Longtime educator begins new chapter as West Hempstead High School’s principal


With 27 years of experience in education, James DeTommaso has developed not only a love of teaching, but also a passion for leadership. He was officially appointed West Hempstead High School’s new principal on July 1, and says he plans to make the most of his experience to help students and staff reach their potential.

“I hope to continue to raise the bar for all students at West Hempstead High School,” DeTommaso said, “so they can compete academically in the classroom, during extracurricular activities and in all aspects of their lives.”

DeTommaso, 51, graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1990 with a degree in social sciences. He earned a master’s in special education and a professional diploma in education administration at LIU Post. Most recently, he was assistant principal in the East Rockaway School District for 17 years.

He sounded excited about his new position. “I’m enjoying it. It’s a great community and a committed staff,” he said. “So far, they’ve been a very supportive team. And I love and think it’s important that it’s such a diverse [school].”

He added that he understands that high school principals have a lot of responsibility. “I believe that a good leader is able to work with different constituents of people,” DeTommaso said, “and a major part of that is motivating the staff and students.”

He stressed that the teamwork and welcoming attitude of the staff are what make the high school special. It is evident, he said, that faculty members are dedicated to their students. “They have unlimited potential, and it feels good,” DeTommaso said of the students. “I plan on assisting the community to help raise the bar so that our student body can continue to compete academically with students on Long Island and across the country.”

He said he hopes to ensure that all students have opportunities to succeed in and out of the classroom, and noted that they are the “heartbeat” of the school. He even joked that if need be, his experience as an All-American student-athlete at Farmingdale High School, where he played lacrosse, might be useful when it comes to building relationships with students.

“I hope to cultivate in students a love of learning, and to encourage them to find a path in life that makes them happy,” DeTommaso said. “I look forward to working with the entire school community to reach this goal.”