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My name is Abbey Swiatkowski and I’m the principal at St. John Paul II Regional School in Riverhead.
St. John Paul II Regional School is a combination of the former St. Isidore’s and the former [Our Lady of] Mercy out in Cutchogue and we are a pre-k through eight STREAM-based school.
My typical day starts out with greeting the students when they get off the bus or they’re dropped off. Then, we have a meeting where all the school meets in the cafetorium to say morning pledge and prayer and then the kids go to their homeroom.
This year, we’re doing a personalized learning initiative where the students have more one-on-one time with their teachers.
Our teachers incorporate STREAM, which is science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math into all of their programs. We also have a STREAM class for pre-K through eighth grade twice a week, where they learn how to code and collaborate.
We’re preparing students for the future, for the 21st century jobs that aren’t even created yet.
I started my career as a middle school teacher at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School. I was there for 12 years. I taught all grades from 7th to 12th, mostly social studies. From there, I went to Connecticut for two years as a principal in Stamford of a Catholic school as well. There, we consolidated four schools into one pre-k through eight elementary school. It’s very similar, the consolidation, of St. John Paul II to my experience in Stamford.
The consolidation has been very challenging but very rewarding.
We can offer a variety of instructional programs that the schools on their own in the past wouldn’t be able to offer their students.
I did not go to Catholic school when I was younger.
But when I received my job at Mercy, I fell in love with Catholic education and the deep roots of what Catholic education really is.
I think it’s so important for all students to have the faith-based education. We accept children of all different faiths.
We all have that one thing that brings us together and that is a belief in something.
The best part is seeing the kids every day. They make it count and really light up my world.
“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town.