Former Riverhead teacher named school superintendent in Oysterponds

Justin Cobis was born and raised on the North Fork, so when the Oysterponds Union Free School District Board of Education appointed him superintendent and principal on March 14, it was as if things had come full circle.

“I’m excited to really help add and do my best to make what is already a great place even better,” said Mr. Cobis, who will officially take the reins July 1. “I’m excited to settle in and make an impact.”

A Riverhead High School alum, Mr. Cobis taught in that system for roughly 14 years before taking an opportunity in Southampton, where has served as principal at the intermediate school for the past three years. He has lived on the North Fork his entire life and in Southold Town for the past six years. He is currently enrolled in an Administrative and Instructional Leadership education doctoral program at St. John’s University.

Mr. Cobis hopes to use his experience and expertise to promote and enhance all the attributes the Oysterponds district already has in place.

“I’m not really looking to come in and change what’s already working,” he said. “[I’m looking] to work with the faculty that’s well-seasoned and also experienced, and learn from them. Just really take the time to listen to the community, the faculty, the students and the board.”

In taking on the role of superintendent, Mr. Cobis is achieving his long-term goal of being more directly involved in overall district leadership.

“What I love about this position is that you get to work as a district leader and work at the larger level with the Board of Education and community,” he said. “But [as principal] you also don’t lose that intimacy where you’re still going to be, every single day, in classrooms with students. I think it’s a beautiful combination of the two worlds aligning.”

Outgoing superintendent and principal Richard Malone has served the district for the past 10 years. His career in education spans more than 50 years, and he is looking forward to traveling and spending more time with his family.

“I loved it here,” Mr. Malone said. “You might consider this, for me, the icing on the cake of a long, successful career in education.”

Last fall, the district teamed up with the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services to identify the characteristics and qualifications that the board was seeking for the new hire, Mr. Malone said. During this process, Eastern Suffolk BOCES district superintendent David Wicks met with stakeholders within the district including administrators, teachers and parents to get their input.

The board reviewed resumes and applications through November and early December. Interviews with the selected candidates were conducted in January. 

Mr. Malone said Mr. Cobis is the ideal person to take over the position.

“I think he’s a very good match for Oysterponds,” Mr. Malone said. “I think he’s the type of person that will come into the building and will just keep moving Oysterponds forward.”

Mr. Cobis and Mr. Malone will be working together through the remainder of this school year to prepare for the transition this summer. Mr. Malone has “done a great job establishing a culture [in the district] for over a decade,” Mr. Cobis said.

“I’m honored to work and also transition with him into the next chapter,” Mr. Cobis said.