,” Ms. Lindell said.

She said she personally wants to hire someone who will challenge students to exceed academic expectations.

“We should be looking at education at a higher level than meeting state requirements,” she said. “We shouldn’t be teaching for tests.”

Board member Rich Pluschau has also begun learning about the search process, as he has consulted the New York State School Boards Association and compiled a list of search firms.

He said he hopes a worthy candidate will be in place by mid-April.

After having two weeks to digest her decision, Dr. Copel said Tuesday that she’s still confident she made the right choice to leave Shoreham-Wading River.

“For me, it’s the absolutely right decision,” she said. “I’m sure the district will find a superintendent who will take the district in the direction the board wishes.”

Surely many parents were shocked at the news of Dr. Copel’s departure, whether or not they’d been satisfied with her work as superintendent.

Former board member and high school PTSA president Lisa Wild, for one, thinks Shoreham-Wading River will suffer without Dr. Copel, who has been with the district since 2005.

“I would love for Harriet to stay,” Ms. Wild said. “I think it will be detrimental to our district if she left because of the institutional knowledge that she brings and the experience that she has.”

Dr. Copel said she’s most proud of the literacy program she spearheaded in the elementary schools, the leadership programs started at the high school, a bond that was approved for renovations at the middle school and technology upgrades throughout the district.

Dr. Copel said she’s still mulling options for her future, and that she’s leaving Shoreham-Wading River with fond memories.

“It’s been a great run,” she said.

samantha@northshoresun.com