Back to School: Riverhead, SWR begin year under new leadership

The Riverhead School District will be led by new Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez this school year.

Dr. Henriquez, who most recently served as assistant superintendent for elementary education and personnel in the Brentwood School District, begins her new role today, Thursday Aug. 31.

“As I am completing my last two days in the district, I wish all the best for the district as it moves forward with a new superintendent,” said outgoing Superintendent Nancy Carney, who retired Wednesday after 15 years in the district. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Riverhead School District and the community.”

In addition to Ms. Henriquez, the district hired 11 new teachers to replace retirees and an additional 13 teachers to accommodate increased enrollment. Total student population is estimated at 5,480, an increase of 200 from 2015-16.

Ms. Carney said she is “excited about the enthusiasm and talent they will bring to the district,” adding that the recent hires have completed a new teacher institute that introduced them to the district and its programs.

Ms. Carney said the district will introduce multiple new programs in the upcoming school year, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 5. Coding and robotics will be taught at the elementary level and the district will partner with Brookhaven National Laboratory for computer programming support.

The district also partnered with Eastern Suffolk BOCES, which will provide a worksite coordinator at the high school to support job placement and career-related activities, Ms. Carney said.

Riverhead is also in the midst of launching a new website and has completed work on the new transportation facility in Calverton, which will be ready for use by the opening of school. The school board allocated nearly $5 million from the district’s capital reserve fund established in May 2015 to pay for the project, which included a new building on Edwards Avenue and a new building and grounds facility at the former bus garage site on Osborn Avenue.

Shoreham-Wading River

The biggest change at Shoreham-Wading River this year comes in its administrative team, headed by new Superintendent Gerard Poole of Mattituck, who began his new role July 1. He previously taught in the Riverhead School District and most recently served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Freeport School District.

Joining him is Frank Pugliese, who started as principal at the high school on Aug. 1. Mr. Pugliese spent the last decade as an assistant principal in the Half Hollow Hills School District, and will be joined by Michael Winfield as assistant principal for the high school.

Mr. Winfield held this same position in the district before leaving in June 2014 to become an assistant principal for the sixth grade at Hempstead Middle School. He replaces Kevin Vann, who recently became principal at Albert G. Prodell Middle School.

Mr. Poole said the district is also in the process of hiring a new director of humanities.

In addition, he said, 17 retirements this year allowed the hiring of 17 new faculty members across all district schools.

SWR will also unveil new programs and technologies for the 2017-18 school year, including 1:1 Chromebooks for sixth-graders.

The district is in the second year of rolling out an AP Capstone program and will introduce its AP research component this year. Last year began with the AP seminar component, which will continue to be offered, Mr. Poole said. The district is also introducing Tri-M, a music honor society.

Outside the classroom, the district will launch 11 new extracurricular offerings, including women in science and engineering, high school robotics and debate teams, a pep band, a middle school dance team and world languages at the elementary level.

“I think a key to students’ success is student engagement and providing students with opportunities to excel beyond the classroom,” Mr. Poole said.

Finally, summer construction at Wading River and Miller Avenue elementary schools is wrapping up and will be complete in time for the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 7. Mr. Poole added that the middle school track was also replaced, and thanked the community for being supportive through a summer of construction.

With schools opening in a week, he added that he’s excited to experience his first year in the district.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing the school district in full vibrancy, with students learning and teachers engaged in instruction, and getting to meet more parents,” Mr. Poole said.

Photo caption: Students at Aquebogue Elementary School in 2016. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

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