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Riverhead school board honors longtime district employees

Two Riverhead school district retirees and one current employee sit side by side in the high school auditorium, facing the board members at the front of the room. The auditorium is silent. Most board members are smiling.

When the trio is called to the front of the room by board president Susan Koukounas, they’re met with a standing ovation from roughly 60 audience members.

After devoting several decades to the district, their work is coming to a close.

Last Tuesday, the Riverhead board honored Lisa Carter, Diane Sue Webster and Barbara O’Kula for their longtime service in the district.

Ms. Carter, a school bus monitor who retired Nov. 2, completed 17 years of work. 

“Her positive attitude, compassion, and willingness to help has played a vital role in successfully transporting Riverhead students,” Ms. Koukounas said. “Lisa Carter will be greatly missed.”

Ms. Webster, a bus driver, worked in the district for 36 years. She retired Nov. 23.

“She transported her students in a highly professional matter, with the safety always being the primary concern,” Ms. Koukounas said. “She has a heart of gold and will always give a little extra for students.”

The board also recognized the “solid work ethic” of Barbara O’Kula, who serves as the district clerk and secretary for the Personnel Department. Ms. Koukounas said Ms. O’Kula plans to retire Dec. 30 after completing 27 years in the district.

Ms. O’Kula was hired as secretary to the superintendent of schools Jan. 2, 1991. She then worked as the secretary to the school business official for ten years, then as the secretary to the superintendent from 2004 to 2010.

“She’s transcribed thousands of pages of minutes and meetings,” Ms. Koukounas said. “We’ll miss you.”

During her time as district clerk, Ms. O’Kula coordinated the district’s budget votes, bond referendums, and the Riverhead Free Library and Baiting Hollow Free Library budget votes.

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Photo caption: District clerk Barbara O’Kula hugging board president Susan Koukounas after the board recognized her. She is set to retire Dec. 30. (Kate Nalepinski photo)