In September 2023, Ms. Wanda Ortiz-Rivera was appointed as the Interim Superintendent of Schools. Born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, at the age of 16 she travelled to New York State to enroll at Dowling College to pursue higher education. There, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Science and Math with a minor in Spanish Literature in 1991. After that, she also went on to earn a Master of Business Administration in 1992 and a Master of Education in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Columbia University Teachers College in 2004.
Ms. Ortiz-Rivera began her career here with us, in Brentwood, as a dual language teacher at Southwest Elementary School in 2001. She later served as a Teacher on Special Assignment/Mentor Teacher, Assistant Coordinator for Bilingual Programs, Assistant Coordinator for ELA and Social Studies Programs, Coordinator of Bilingual/ENL Programs, Assistant Superintendent of Bilingual Programs and Student Intake K-12, and until recently, Interim Superintendent of Schools. This past year she was appointed to her current role as Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Instruction and Bilingual Education and is responsible for the supervision and development of all secondary schools and guides the overall administration and evaluation of the district’s Bilingual/ENL education programs. She also works directly with the Office of Funded Programs in the development of ESSA and competitive grants and ensures compliance.
Ms. Ortiz-Rivera is an active member of the NYSED ELL Leadership Council, NYSED World Language Council, ASCD, Curriculum Council, NYSABE and LILTA, among other organizations. She has been recognized for her advocacy and contributions to the field of education and community service. Some of the recognitions have been granted by Teachers College, the Fundacion Ortega and Gasset, NYSABE, the Town of Islip and the Brentwood Board of Education.
Ms. Ortiz-Rivera feels blessed to serve our students and our Brentwood community. Her devotion is obvious; as a mother of one, she shares, “At an early age, [her] son quickly realized that he had 18,000 brothers and sisters!” Ever grateful for the work and passion our principals, administrators, teachers, teaching assistants, guidance counselors and staff demonstrate every day, she always strives to do more. Ms. Ortiz-Rivera believes that diversity is the strength of the Brentwood School District, "It is a unique “superpower” our students possess, and its uniqueness needs to be celebrated. Let’s keep loving our smart and talented students!"
Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operation
Stacy O’Connor is the Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations with the Brentwood Union Free School District with responsibility for all financial functions of the School District, including Accounting, Budgeting, Payroll, Purchasing, as well as Employee Benefits, Food Services, Transportation, Information Technology, Security, Buildings and Grounds, and Production. She began working for the district in 2005 as the Assistant to the Director of Business Services before becoming the Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations in 2007.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey, a Masters of Business Administration from Dowling College, a Professional Diploma in School District Administration from Dowling College and received distinction as a Registered School Business Official with the Association of School Business Officials International.
Ms. O’Connor has served on the Executive Board of Suffolk Association of School Business Officials for six years and currently serves on the New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR) Board of Governors. She is a member of the New York State Association of School Business Officials, the Suffolk Association of School Business Officials, and the Association of School Business Officials International. She was a participant on an advisory board for The Omni Group and presented at the Nassau/Suffolk Bar Association Conference. She appeared as a guest speaker at post graduate Education Administration classes for Dowling College and SUNY Stony Brook. She served as the Islip Chapter Business Official Cluster co-leader. She has mentored numerous interns, many of whom are serving as administrators throughout Long Island.
Ms. O’Connor takes pride in maintaining the District’s strong fiscal position. For nearly two decades, she has pursued alternate funding sources, negotiated with vendors, created bids/RFPs and worked with colleagues to develop creative, cost saving solutions to challenges. The savings from these actions redirected millions of dollars to support students that would have been expended elsewhere. “Working together, we all play an important role in helping our students achieve success both now and in the future.”
Ann Palmer has been the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education since 2018. She oversees the district’s 11 elementary schools and supervises the academic programs at our Universal Pre-Kindergarten institutions at Shepherd’s Gate, MDQ Academy, and Family Service League. Ms. Palmer also works collaboratively with District-level Curriculum Coordinators for Guidance, Language Arts and Social Studies, Math, Science, and Technology, Performing and Fine Arts, and Physical Education, Health and Athletics. Ms. Palmer received a Bachelor of Arts from Dowling College in English/Secondary Education, a Master of Arts in Literacy Acquisition, and a Professional Diploma in School District Administration which has provided her with a wealth of knowledge in teaching and learning and establishing vertical articulation from the elementary level to high school.
A Brentwood High School graduate, Ms. Palmer began her career in the Evening/Summer High School program in 1993 before assuming a full-time position teaching English in the Ross Center in September of 1996. Ms. Palmer credits her promotion to English Department Chairperson in July 2001 to the many administrators at the high school and district level who inspired a passion for leadership. She then assumed the position of Assistant Principal in the Sonderling Center before transitioning to a district level position in 2008 where she spent ten years as the Coordinator of Language Arts and Social Studies.
Ms. Palmer served as co-chair of several district committees for 20 years collaborating with teachers and administrators to adopt innovative curriculum and develop standards aligned instructional frameworks. Ms. Palmer was also an active member on the Executive Board of the Brentwood Principals and Supervisors Organization (BPSO) for 5 years with some of the most accomplished administrators across our schools. Currently, Ms. Palmer is a member of the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Curriculum Council comprised of Assistant Superintendents of Curriculum and Instruction representing 51 component school districts as well as a proud member of the Brentwood Rotary Club.
Ms. Palmer is deeply committed to improving student outcomes and communicating the Superintendent’s vision for excellence in student education by promoting collaboration and teamwork, a common understanding of high-quality instruction, and healthy relationships throughout the district which she believes is crucial to sustaining a vibrant learning community. Ann strives to engage all educators in learning about how leadership works to build a learner focused climate that will transcend her tenure in Brentwood.
Assistant Superintendent of Special Services
Rhonda Young is Assistant Superintendent of Special Services for Brentwood Union Free School District. She began her career in the district in 2001, as a Special Education Teacher in North Middle School right after receiving a Master of Science in Education from Long Island University with a minor in Special Education. During her time with the district, she also worked in Brentwood High School (Ross and Sonderling) as a teacher before becoming the Assistant to the Director in the Office of Special Services for Secondary Education in 2015. After almost 20 years of service to the district, Rhonda became the Director of Special Services in 2020. In January of 2022, her title was changed from Director to Assistant Superintendent of Special Services.
Ms. Young played an instrument part in establishing multiple programs throughout the district to help our students become more competitive applicants for college and jobs. She initiated the approval of NCAA modified courses, a new Financial Math elective and changed the flow of classes as well as, coordinated the construction of the Adaptive Living Skills Classroom. She recognizes that celebrating our students is equally as important as preparing them for life after high school. Ms. Young initiated the Special Happenings Newsletter which highlights Special Services events and the achievements of students in the district. She also coordinated the Perfect Attendance Awards Ceremony and organized the District Tree Lighting Ceremony for better community relations.
Over the years, Ms. Young has received several recognitions from the district such as the Brentwood High School PTSA Certificate of Appreciation in 2006 for her outstanding work and contribution toward the Pancake Breakfast. She also received a recognition award in 2015, from the Brentwood Board of Education for advocacy and leadership. Ms. Young has received numerous awards from outside organizations as well for her tremendous contributions to the community which includes a Certificate of Recognition from the Suffolk County Legislature in 2016, SCOPE Community Service Award in 2017, and a Women of Influence & Notoriety (W.I.N) Award in 2018. Most recently, she received a New York State Assembly Citation for Community Service in 2021.
As Assistant Superintendent of Special Services, Co-Chair for Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), and a current resident of this community, her priority is to build new and productive relationships with all stakeholders. Ms. Young strongly believes that genuine collaboration fosters a rich school culture. "Communities must work together to prepare each student to realize their full potential to become productive, responsible citizens, and life-long learners."
Matthew Gengler is the new Superintendent of Secondary Education who oversees the four Middle Schools, the Freshman Campus and the High School as of December 2023. He will be working collaboratively with District-level Curriculum Coordinators for Guidance, Language Arts and Social Studies, Math, Science, and Technology, Performing and Fine Arts, and Physical Education, Health and Athletics. Matt received a Bachelor of Science in Education for Social Science from Campbell University, North Carolina where he played Division I Soccer. He completed a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and earned a Professional Diploma in Coaching from SUNY Stony Brook University. After almost 10 years of teaching Social Studies at Brentwood West Middle and Coaching Boys' Varsity Soccer at his alma mater, Shoreham-Wading River High School, he completed his School District Administration program from Touro College. These collective experiences provided him with invaluable experience in being a hard-working team member, a dedicated teacher, a competitive coach and a leader.
Matt began his career in 1990 as a secondary substitute teacher working at the Brentwood Freshman Campus (known as the 10th Grade Center at the time), the High School and all four Middle Schools. He enjoyed a leave replacement at the 10th Grade Center, the Sonderling before coming a permanent substitute at West Middle School. In 1994, Matt was thrilled when he became a full-time Social Studies Teacher and Wrestling Coach at West Middle. He went on to serve as Assistant Principal at South Middle from 2003-2006 and then onto the High School where he served as Assistant Principal 2007-2010. In 2010, he was appointed as the Principal of West Middle School where he began his journey of "Be the Change". In 2012, he was assigned to Brentwood North Middle School where he recently completed a highly successful tenure. In working collaboratively with the school community and stakeholders, North Middle School was successfully removed from the NYSED Accountability Status of School in Need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI).
Matt Gengler has worked in Brentwood District for over 34 years and is so proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of so many families' school-life experiences. The diverse professional experiences combined with a commitment to support administrators, teachers and students continue to drive him as a passionate educator who seeks to inspire, support and celebrate our Brentwood scholars.