Dr. Jeff Greenberger at the Riverhead High School graduation ceremony. Photo: Denise Civiletti

(Updated: Nov. 14) Popular Riverhead High School Latin teacher Dr. Jeff Greenberger is retiring in December, according to the district’s personnel report presented Tuesday at the board of education meeting.  

Greenberger, a teacher in Riverhead for the last 31 years, is beloved by students and parents alike, and has been a key player for the district’s award-winning Latin program. Greenberger’s wife, Lorene Custer, teaches Latin in middle school. 

Greenberger said he will stay on until the end of the school year as a contract employee.

“You know I couldn’t just abandon the Latinists in the middle of the year,” Greenberger said in an email Wednesday evening. “And by then, we hope to have found a new RHS Latin teacher!”

Greenberger’s is one of at least 11 veteran teachers who are retiring this school year after the school board offered the teacher’s union a retirement incentive if 10 or more veteran teachers retired.

Board president Greg Meyer said the aim of the incentive to replace long-time tenured teachers who are at the top of the pay scale with new teachers, because they will start at the lower end of the scale. Meyer said that the move is a “huge savings“ for the district and helps them with the budget. Meyer also said that the retirements would help the district hire more teachers. As an example, he said that for every veteran teacher that makes upwards of $120,000 in annual salary, they could hire two new teachers at $60,000. 

“These are educators who have been with the district on average of 30-plus years and have been vital in helping mold the district and touching the lives of so many kids and families,” Meyer said. “They deserve to retire and have a great life for all the good they have done. I hope they stay involved and continue to support the kids, the community and the district.”

“On behalf of the board of education we thank them from the bottom of our hearts and wish them all the luck,” Meyer added. 

“Dr. Greenberger’s retirement is a tremendous loss for the district,” Kathleen McQuorry, an Aquebogue resident and mother of three children in the district, told board members Tuesday. She asked what were the board’s plan to replace Greenberger and if there was “a talent search.”

“ I noticed that the retirement date is Dec. 13, 2019, so that’s leaving students that are in the middle of studying for their exams to get graduation credits for foreign language,” she said.

Meyer said that “there’s absolutely an action plan,” thought he did not discuss plans for Greenberger or other retirees to stay on until the end of the school year as contract employees. He said the district would be posting some of the soon-to-be vacant positions on their website as soon as Wednesday. 

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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