Danielle Turner, who is currently the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place, will take over July 1
A new athletic director has entered the kingdom.
After an extensive search, Port Jefferson school district hired Danielle Turner to be the new face of Royals athletics, taking the helm on July 1 and replacing Edward Cinelli, who has served as interim athletic director since former leader Deb Ferry left in December.
“I’m super excited to get in there and start,” Turner said. “Being an athletic director has always been my goal. It’s a small community, a very supportive community. I think for me Port Jefferson is the perfect fit.”
The Sayville resident and Farmingdale native is the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place, a role she took after first applying for the athletic director position there. She will follow former assistant principal Robert Neidig to Port Jefferson, who himself left Miller Place to become the principal at Port Jefferson Middle School.
North Country Road Principal Matt Clark said Turner will do a phenomenal job for the Royals.
“She did a really nice job of acclimating right to our culture and I could tell right away she had tremendous initiative,” he said. “We were very impressed when she stepped in and became a big part of the fabric of what we do. She’s done a great job of team building within teachers and she’s also done a really nice job of supervision of both faculty and staff. We’re really proud of her.”
After graduating from Sachem, Turner received a bachelor of science degree in physical education from SUNY Cortland. She followed that up with a master’s in athletic administration and coaching from Stony Brook University, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational administration and supervision from St. John’s University. She also holds certification in the areas of the Dignity for All Students Act, crisis prevention intervention and first aid, and is a certified personal trainer.
Turner received her first teaching and coaching positions at Longwood Middle School, where she was a physical education teacher and varsity volleyball coach from 2008-12, while also coaching lacrosse and basketball at different levels. She later served as assistant principal at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Premm Learning Center and Sayville Academic Center.
“I went from teaching phys ed with sixth-graders to being a special education assistant principal, which was extremely difficult but also was just a great learning experience for me in terms of the types of students that I dealt with,” Turner said in an interview.
David Falco, a physical education teacher at Sachem North and the school’s varsity football coach, instructed Turner when she was on the girls’ basketball team there. He said his former athlete was a dedicated, tough inside player. As a SUNY Cortland alumnus, he was an integral part of her college discussion.
“She has a love of sports and kids, she has a great rapport with parents and the other administrators in the building, and I’ve seen her interact with all of those groups in a very positive way,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit for Danielle in regard to athletic administration, and I think that’s because of the way she approaches all the different tasks she has — and that’s because of her work ethic.”
Turner, who is also making waves as a female boys’ basketball referee, said she’s thankful for those like Lisa Lally and Deb Ferry, Miller Place and Port Jefferson’s former longtime athletic directors, for paving the way for females.
“I owe it all to them,” she said. “They’ve been super supportive and helpful, and excelled and thrived in the position.”
She thinks Port Jefferson is the perfect place for her because of its small, intimate setting, and said she was excited to learn that the athletic office was within the high school.
”Port Jeff obviously has a great reputation academically, so I definitely keep up with that reputation while getting a feel of the land,” she said. “I want to continue with producing quality student-athletes and ultimately improve upon those programs in whatever way we can. I am again just so thrilled to be able to see the kids in action, and get out there at games supporting our kids.”