Christine Finn will be the next superintendent and principal of the Shelter Island School District, starting her term in August.
Ms. Finn, 55, has been assistant superintendent for curriculum of the Herricks School District in New Hyde Park. She emerged as the pick of the Island’s Board of Education over 51 other applicants for the job.
Board President Thomas Graffagnino said Ms. Finn is “great for this community” and “I think this one’s a keeper.”
Board Vice President Linda Eklund described Ms. Finn as “a lovely, soft spoken person” and board member Kathleen Lynch said the new superintendent is down to earth, but brings “the bang” when it comes to her credentials.
Shelter Island was on a short list of districts Ms. Finn had identified as places she would like to lead, partly because, like Herricks, it has a strong involvement with the wider community beyond the campus, she said. Herricks serves village and hamlets several small towns, portions of towns and is very much the center of the community, she added, similar to Shelter Island.
“I felt I could be myself,” she said about her interviews here.
The move from a district of 3,000 students to one of fewer than 300 is within her goals.
A former Brentwood elementary school teacher, Ms. Finn said she missed direct involvement with students. Joining a small district where she will be both superintendent and principal will fill that void, she said.
Ms. Finn came to Herricks from Carle Place where she was an also assistant superintendent, but the move to Herricks gave her the opportunity to “learn how to be a superintendent.”
Earlier in her career, she was an administrator in the Patchogue-Medford School District and taught 1st and 4th grade students at Brentwood. She majored in English at C.W. Post for her undergraduate and master’s degree studies and earned her doctorate at St. John’s University.
She has just rented an apartment in the Wading River area that will put her closer to the Island.
Ms. Finn describes herself as a single mom living with two adult children and in September, a chocolate Labrador puppy will join the family. Eventually, she hopes to buy a house, perhaps in Riverhead.
Ms. Finn will be the eighth superintendent in the job since 1986, and an important consideration for the Board of Education, parents and teachers was to get a superintendent who would be with the district long term.
Although that seems to some like a lot of turnover in the top post, Mr. Graffagnino said he learned from the American Association of Superintendents that three years is the average time a superintendent serves a district.
Consultants from School Leadership, the Malverne firm that conducted the search this year, said small school districts tend to attract superintendents who are either approaching the end of their careers and look for relatively small districts, or young superintendents who seek a smaller district where they can gain experience before moving on to larger districts.
As for Ms. Finn’s outlook, “I’ll stay as long as anybody wants me to stay,” she said.