Conboy bids Seaford schools farewell

After 33-year career, newly retired superintendent looks back

Brian Conboy, who served as the Seaford School District’s superintendent for seven years, retired this month. He spoke to graduates at commencement on June 24.
Brian Conboy, who served as the Seaford School District’s superintendent for seven years, retired this month. He spoke to graduates at commencement on June 24.
Susan Grieco/Herald

Brian Conboy, 56, said his relationship with the Seaford School District began when he was 5 years old. After his family moved to Seaford from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 1962, he attended Seaford Avenue Elementary School, and the junior and senior high schools, graduating in 1979. About 30 years later, he became the superintendent of schools.

John Striffolino, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, met Conboy when they were students at SUNY Geneseo in the early 1980s. Noting that Conboy has done it all in Seaford — holding positions as a classroom teacher, assistant principal at the high school and principal of the middle school as well as central administrative roles — Striffolino said that if the district had a Mount Rushmore, Conboy’s face would be on it.

“We all joke that the blood that flows through Brian’s veins is really Seaford green,” he said. “He’s very proud of his hometown and wants to keep it the great place that it truly is.” 

After serving the district for 33 years, Conboy announced in September that he would retire this summer. Teachers, administrators and residents said that he brought a homegrown touch and stability to the district since he became superintendent in 2010.

Conboy said that Seaford teachers such as Steve Bongiovi and Joseph Manso inspired him to become an educator. A former lacrosse and football player for the Vikings and a member of the band, Conboy said that Seaford High always seemed special to him — even during the tumultuous 1970s.

“It was a small place that had a lot of community spirit,” he said. “When I had the opportunity to come back to the district, I didn’t forget that.”

Conboy started his career in Seaford as a remedial math teacher, before teaching fourth and fifth grade at Manor Elementary School and sixth grade at the middle school.

When he began working in administration, he recalled, he was conflicted. He loved being in the classroom because he developed strong relationships with students. He’s still in touch with dozens of Seaford alumni today, sharing Christmas cards and news about their lives.

Many of Conboy’s former students returned to Seaford. He said that the community has always been a place where people resettle after they go to college and find jobs, which builds hometown pride.

“It’s not an insular community, but there are a lot of familiar faces around,” he said. “The school is also the central focus of the Seaford community, and that has been a great benefit.”

When Conboy became superintendent, Seaford had gone through five superintendents in a seven-year span. Board of Education President Bruce Kahn said that Conboy helped stabilize the district — even through difficult budget planning processes and Hurricane Sandy.

Conboy, who lives in south Massapequa, led the charge to reopen schools after the storm. Even though his own home was destroyed, he said, he thought it was important to get down to Seaford Harbor and see how students and their families were doing. Many local folks who live on the canals are still recovering today, he noted.

Seaford was the first school district to reopen after Sandy, Conboy said. For one week, students were bused from Harbor to Manor, classes were doubled and teachers and staff members began coordinating food drives and help for local families.

“It was one of my greatest accomplishments in my time as superintendent,” he said. “We were exhausted and elated after that week.”

Striffolino said that when it came time to make difficult decisions, Conboy brought common sense and a cool head to discussions. He added that his longtime friend was a successful superintendent because he valued his relationships with his staff, parents and students, treating everyone with respect.

Conboy said that he decided to retire to spend more time with his family: son Sean, recently graduated from Loyola University in Maryland, and daughter Katie, currently a student at SUNY Geneseo. His wife, Nicole Deuster Conboy, also graduated from Seaford High.

He said that Seaford teachers and parents would still see him in the community at events such as Homecoming. After all, Conboy said, Ray Buckley — a former principal of the high school and Conboy’s mentor — instilled the concept of Seaford Pride in him.

“I think one of the ways that I will be remembered is as the keeper of the flame for Seaford Pride,” Conboy said. “I do believe that there are several others who will keep that flame burning after I leave.”