Jennifer Connolly

(718) 734-3280 ext. 2024

Jennifer Connolly founded Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability in August 2010.  Prior to becoming the founding Principal of Rockaway Park High School, Ms. Connolly worked as a teacher, school counselor and an Assistant Principal.  Most of Ms. Connolly’s career was spent working in District 79.  District 79 is a unique city wide network of over 300 alternative schools and programs serving disengaged, over aged and under-credited youth whose schooling has been interrupted for a range of life circumstances—from pregnancy to incarceration to immigration to prior school failure.  It was while working in District 79 that Ms. Connolly was able to see that students, despite any obstacle that they may face can be successful provided that they are given the proper support.  Ms. Connolly built Rockaway Park High School on the notion that all students deserve to be in a school where the adults know them well, care about them as individuals, hold them to high expectations and prepare them to be successful in college.  
 Rockaway Park and its surrounding neighborhoods is a place that Ms. Connolly holds near and dear to her heart.  Ms. Connolly was born in the Rockaways and her mother, Bari Randal graduated from Far Rockaway High School.  Ms. Connolly’s maternal grandmother was a school crossing guard in the neighborhood and her grandfather was a local mechanic. 
 Ms. Connolly graduated with honors from Elon College in North Carolina.  She learned at Elon that the key ingredients for success was to find the cross between what you are passionate about and good at.  Ms. Connolly’s commitment and passion to ensure equity in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods is what drives her ambition to lead a school where students have the same access to great teachers, rigorous curriculum and first class resources. 
 Ms. Connolly is honored to be the Principal at Rockaway Park High School and is proud to serve the community.

Assistant Principal




Jonathan Metzler, Assistant Principal  

718-734-3280 Ext 2910

Jonathan Metzler has been an educator for 13 years.  He started his educational career at Cobble Hill School of American Studies in Brooklyn where he was a math teacher, a dean, the athletic director and the baseball coach.   He was a member of The New York City Teaching fellows and graduated from Pace University with a Masters in Teaching.  His path to administration began in the CITE program and he received his Advanced Certificate as a School Building Leader in 2012 from The College of St. Rose.


Before becoming an educator, he spent 11 years working on Wall Street in various capacities.  He worked as an Equity Trader, was an Associate at a hedge fund and as an Assistant Portfolio Manager.  Prior to that, he attended the University of Vermont and received a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Management.  He then received a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Investments from Baruch College.  However, Mr. Metzler knew that Wall Street wasn't the place for him, his father was a math teacher for 43 years, and he knew he would follow in his father's footsteps.  A career in education was where he was headed


As an Assistant Principal at Rockaway Park HS, Mr. Metzler oversees the Beach Channel Educational Campus Safety Committee and is a BRT member.  He supervises the Math Department, the Safety and Discipline Program at the school and, because of his background in finance, helps manage the school budget.



Assistant Principal

Dinah Gieske

(718) 734-3280 ext. 2911

Dinah Gieske is an accomplished educational professional with twenty-five years of expertise in administration and teaching, and experience and background in curriculum planning and professional development. She attended SUNY Purchase and majored in Political Science, and then got her Master Degree at Boston University where she worked with Howard Zinn to learn to teach high school social studies. She spent ten years in the Bronx teaching at a small high school and then worked as a consultant with the New York City schools coaching teachers and planning professional development. During this time, she worked to achieve a School Building Leader certificate from City College. She brings key strengths, including proven leadership skills and a commitment to student-centered education, to her current work at Rockaway Park High School as the Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Supervision. Much of her work at Rockaway Park includes curriculum planning with the Common Cores Standards and coaching  teachers using the Danielson Teacher Frameworks.


Assistant Principal

Rafael Cruz

(718) 734-3280 ext. 2028

Rafael Cruz has been an educator for about twenty-five years. He has a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Supervision and School Administration from Queens College, a Master’s in Arts and Bilingual Education from City College, An Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from New York City College of Technology, and Bachelor in Journalism from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. Before working in education, Mr. Cruz worked in his native country, the Dominican Republic, as a journalist. In Manhattan, NY, he hosted and produced a weekly television program titled, Forum 2000.

As an educator, he has played different roles since 1992, when he joined the Department of Education, both as a teacher and later as an administrator. He started working as a bilingual social studies teacher and has taught American History and Government, Global Studies, Street Laws, Economics, and Participation in Government. He was Project Achieve Coordinator and developed programs to help students at-risk from dropping out of high school. He has been coordinator of the school mentoring committee, a member of the School Leadership Team, and actively participated in community outreach and parental involvement. He has written and received several grants to work with students with formal interrupted education. He was recognized by the United Federation of Teachers with the Ely Trachtenberg Award for his work on behalf of the teaching profession.

Mr. Cruz has been a school administrator since 2003. That year, he started working as an Instructional Support Specialist (ISI) for Region 5, which included district 19, 23, and 27. As ISI, he developed and implemented ESL/Bilingual programs to serve the needs of English Language Learners in collaboration with school-based administrators. The following year, he became an Assistant Principal and was responsible for supervising the following departments: Social Studies, ESL/Foreign Language, Technology, Business Hotel, and Hospitality. He has supervised and supported teachers in implementing instructional programs and integrating technology that promotes language development (Balanced Literacy, CALLA, SIOP, READ 180, and Achieve 3000).