Dr. Joseph Pompilio, 53, of Huntington, has been the principal of Valley Stream Central High School for 11 years. When community journalist Brittany Wait caught up with him last Friday for our Town Focus series, he was wearing a royal blue mesh jersey over his business attire, which read “Tough guys wear pink,” to raise money for breast cancer research.
Explain this neat shirt.
Today is Pink Day. Our school has raised over $3,000 for breast cancer research by selling these shirts. It’s part of our spirit week, leading up to our homecoming football game Saturday.
You don’t live in Valley Stream, but something has kept you here. What is that?
When I took this job in 2001, I was immediately attracted to the area because it’s a very blue-collar environment with hard-working people, family values, traditions and diversity. I think our teachers work very hard, and we constantly strive to motivate and challenge these kids. We’re not a wealthy district, but the teachers here come early and stay late. These kids want to be here even after the bell rings at the end of the day.
As principal, what do you try to instill in students?
Central has a culture of very high expectations. In my experience, once you put expectations out there, no matter what race these kids are they do respond well.
Tell me something else that the kids have been involved in lately.
We prepare our kids to be better citizens of their country by having students vote for their school body president and at the same time practice-voting for the president of the United States. Teachers have to be engaging and up to speed with what’s going on. Also, I just want to say that when there’s a commitment in the building the students follow through with it. The Class of 2012 raised the money to display two electronic signs showing school events in front of the school.
What has made you the most proud of your school?
Well, many things have made me proud, but as you probably already know schools just began implementing DASA [The Dignity for All Students Act, protecting students from bullying] over the summer. We’ve already been enforcing this for years. You won’t hear another kid say, “That’s so gay,” in this building. Our teachers address bad behavior or language. I’m just so very proud that our kids walk the halls without barriers, and they’re kind and supportive of one another.