Leaven's most recent role was superintendent of Florida Union Free School...

Leaven's most recent role was superintendent of Florida Union Free School District in upstate Orange County. Credit: Ed Quinn

A Bronx educator who worked in schools in upstate New York and China will lead Nassau BOCES beginning next month, the agency has announced.

Larry Leaven, 58, was appointed district superintendent in a board meeting Thursday evening. His salary is to be $208,250 and the contract is to last three years, according to a spokeswoman. His first day is July 1.

Leaven will succeed Robert Dillon, who led Nassau BOCES since 2015 and through the pandemic years. Dillon died last July, and Western Suffolk BOCES District Superintendent April Poprilo has served as interim leader since then.

Susan Bergtraum, president of the Nassau BOCES Board of Education, said Leaven has a broad breadth of experience from working as superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal in schools in the state to leading international schools in China.

“The district superintendents … will find him both approachable and open to hearing their thoughts and suggestions,” she said. “He’s intelligent and thoughtful. I don’t have any doubt he is more than capable of doing this job well.”

BOCES is short for Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Nassau BOCES is the largest BOCES in the state in terms of the number of school districts and the students it serves.

Nassau County’s 56 school districts enroll nearly 200,000 students and BOCES has about 2,000 students in 11 special-education programs and 2,100 students in career and technical education programs.

Leaven is an educational consultant whose most recent role was superintendent of the Florida Union Free School District in Florida, in upstate Orange County. He grew up in Ohio and began his career in 1990 as an elementary vocal music teacher in Orchard Park, outside of Buffalo, where he later earned a master's in education from Buffalo State University.

Over the years, Leaven worked as a classroom teacher before taking on administrative roles. In western New York, he was a principal in a small elementary school in Hamburg and later assistant superintendent for curriculum for Sweet Home Central School District in Amherst that had 3,400 students.

In 2014, he moved to Beijing and worked for two years as the lead principal of a bilingual academy, according to his resume. Then he spent four years in Hong Kong as founding director of the Dalton School, a private international school.

“One of the reasons why I went was the idea of being outside of our comfort zone, I think, sometimes pushes us in ways that we would not otherwise think about,” he said. “It also, I think, allows us windows into a newness about people, about culture and the way students learn.”

His experience in China was an eye-opener, Leaven said in an interview.

“I did not know Chinese or the culture,” he said. “So it was my responsibility to really listen, to lean in, to communicate and to build relationships.”

Leaven said that in Nassau County, he will look at ways to help strengthen the work that the leadership team has been doing and that of the 56 component districts.

Nassau BOCES employs 5,000 people, including full-time staff, part-time workers and substitutes. BOCES provides more than 150 programs and services to districts, from data mining to technology purchasing.

Nassau BOCES is led by its district superintendent, who also acts as a regional representative for state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa.

Maria Rianna, president of Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, welcomed Leaven in his incoming role in a statement Wednesday.

“Under his leadership, our focus will remain steadfast on creating a supportive, unified and enriching educational environment for all students throughout Nassau County,” her statement read in part.

A Bronx educator who worked in schools in upstate New York and China will lead Nassau BOCES beginning next month, the agency has announced.

Larry Leaven, 58, was appointed district superintendent in a board meeting Thursday evening. His salary is to be $208,250 and the contract is to last three years, according to a spokeswoman. His first day is July 1.

Leaven will succeed Robert Dillon, who led Nassau BOCES since 2015 and through the pandemic years. Dillon died last July, and Western Suffolk BOCES District Superintendent April Poprilo has served as interim leader since then.

Susan Bergtraum, president of the Nassau BOCES Board of Education, said Leaven has a broad breadth of experience from working as superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal in schools in the state to leading international schools in China.

“The district superintendents … will find him both approachable and open to hearing their thoughts and suggestions,” she said. “He’s intelligent and thoughtful. I don’t have any doubt he is more than capable of doing this job well.”

BOCES is short for Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Nassau BOCES is the largest BOCES in the state in terms of the number of school districts and the students it serves.

Nassau County’s 56 school districts enroll nearly 200,000 students and BOCES has about 2,000 students in 11 special-education programs and 2,100 students in career and technical education programs.

Leaven is an educational consultant whose most recent role was superintendent of the Florida Union Free School District in Florida, in upstate Orange County. He grew up in Ohio and began his career in 1990 as an elementary vocal music teacher in Orchard Park, outside of Buffalo, where he later earned a master's in education from Buffalo State University.

Over the years, Leaven worked as a classroom teacher before taking on administrative roles. In western New York, he was a principal in a small elementary school in Hamburg and later assistant superintendent for curriculum for Sweet Home Central School District in Amherst that had 3,400 students.

In 2014, he moved to Beijing and worked for two years as the lead principal of a bilingual academy, according to his resume. Then he spent four years in Hong Kong as founding director of the Dalton School, a private international school.

“One of the reasons why I went was the idea of being outside of our comfort zone, I think, sometimes pushes us in ways that we would not otherwise think about,” he said. “It also, I think, allows us windows into a newness about people, about culture and the way students learn.”

His experience in China was an eye-opener, Leaven said in an interview.

“I did not know Chinese or the culture,” he said. “So it was my responsibility to really listen, to lean in, to communicate and to build relationships.”

Leaven said that in Nassau County, he will look at ways to help strengthen the work that the leadership team has been doing and that of the 56 component districts.

Nassau BOCES employs 5,000 people, including full-time staff, part-time workers and substitutes. BOCES provides more than 150 programs and services to districts, from data mining to technology purchasing.

Nassau BOCES is led by its district superintendent, who also acts as a regional representative for state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa.

Maria Rianna, president of Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, welcomed Leaven in his incoming role in a statement Wednesday.

“Under his leadership, our focus will remain steadfast on creating a supportive, unified and enriching educational environment for all students throughout Nassau County,” her statement read in part.

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