Robert Feeney has been serving as a sort of pinch hitter for school districts in recent years.
That’s because he’s enjoyed working on an interim basis since retiring from education in 2011.
Starting this school year, he’ll succeed Leonard Skuggevik as Greenport’s secondary principal for an undetermined period while the district conducts a search for Mr. Skuggevik’s permanent replacement.
Superintendent David Gamberg said he decided to select an interim principal because there was a “short window” of time to hire someone permanent. Three of the six people who expressed interest in the interim position were interviewed, said Mr. Gamberg, who described Mr. Feeney as the “ideal candidate.”
Mr. Feeney, 66, of Centereach, worked for 28 years as an administrator in the William Floyd School District. He also served as high school principal for nearly two decades during his tenure there. He currently serves on the Middle Country School District’s Board of Education.
We spoke to Mr. Feeney this week to discuss his new role. The following was excerpted from the conversation.
Q: What attracted you to Greenport?
A: I did an interim at Rocky Point as a social studies coordinator and found it rewarding. For the need that [Greenport] has at the moment, which is short term, I think I can help get the school off to a good start with my experience and background. I’m excited about the possibilities and working with the community and students in a very well-established environment of support that the community has given to the school. I’m hoping I can fulfill their expectations.
Q: How should high schools prepare students for the future?
A: I think the challenges are to prepare [students] for the work world and to keep finding ways to do that — to keep finding ways to present them with challenges and experiences that will prepare them for the work world. In education, sometimes you don’t actually find out how you impacted somebody. You’ll get students that come back and sometimes the ones that were the most challenging are the ones that come back and say, “Thank you.”
Q: What are your goals as the district’s interim high school principal?
A: My goals are to help facilitate the opening of school in a very smooth way and to serve as support for the students, staff and to facilitate anything that’s needed to get the year going. Also to find their interests and to develop that passion as much as we can, both in and outside the classroom.