Dennis P. O’Hara has been appointed the next superintendent of schools in the Islip School District.
The Board of Education unanimously approved O'Hara's appointment at the April 20 board meeting, effective July 1.
O'Hara will succeed Dr. Ellen Semel, who will be retiring this June.
“Since my own children were young boys, I have admired the Islip School District and community,” O’Hara said in a statement. “During every visit over the years, and recently, I could sense the tight-knit nature and feel the Islip pride. I am most excited to meet students and families and find ways to be of service. I cannot wait to work with the many dedicated and hard-working teachers, administrators, and staff to help change students' life trajectories. I feel blessed to be joining this school district and I am grateful to the Board of Education for their trust and support. Together, we will help every student develop the confidence to pursue his or her dreams."
Board of Education president Phil Dineen said the school board has worked hard alongside the community to pinpoint what characteristics they wanted to see in the next superintendent.
“One thing that resonated throughout this process was our community’s collective desire to select an individual who will work tirelessly to put students first, support our educators and engage with all stakeholders," Dineen said in a statement. "I am extremely proud to say that we have found those attributes and more in Dr. Dennis O’Hara, as his work is guided by the mantra of ‘students first, pure intentions, best effort.’ We are so grateful to all those who contributed their thoughts, suggestions and input along the way and are happy to welcome him to our Islip school community.”
O’Hara currently serves as the superintendent in the Hauppauge Union Free School District, where he's been since 2016.
While serving in Hauppauge, O’Hara helped to raise student achievement, improve postsecondary outcomes and elevate the external reputation of the school district. His work resulted in a 30 percent increase in the district’s advanced Regents diploma rate, a 10 percent increase in the number of students attending four-year colleges and national recognition for Hauppauge High School.
At Hauppauge, O'Hara also worked with district stakeholders to increase support for students’ emotional and social well-being, develop a districtwide curriculum committee to review and enhance programs, and improved safety and security across all buildings.
Prior to his work in Hauppauge, O’Hara served as the principal of Oyster Bay High School for 13 years.
In 2018, O’Hara received the School Superintendents Association’s 2018 Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award. In his personal time, Dr. O’Hara enjoys serving as an ocean lifeguard at Robert Moses.
O’Hara received his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania, his Master of Science degree from Stony Brook University and his Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY College at Old Westbury. He began his professional career in education as a classroom science teacher.