Callan Lonergan was appointed to the position of Pulaski Street Elementary School assistant principal by the school board on Nov. 12. Photo: Maria Piedrabuena

Pulaski Street Elementary School has a new assistant principal.

Callan Lonergan, a special education teacher with 16 years experience, was appointed assistant principal of Pulaski Street School at last night’s school board meeting.

Lonergan has been a special education teacher and teacher mentor at the Bethpage Union Free School District for the last 13 years, where she also focused on mentoring other elementary grade teachers in “responsive classrooms” and nonviolent crisis intervention. Prior to that, Lonergan was a special education teacher for three years at P.S. 108 in South Ozone Park.

Lonergan replaces Patrick Burke, who returns to an assistant principal position at the high school, a post he held from 2014 until January.

“I’m super excited to work with the leadership team at Pulaski,” she said in an interview. “I’m very passionate about childhood education, elementary education and now taking my new role as school building leader.”

Lonergan said her goals for the school were to “support students and the team, and work together so all kids show some nice growth across all areas.” She has special training in a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and discipline called “responsive classrooms.”

This new approach to learning, she said, is comprised of a set of research, and evidence-based practices designed to create safe, joyful, and engaging classroom and school communities for both students and teachers. The idea, she said, is to foster cognitive growth through a positive school culture. 

“During the past three years, I’ve worked with my own classroom and I’ve seen tremendous growth of my students and now I’m so excited to share that here in Riverhead,” Lonergan said.

Pulaski principal Dave Densieski said he and his team are really excited with Lonergan’s appointment. He said Lonergan “was the best candidate” and they “can’t wait” to learn about responsive classrooms and see if they can incorporate that into Pulaski Street school and what “they are already doing.”

Since the appointment of Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez in 2017, in an effort to improve the district’s overall academic performance, the district has been focusing on a “whole child” approach, where social and emotional development is combined with academics, which Henriquez said plays a critical role.

“We are very excited to welcome Callan to the Riverhead family,” Henriquez said. “She’s going to bring a lot to the table in terms of the direction we are moving as a district.”

Lonergan holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Mercy College , a master’s degree in special educational leadership and teaching from CUNY-Brooklyn College and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Adelphi University. Additionally she holds a certificate in childhood education, grades 1-6, a certificate in special education for all grades, and a certificate as a school building leader.

Lonergan’s appointment will run from Dec. 2, 2019 through Dec. 1, 2023 and her annual salary will be $130,536, according to the district’s personnel report for Tuesday’s board of education meeting.  

Jason Rottkamp, a veteran Riverhead music teacher, high school band director and symphonic band director, has been appointed director of fine arts . 

He will be replacing Lauren Lewonka who was appointed in 2017, a decision that drew searing criticism at the time from a former school board member. Lewonka resigned in late August. 

Rottkamp has been in the district for the last 14 years, according to his LinkedIn page. A high school student who spoke publicly at Tuesday’s board of education meeting expressed her gratitude to the board for “quickly searching and finding a new director of fine arts” because, she said, “it was a big deal with the music department.”

Rottkamp holds a bachelor’s of instrumental music education from George Mason University, a master’s of arts, liberal studies from SUNY Stony Brook and an advanced graduate certificate in school administration from SUNY Stony Brook.

Rottkamp is the vice president of the Hamptons Music Educators Association, a chairperson at the New York State Band Directors Association and principal of Alternative ENL High School at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, according to his LinkedIn account. 

Rottkamp’s appointment will run from Nov. 13, 2019 through Nov. 12, 2023 and his annual salary will be $137,421, according to the district’s personnel report for Tuesday’s board of education meeting.  

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Maria del Mar Piedrabuena
María del Mar is a contributor to RiverheadLOCAL and the editor and founder of Tu Prensa Local, a Spanish-language local news outlet on Long Island. Maria has won several awards for her work, including a first place best column award from the New York Press Association. Email Maria