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Sep 4, 2019 10:32 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Remsenburg-Speonk Superintendent Is Ready For The School Year

Denise Sullivan at Remsenburg-Speonk's Superintendent Conference Day on Tuesday. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Sep 4, 2019 12:36 PM

Denise Sullivan spent her summer adjusting to her new role as superintendent of the Remsenburg-Speonk School District, familiarizing herself with the educational culture, while at the same time preparing for the start of the school year.

“I was in Hampton Bays for 26 years, so it’s definitely different — the population is different, the size of the school is different, the needs of the kids are different. So that’s definitely been a learning curve,” said Ms. Sullivan, who also serves as the principal for the district’s lone 135-student elementary school.

At Hampton Bays, she was the school district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, a position she held since 2008. She was an elementary school teacher during her first 10 years in the district. She then became the elementary school’s dean of students and later its assistant principal.

She started at Remsenburg-Speonk two months ago, on July 2, replacing Dr. Ronald Masera, who left to become superintendent of the Center Moriches School District.

“I feel like I’ve been here forever already. It’s a good thing,” she said. “The people are warm and welcoming and hard working and I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

Ms. Sullivan’s biggest priority since assuming the new position has been to be seen as part of the team. She wants her faculty and staff to know that she is a collaborative and supportive leader who wants to “unify the school,” she said.

On Tuesday, the day before classes began, the district’s staff came in for a Superintendent Conference Day, in which Ms. Sullivan led team-building exercises and discussions on effective teaching.

The day before the conference, Ms. Sullivan said, “My main goal tomorrow is to alleviate any anxiety that teachers might have about, ‘Who is she?’ and, ‘What is she going to change?’ and, ‘What is she going to do?’ and I want to try to make everybody feel comfortable and make sure that they know we’re all trying to grow in the same direction.”

Moving from a school district with 2,000 students to one with 135 students may seem like an easy transition, but Ms. Sullivan explained that that was not the case.

A smaller school district means fewer faculty members to manage different aspects of the district, so more tasks are given to those who are there. For the conference she led, for example, she said that there would be other people available to run it for her in Hampton Bays.

However, fewer students int he district has allowed her to become more hands-on with her work and form a closer connection to her students, which she said she missed after leaving the classroom to become an administrator.

She admitted that her biggest learning curve in the new district was not related to managing its staff or student body, but rather overseeing its capital improvement project that broke ground this summer. Learning about construction operations and how to handle any related problems that arise has been a big task alone, Ms. Sullivan said.

The school’s parking lot and roof replacement were completed as part of the first phase of the project, and its windows will be repaired and replaced during an upcoming holiday break. The second phase, which includes various interior improvements, will begin next summer.

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Another political appointee who comes into our district because of her father's Suffolk County legacy. Lets see if she knows how to apply for grants to help out homeowners who are paying higher and higher taxes. Give me a break. By the way, is that two paychecks Principal and Superintendent?
By Maloney1 (1), Speonk on Sep 5, 19 3:38 PM
A joke
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 5, 19 11:20 PM
Welcome to the district, Ms. Sullivan. Best of luck to you.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Sep 6, 19 8:43 AM