A Message from the Board of Directors:
We want to take a moment to remember and acknowledge retired West Islip teacher and Board of Education trustee Tom Compitello. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to know “Comp” over the years know his contributions to the West Islip Schools and community.
Tom was highly regarded throughout the community as a man of character and integrity, and with good reason. He was a lifelong resident of West Islip who never stopped giving to the town he loved. Tom was born and raised in West Islip and graduated from West Islip High School in 1969. He had great memories of the town during his youth and often told stories about how he saw the community evolve. Tom then enrolled at the Citadel in South Carolina, where he learned the accent he would carry and the core values that would shape him for the rest of his life. After graduating in 1973 with a degree in history, he began a twenty-two-year career in the Navy. Tom served many roles during this time, from surface warfare officer to naval aviator, retiring at the rank of lieutenant commander.
Once Tom returned home, he began a twenty-year “second career” as an educator in the West Islip School District, giving back to the community where he was raised. He became a beloved Social Studies teacher who could easily relate to his students and whose personality infused his classes. The values he learned and lived in the Navy were passed on to the hundreds of students who came through his classroom over the years. Tom continued to share his experience as an in-house advisor to students who considered serving in any of the Armed Forces but always emphasized the benefits of the United States Navy.
Tom was always one to put others first, whether a student, colleague, or anyone lucky enough to call him a friend. Throughout his time teaching Social Studies in the high school, he regularly took in student teachers, sharing his stories, wit, and wisdom while developing the skills of those young educators. Many teachers and some current and former WITA members learned the ropes under Tom’s guidance. Anyone who got to know Tom will surely have a story about his time teaching in the high school and his love for the community. After his retirement from teaching in 2017, he continued to impact students as a leave replacement at Beach Street Middle School.
Tom followed his days in the classroom with a new way to serve the West Islip community. In 2019 he ran for a trustee seat on the West Islip School District Board of Education, which he easily won with his impressive reputation and resume. Tom could be seen regularly in the schools interacting with students, friends, and former colleagues and talking about all things Navy. He attended many school events and was a fixture at committee and PTSA meetings, where he offered his no-nonsense advice. Anyone who met Tom learned quickly the seriousness he brought to all his endeavors, and this last role was no exception.
Tom Compitello, after giving over twenty years of service to the nation that he loved, returned home and gave over twenty more years of service to the community that he loved. He will be missed by all those who knew him.