A veteran educator has been chosen to take over as the new Schools Superintendent of a Long Island school district.
Following an extensive search, the Islip School Board announced that it has appointed Dr. Dennis O’Hara as its new superintendent of schools, taking over for incumbent Ellen Semel, who announced she will be stepping away following a lengthy tenure in the district.
O’Hara will take over effective as of Thursday, July 1 at the conclusion of Semel’s time as superintendent.
“Over the past several months the Board of Education has worked hard to identify the characteristics that our community desired in our next superintendent of schools,” Board of Education President Phil Dineen said in a statement.
“One thing that resonated throughout this process was our community’s collective desire to select an individual who will work tirelessly to put students first, support our educators and engage with all stakeholders.
“I am extremely proud to say that we have found those attributes and more in Dr. Dennis O’Hara, as his work is guided by the mantra of ‘students first, pure intentions, best-effort,’” Dineen added. “We are so grateful to all those who contributed their thoughts, suggestions, and input along the way and are happy to welcome him to our Islip school community.”
O’Hara joins the Islip School District after serving as superintendent of schools in Hauppauge for five years.
“Since my own children were young boys, I have admired the Islip School District and community,” O’Hara said. “During every visit over the years, and recently, I could sense the tight-knit nature and feel the Islip pride. I am most excited to meet students and families and find ways to be of service.”
The Board of Education noted that “while serving in Hauppauge, Dr. O’Hara helped to raise student achievement, improve postsecondary outcomes and elevate the external reputation of the school district.”
Those efforts resulted in a 30 percent increase in the district’s advanced regents diploma rate, a 10 percent increase in the number of students attending four-year colleges, and national recognition for Hauppauge High School – a first in the school’s history, according to the Board.
Prior to his time in Hauppauge, O’Hara was a principal at Oyster Bay High School for more than a decade, served as a science teacher in the classroom, and has been published in several national education publications.
“I cannot wait to work with the many dedicated and hard-working teachers, administrators, and staff to help change students’ life trajectories,” O’Hara added. “I feel blessed to be joining this school district and I am grateful to the Board of Education for their trust and support. Together, we will help every student develop the confidence to pursue his or her dreams.”
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