As of Sept. 30, 2023, the Brentwood Union Free School District will witness a change in leadership. Superintendent Richard Loeschner has announced his intention to retire at the end of the month, with Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education and Bilingual Education Wanda Ortiz-Rivera being named interim superintendent for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year.
Mr. Loeschner has led the Brentwood Union Free School District since 2017, overseeing significant changes in capital improvement funding and the district's position within Long Island's education sector. Prior to becoming superintendent, he served as the principal of South Middle School and Brentwood High School, earning the title of New York State's Principal of the Year in 2016. His journey with the district began in 2000 when he led the math department at the high school. With over 38 years in education, including 24 dedicated to the Brentwood Union Free School District, he retires with a wealth of experience and accomplishments. Outgoing Superintendent Richard Loeschner stated, “It has been an honor to be part of this district and community for so long. I will miss our students!”
Mr. Loeschner's retirement was accepted during the district's July board meeting, and Ms. Ortiz-Rivera will officially assume her interim role as superintendent on September 30th.
A bilingual administrator who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ms. Ortiz-Rivera is deeply passionate about providing access to education and supporting systems for all students to succeed. At the age of 16 and not initially speaking English, 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 has served the Brentwood Union Free School District for more than two decades, beginning as a dual-language teacher at Southwest Elementary School in 2001. She has served in several positions in the district along with working with the Office of Funded Programs in the development of competitive grants for the students of the district. Additionally, she has been responsible for the overall administration and evaluation of the Bilingual/ENL Education programs, which has become a model program for the state.
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 firmly believes that the diversity within the Brentwood School District is its strength, a unique "superpower" possessed by its students. Her vision is clear: to celebrate and nurture this uniqueness while continuing to provide the highest quality education to all students. “The Brentwood community is not just a place to work, it is my family,” Ms. Ortiz-Rivera said of her role. “My students are the medicine to my soul.”