Deer Park Welcomes Eight New Administrators

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Deer Park welcomed eight administrators in new positions for the 2016-2017 school year, six of them promoted from within the district.

Longtime high school Principal James Cummings is the new assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, replacing the recently retired Frank Caliguiri. Cummings began his Deer Park career in 1997 as a business teacher at the high school, after four years in corporate sales for Cigna and MCI/Worldcom. He served as the school’s varsity track, winter track and cross-country coach from 1997-2002.  He became an associate principal at Robert Frost Middle School in 2002, and principal of Robert Frost in 2006 and the high school in 2008. A Sayville resident, Cummings earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from SUNY Cortland in 1993, and master’s degrees in secondary education and administration from Dowling College.

“Deer Park is a wonderful community,” said Cummings. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and as a principal. I now look forward to serving the community in a greater capacity in my new role of assistant superintendent.”

Dr. Christine Criscione, formerly the principal of John Quincy Adams, is the new district administrator for secondary curriculum and instruction, replacing Kim Skillen. Criscione is a 24-year veteran of public education. She started her career as a teacher and has worked in a variety of positions including AIS math teacher, staff developer, technology coordinator, assistant principal and principal. She joined Deer Park in 2009 to serve as principal of the Abraham Lincoln Alternative High School and UPK program. Upon its closure in 2013, she became the principal at JQA. The Queens native and Oakdale resident earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Queens College, a master’s degree in health education at Adelphi University, a professional diploma in administration and supervision from Queens College, and her doctorate in instructional leadership from St. John’s University, where she completed a fellowship instructing graduate students in educational technology. In addition to her position in Deer Park, Criscione teaches graduate courses at a variety of colleges and has been elected the chairperson of SAANYS Region 1.

“I am extremely honored and excited about taking on the role of district administrator of secondary curriculum and instruction,” said Criscione. “Since coming to Deer Park, I have been able to serve as a principal of two buildings and it has been a pleasure to serve such a forward thinking district that truly cares for every one of its students. My goal is to provide collaborative, comprehensive support and assistance to school administrators, teachers and students in an effort to ensure that every student receives high quality instruction and has the opportunity to achieve their maximum learning potential on a daily basis.”

Charles Cobb, formerly an associate principal at the middle school, was named the new principal of Deer Park High School. He previously was an administrator at Lindenhurst High School and a special education teacher at Division Avenue High School in Levittown. A resident of Port Jefferson, he earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education at St. Joseph’s College and his master’s degree in special education at Long Island University, and took administration coursework at Dowling College.

The new principal of John Quincy Adams Primary School is Christopher Molinelli, formerly an associate principal at the district’s two primary schools. He previously worked from 2005-2015 as a fourth- and first-grade teacher in Bay Shore, and before that as a teacher at North Shore, Manhasset and Merrick school districts. A resident of Wading River, he earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and mathematics from Houghton College; his master’s degree in mathematics, science and technology K-6 from Dowling College; and school building and school district leadership certificates from the College of Saint Rose.

“To say that I am excited about my new role as principal of John Quincy Adams would be an understatement,” said Molinelli. “I am elated to work alongside this wonderful staff and supportive community with the goal of having each child reach their fullest potential. This school is already doing excellent work and I know that we can continue to promote our students to thrive academically and socially.”

Philip Paniccia was named as an associate principal at Robert Frost Middle School. The Setauket resident previously worked as a teacher for 10 years in the Sayville School District and as principal of Sayville Summer School, following a 15-year career in financial service. A graduate of Sachem High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in child study, master’s degree in liberal studies and advance graduate degree in educational leadership from St. Joseph’s in Patchogue and Stony Brook University.

“I strongly hold the belief that we must work toward developing the whole child with an emphasis on recognizing the unique academic, social, and emotional needs of each student,” said Paniccia.

Kelly Benson was named as an associate principal at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School, replacing Celeste Archer, who moved to become associate principal at the two primary schools. Benson previously worked as an elementary school teacher in the Sachem School District. Prior to teaching, she served as a New York City police officer for six years. A resident of Wading River, she earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Iona College, her master’s degree in elementary education from Dowling College, and her post-master’s advanced certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University.

“I am looking forward to a great school year,” said Benson. “We have amazing students and an amazing staff. Together, we will make great things happen.”

Michelle Kwon has been named as the district’s new curriculum associate for ELA, reading and library in grades 6-12, replacing Christine DiProperzio. An educator for 16 years and a certified administrator, she taught English in Deer Park’s middle school and high school for the last eight years. The East Northport resident previously worked as a middle school English and social studies teacher in Little Neck, Queens, and a high school English teacher and dean of English in West Palm Beach, Florida. Kwon earned her bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and her master’s in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University Teachers College.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue working with my colleagues in a different capacity where we continue to support the needs of our students by also focusing on the needs of our educators,” said Kwon.

James Henry is the district’s new curriculum associate for math and business in grades 6-12, replacing John Watson. Henry taught math at the high school for the previous 12 years, including algebra pre-calculus and pre-AP calculus, and served as a mentor to new teachers, lead teacher for Algebra Common Core and a member of the model classroom, as well as director of the high school’s winter play and musical, and as a class and National Honor Society adviser. The North Babylon resident earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Josephs College in Patchogue, his master’s degree in arts and liberal sciences at Stony Brook University, and this past May, his school building and school district leadership certificates from the College of Saint Rose.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to work with my colleagues in a different capacity,” said Henry. “I hope to enhance the Common Core curriculum as well as teaching practices within the department. We offer so many courses and opportunities for student success at Robert Frost and the high school. My goal is to continue to assist teachers to use real-world applications to drive their instruction and motivate students so in turn we can raise student achievement.”