Erik Walter was appointed as principal of Riverside Elementary School, the Rockville Centre Board of Education announced on June 18. He is scheduled to officially step into the role on Aug. 1.
Walter, 37, was born and raised in Rockville Centre, attending Wilson Elementary School, South Side Middle School and South Side High School, from which he graduated in 1999.
“Having that foundation built as a student in Rockville Centre, and now being able to come back to Rockville Centre and assume a principalship at Riverside School is really full-circle,” Walter told the Herald. “It’s really heartfelt and it really has a tremendous amount of meaning to me through and through.”
He began his career teaching fourth- and fifth-grade for the New York City Department of Education and later was an assistant principal for four years at P.S. 64 in Ozone Park. He then went to the East Rockaway School District, where he spent the last five years as the principal of Rhame Avenue Elementary School.
“Mr. Walter’s previous experiences as both a teacher and an administrator have prepared him extremely well to be the principal at Riverside School,” Schools Superintendent Dr. William Johnson wrote in a letter to the school’s parents earlier this month. Walter will hold a “meet and greet” with Riverside parents sometime in August.
He will replace Tricia Bock, who announced her retirement in May, effective June 30. “The Rockville Centre School District and the Board of Education are greatly indebted to Mrs. Bock for her 32 years of exemplary service to the children of Riverside School and to our community,” the district posted on its website. “We would like to thank her for those many years of service and wish her a long, healthy and happy retirement.” Bock could not be reached for comment.
Walter noted the culture that Bock has built over her three decades. He said he hopes to build upon that foundation by bringing innovative learning experiences for students, incorporating technology and STEAM and creating strong connections with families and the community. He also stressed promoting positivity, excitement and a love for learning.
“One thing I really feel strongly about too is providing students opportunities outside of the classroom setting to really project who they are in different ways,” he said, noting, for example, the importance of plays and performances.
In addition to thanking Dr. Johnson and the Board of Education, Walter said his time in East Rockaway meant a lot to him.
“That opportunity helped me be prepared to assume this position and really fulfill that lifelong dream,” Walter said. “…It’s really an exciting next step on my journey, and I feel like it’s a place now that I’m really going to be able to call home. I see myself, for the rest of my career, being a part of Rockville Centre schools.”