Dedicated to the district

South Country superintendent to retire after nine years of service

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Dr. Joseph Giani made a promise back in 2013. And it was one he has certainly kept.

“It’s a wonderful community. I am not one that bounces around,” he said, noting that upon being hired, he promised he wasn’t going to leave. “I wanted to go somewhere and make a difference, and that’s what I chose to do here.”

After nine years as head of the South Country Central School District, Giani remembers his time fondly.

“I think I am the longest-running super here. I am pretty proud of that,” he said.

Upon his arrival at South Country, he said, the district was coming off a bit of turmoil with a certain lack of trust.

“It was a great district with a lot going on, but no coordination,” he said of putting certain systems in place.

He is most proud of putting together a community leadership network, updating curriculum, creating a dual language program and magnet school at Brookhaven, the early childhood center at Southaven, and bringing pack programing from previous budget cuts, as well as the revitalization and implementation of the courtyard at Frank P. Long.

“I could just go on and on; every year we managed to do something and improve something,” he said. “I actually thought about retiring last year. But [I] just couldn’t leave the district.”

He originally came to the district after over 25 years in the Huntington Union Free School District. In Huntington, he started as a physical education teacher fresh out of college, graduating from Brockport State University with a degree in physical education.

Later, he became the department chair and district director of the physical education department at Huntington in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, before landing a role as their assistant superintendent for personnel and general administration in 2001. He served in that position until 2013, before coming to Bellport.

He was also a wrestling sports coordinator at NYSPHSAA and then the principal of a regional summer school for Western Suffolk BOCES in Dix Hills in the ‘90s, and an adjunct professor briefly at Dowling College and Long Island University in the early 2000s in the educational administration departments.

“I have had the pleasure of working for Dr. Giani for almost nine years now,” said his secretary, Sara Cioffaletti. “Throughout that time, I have always been impressed with his ability to lead the district with such a calm and steady demeanor, especially through some tough times. I will always be grateful for the guidance he provided, and for his friendship. He will certainly be missed.”

This year marks his 41st year in education. The reason for his retirement, he explained, is it is just time.

“It’s time to be with the family,” he added. “Not going anywhere, no big plans. Just me and my wife spending time with our grandchild.”

Giani, 63, and his wife, Linda, live in Centerport. Together they have two grown sons. (His third son, Justin, tragically passed away in 2015 at age 25.) They have one grandchild, who lives nearby—though admittedly, farther than he would like—in Shoreham.

The South Country Board of Education has hired an outside consultant and posted for the job opening earlier this month.

“We're at a point poised for even greater change,” he said, looking forward to seeing someone else move the district forward.

Giani plans to remain in his position until the end of July rather than June, to help facilitate the transition. He also hinted at possibly returning as a substitute teacher at some point.

“Dr. Giani’s retirement presents an opportunity to acknowledge positive contributions he made to the South Country Central School District,” added board president Anne Hayes. “As we conduct our search for a successor superintendent, we can recognize the best parts of the foundation laid during Dr. Giani’s tenure so we can continue to build upon them. We wish him well in his retirement.” 

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