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Long Island

Summer programs in Suffolk County help keep students sharp

Students in the Port Jefferson School District improved

Students in the Port Jefferson School District improved their music skills through a summer music camp that included beginner woodwind and string lessons and a beginner ukulele class. Credit: Port Jefferson School District

Many school districts across Long Island powered through the summer, with scores of students taking part in special reading programs, art academies and science-focused camps during July and August.

In Mastic Beach, the William Floyd school district hosted a bicycle academy, teaching about 50 children how to balance, pedal and turn with the help of volunteers. The number of participants was the largest in the five-year history of the program, which has worked with nearly 200 students since its inception in 2014.

“There is such a need that people are constantly coming to me all throughout the year,” William Floyd occupational therapist Ed Diaz said of the bicycle academy. “We accommodate as many as we can, always striving to provide one-on-one instruction.”

In Amityville, more than 100 students in the fourth through sixth grades attended the district’s sports skills camp, part of a free eight-day program that included breakfast, lunch and three hours of sports instruction from coaches and teachers. A series of lessons and drills were offered each day, followed by scrimmages in sports such as basketball, soccer and volleyball.

In Wading River, dozens of students participated in a five-week theater arts program, collaborating to create and present stage performances of musicals such as “101 Dalmatians” and “Peter Pan” at Wading River Elementary School. The program included instrument and voice lessons.

In Riverhead, the school district hosted a four-week program at Phillips Avenue Elementary School that included lessons on ecosystems and insects for younger students and coding sessions for those in higher grades.


New principal

Rebecca Raymond has been named principal of Brookhaven Elementary School. She replaced Kathleen Munisteri, who retired.

Raymond previously served four years as the school’s assistant principal and has been instrumental in several building and districtwide initiatives, including the establishment and expansion of the school’s dual language program.

"In my new position, I look forward to continuing to enhance the learning experiences of all students, while further engaging staff, students and their families in the learning process,” Raymond said.


New superintendent

Jill M. Gierasch is the new superintendent of the Mattituck-Cutchogue school district. She replaced Anne Smith, who retired.

Gierasch had served as deputy superintendent of the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district since 2015 and was that system's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for six years.

She also has been an elementary school principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, staff development and assessment for kindergarten through fifth grade in the Sachem school system, an elementary school principal in the Three Village school district, and an elementary teacher in the Bayport-Blue Point and William Floyd school systems.

“I am honored and so pleased to have an opportunity to work in such an amazing school district and community,” Gierasch said. “My goal is to ensure that all students have the tools and resources needed to achieve their fullest potential.”  


New principals

The Three Village school district has three new principals: William Bernhard at Ward Melville High School, Corinne Keane at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, and Rosanne DiBella at W.S. Mount Elementary School.

Bernhard had served four years as Gelinas’ principal and also has been Ward Melville’s math chairman. He replaced Alan Baum, who now is the district’s executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources.

“Returning to Ward Melville High School as its principal is truly an honor,” Bernhard said. “I look forward to leading our staff and students through another era of success and growth.”

Keane, who replaced Bernhard, was Gelinas’ assistant principal for four years. She joined the district as an art teacher in 2002 and has also served as the art and technology chairwoman at the junior high school level. 

“It is a true honor and privilege to be a part of this wonderful school community that I call my home,” Keane said. “I am most looking forward to working closely with the talented and dedicated students, staff, parents and community members on projects that make Gelinas the outstanding school that I know it is.”

DiBella, who replaced Kathryn White, previously served six years as an assistant principal at Ward Melville. She also was principal of the district’s Arrowhead Elementary School for seven years.


Newsday will continue its Way to Go! feature during the school year, profiling standout students in elementary and secondary schools across Long Island. Nominations can stem from academic achievement or extracurricular activities, involvement in local charities or fundraisers, or for winning local, state or national awards, contests or competitions.

To make a nomination, send an email describing the accomplishment with the student’s name, grade, school and contact information to

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