Riverhead High School greets new assistant principal

As of Aug. 21, Dorene Mongiello, Riverhead High School’s newest assistant principal, returned to education after a break to raise her family.

She has 26 years of experience in education and was assistant principal at Westhampton Beach High School for five years, having previously taught at the district for nine years.

“I missed the role of being able to help more people,” Ms. Mongiello said. “I see a lot of new teachers coming in now and I can appreciate what the classroom is, and the challenges after COVID and learning waves, the deficits, and I really felt this was a nice time for me to look for a leadership position. I’m just poised to do it with the stage of life I’m in.”

Ms. Mongiello was approved by the Board of Education during its Aug. 8 meeting. Her term runs through August 2027, with an annual salary of $143,881.39. In a recent phone interview with the Riverhead News-Review, she shared what she’s looking forward to as she starts this new position.

Q: Why do you want to work at Riverhead Central School District?

A: I was actively looking for a leadership position, and I saw that Riverhead advertised and once I did the research, and I found out all that Riverhead has to offer, It’s very attractive. It reminds me where I grew up [in Sachem], in the sense that there is so much enrichment. There are your arts programs and your music program and your intense, high-end AP classes. And yet, if you need the support, they’re there, as well. It just has everything to offer. So I think it’s a really wonderful place to spend my time right now and support people.

Q: What is the biggest lesson from your years in education that you’ll use in your new position?

A: It’s a people-intensive career position. You’re in a position to help everyone. Often times you’re visiting the assistant principal, because you need support in some way. When you’re a classroom teacher, there’s a lot to manage and prepare for and execute. So with that being said, teachers need help, too. They need support with students and families and the assistant principal is in a position where you have more flexibility. I think having experience in so many different roles in school and also being on the parental side … both my children have gone through the K-12 system and I was on the receiving end of support. You gain so much perspective. I’m hoping that it will help me to be in a better position to help more people and be more effective.

Q: What is the biggest goal you want to achieve at during your tenure at Riverhead High School?

A: My biggest goal — I want to first build relationships. You can’t do anything without relationships. So this year will be my relationship-building year, getting to know the teachers, the faculty, the staff, getting to know as many students as possible. You have to start with relationships.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you expect to face and how to do hope to overcome it?

A: I just think it’s a totally new environment, in spite of it being a school, in spite of it being a position that I’ve held in the past, it’s a new environment. And I’ll have to learn the ins and the outs of the culture. What is the way in which things occur in Riverhead? It’s different from school to school. So I just think, again, while building relationships, I’ll have to be observing and taking a pause to make sure that I am moving through and understanding the culture.