One of the longest serving trustees in Huntington School District history is retiring after a 12-year run on the board of education. Emily Rogan is stepping down at the end of the month following four terms in office.
An award winning journalist, Mrs. Rogan grew up in the community and graduated from Huntington High School in 1983. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts at Cornell University and a Master of Arts at New York University.
Mrs. Rogan moved back to Huntington from New York City with her husband, Bob (Huntington Class of 1979) 20 years ago. Together they have a son Henry, who recently graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio and a daughter Julia, a senior at Huntington High School.
Looking back over her time as a district trustee, Mrs. Rogan said it was difficult to single out one or key initiatives or actions of which she was most proud. The ones that stand-out the most for her include:
• Bringing order and civility back to the board of education meetings when she first became board president. “We developed a ‘what to expect at board meetings’ document and we were pretty strict about enforcing rules that hadn’t been enforced in the past, such as not bringing up personnel or student matters at the mic,” Mrs. Rogan said. “I think it’s apparent that people are grateful for the tone our meetings have had since.”
• Expanding the dual language to all primary buildings in the district.
• Re-opening Jack Abrams School and creating the STEM Magnet School.
• Restoring full-day kindergarten, “with an incredible partnership from the ATH that helped us accomplish that goal,” she said.
• Moving back to two full-capacity intermediate buildings and returning the primary buildings to K-3 configuration.
• Consistently developing and passing budgets that remained within the tax levy cap while also adding educational programs
• Supporting the addition of the robotics and mock trial teams to the roster of offerings at the high school.
• This year’s initiative that provides all seventh and eighth graders equitable access to the same level of math, rather than a select group.
“But really, the most important action I was part of that has impacted the district in every single way was hiring Jim Polansky as our superintendent,” Mrs. Rogan said. “I often ask people what they think the most important responsibility is for a trustee and they typically answer educational program or budget. In fact, the most important job for a board of education is to hire the best superintendent for the district. I am so happy to have been part of the team that brought Jim on board.”
“Diversity isn’t just a word we toss around”
Mr. Rogan wants the entire Huntington community to know it has a great public school district, which is providing students with an exceptional educational experience.
“Unlike most school districts on Long Island, which tend to be somewhat homogenous in terms of socio-economics, race, culture and ability, our district truly is diverse in every sense of the word,” Mrs. Rogan said. “And in Huntington, diversity isn’t just a word we toss around without understanding its meaning. I realize that we always have more work to do, but we do an excellent job of meeting the needs of our students both in terms of what they need and what they care about. We offer exceptional programming in the fine arts and athletics, the humanities and sciences. At the high school, there is literally something for every student; from those who might need interventional services to those for whom English is a second language to those who thrive in all college level Advanced Placement courses.”
Mrs. Rogan believes the district’s faculty and staff are completely committed to working successfully with students of every age and current level of performance. “I believe our staff recognizes that children don’t learn in a one-size-fits-all model and they go the extra mile to differentiate, as challenging as that can be,” she said.
“Kindness, compassion and empathy”
While state test scores might be important, Mrs. Rogan also likes to consider other aspects of the school experience and believes these are just as important as what occurs in classrooms.
“What I really believe sets our school community apart is the level of kindness, compassion and empathy we see among students and faculty alike,” Mrs. Rogan said. “Think about how the district came together to make Eli Mollineaux’s dream of scoring a touchdown come true. Or how Key Club raised money for a teacher’s daughter battling leukemia. I think back to the year our football team won the Long Island championship against Plainedge years ago. A Sports Illustrated photographer captured the image of our players, the champions, applauding the other team as they walked off the field because they had made it to the championships even while their budget had failed and their district was on austerity. That photo hung for years in my son’s room and to me it symbolizes what athletics should really be about.”
Keeping the focus on students and away from the distractions that can derail a district has been
“That’s what makes Huntington, Huntington”
“Every school district has students who come to school each day fighting private battles most of us can’t imagine,” Mrs. Rogan said. “I am proud that we do a good job reaching out to those children who really need support, love or just a kind word. I know that every day in our district, we have adults looking out for those kids who may not have the same support when they leave our buildings. That level of empathy; that’s what makes Huntington, Huntington.”
When asked where she hopes to see the district go in the future, Mrs. Rogan spent time gathering her thoughts before answering. “That’s such a difficult question to answer because so much of what we do at the local level is impacted by state and federal regulations,” she said. “That said, I hope we continue to make equity a priority whenever there’s an opportunity to do so. I hope that while we continue to expand STEM courses and opportunities, we don’t lose sight of the fact that being a strong communicator, learning to read and think critically is equally important for students, regardless of the careers that they choose. It’s very easy to jump on the tech and STEM bandwagon, but even scientists and engineers need to be comfortable writing and speaking and thinking critically about the world they live in.”
“Prepare our students to be well-informed citizens”
Mrs. Rogan wants to see graduates prepared to move forward as fully functioning citizens in a democracy. “I think the district would serve our students well by offering opportunities to learn how to discern reliable news sources from biased, inflammatory ones,” she said. “We need to prepare our students to be well-informed citizens who can gather their information and make their opinions based on researched, supported facts.”
A longtime interest in the health and wellness of students has never waned during her 12 years on the board of education. “I really want the district to explore farm to table learning, cooking and eating opportunities to add to the curriculum, to make sure all students and families understand the importance of knowing where food comes from, why eating whole foods matters and how it impacts learning and growing,” Mrs. Rogan said.
As she enters her final days as a trustees, Mrs. Rogan is looking ahead to new challenges and opportunities as well as a shifting landscape personally.
“There’s a lot of change afoot in the Rogan household,” the longtime trustee said. “With one of my children heading to China in the fall to teach English and the other heading to the west coast to start her college career, the end of my board service coincides with the empty nest.”
“It has been my greatest joy to serve”
Mrs. Rogan began working for the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island in January, managing a New York State Department of Health planning grant awarded to the organization. “I am really enjoying the work and feel really good about working on behalf of underserved communities across Long Island,” she said. “Service has really been at the core of everything I’ve done for the last 12 years, so I feel a bit like I’m continuing that good work in my new position.”
Bob Rogan is “very excited” for his wife to dust off her golf clubs and join him again on the course. “And I hope we get to do some traveling,” Mrs. Rogan said. “I know we’ll be heading to San Diego and Chengdu, China! And I hope to start writing again soon; maybe get to work on a book.”
Prior to winning her first term on the Huntington School Board in May 2006, Mrs. Rogan had been active in the school community for many years, serving on various district-wide committees and participating in building level PTA organizations. She was elected four separate times by her fellow trustees to serve as president of the board of education.
“I am so thankful to the Huntington community for putting its trust in me for the past 12 years,” Mrs. Rogan said. “It has been my greatest joy to serve this school district and contribute in some small way to making it even better. When I graduated from Huntington High School in 1983, I never dreamed that this was where I’d land to raise my family. As it turns out, there’s no place else I can imagine having settled other than here.”