The Riverhead Central School District has not given up on its Latin program.

The district today posted a job listing for a Latin teacher, with a start date of Sept. 1. The listing was posted on a K-12 education employment website.

“We are attempting to maintain the program and have it grow over time,” Riverhead School Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez said this afternoon. “If we find a highly qualified candidate, that is the goal,” she said.

Last week, the parents of Riverhead Middle School sixth-graders who had requested to study Latin in seventh grade said they’d received calls from the middle school office telling them their children had to select another language because the Latin program in Riverhead was being “phased out.”

That touched off a tempest of protests among not only parents and students, but also alumni of Riverhead’s Latin program — some of whom have gone on to careers as Latin teachers and Classic Studies professors.

“We’ve gotten a huge amount of emails and an outpouring of support for the program,” Riverhead school board president Greg Meyer said tonight.

“We’re trying, but it’s harder than people think,” he said.

“It’s such a great program but the interest just is not there anymore,” he said. “The numbers are not what they used to be.” Meyer said a shrinking number of students are interested in taking Latin these days.

He said the district is looking to fill a .4 position, not full-time, though the job posting on the education employment website says it’s a full-time post.

“We were looking for someone with a dual certification, maybe Latin and French or Spanish, to combine for a full-time job,” Meyer said.

That’s hard to find, he said. But he also said he believes it won’t be easy to find a Latin teacher for a .4 position either.

“We figured let’s repost and go out just for Latin,” he said.

“We’re trying. We understand the value of the program and its history in the district,” Meyer said.

“We are thoroughly delighted to see that the district has posted for a Latin position,” Riverhead Central Faculty Association president Gregory Wallace said. “We can only infer from this posting that the district is now fully committed to a program that has done so much for many here at Riverhead.”

Riverhead has offered Latin for over a century. For the past few decades, the language has been taught Jeff Greenberger and Lorene Custer, a much beloved husband-and-wife team. Greenberger retired in December and continued teaching through the end of this school year as a contract employee.

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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.