The new sign outside the former district office building on Osborn Avenue. Photo: Denise Civiletti

New faces in leadership positions will be welcoming students back at three of the district’s five school buildings on the first day of classes Tuesday. 

Riverhead Middle School has two key additions to its leadership team in Principal Joseph Pesqueira and Assistant Principal Colleen O’Hara.

Riverhead Middle Schools’ new Principal Joseph Pesqueria and Assistant Principal Colleen O’Hara. Courtesy photos.

Pesqueira comes to Riverhead from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district in Nassau County, where he served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, following five years as K-12 supervisor for social studies, career technologies and service learning.

O’Hara comes to the district from the Hewlett-Woodmere Union Free School District, where she served as principal of Hewlett Elementary School for the past four years and assistant principal for five years before that. She previously served for six years as the assistant principal of Woodmere Middle School after teaching at the middle school for two years.

Pesqueira and O’Hara join the middle school’s Dean of Students Kenneth Coard, who was hired in that newly created position last September.

Dr. Stephen Hudson in his office at Riverhead Middle School in 2019. He returns to Phillips Avenue Elementary School as its new principal. He served there as associate principal for nine years before being tapped for the middle school post in 2019. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Former Riverhead Middle School Principal Stephen Hudson will greet students at Phillips Avenue Elementary School. Hudson takes the helm at Phillips Avenue after the retirement of longtime principal Debra Rodgers. Hudson was named principal at the middle school in 2019. He served as its assistant principal for 14 years before that. He came to Riverhead from South Country school district, where he served as a school social worker.

Former middle school Assistant Principal Jeannine Campbell left the post to become the district’s new director of STEM.

Music teacher Dena Tisham has been appointed to the new position of alternative school facilitator, as the administration seeks to re-establish the alternative high school program in Riverhead. First established in the 1990s, the alternative school has had several iterations in the years that followed, operating out of leased office space on East Main Street, out of classrooms at St. John’s Elementary School after the parochial school closed, and, most recently, out of space on the high school campus.

Jon LaRochester, left, replaces William Galati as an assistant principal at Riverhead High School. Galati has been named LaRochester replaces former high school AP William Galati, who was appointed in April to a newly created administrative position, executive director of secondary education, grants and student outcomes. Photos: (left) Alek Lewis; (right) courtesy Riverhead Central School District.

Riverhead High School students have a new assistant principal this year. Jon LaRochester joins Principal Sean O’Hara and assistant principals Kellyann Parlato and Nicole Taylor at the high school. LaRochester served as a principal in the Islip school district for three years before coming to Riverhead.

LaRochester replaces former high school AP William Galati, who was appointed in April to a newly created administrative position, executive director of secondary education, grants and student outcomes.

Galati’s new position is one of several administrative changes, as Superintendent Augustine Tornatore, who joined the district last July, restructures administrative organization in the district.

Lori Koerner, the district’s executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional personnel, since 2019, was promoted to the new position of assistant superintendent of human resources and elementary education in March.

Tornatore eliminated the position of deputy superintendent of finance and operations and subsequently hired a new assistant superintendent for business, Rodney Asse. He also eliminated the position of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction upon the resignation of Christine Tona, who left that post at the end of the school year to become superintendent of Mahopac Schools upstate.

In other changes this year, the district has added a ninth period to the middle school and high school schedules. The schools last operated with a nine-period day in the 2013-14 school year. The schedule was reduced due to fiscal constraints.

Students in the high school can also now take 32 new elective courses across 12 different subject areas, such as theater, sports medicine, bioethics and marketing.

The district budgeted this year for the addition of 15 new full-time teachers at the high school and four new full-time teachers at the middle school.

Portable buildings just south of Riverhead High School return to their original purpose this year: extra classroom space for the high school. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead High School will also have eight more classrooms this year compared to last, as the district shuffled office space to allow portable buildings just south of the high school to be repurposed as classroom space — their original use when purchased and placed there in the mid-2000s. After the addition of new high school classrooms in a major capital improvement project in 2013-2014, the portables were no longer needed as classrooms, and were occupied by the Office of Pupil Personnel Services.

This year, with the relocation of the district’s central administration offices to leased space at 814 Harrison Avenue, PPS — along with the registration department, special education, health, physical education and athletic offices — has moved to the former district offices at 700 Osborn Avenue, allowing for the portables to be used for classroom space once again. The new office space has been named the district’s “welcome center.” The new name supports the district’s “culture of care” and “sends the most important message and solidifies our philosophy,” Koerner said on Twitter this week.

Riverhead Central School District’s Welcome Center at 700 Oborn Avenue includes the registration, health, athletics and special education departments, along with pupil personnel services. Photo: Peter Blasl

Alek Lewis contributed to this story

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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.