Interim Vice Principal Returns to PMHS for 2022-2023 School Year


Hannah Steinberg

Leprine happily welcomes in new school year

Hannah Steinberg, News Editor

Richard Leprine was welcomed into Pelham Memorial High School’s 2022-2023 school year upon being appointed as the interim assistant principal in the wake of the resignation of Bethany Antonelli in July. 

Leprine had this position at Pelham before he was named principal of John Jay High School and John Jay Middle School in Cross River, a position he held until his retirement in 2018.

“Being back at Pelham is like getting back on a bicycle after you haven’t ridden one in a while. Initially, you are thinking about what’s changed, but in the end, you find a good groove and take off enjoying the ride. I think from the standpoint of coming out of the pandemic; it is good to be a part of the school culture that’s coming back and is a new beginning. And so it’s kind of neat to be part of that resurgence of energy, and for me, it’s energizing to be back in school,” Leprine shares.

Leprine had come out of retirement to help Pelham due to his admiration of the district and his time working here. “I’ve always had a fondness for Pelham. I had a very good experience here. When I arrived in 1998, I had an opportunity to work with some terrific administrators and a caring and dedicated staff. And so I’ve always looked fondly upon my time here. And so when this opportunity arose, and, you know, I had an opportunity to come down and help with the vacancy, I felt like it was, you know, a good thing to do for the school and, and for myself to come back, and it’s great seeing some of the same folks that I work with 20 years ago that are still here,” says Leprine. “Pelham is very familiar to me. So in that respect, to some, in some ways, I feel like I never left, you know, which has really helped the transition for me. I am excited to be back, and it has been terrific working with Mr. Berkowitz and Dr. Champ, who are both very engaging, and open to thinking about schools in ways that are beneficial for students. It’s also important to have a very good working relationship, you know, the kind of an open door policy. It’s all about relationships, and what, I really have noticed early on, is the emphasis on creating a great environment which is conducive to learning, and focus on teaching and learning.”

Although the core values that make Pelham unique have remained the same, he still recognizes some of the positive changes that have occurred since he left. “I think there are some changes in the program that really is, quite frankly, awesome. I mean, when I’m looking at the academy program and the Academy plus program, which didn’t exist when I was here, I see how great they are. Those are opportunities for students to get help from their teachers after school. In the case of Academy, plus, it is even an additional program to help students that really could use that additional time to support them academically. Overall, it looks like a lot of the programs have grown. There are more courses and more offerings for students, which is great. More choices for students are always a good thing. It broadens their experiences, and their learning experiences and opportunities have been expanded. There is new construction, such as the new wing and the art rooms, and Alumni Hall wasn’t here 20 years ago.”

The time he will be here is uncertain because there’s a search for a full-time assistant principal, but he will stay as long as he can until they find an assistant Principal. Leprine aspires to help in that transition, accomplishing other things during his time at Pelham. “My intention is to just support Berkowitz, the staff, and students in any way I can. I think we’ve had a pretty smooth opening to the school year, so I just hope to continue to keep the positive energy moving for a good school year,” says Leprine. “My hands are full right now since I have the unenviable task of handling school discipline, which I want to do in a very constructive way that is educational. Mr. Berkowitz and the administration have developed these new guidelines for the school year, so part of my job with discipline is to just be fair and consistent. I’m here to listen to the students and support them as best I can, but at the same time, there are going to be times when you have to make some tough decisions. I’m looking to help Mr. Berkowitz with things right now, such as on the ninth-grade field trip to provide a real, valuable experience for ninth graders to bond together as a class through some activities. And I am working to absolutely support the teachers, who have new ideas they want to implement in the classroom which I can be a resource for. Most of all I am here to be a person that could help to move teaching and learning forward, because, in the end, that’s what, that’s what we’re here for.”

“Pelham is a very unique place. And it was, to me, this role is a unique power since Pelham was a place that I really felt had a fondness for and is a nice fit. It has worked out well, and I hope to make as many connections with people as I can in the short time that I hear.”