Eric Gomez sat in Calhoun High School’s main office and recalled the interactions that he has had with students there during his six years as assistant principal. Each, he said, reminded him why he chose a career in education.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “I pursued something that I absolutely love.”
This school year, Gomez will succeed Michael Harrington as Mepham High School’s principal, after Harrington became the Bellmore-Merrick Central District’s assistant superintendent for instruction on July 1. Harrington took the reins from David Seinfeld, who recently wrapped up more than 15 years in the Central District, first as Calhoun’s principal and later as assistant superintendent.
“They’re big shoes to fill,” Gomez said of Harrington, adding that he has learned a great deal about education from him.
Gomez didn’t always work in education. He studied business at St. John’s University, graduating in 1996 and then working for a number of marketing companies in the private sector. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, the economy faltered, and many of Gomez’s clients stopped putting money into promotions or advertisements. The company for which he worked ultimately closed.
“I found myself trying to figure things out again,” Gomez said, adding that he then started fresh and pursued a career in education. He earned a master’s degree in education from Hofstra University, and his first job was as a teacher at Queens Vocational and Technical High School. He then spent six years teaching in the Baldwin School District, at the same time that he completed a master’s degree in educational administration from the College of Saint Rose in Albany. After that, he worked as an assistant principal at Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore and moved on to become an assistant principal at Calhoun.
“I’ve had a way of connecting with kids since I became a teacher,” Gomez said, recalling his bond with a recent student who shared his zeal for business. Sarah Samir, a June Calhoun gradate, came to his office often to ask for advice on applying to college, choosing a major and life after high school, he said. Samir will study business at Boston College in the fall, and Gomez said that he is proud to have lent her a hand.
At Mepham, Gomez said he plans to begin the school year as an “active observer,” seeking ways to improve operations inside and outside the classroom. This includes incorporating programs and activities from Calhoun, such as the peer-mentoring program, for which students help students with their class and homework.
In addition, Gomez intends to provide more opportunities for teachers, such as professional workshops and one-on-one meetings for personal development.
“It’s all about supporting students,” Gomez said, adding that he is proud to be taking on a new role in a district that is continually seeking to create new opportunities for students. Each high school, he said, has specialized courses and activities that go beyond the basic curriculum, such as the broadcasting classes at Mepham, culinary classes at Kennedy and performance art at Calhoun.