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Albert G. Prodell Middle School

By Kevin Redding

With the start of a new school year, the Shoreham-Wading River school district will be led by a fresh team of administrators — a newly appointed high school principal, assistant principal and middle school principal.

Leadership changes within the district began in April when new superintendent Gerard Poole was officially sworn in. Poole previously served as assistant superintendent in the Freeport School District and is replacing interim Neil Lederer.

“It’s truly a privilege and an honor to have the chance to collaborate and build upon the successes of the school district,” Poole said during an April 18 board of education meeting.

Frank Pugliese

 

Welcoming new high school principal Frank Pugliese

Pugliese, 45, who has been an assistant principal in the Half Hollow Hills School District for the past 10 years, officially started his new position as Shoreham’s high school principal Aug. 1, taking over for longtime administrator Dan Holtzman.

With 20 years in education under his belt, Pugliese — a Brookhaven native with a bachelor’s degree in history from the State University of New York at Albany and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Radford University in Virginia — started out teaching social studies at Goochland High School in Virginia and Commack High School before receiving his administrative certification through Stony Brook University.

He was administrative dean of students at Ward Melville High School before settling in at Half Hollow Hills, where he worked as assistant principal for four years at Half Hollow Hills West and six years at Half Hollow Hills East.

Pugliese said he’s looking forward to bringing his years of experience in the high school setting to Shoreham-Wading River, a community he said has already made him feel at home.

“I feel incredibly supported here and it’s clear that everyone wants this to be successful — this is a community that values education,” Pugliese said. “I’ve always really enjoyed high school and being part of that environment, the structure, the bonds and making sure it’s a home away from home for students.”

Having gone through an extensive hiring process, which included multiple rounds of interviews with the district office and community members, he said it was intense but appreciated.

“They really took the process very seriously and wanted to make sure they were bringing in somebody competent for the job and also a good fit for the building and community,” he said. “I can’t wait to be out there meeting everyone at the football games, soccer games and not just become principal of the building, but a real member of the community.”

As principal, Pugliese said, his main priority is to build a strong trust with his students.

“The biggest thing is you have to get to know your kids and have to know what motivates them,” he said. “You also have to really accept the fact that something that may have worked previously may not work again. For me, it’s about being real, being genuine and letting the students know that I care, which can give way to very honest conversations. When they know you have their best interests in mind, that’s when they listen. If they think you’re just feeding them a line, they’ll tune you out faster than anything.”

But most importantly, in his first year, he wants to learn.

“Even though I’ve been here officially since the start of August, it’s not a school until the kids and teachers are here,” Pugliese said. “What I’m hoping for this year is to get to know the teachers, get to know the kids. It’s about learning what this community values and how I can best fit into that.”

Kevin Vann

Kevin Vann moving on up to  middle school principal

The new principal of Albert G. Prodell Middle School is a familiar face to the community. Vann, who will be replacing retiring principal Linda Anthony after her 11 years at the helm, has been the assistant principal at the high school for the last decade. Vann said he jumped at the opportunity to lead a school in the district he knows so well.

“I know the middle school is an excellent school, they’ve had a lot of success and the faculty is highly engaged with the students, so there’s a lot of really good things going on,” he said. “I just want to work with teachers, students and families to continue to move the school in a positive direction.”

Vann, 50, said working in the high school for so long has given him a good sense of what he should expect in the new building.

“I saw the product of the middle school when they came up to the high school,” he said. “The kids are very polite, very engaged, very eager to learn and I know that’s because of the good education and experience they’ve had here in the middle school.”

Before he landed the assistant principal position at the high school, Vann worked in sales before teaching social studies at the middle school level in the Patchogue-Medford School District. He also worked on a grant for the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at Pat-Med, and was the dean of students at Shoreham’s high school.

Vann holds a bachelor’s degree in history and education from St. Joseph’s College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Touro College.

As Vann prepares for the new job, he said he is already planning on implementing a Chromebook program for sixth-graders this year, but mainly just hopes to build on the middle school’s friendly environment.

“We certainly want to continue to make the school a welcoming place for students,” he said. “I think the social and emotional aspects of middle school is extremely important. We want to make sure that kids feel valued and welcome and safe when they come in. Once that’s taken care, the kids are in a better place to explore mentally and for learning to occur.”

Michael Winfield

High school assistant principal Michael Winfield returns

Winfield is another familiar face to the community. He returns to the same position he held at Shoreham-Wading River in 2014, before he left to serve as assistant principal for sixth grade at Hempstead Middle School.

The longtime education leader, who has earned a doctorate in modern world history, a Master of Arts in history and a Master of Arts in sociology from St. John’s University, among several other degrees. He was also dean of students at Bellport Middle School, social studies chairperson at upstate New York’s Spring Valley High School, assistant principal for operations at Riverhead High School and administrative supervisor for the Hempstead High Annex.

Winfield will be replacing Vann, who will be leaving the position to become principal at Prodell Middle School.

“I’m looking forward to, again, working with the school, the community, the parents and to really get their students prepared for work, career and beyond,” Winfield said. “I want to help them become lifelong learners who embrace learning, embrace life and become good citizens. I’m excited to be here.”

Shoreham-Wading River assistant principal Kevin Vann will be replacing retiring Albert G. Prodell Middle School Principal Linda Anthony this June. Photo from Kevin Vann

Kevin Vann will be returning to his roots this June.

The now assistant principal at Shoreham-Wading River High School will be reentering middle school doors, but this time as principal of Albert G. Prodell Middle School.

“I feel a strong sense of loyalty to Shoreham-Wading River,” Vann said. “The district gave me my first opportunity as an administrator, and I think I’ve developed some great relationships. I thought this was a great opportunity to stretch my wings a little bit and still stay connected to a community that I really have a lot of respect for and enjoy working with.”

Albert G. Prodell Middle School Principal Linda Anthony will be retiring at the end of this school year. Photo from Linda Anthony

Vann will be replacing retiring principal Linda Anthony, who has been at the helm for the last 11 years. An English teacher in Japan for four years, she took a unique approach to special education and at-risk students, also living in California before returning to New York.

Anthony said she’s fortunate for the extended stay that helped her move the Prodell middle school in the right direction.

“A lot of different instructional practices were put into place in the middle school, the culture of the middle school changed quite a bit — I was able to hire about 40 percent of the staff,” she said. “With so many years you can really initiate change, sustain change and then lock change.”

Some of the changes she made include increased collaboration with teachers and the level of rigor for students.

Anthony has a long history with art, and upon retirement, hopes to get back to her roots, too. She also said she wants to assist in some way with the refugee crisis.

After working with Vann, and attending a weekend conference with the soon-to-be principal, Anthony said she knows what he’s capable of doing in his new position.

“I think he will be an outstanding principal and I think he really is the best possible choice,” she said. “He will take the school to the next level. I have full confidence in that.”

Dan Holtzman, principal of the high school, said the last decade has been productive and meaningful, especially having Vann at his side the entire way.

“He has been my right hand, my support, and even more importantly, my friend,” Holtzman said. “We have worked tirelessly in creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for our students, and I am very proud of the outcomes. I think this transition will prove to be a smart move for the district and Kevin. The strengths he will bring will be an asset to the middle school. I could not be happier or more excited for him.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of change kids go through at that level physically, socially and emotionally. We’re looking to make kids feels supported and know there’s adults in the building that care about them, and try to give them good opportunities to develop and to learn.”

—Kevin Vann

Vann began his career in education at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, working in the business world prior to earning a job teaching social studies in the Patchogue-Medford School District. He also worked on a grant for the Office of Safe and Healthy Students while in Pat-Med, and was the dean of students at Shoreham-Wading River High School. In both capacities, he said the administrative and disciplinary actions he learned to take will help guide him in his new position. He also earned a master’s degree from Touro College in educational leadership.

Prior to him working in the district, there hadn’t been a tenured administrator in over a decade. Anthony, Holtzman and Vann helped change the Wildcats culture.

“There was a lot of turnover — a lot of inconsistency and a lot of uncertainty with students and parents — so we worked hard to create a culture of acceptance, and a student-centered environment where the students could always come talk to us,” Vann said. “We wanted to have an open line of communication.”

To assist with that, the district brought back an advisory period, where for 15 minutes in the middle of the day, kids can connect with teachers. Advanced Placement training for educators was also added to increase subject concentrations, and the College Board has recognized the school as a result.

“We wanted students to know that their opinions and ideas were respected, and when dealing with parents we wanted them to know our goal was to create the best environment possible for their students to succeed,” Vann said. “I think that really has happened.”

Now, he said he’s hoping he can carry down what he’s learned as assistant principal at the high school, while continuing the current successes already put in place.

“I know they have a highly-engaged staff that’s connected to the students, so I’d look for any opportunity I have to continue to foster that growth,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of change kids go through at that level physically, socially and emotionally. We’re looking to make kids feels supported and know there’s adults in the building that care about them, and try to give them good opportunities to develop and to learn.”

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