After 40 years of public school service on Long Island, Sewanhaka Central High School Superintendent James Grossane announced his plans to retire on June 30.
As a result, the Sewanhaka school board hired Thomas Dolan as interim superintendent, effective July 1, to fill the role during the search for a new superintendent. Dolan, a Lindenhurst resident and a retired superintendent of Great Neck Public Schools, also served as former interim president of Nassau Community College, assistant superintendent of Manhasset Public Schools and acting superintendent of the Locust Valley Central School District.
Grossane began his education career in 1982 as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped in the East Meadow Public Schools. He was hired as Sewanhaka’s superintendent in 2019 and his initial contract was for three years, ending in the summer of 2022.
His contract was extended for an additional three years, but after many conversations with his family, Grossane said it was time to “pass the torch” to the next generation of educational leaders.
The school board said to find the right replacement for Grossane, it plans to undergo an in-depth interview process with search firms to meet the needs of the central high school district. With 14 other superintendents reportedly retiring in the area, district officials said it is even more crucial for the district to get started with the process.
“It’s very important to pick the right firm, it’s very important to get the right candidates and it’s right to get input from the community and not rush this,” Grossane said. “This is a complex place to manage and you need someone who knows what to do.”
The interim selection, Dolan, boasts more than 40 years of experience in the education field. He was a social studies teacher for 15 years at Canastota High School in upstate Canastota. His career path as an administrator began when he accepted the position of dean at Hewlett High School in 1981. He went on to become principal at two different schools — Cold Spring Harbor Junior-Senior High School and spent seven years at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square.
“He was actually principal at H. Frank Carey when I was the principal of Washington Street School, so we’re going back at least 26 years,” Grossane said. “I know you will see that he will always have the best interest for our students in our communities.”
Grossane added that he believes Dolan’s extensive experience in education will keep the district moving forward while the search is on for a permanent replacement.
During his latest position as interim superintendent for the North Shore School District, Dolan assisted in expanding dual-credit opportunities for students and established a community advisory for the budget process. He also helped with the appointment of his successor and aided the board of education with recruiting a firm to assist with the new superintendent’s arrival.
Dolan went through a similar process as the acting superintendent of the Locust Valley Central School District, where he was actively involved in the transition of the new superintendent.
At a recent school board meeting, Dolan expressed his excitement for the opportunity at Sewanhaka. He reflected on one of his first administrative experiences working at the H. Frank Carey High School and said he looks forward to collaborating with familiar faces and new ones in the community.
“There is a sense of coming home,” Dolan said. “And while I know there is a sense of coming home, I also know that you can’t step in the same river twice, and things have changed — this is a new community in many ways.”