Education

New Cutchogue East principal discusses priorities post-COVID

Amy Brennan, the new principal at Cutchogue East Elementary School, wasn’t always an educator.  

Her first career, which followed her mother’s footsteps, landed her in insurance. But education was something she always wanted to do, so when she went with to sign up for an MBA at Dowling, she said “you know what? I’m going to get my master’s in education.”  

She hasn’t looked back since. 

Ms. Brennan currently works as director of elementary education at South Country School District, where she’s been since 2015. Previously, she worked as a literacy coach and reading specialist in Riverhead Central School District. 

Times Review Media Group spoke with Ms. Brennan about her experience in education and what she hopes to bring to her new position. 

Q: What skills will you bring from your previous jobs to your position as principal of Cutchogue-East? 

A: “I have an extensive background in literacy and professional development. At South Country, I do a lot of curriculum and instruction, a lot of professional development. I work with teachers across many buildings, I work with many principals. So I think all of that is really going to support my role as principal at Cutchogue-East. I’m very excited to bring all that I’ve learned into the new environment and there’s much for me to learn at Cutchogue-East.”

Q: What attracted you to the school?

A: “Well, truthfully, I live in Riverhead, in Baiting Hollow. So I’ve always been kind of an East End person — not always, but since I moved out that way — and the community, the Mattituck-Cutchogue community is just something that I really appreciate. The North Fork is a great place to be. So far everyone’s been very warm and welcoming. It’s a nice caring culture.” 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish while you’re there? 

A: “Well, my first plan for when I begin working is to really just develop relationships with the students, the families, the teachers. I’ve been out there quite a bit so far, I was fortunate to visit them on Field Day, and really just get to know everyone, to spend a lot of time listening and learning. I think it’s a great school, it’s a great school community, and I really want to just listen and learn and make my plans from there.” 

Q: As you know, schools are hoping to return to more of a pre-pandemic normal in September. What are some priorities for you?

A: “Gathering again, right? The biggest thing is bringing everyone back after the pandemic, after everything we’ve been through, and really coming back together again, while also appreciating things that maybe we learned during the pandemic. I think during the pandemic, a lot of educators had to find other instructional methods. They used a lot of technology, I think coming back from this is, you know, balancing those things, because now, if we can gather together again, and if we’re able to collaborate in ways that we did before, but then really take the things that that worked well for us during that time, and kind of blend it together so that we can really create the best learning environment for kids.”

Q: And do you think that you’re going to keep any of the policies that were implemented during the pandemic?

A: “The school district has their own plans that they’ve been following that are in place. I’ll support anything that the district is doing. And, you know, as they take guidance from the state and the government, and any guidance from any of those places, and then the school responds with their plans, you know, we would follow those.”