The Islip School District recently welcomed eight new administrators.
Dr. Michael Giacchetto, the principal of Islip’s Wing Elementary School since 2018, will serve as the new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. He replaces Dr. Christopher Smalley. Dr. Giacchetto had previously served as assistant principal at West Islip’s Udall Road Middle School, and as an elementary teacher at South Ocean Middle School and Medford Elementary School in the Patchogue-Medford School District.
A Center Moriches resident, Dr. Giacchetto earned both his bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Dowling College, and an advanced certificate in educational leadership and, in 2018, a doctorate in educational leadership from St. John’s University.
“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to continue working in such an elite school district,” Dr. Giacchetto said. “I eagerly look forward to working alongside the students, board of education, administration, teachers and community to continue our path to greatness. Our children of Islip deserve the best, and I am committed to ensuring they reach their full potential. It is a great honor to represent such a prestigious community.”
After serving last year as Islip’s interim assistant superintendent for business, Donna Brower has been appointed to the position of assistant superintendent for human resources, administrative services and operations. She previously served as the school business and operations administrator for the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District. She has also worked as a fundraising professional and volunteer leader, and her longstanding commitment to Long Island school districts has helped her develop a deep understanding of the importance of working collaboratively with all members of the educational community to ensure student success.
The Eastport resident earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and master’s degree in educational leadership from LIU Post, a master’s degree in higher educational leadership and policy studies from Hofstra University, and a New York State professional certification in school district business leadership.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to remain a part of the Islip School District leadership team in this new role,” Brower said. “Islip is a very special place where student success drives the decision-making of our talented and dedicated group of educators and staff. It is both an honor and a privilege to be a part of this wonderful community.”
Michael Hershkowitz will replace Brian Kroll as the new director of fine and performing arts.
Hershkowitz had previously served as executive director of the Stony Brook Community Music Program since 2007. During his time there, the program grew from a small chamber music program to a comprehensive music school with academic year and summer opportunities for children in pre-K to 12th grade, as well as workshops for adult musicians. A lifelong musician, Hershkowitz has a diverse background including public education, marketing, publicity, arts administration, stage management and artist relations. At the beginning of his career, he taught elementary and high school band, jazz band and marching band, and was founder and president of the Long Island Symphonic Winds. He later worked as a marketing associate and endorsing artist manager for the Thomastik-Infeld string company. He joined the music department at Stony Brook University in 2006 as concert manager. Hershkowitz also served as the pre-concert lecturer for the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and was the co-creator of the Staller Center Instrument Petting Zoo. He has taught introductory seminars for freshmen and founded Long Island Music Educators, a discussion and information platform for music teachers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
A resident of South Setauket, Hershkowitz earned his bachelor’s degree in music education at James Madison University and his master’s degree in music and educational leadership at Stony Brook University.
“It is an incredible privilege to join the educational community here in Islip,” Hershkowitz said. “I am thrilled to work alongside the fantastic teachers and students to foster a lifelong love of the arts in all of our schools.”
Dr. Lara Gonzalez joins the district as the new principal of Islip High School. She replaces Jon LaRochester.
Dr. Gonzalez previously worked as a high school director at Evergreen Charter School in Hempstead, principal of Woodhull Intermediate School in the Huntington School District, assistant principal at Oyster Bay High School in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, supervisor of social studies for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District and the West Hempstead School District, and a social studies teacher at William A. Shine Great Neck South High School in the Great Neck School District.
Dr. Gonzalez, who resides in Sea Cliff, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s degree in international relations and Pacific studies from the University of California, San Diego; and a Master of Education degree in educational leadership from Columbia University. She received her doctorate from Hofstra University in May 2019. Her dissertation focused on data she gathered from interviews with superintendents and board of education officers and members about how districts and school boards collaborate to achieve best outcomes for students.
“For me, serving as principal of Islip High School is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “I am so grateful to the community for entrusting me with its most precious resource – its students. My goal is to provide our young people with the best possible educational experiences, along with the support that they need, so that all Islip High School students find joy, make lasting memories and reach their full potential. I am looking forward to working closely with students, families, faculty and staff as Islip continues to rise.”
Also new at Islip High School this year are Charlie Rizzuto and Meghan Stern, who will work alongside Dr. Gonzalez as assistant principals.
Rizzuto comes to Islip from Oyster Bay High School, where he served as a health and physical education teacher. He also ran the Student-Athlete Leadership Program, served as Class of 2023 adviser, helped run Breaking Borders, started the Health Club and sat on numerous committees including the Wellness Committee. He was named the 2022 National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year and 2017 New York State Health Education Amazing Person of the Year. He is currently the New York State Health Education president and sits on the National Health Education Council. Rizzuto helped rewrite the New York State Physical Education Learning Standards; has been published in textbooks, websites and blogs; and presents nationally on a regular basis.
A Saint James resident, he earned his bachelor’s degree in human services from Pace University, a master’s degree in physical education from Adelphi University, and certificate of advanced graduate study degrees from Adelphi University in health education, school district leadership, and school building leadership.
“From the moment I started this process, Islip felt like home,” Rizzuto said. “Every teacher, secretary, custodian, security guard, administrator, board member and community member that I have met has been welcoming, supportive and encouraging. I am really looking forward to becoming a part of the already strong fabric of Islip.”
Stern most recently served as Islip High School’s student services adviser. She has worked at the high school for 14 years, teaching English, Advanced Placement language and composition, and principles of leadership; coaching junior varsity cheerleading; and serving as adviser for the Class of 2012, the Class of 2019 and Student Union. She began her career teaching English at Massapequa Middle School and Massapequa High School in the Massapequa School District.
The Oakdale resident earned a bachelor’s degree in English and education from Villanova University, a master’s degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University and an advanced graduate certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University.
“I am truly honored to serve the Islip community in my new role as one of the assistant principals,” Stern said. “I believe that through collaboration and innovation, we can create dynamic educational experiences and instill a passion for lifelong learning.”
Curt Juengerkes, who has previously served the district as both an assistant principal at Islip High School and principal at Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School, will now serve as the assistant principal of Islip Middle School. He replaces Jason Cohen.
Juengerkes, an Islip resident who previously worked as a business teacher and coach, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at St. John’s University, and his master’s degree in secondary education and professional diploma at Dowling College.
“I am excited to join a staff, parent group and student body that cares about the whole child,” Juengerkes said. “My goal for myself at Islip Middle School is to continue the school’s celebration of Islip students and their academic, social, and emotional quest for success.”
Catherine Glaser will serve as the new principal of Wing Elementary School, replacing Dr. Giacchetto.
Glaser comes to Islip from the Lindenhurst School District, where she was an assistant principal at Daniel Street and William Rall elementary schools. She previously worked as an assistant principal at The Jermaine L. Green STEM Institute of Queens, a special education teacher for the New York City Department of Education, and a teacher assistant in the Sachem School District and Developmental Disabilities Institute.
Glaser, who resides in Oakdale, earned her bachelor’s degree from Marist College, a master’s degree from LIU Post and an advanced leadership certificate from CITE – The College of Saint Rose. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at Liberty University.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Islip School District as the principal of Wing,” Glaser said. “I am eager to work with the Wing community to support our youngest students in establishing a lifelong love of learning. I believe that all students can and will learn when provided with an environment that is designed to promote their academic and social-emotional growth. I look forward to working and learning alongside the children, staff, and families at Wing.”