Greenport school board hires secondary principal

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04/14/2015 8:00 AM |
Gary Kalish was hired at Monday's Greenport school board meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Gary Kalish was hired at Monday’s Greenport school board meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Editor’s note: An initial version of this story published at suffolktimes.com Tuesday was replaced online Friday morning with an updated story, which also appears in this week’s edition of The Suffolk Times newspaper.

Pierson High School vice principal Gary Kalish has been hired to take over as Greenport’s secondary school principal.

The Greenport school board approved his appointment unanimously at Monday’s budget workshop. He is expected to start May 1.

Mr. Kalish, 35, of Cutchogue, has four school-aged children and his family has farming roots on the East End. His parents also own Agway Country Gardens in Bridgehampton.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at Hunter College, a master’s degree in social studies at Brooklyn College and a Master of Education in education leadership and organization at Teachers College of Columbia University. He’s worked as vice principal in the Sag Harbor School District’s Pierson High School since 2008.

Superintendent David Gamberg said Mr. Kalish has experience working with the International Baccalaureate program, which has been described as providing more research, writing and hands-on evaluations in classes and assessments compared to the Advance Placement program.

“He’s enthusiastic, bright and he has this desire to work collaboratively with teachers and students,” Mr. Gamberg said. “He really has that blend of leadership I think will be well suited for us in Greenport.”

Interim secondary principal Robert Feeney, who recently returned to his position after William Caulfield resigned for personal reasons, will mentor Mr. Kalish through the transition process, Mr. Gamberg said.

The district has been searching since last summer for a candidate to replace former secondary school principal Leonard Skuggevik, who resigned after accepting a school superintendent position on Shelter Island.

We spoke to Mr. Kalish this week to discuss his new role.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in education, and what attracted you to Greenport?

A: I always liked the academic environment. I always had fun in school as a student and enjoyed relationships that existed in the classroom. I heard about the position through word of mouth and met with members of the community prior to applying. What really attracts me to Greenport is it’s a small-school community and has a rich culture. It’s a similar environment to Sag Harbor, where it has the support of the whole community.

Q: The superintendent has highlighted your experience with the IB program. Do you believe the program is good for Greenport?

A: After [Pierson] became an authorized IB school, I was responsible for all administrative aspects, as well as communicating with parents, teachers and students. We’re finishing our third year and seeing our second group of students graduate with IB diplomas. I see the IB program being very advantageous for students. I feel it’s something that will effectively prepare students for what comes next, whether it be study at university or career work. It really gives them the critical thinking skills and habits to be successful in the modern world.

Q: What goals have you set in your new role?

A: My first goal is to get to know the community, become more aware of the Greenport culture, achievements and successes. Also, develop relationships with the families, students and teachers. From there, I look forward to working with all the different groups and continuing the work that they’ve been doing. Also working with the schools to create a shared vision of what we want for the future. Coming from a school like Sag Harbor, one of the benefits I’ve enjoyed was being able to access so many different types of work, challenges and the different hats that I’ve worn. I see a high school principal’s role to be that and very satisfying.

One of the things that I enjoy is to be a creative problem solver and work with others to get ourselves to the end line and achieve the different goals that have been set.

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