The North Shore School District Board of Education said a tearful goodbye to Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo on April 15, when it accepted his resignation. But trustees also shared a welcoming hello, voting to approve the appointment of Dr. Thomas Dolan as interim superintendent.
“It’s fitting this is our first day back in this library,” board President Dave Ludmar said to Giarrizzo, referring to the trustees’ first in-person meeting, in the high school library, since the coronavirus pandemic exploded, “as it was this very same room you were appointed February 2017.”
The last three years went by quickly, Ludmar said, adding that the district was in a better place because of Giarrizzo’s leadership. His term will officially end on June 30, after which he will become superintendent of the Mount Pleasant School District in Westchester County.
“I want to thank the board for the opportunity to have led these fine schools,” Giarrizzo said. “They are excellent. I have been proud to do this work. My decision to go back to Westchester is one that’s good for my family. It’s a little closer to home. There’s nothing else to it. There’s an opportunity for me to have more time with my boys.”
Dolan will become interim superintendent on July 1, and will serve until no later than June 30, 2022. “We know you are going to be a great addition to North Shore,” Ludmar said to Dolan, “and you are going to keep us on our path to growth and success.”
According to a letter addressed to the North Shore community posted on the district’s website, Dolan is one of the most respected leaders in education on Long Island, and brings a wealth of experience to the job.
As it happens, Giarrizzo and Dolan have known each other for over 20 years, ever since they worked together in the Cold Spring Harbor School District. “I’ve come to admire and respect Peter, and therefore I think this transition will eased by that relationship,” Dolan said. “We are going to be able to work together very well.”
Dolan, 64, who lives in Lindenhurst, was a social studies teacher for 15 years at Canastota High School upstate. He became an administrator when he became dean at Hewlett High School in 1981, and went on to become principal at Cold Spring Harbor Jr./Sr. High School and H. Frank Carey Junior-Senior High School, in Franklin Square. He left Carey in 2000, and became an assistant superintendent at Manhasset Public Schools and a superintendent twice, in the Franklin Square Elementary School District and then in Great Neck Public Schools.
Despite his attempts to retire, opportunities that he could not refuse kept coming his way, Dolan said. One was the interim presidency at Nassau Community College for a year in 2015, and another was opening a graduate center for St. John’s University in Hauppauge. He was interim director of the Northport-East Northport School District until June 2019, and then acting superintendent in the Locust Valley Central School District from August 2019 to June 2020.
“I served [in Locust Valley] in a year that the board was doing a search for a superintendent, and I think that’s one of the things that will make my time in the North Shore a little more helpful,” Dolan said. “That board successfully found a superintendent who I’m happy I’ll be able to work with, as we’re in the same quadrant.”
Dolan said he was practically living on the North Shore district’s website, constantly checking for updates. “Every time I look at the website I’m just more in awe of something that I find: great programs, a commitment to the students, commitment to academics and extracurricular activities,” he said. “It’s a wonderful district, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it for a while.”
“He is someone who has shown a history of being able to step into a situation and hit the ground running, which we are very much looking forward to,” Ludmar said. “One of the things that I was really struck by was his energy, and how excited he is to take this on.”
Dolan said that one of his goals is to help the board search for a permanent superintendent by coordinating the day-to-day activities related to the search. He also plans to help trustees set goals for the upcoming school year and to help prepare and introduce the next budget. He added that the opening of schools in September would be “the most important school opening in many, many years.”
“I say that because we are opening, hopefully, fully live and coming out of the pandemic,” he said. “I think everyone is hopeful that by the time September rolls around, we’re going to be able to go back to an entirely live environment. And it’s not just an on/off switch. People have been changed by this.”
Laura Lane contributed to this story.