Peter Crugnale is one of Huntington High School’s most colorful personalities. He took a winding route into his social studies classroom, but since he made the career change, the veteran faculty member has enjoyed many happy days.
A member of Hauppauge High School’s Class of 1983, Mr. Crugnale went on to earn a BA degree in political science at SUNY Stony Brook in 1987. “I wanted to become involved in political lobbying and advocacy work,” he said. “I wound up getting a job in a community residence program for adults with psychiatric disabilities, as I felt that was a group that was in need of representation in the political system.”
It wasn’t long before Mr. Crugnale found himself working as a case manager for adults with mental illness, homeless mothers with children and homeless adults with AIDS. “During that time span, I decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in social work, but decided at the last minute that I was already starting to feel burned out. I made an immediate decision to change career paths and go into teaching. That very same day I applied to SUNY Stony Brook for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree program for the teaching of social studies.”
Fast forward. With certification in hand, Mr. Crugnale landed a teaching position at Huntington High School in 1997 and obtained his master’s degree a year later.
Longtime Huntington teacher
“I was inspired to teach by my uncle, Ken Starcke who was a Spanish and math teacher at RL Simpson and J. Taylor Finley Junior High Schools in Huntington,” Mr. Crugnale said. “He always made it sound like such fun and he helped guide me into becoming the teacher I am today. He was right. Teaching is fun and as I enter my 21st year, I am having just as much fun as when I first started. Huntington was and still is a great place to work.”
Married for the past 26 years and the father of a daughter and son, Mr. Crugnale has led an interesting life. “My daughter just started college this year and my son, James attends Huntington High School,” he said. “He goes to work with me every day. He started here last year as a tenth grader and right away he commented to me about how dedicated the teachers were and how nice the students were compared to his previous high school.”
A professional stand-up bass player for the past quarter century, Mr. Crugnale has enjoyed some degree of success as a rockabilly musician. The Long Island Hornets even developed a following in Japan, Holland and Australia. “Go figure,” he said.
The type of teacher who likes to keep his classes interesting, Mr. Crugnale is a formidable conversationalist. There's just about nothing he wouldn’t do for a good cause. Take his cherished hair, for example. He agreed to get a Mohawk haircut if his team raised at least $500 for Relay For Life and then followed through, making him a sight to behold walking down the hallway and standing in front of his students.
A lover of classic cars, Mr. Crugnale also enjoys traveling. He’s participated in 11 different international trips with students since 2010.
Mr. Crugnale is teaching classes in Global History and Advanced Placement Psychology this year. He gives his students every bit of energy and enthusiasm he can summon on any given day.
“Peter is a teacher with a deep content area knowledge and great passion for guiding students in understanding the ‘big ideas in history, psychology and philosophy,” said Joseph Leavy, district chairperson of humanities, 7-12.
Respected by his faculty colleagues and well-liked by students and parents, Mr. Crugnale’s colorful personality helps make Huntington High School the interesting place it is.