Riverhead Middle School principal Andrea Pekar in her office yesterday afternoon. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Middle School principal Andrea Pekar has resigned to take a new position as an assistant superintendent in the Amityville school district.

Pekar has been the middle school principal for 16 years and has spent her entire professional career in the Riverhead Central School District, where she previously held positions as a high school assistant principal, English teacher and coach.

Pekar’s last day in Riverhead is Jan. 4. She starts work in Amityville, where she has been appointed assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, on Jan. 7.

The school district has posted the job opening and is accepting applications, Pekar said in an interview in her office yesterday afternoon, where she has begun to prepare for a transition.

Over the course of more than a decade and a half, Pekar has guided the middle school through a crucial period of restructuring, student body growth and building expansion and upgrades.

The timing for a new direction in her career seems right not just for her own professional journey but for the staff and faculty at Riverhead Middle School as well, Pekar said.

“I feel like everything is in place, everything gels and it’s in perfect shape to be transitioned to someone else,” she said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I felt my staff wasn’t ready to handle it.”

In a letter to students and parents sent home yesterday, Pekar said the decision was difficult and her heart was heavy as she informed them of her “new path.” She has loved her role at the middle school, she wrote.

“Riverhead Middle School is an outstanding place where I know students are eager to be with their peers, to be challenged by the teaching staff, and to learn something new each and every day,” she wrote. 

Pekar, 50, said she has been considering a career move into administration. The opportunity in Amityville opened up and “it seemed like a perfect fit on both sides, like it was meant to be,” Pekar said.

Amityville is half the size of Riverhead, but its demographics and needs are very similar, Pekar said. They are just starting a new construction project similar to the one Riverhead just completed, she said.

Professionally, the transition seems natural, but on a personal level, it won’t be easy, Pekar said. Her roots in the Riverhead school district are deep.

The Riverhead native attended Riverhead schools herself and was a standout goalie on the field hockey team, which she co-captained, winning all-league and all-conference honors for four years and all-county in her junior and senior years. Over the course of her career she had an 898 save percentage with 379 saves and 26 shutouts.

Pekar was also a star on the softball field. She was a four-year varsity player, winning all-league honors all four years and all-conference honors in her sophomore through senior years. She was co-captain of both the field hockey and softball teams.

Pekar is a member of the Riverhead High School Athletic Hall of Fame. She was named a News-Review athlete of the year in 1986.

A 1986 graduate of Riverhead High School, she went to Rutgers University on a field hockey scholarship. She was planning a career in sports management.

Pekar found herself coaching field hockey at the middle school at age 19, at the invitation of then-principal Willie Patterson — and she was hooked. She knew then she wanted to pursue a career in education. Pekar transferred to St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue to finish her bachelor’s degree and continued coaching. She worked as a substitute teacher and coached in Riverhead, eventually being hired full-time in 1992 or ’93, she said. 

“It’s funny, sometimes I feel like I should still be playing softball here,” Pekar said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.