The Locust Valley Board of Education voted unanimously during its virtual May 5 meeting to appoint Dr. Kenneth E. Graham as the district’s new superintendent for the next four school years. He will replace Dr. Thomas Dolan, on July 1, who has served as the district’s interim superintendent during the 2019-20 school year.
“I truly am humbled and I have great gratitude for all the work that you’ve done,” Graham told the board, “and certainly the commitment that you’ve made to me . . . I’m honored that the board has selected me and placed their trust in me to be the leader of this outstanding educational community.”
Graham said he had spent the earlier parts of his administrative career as the superintendent of the Long Beach and Sachem school districts. His experiences in those districts has prepared him for the challenges that lie ahead, he said, as he helped lead the Long Beach district through Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In Sachem, Graham said he guided the district following a great financial crisis, during which three schools were closed. He said he plans to bring the expertise he gained through those experiences into Locust Valley.
“Similar work will need to take place here as we plan for an uncertain future following the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic,” Graham said. “As a district, we will be fully committed to guiding our students, families and staff through the challenges ahead in a transparent and collaborative manner.”
Board President Jennifer Maselli said the district received 42 applications for the superintendent position and brought four applicants in for interviews. Graham was impressive, she said, from the first interview, because he came prepared, having done plenty of research on the Locust Valley district before coming in. Graham knew the district’s test scores, programs and AP placements before even setting foot in Locust Valley.
“He really is a great combination of someone who is able to build relationships and someone who understands what we need instructionally,” Maselli said.
The board was also impressed by Graham’s résumé. The district had spent much of this school year speaking with the community, she said, asking what they wanted from a new superintendent. One of the most consistent answers was that parents wanted somebody with experience and given the hardships and challenges Graham conquered while at Long Beach and Sachem, she said he more than fits the bill.
“There are a lot of things that can fall in your lap and you need to innovate,” Maselli said, “and he’s the man that can do that.
In speaking with his past colleagues, Maselli said Graham was always present in his former districts, attending as many school events as possible, something which she said will translate to Locust Valley. “He’s going to immerse himself in our school community,” Maselli said, “and I think our community is going to love him.”
Board Trustee Brian Nolan said Graham’s experience and vision for the district are exactly what the board was looking for in a superintendent. His expertise in school plant management, curriculum and instruction are going to greatly enhance the education and well-being of Locust Valley’s students, Nolan said.
Nolan said he believes that Graham’s proven ability to guide school districts through hardships will play a great role in his success as a superintendent moving forward. Every school district presents its challenges, Nolan said, and he is looking forward to seeing what sort of improvements Graham will bring to Locust Valley moving forward.
“We have unique challenges,” Nolan said, “but we also have bright futures for our young students. It’s definitely an amazing community and I think he’s going to propel us into the future.”