Awards

Nominate A Colleague for a SAANYS Award!winners Each year, we celebrate exceptional New York State administrators with an awards program and banquet held in their honor. This program was established to recognize educators who demonstrate outstanding leadership skills and have made exceptional contributions to the educational process. SAANYS is proud to highlight their accomplishments and share their successes with our members and the public. For more information on the SAANYS awards program, please contact Susan Jaronski at sjaronski@saanys.org.

SAANYS is the official state affiliate to the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and their annual awards programs.

PLEASE NOTE: The application for the NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year award must be completed in full by November 15, 2019.

2019 Awards

SAANYS NYS High School Principal of the Year and NASSP NYS Principal of the Year - Timothy Jenny

Timothy Jenny, principal at James A. Green High School in the Dolgeville Central School District, has been selected as the 2019 New York State High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS to recognize outstanding principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

Jenny will also represent New York as the NASSP NYS Principal of the Year as sponsored by SAANYS’ national affiliate, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). In addition to selecting a National Principal of the Year from all the state finalists, NASSP honors all state principals of the year at the Principal’s Institute held each year in Washington, DC.

A dedicated leader in the district, Jenny is known as a principal who truly cares about all students. Every morning before school starts, he makes a point of greeting each student, often commenting on their individual successes, as they make their way into the school. On the last day of school before the holiday winter break, Jenny hands out hot chocolate to everyone as they enter school. He notes, “As a principal, I am always looking for ways to let students and staff know that we genuinely care about them, that we are a family, and that we will do what it takes to help everyone succeed.” Jenny created a group to represent the student body known as the Principal’s President Cabinet. Student presidents of each class, National Honor Society, and Student Council, along with the student board member, meet at least once a month in “cabinet” meetings with Jenny to share exciting ideas and to ensure that they have a voice in their school. In addition, Jenny, along with the school counselor, set up individual meetings with every freshman to get to know them and their needs, challenges, goals, and accomplishments. Seniors also participate in exit interviews to reflect on their time at the school and to share their thoughts on how the school can improve to better serve the students. Commented student Sandra Gonyea, “We are very lucky that we are able to connect so well with all of the adults who work in our school system. Mr. Jenny and many of the other staff are often found wandering the halls or attending sporting events after hours. They go above and beyond to show us that they care even outside of the classroom.”

Inspired by his passion of flying airplanes, Jenny created the school motto “Soar to Success” and arranged for one of the art teachers to paint a mural of an airplane skywriting the motto while flying over the Adirondacks at the entrance of the school. This message has become so popular that it has even appeared in some senior’s graduation speeches. Commented recently retired Superintendent Christine Reynolds, “Mr. Jenny models integrity, compassion, and kindness, and expects the same from all students and adults at the school… He knows every student in the high school by name and asks them if they are having any difficulties and how he can help them to be more successful as students and as people.” Commented parent Jennifer Winkler, “Mr. Jenny promotes success for all students. His vision of ‘Soar to Success’ is beautifully painted in the high school lobby where you enter the school and is visually achieved through his evident love and passion for all students and teachers. Mr. Jenny leads by example in his philosophy of our students are priority 1.”

SAANYS and NASSP NYS Assistant Principal of the Year - William Bohen

William Bohen, assistant principal at Transit Middle School in the Williamsville Central School District, has been selected as the 2019 New York State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually by SAANYS and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to an assistant principal who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Since joining Transit Middle School in 2011, Bohen has become known as an open and approachable leader who has the best interests of all students at heart. Commented student Patrick Frank, after Bohen encouraged him to pursue a special school library project, “Dr. Bohen is the kind of vice principal who looks out for all the talents in students, not just the obvious.” He continued, “His openness and casual interactions with students make him easily approachable.” Commented parent Mary Beth Scumaci, “Dr. Bohen is an educator my children speak fondly of at the dinner table. They were always impressed when he was aware of accomplishments, especially when they weren’t aware he was watching. Dr. Bohen is a pillar of the school, devoted to educating children.”

During his time at the school he has also reduced disciplinary referrals by 52 percent by introducing several positive recognition initiatives focusing on rewarding behavior consistent with school expectations “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.” These initiatives include a quarterly “Pancakes with Principals” breakfast, mentoring programs, a community service day, and monthly “Kudos” awards for students demonstrating these positive behaviors. In conjunction with these fun activities for the students, Bohen has implemented an informal mentoring program, established a service learning initiative for at risk students, and spearheaded a school-wide curriculum mapping initiative. Commented Principal Daniel Wahl, “Bill hosts a morning meeting with the building PPS team four days per week to review, discuss, and act proactively on behalf of our students. This information helps to inform large scale decisions around programming, wellness initiatives, capacity building for the staff, and procedures for how students access programs such as advanced classes, intervention services, and student leadership opportunities.” Commented teacher Kathryn Neff, “Dr. Bohen is an extremely hard worker. He is passionate about his profession, which is evident in his relationships with students, colleagues, and faculty. He brings thoughtful, innovative ideas to our school community. We are beyond lucky to have him as our assistant principal.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Elementary Principal of the Year - Doreen McSain

Doreen McSain, principal at Glenwood Elementary School in the Vestal Central School District, has been selected as the 2019 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who is clearly committed to excellence, has programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students, and has firm ties to parents and the community.

Since joining the leadership at Glenwood Elementary School almost ten years ago, McSain’s priority has been to create a school environment where she would want her own children to attend, “a place where the adults and students value each other and where acts of kindness and consideration run rampant.” To that end, her nomination by a large team of faculty, staff, parents, and students embodies her mission as an exceptional and compassionate leader. Noted fourth grade teacher Jessica Mirtallo, “Doreen makes parental and community involvement in the school a focus at Glenwood Elementary. Both families and students often comment on how wonderful it is to have these positive experiences at school.” Commented parent Sanjiv Patel, “Principal McSain has created a culture of development, friendship, and dedication. You can see these and other core values all over the Glenwood campus. She has truly been an inspiration to the teachers and parents.” One of the students described her this way, “You might think that Mrs. McSain is a special person, that is true. Believe me, she is.”

McSain considers herself the school’s lead learner and is also known as a mentor who cultivates leadership in others. She and her teaching team have implemented several innovative programs such as a “Learning Through Play” program where students use an imaginative play space in order to practice social skills in a supervised setting; a “One Book, One School” initiative where the entire school reads the same book at the same time as a way to build community; and a dedicated “Maker Space” where all the children have the opportunity to engage in hands on STEAM time. Commented Glenwood School Counselor Stephanie Mitsakos, “Doreen is the heart of our building. Keeping open and honest lines of communication with her staff is a continuous priority. She has helped create and foster programs that have seen tremendous success.” Noted Reading Specialist Tammy Wanck, “We teachers take pride in our accomplishments at Glenwood Elementary School because we have the support and understanding that, although our work is not easy, together we can make great things happen. This is all due to a great leader who is dedicated and passionate about providing a place we are all proud to call our school.”

Commented Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Laura Lamash, “I have often said that I cannot ‘do it’ without Doreen McSain. In her you find an educator who has committed her life to enriching the lives of students and teachers through creating a school where learning is joyful and friendships abound.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Assistant Principal of the Year - Samantha Buchholz

Samantha Buchholz, assistant principal at Cornwall Central Middle School in the Cornwall Central School District, has been selected as the 2019 New York State Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP, promoting educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade (PreK-8) schooling and calling attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal.

An administrator who always makes the students her top priority, Buchholz values the importance of ongoing home/school communication, creating a positive school culture. Rather than only contacting parents with disciplinary matters, she prides herself on taking the time to make the “good calls” or to send a “good news” note home in order to recognize the student being a good citizen within the school. She also maintains an open door policy and is often found participating in school activities both during and after school hours. Parents Irene and Ray Meyer whose son is on the autism spectrum noted that, “Mrs. Buchholz took the time to understand our son, his interests, disability, and struggles. She has shown great patience in understanding each situation. She has always done what is in the best interest for him. He understands that even now that he is a freshman at the high school that Mrs. Buchholz is on his side and is always available to him if he feels a need to talk to her.” Commented School Counselor Jeanne Kendrick, “Every day Samantha shows commitment and dedication to her staff. She always communicates with parents in a compassionate and positive manner. Because of her kind and caring approach, she has an incredible rapport with the students in our school. Many times, students will stop in the main office and ask to talk with her.”

Gina Dinnocenzio, one of several teachers who nominated Buchholz, commented, “Mrs. Buchholz is a true leader who leads by example. She began her education career as a teacher, and although now an administrator, she continues to teach the students, parents, teachers, and the community. She enjoys her job, and as a result of that, we all benefit.” Teacher Janine Lazos added, “Samantha is loved not only by all of her colleagues, but also by the student population. Cornwall CSD is incredibly lucky to have someone like Samantha Buchholz as an administrator. She is a remarkable person with a lot to offer.”

Commented Principal Kate Pulumbo, “Every day Samatha brings fresh ideas, boundless energy, humility, kindness, and compassion when working with students, faculty, and families. She takes the time to establish a personal connection and forge a relationship in order to maintain a lasting positive rapport.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Middle School Principal of the Year - David Dunn

David Dunn, principal at Martha Brown Middle School in the Fairport Central School District, has been selected as the 2019 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who is clearly committed to excellence, has programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students, and has firm ties to parents and the community.

A lifelong resident of Fairport, Dunn has the distinction of not only serving as principal for 24 years and as a math teacher for the previous 18 years, but also of having attended Martha Brown Middle School as a student and having raised his three children in the district as well. This is a role he relishes, noting that all of his interactions within the school community have given him a “unique perspective of the strengths and areas of growth for the school.” One of his most rewarding accomplishments has been working with a leadership team that resulted in Martha Brown Middle School being named a New York State School to Watch over the course of several years, receiving the designation in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Commented Superintendent of Schools Brett Provenzano, “Our students ultimately benefit from the School to Watch process; it positions the school community on a trajectory of reflection and continuous improvement. It is also symbolic of Principal Dunn’s leadership and commitment to his students, staff, parents, and our community.”

Known also as a leader who consistently goes above and beyond, Dunn can be found early in the morning greeting students as they enter the building, participating in many after school extracurricular activities, as well as initiating community service projects for students outside of school such as helping with fall cleanup for area veterans. He notes, “I willingly accept my 24/7 role as the principal of MBMS. I love the natural visibility that I have outside the work day to be available and accessible to my students and their families.” A testament to his commitment can be seen in the loyalty returning students have to their home district. Parent Deborah Vangellow commented, “Our high school students – some graduates, and even alumni who are now parents themselves – love to come back to say ‘hi’ to Dave, give him an update on life, and just check in with ‘their’ middle school principal.” Commented sixth grade lead teacher Scott Parker, “During my 28 years of teaching, I have taught in five different schools, three different school districts, in two different states, and I have never worked for a better human being than Dave Dunn. Dave cares for his family, his students, his teachers, and his community. He embodies dedication as a leader.”

K-12 Building Principal Award - Gregory Cuthbertson

Gregory Cuthbertson, principal at Poland School in the Poland Central School District, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 K-12 Building Principal Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). The K-12 Building Principal Award was created to recognize the unique characteristics of a K-12 building and the related demands, expectations, and challenges of a principal in this multi-level environment. It is given annually to a SAANYS member who is a successful K-12 principal, a recognized educational leader, and who demonstrates leadership in establishing the pace, character, and mission of the building and demonstrates creativity and resourcefulness in providing comprehensive programs and services for all levels and grades.

After having served only a few years as the 6-12 principal, Cuthbertson was honored to be approached by the superintendent to become the K-12 building principal for the district. Shortly thereafter, he received the New York State Council on Leadership and Student Activities Administrator of the Year award which recognizes an administrator for outstanding dedication to the field of student leadership development and support of student activities in New York State.

During his tenure as K-12 building principal, Cuthbertson has overseen the planning and implementation of the OLWEUS anti-bullying initiative districtwide, where all students were required to participate in educational class meetings designed to promote and build a positive school climate. As a result of the initiative, bullying incidents decreased in the district by 70 percent. Another initiative Cuthbertson is spearheading is the establishment of a middle school concept within the K-12 building.

Commented colleague and Director of Pupil Personnel/School Safety Brian Coleman, “Greg has developed a phenomenal program at Poland as he was instrumental in the conversion to a K-12 building. He serves on many committees and most recently the SAANYS Region 8 executive committee, and attends all events to enhance his skills and bring a better education to the Poland community.”

Outstanding Educator Award - Teresa Calabrese-Gray

Teresa Calabrese-Gray, assistant superintendent for instruction and 21st century learning at Champlain Valley Educational Services (CVES) BOCES, has been selected for the 2019 Outstanding Educator Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a SAANYS member who has made outstanding contributions in New York State schools through public education, professional organizations, or research and/or writing in the field of education.

Known as a collaborative leader, Calabrese-Gray has instituted a model for shared leadership and district-wide decision-making teams to guide the work across the 17 districts under CVES/BOCES. As a way to encourage a chain reaction of positive change, Calabrese-Gray encourages administrators to “find their sparkplugs,” empowering others to provide all stakeholders with the appropriate tools to implement desired change. She notes that “Everyone needs to work together to build a common vision and promote collaboration at all levels.” Commented Peru Central School Board of Education President Bonnie L. Berry, “Teri is an articulate leader and able to communicate her ideas to others, energizing her audience be it students, teachers, or colleagues with her positivity and enthusiasm.”

In 2018, Calabrese-Gray spearheaded an initiative by partnering BOCES S/CDN with SED to develop and deliver statewide training on the Next Generation Math Learning Standards to more than 2,000 educators. And she is currently collaborating with leaders within the Teacher Education Program at SUNY Plattsburgh to develop a pipeline for future teachers within local education agencies. Commented SUNY Plattsburgh Interim Dean Dr. Denise Simard, “Teri has used her distributive leadership skills in building bridges between the P-12 and higher education communities. She and her team have worked tirelessly to develop a cohort of school building and school district leaders. This effort focuses on developing a solid succession plan for the leadership of local education agencies. Teri’s insights and knowledge encourage those around her to push the limits of their abilities.”

Commented District Superintendent Mark Davey, “She is an invaluable member of the district superintendent’s cabinet, that is crucial in helping to advise me on all recommendations to the BOCES Board, and she is essential in helping to make the daily operational and strategic leadership decisions for our BOCES. She has also been a visionary leader in her support and implementation of CVES’s strategic plan, now in our fifth year. Throughout Teri’s many and varied CVES responsibilities, she is known and respected as a collaborative, high-quality instructional leader who is always a consummate professional.” Continued Davey, “She is an outstanding educator who demonstrates collaborative and synergy-promoting leadership abilities in all her undertakings.”

Leader in Digital Education - Dr. Gregory Brown

Dr. Gregory Brown, regional coordinator of social studies and blended learning at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Leader in Digital Education Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award recognizes a SAANYS member who has demonstrated exceptional, creative leadership in harnessing the potential of technology to further teaching and student achievement. The candidate will have demonstrated excellent organizational and communication skills in supporting and promoting such innovative digital practices for his/her learning community.

Recognized as a statewide leader with excellent collaborative skills, Brown has worked tirelessly to bring blended and digital learning through the Online Courses for the 21st Century (OC21) consortium and the Integrated Social Studies/ELA Curriculum to schools across the state. Through his efforts and collaborative skills, he has formed partnerships with 13 other regional BOCES and more than 230 school districts. Colleague Diane Cunningham noted, “Not only does he coordinate a complex, blended high school with teachers and students from multiple districts, his leadership focuses on best practices for learning, including project-based learning opportunities, authentic field experiences, feedback for learning, student-centered instruction, and standards based grading. He also provides supportive and honest feedback to faculty to help them adjust to the demands of blended teaching and uses their feedback to adjust and make improvements to the schools’ practices.”

Commented Ardsley UFSD Assistant Superintendent Layne Hughes, “Dr. Brown’s capacity to innovate is demonstrated in a variety of ways. The reach of OC21 ensures a diversity of learners that is not always present in small districts like ours. One of our teachers remarked that the range of lived experiences that her students brought to her ‘classroom’ created a vibrancy that she had not experienced before.” Commented PNW BOCES Educational Technology Coordinator Jennifer Harriton-Wilson, “The most significant accomplishment I have observed is Greg’s ability to shift the culture of those with which he works. He is able to show teachers and students the potential of how the use of technology can impact an individual’s ability to further pedagogical practices and provide additional avenues for learning.” PNW BOCES colleague Renee Gargano noted, “Beyond Dr. Brown’s outstanding achievements in digital practices, I would describe him as a bright, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and compassionate school leader who continues to garner the admiration of those who are most fortunate to work with him.”

Yorktown CSD Superintendent of Schools Ronald Hattar commented, “From my perspective, I never had any question as to whether the SS/ELA initiative would be successful. Aside from being confident in our wonderful faculty and students, I knew that with Dr. Brown assisting us in implementing the program, our district would be successful. As every great leader knows, teaching and learning is about people, not programs. For me, the deciding factor in adopting the OC21 and SS/ELA programs was about Dr. Brown overseeing the programs.”

Leadership and Support Award - Mark Bordeau

Mark Bordeau, senior food service director at Broome Tioga BOCES, has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Leadership and Support Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). The SAANYS Leadership and Support Award was established to recognize the outstanding leadership efforts of those members whose responsibilities require leadership through support services to educators and students across and between buildings and districts.

Recognized as a visionary promoting nutrition and healthier meals, Bordeau has been the food service director at BT BOCES for 20 years. Under his leadership, BT BOCES expanded from serving two districts to now operating in 15 districts. One of his team’s greatest accomplishments has been the creation of the nationally recognized marketing brand “Rock on Café,” the purpose of which is to promote school meals serving more fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and low-fat/fat-free milk. His innovative approach has been featured in the Society for Public Health Education’s nationally acclaimed research periodical, Journal of Health Promotion Practice.

Bordeau has been at the forefront of the movement to buy local New York State produce and products for use in school meals. He spearheaded an incentive whereby schools would receive an additional reimbursement from the state for school meals in exchange for using local products. Since 2014, he worked tirelessly in conjunction with the New York School Nutrition Association to bring this program to statewide implementation. As a result of his efforts, New York now has one of the most robust farm to school initiatives in the nation.

Working in an area where 62 percent of students experience some form of food insecurity, Bordeau has been instrumental in implementing several community-wide nutrition programs. Together with his team, he was a co-coordinator through 2013 of a community dinner at one of the local high schools that now routinely serves more than 3,000 meals at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner. He also worked with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier to bring a backpack program to his districts as a means of filling the gap for kids who do not have access to meals when school is not in session. The backpack program now fills approximately 2,000 backpacks per week. Under his leadership, the Breakfast After the Bell program has grown from no participation to now serving more than 12,000 breakfasts per day and four of his districts have been recognized by Hunger Solutions NY as having the largest increase for breakfast in the state. Additionally, through his efforts, more than $57K was raised through the Wendy’s Walk for Kids for the Southern Tier Food Bank.

Noted Jennifer Martin, executive director of the New York State School Nutrition Association, “Mark has had a tremendous impact on children and families in his community. He truly leads by example, a sign of a great leader. He is honest, ethical, and always conducts himself with the highest level of professionalism.”

Friend of Education Award - Darlene Browell

Darlene Browell, owner of Darlene’s Kitchen in Chittenango, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Friend of Education Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given to an individual, group, or organization that has consistently contributed to the support and advancement of outstanding public education and the students of New York State.

Believing that there’s nothing more important than giving back and paying it forward, Browell has long been an active supporter of Chittenango schools. In addition to hosting many varsity sports dinners at Darlene’s Kitchen and giving all students a 10 percent discount at the restaurant, she also employs a BOCES culinary arts student on an annual basis for a six week internship, giving them the opportunity to gain real world experience and learn first hand how to run a restaurant business. Browell also supports Bolivar Road Elementary School’s “Read to Them One School, One Book” initiative. Darlene’s Kitchen hosted a weekend long event where Browell was given the opportunity to be a guest reader for one of the book chapters, hosted a two-day One School, One Book breakfast with themed breakfast choices from the book, and passed out raffle tickets and candy corn to celebrate the event.

Students and community members alike know that they will always be greeted with a friendly smile by Browell at Darlene’s Kitchen. Browell notes that she and the staff enjoy talking with the students about their upcoming games and extra curricular activities when the students visit the diner. Commented Bolivar Road Elementary School Principal Renee Burgess, “As you walk through the doors of Darlene’s Kitchen, you are pleasantly greeted with a warm smile from Darlene or one of her dedicated waitresses. You feel welcome and right at home. She is always eager to lend a helping hand or participate in school initiatives.”

Continued Burgess, “Darlene from Darlene’s Kitchen has been an influential partner not only to Bolivar Road Elementary School, but to all Chittenango schools. Her efforts have impacted our school community in a powerful way.”

Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award - Dennis Priore

Dennis Priore, retired principal from the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). Irving Schwartz was a founding member of SAANYS. This award is given annually to a retired SAANYS member who, in retirement, has made significant contributions to the welfare of the association, education, and the greater community.

A retired principal having served 36 years in public education, Priore considers retirement a golden opportunity to embrace his passion for volunteering. As he notes, “Volunteering has been tremendously rewarding, not only because of the satisfaction of giving back and making a difference, but also because of the numerous friends I’ve been fortunate to make.” In addition to serving on many educational organizations, Priore is proud to be among the group of volunteers that worked tirelessly to bring back a local chapter of the Honor Flight to the area. Honor Flight flies World War II, Korean War, and any veteran with a serious illness to Washington, D.C. where they have the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery and the national monuments. He commented, “To see the enthusiasm of the men and women who served in World War II is awe inspiring. Many of the volunteers, like I do, serve in gratitude of our late fathers.” Another group that he actively volunteers with is The Teacher’s Desk, an organization that distributes $1,000 of new school supplies to every teacher whose school has a 70 percent or greater poverty level. These supplies have been delivered to almost 5,000 teachers in 180 schools within the seven Western New York counties.

Commented colleague Douglas Regan, “Dennis’ community and volunteer work transcends most. He’s a member of the Western Zone of the New York State Retired Teachers’ Association, former president of the Kenmore Retired Educators’ Association, the Western New York Middle School Principals’ Association, and the Western New York Technology Education Association. He is a volunteer lector at St. Mary’s Church in Swornsville, on the Erie County Association of School Boards, on the Clarence Central School Board of Education, the Clarence Youth Board, Clarence High School PTO, and also a board member on the Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight as their public relations chairperson.”

2018 Awards

SAANYS and NASSP NYS Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year - Theresa Adamec

Terry-Adamec-150Theresa Adamec, assistant principal at Lancaster High School in the Lancaster Central School District, has been selected as the 2018 New York State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually by SAANYS and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to an assistant principal who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process. 

A long time educator and administrator in the district where both she and her children attended, Adamec is known by all as a leader who passionately believes in empowering students to be the very best they can be. Many of the school’s more than 60 clubs and many events are student led. Students also routinely serve as contributing members on administrative committees helping to make decisions that create a climate where students feel valued and at home. Adamec is instrumental in facilitating these activities, serving as a mentor for the students. Noted Mark Skowron, a teacher at the high school, “Terry actively works and continuously demonstrates an elevated faith and trust in the abilities of our students to think, discuss, and analyze in a mature manner. Her genuine belief in our students and their ability to work with our adult leaders often times rewards our building with complete, well thought out plans, and creative solutions. The students recognize Mrs. Adamec’s respect for them and in turn show her an elevated reverence afforded to only the most respected adults within our building.”

Adamec was an integral member of a team who created a program to identify and support the needs of a sub-group at the high school that were considered at-risk for leaving school. Utilizing research-based practices such as credit recovery programs, support services both before and after school, as well as the development of an evening program known as LEAP (Lancaster’s Evening Alternative Program), her team was able to successfully reach these students resulting in a graduation rate of 98 percent for the district. Commented Principal Cesar Marchioli, “She has the creativity and knowledge to motivate some of our most challenging students. Many have recognized her as an inspiration, coming back years after graduation to thank her for not giving up on them. The students of Lancaster are her major concern and all her decisions are student focused.” Noted Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marie Perini, “Perhaps her greatest gift is that of caring and passion for students, and she readily collaborates with teachers in the development of curriculum and instruction that is student-sensitive, fair, achievable, and challenging. This is not always an easy task, but she is able to nuance conflicting views and find compromises that are good for the kids.”

NYS Middle School Principal of the Year and NASSP NYS Principal of the Year - Kevin Strahley

Kevin-Strahley-150The School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) has selected Kevin Strahley, principal at Windsor Central Middle School in the Windsor Central School District, as a 2018 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year and the NASSP New York State Principal of the Year. This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to recognize outstanding principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

An administrator in a school with a 51 percent poverty rate, Strahley consistently leads with a “whatever it takes” approach, and continually promotes a positive culture of continuous improvement towards meeting the needs of all learners. To that end he has implemented several innovative programs. Each morning, all students meet in small advisory groups to eat breakfast and participate in discussions, competitions, and community service projects. Additionally, rather than including a study hall in the students’ schedules during the day, all students are offered a chance to attend a class period at the end of the day known as Mod 11. During Mod 11, students are able to participate in enrichment classes, clubs, as well as have the opportunity to attend learning centers for extra academic help, hosted by a team of teachers. Commented teacher, Stefanie Olbrys, “All of our Mod 11 activities connect to the curriculum as either a support for students in finding success, or an enrichment opportunity.” 

The success of all these programs and more are evident by the fact that Windsor Central MS has been honored for the past six years as a Model School by “All Things PLC” and was one of ten National Model Middle Schools to present at the 25th Annual Model School Conference. Commented Associate Principal Toby Youngs, “Kevin’s attention to detail helps to ensure that students’ needs are being met on a daily basis. His drive to not only meet the needs of students but also to meet the needs of teachers is clearly a priority for him. His ability to push teachers to expand their thinking and to motivate them to pursue continuous improvement has enabled the building to reach new heights in student performance and overall achievement.”

Commented Superintendent of Schools Jason Andrews, “Kevin is an exceptionally genuine, honest, and ethical leader who is very warm, friendly, and sensitive. He cares deeply about the students and staff for whom he is responsible.”

Noted 8th grade student Ava Sacco, “There are so many things we appreciate about Mr. Strahley. He never fails to make us smile throughout the day because his bright, happy attitude towards our school and life is contagious.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Assistant Principal of the Year - Jerrod Roberts

Jerrod-Roberts-150Jerrod Roberts, assistant principal at A.D. Oliver Middle School in the Brockport Central School District, has been selected as a 2018 New York State Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

A longtime educator, Roberts has served as assistant principal at A.D. Oliver Middle School for the past four years, during which time he initially assisted and now leads the implementation of the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) systems and structures at the school centered around three essentials: be respectful, be responsible, and be a learner. This has resulted in a more than 40 percent decrease in disciplinary referrals and increased student achievement as well as a positive turnaround of the culture at the middle school. Based on the success of the program, PBIS has since been implemented districtwide as well as regionally, and Roberts, along with his team, also had the opportunity to present their success at the 14th International PBIS Conference in Denver, Colorado. Commented science teacher Amy Phillips, “Jerrod has truly been a leader of the PBIS movement. From planning booster sessions, incentives, and teacher trainings, Jerrod has really become the ambassador for PBIS at AD Oliver. Due to his passion and work ethic, our staff is motivated to implement a PBIS approach.” While describing Robert’s work with PBIS, teacher Jessica Barton noted, “His positive outlook and willingness to work through any challenges helps make Brockport a wonderful place to be, either as a student or staff.”

A testament to his standing within the district at large, Principal Melody Martinez-Davis commented, “First and foremost, Mr. Roberts is highly respected among staff, students, parents, and the greater community… When entering any space, Mr. Roberts carries a sense of optimism, tenacity, and passion that is unwavering. He is a role model for all educators and students and a valuable partner to parents and our administration team. Students report that Mr. Roberts cares about them as a person and he truly listens to them.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lesli C. Myers noted, “Jerrod’s positive influence has been felt district-wide, specifically with his significant contributions to the Oliver Middle School and district-level strategic plans. He is adept at using and evaluating strategic processes and structures to promote continuous and sustainable improvement, within and beyond his area of responsibility as an assistant principal. Further, he has been instrumental in contributing to a positive middle school climate.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Elementary Principal of the Year - Joanna Kletter

Joanna-Kletter-150Joanna Kletter, principal at South Oceanside Road School #4 in the Oceanside School District, has been selected as the 2018 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Known as a passionate leader who considers all stakeholders, Kletter has implemented several innovative programs benefitting students, staff, parents, as well as the greater Long Island community. Commented School Psychologist Lori Borelli, “Joanna demonstrates a passion for leadership that has earned her the respect of students, parents, teachers, and peers.” She spearheaded the transformation of the staff’s Superintendent’s Conference Day into an Unconference Day designed for participant-driven professional learning. Participants overwhelmingly reported that they felt valued and were full of ideas for future collaborations following the event. Commented Principal Julie McGahan of the district Kindergarten Center, “Mrs. Kletter redefined the way we deliver professional development in Oceanside, providing teachers with an experience that was 100 percent tailored to their interests, passions, and unique professional goals. The success of her vision for our Unconference Day was highly regarded and has inspired administrators from around Long Island to participate in and learn from our model with the intention to bring it back to their district.”

Understanding that children cannot learn when “their emotions are hijacking their brains,” Kletter integrated Marc Brackett’s RULER approach (Recognize Understand Label Express Regulate) to social and emotional literacy by teaching the students about feelings and their role in living a successful life. Parents are also invited to become active participants in their child’s education through the Parents as Learning Partners program. Parents are given many opportunities to connect home and school life by attending events such the Healthy Bus Ride (Walk to School Initiative), Owl Pellet Dissection, participating in learning field trips, as well as following school events via regular Twitter posts (@OSchool4). Commented Oceanside Board of Education Vice President Sandie Schoell, “For ten years she has employed her passion and creativity to shape an environment where everyone – students, teachers, and families – learns and grows together with a sense of purpose and joy.”

Commented Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Harrington, “Upon first getting to know Ms. Kletter, one is struck by her tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to her work. She is consistently thinking outside the box and is incredibly innovative as she looks to perform her role as building principal.”

SAANYS and NAESP NYS Middle School Principal of the Year - Charles Tadduni

Charles-Tadduni-150Charles Tadduni, principal at Rondout Valley Junior High School in the Rondout Valley Central School District, has been selected as the 2018 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to the students, families, and staff in their learning communities and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Nominated by a large team of faculty, staff, parents, and students, Tadduni is known throughout the district as an exceptional visionary and compassionate leader. Noted senior crisis counselor David Mahoskey, Jr., “Charlie’s caring nature towards everything work related, and his goal of having Rondout Valley become recognized as a higher achieving school, is evident by the positive environment that he has created.” Commented teaching assistant Marcelle Dugan-Hasenflue, “Sometimes words are not enough. How do you explain compassion, kindness, awesomeness, dedication, strength, and understanding all in one word?” A student described Tadduni this way, “Mr. Tadduni helped me to learn that you get what you give. It feels like he really sees me when I’m with him.”

 Tadduni is tireless in his support of all students, said special education teacher Ashley Woodill, “He proves time after time, that he believes in providing all students on all levels with the opportunity to access and excel in public education.” And when special education students compete in the Special Olympics, he has been known to spend hours working the grill to help feed the families during the all day games. He embodies the school’s mission and is appreciated by even the youngest students, one of whom commented, “He makes me laugh and cooked breakfast for us.”

As an administrator in a school where rising poverty levels have raised the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch from 20 percent to almost 50 percent in less than five years, Tadduni has implemented several innovative programs. He facilitated a book study on “Teaching with Poverty in Mind” for the teaching staff to develop a greater understanding of the challenges that living in poverty has on the students in the district. Realizing that healthy nutrition is key to learning, he wrote a grant to become a “Farm to School” building where they partner with local growers to utilize locally grown produce. The school also houses several gardens and a greenhouse and serves more whole foods in the cafeteria. In an effort to help support students in managing stress, Tadduni has implemented mindfulness trainings as well as a yoga club after school and during recess. Two sensory rooms support students with varying disabilities, and finally, he will soon be initiating a Restorative Justice program at the school as well.

Commented Speech/Language Pathologist, Judy Traficanti, “It is such a pleasure working with Mr. Tadduni. The positive atmosphere he sets in our middle school makes me love going to work every day.” Parent Pamela Jones noted, “My son and daughter had the honor of going to a school lead by Mr. Tadduni and I thank him for helping them to be better people and leaders.”

NYS High School Principal of the Year - Michael Dardaris

Michael-Dardaris-150The School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) has selected Michael Dardaris, principal of Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) at HFM BOCES, as the New York State High School Principal of the Year. This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process. 

As the principal of this innovative high school, Dardaris’ leadership goal has been to completely redefine not only what leadership looks like, but what learning looks like in the public school. Recognizing that vision alone cannot cultivate innovation and school change, Dardaris and his team worked collaboratively to completely transform the traditional educational system through teacher leadership and student empowerment. “As the school’s leader, Michael encourages teachers and students to take risks, and in doing so has fostered a student-driven culture in which teachers function more like coaches and students take ownership of their education,” HFM BOCES Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel said.

The PTECH program targets students who might not otherwise consider a college pathway and centers around a project-based curriculum focusing on professional skills in four career pathways: business management and administration, advanced manufacturing, information and technology, and health sciences. Students entering the program work simultaneously towards a Regents high school diploma and an associate’s degree in applied science from Fulton-Montgomery Community College. There is no cost to the student’s family. Commented student Natalie May, “One of the main things that I appreciate most about Mr. Dardaris is his ability to go with the flow. His willingness to take opinions and put them into action is something we appreciate most.”

Now in its fourth year, HFM PTECH will have its first graduates this year. Among these graduates, 10 to 15 students are expected to graduate with both their high school diploma and associate’s degree. PTECH has been recognized as one of 25 national models of Innovative Successful Practices by the American Association of School Administrators and The Successful Practices Network. Commented Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa, “Students and educators from the HFM BOCES made a powerful presentation to the Board of Regents at our meeting earlier in March. It’s very easy to understand why their PTECH model is being hailed as a national model to be emulated by others. These students are also inspiring us with their service projects that benefit both the local community and the wider world around them.” 

Commented Coordinator for the NYS P-TECH Program at NYSED Amy Cox, “Mr. Dardaris, as the principal of a NYS P-TECH school has taken this model and run with it, specifically seeking out those students whose needs, be they academic or socio-emotional, etc. are the highest. It is because of the leadership of Mr. Dardaris and his staff that these students, who once felt like outsiders themselves, are now empowered to be leaders at their college and community. Their success is a shared success that continues with each new class at HFM PTECH under the amazing leadership of Mike Dardaris.”

Leader in Digital Education Award - Annmarie Lehner

Annmarie-Lehner-150Annmarie Lehner, chief information officer for the Rochester City School District has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Leader in Digital Education Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award recognizes a SAANYS member who has demonstrated exceptional, creative leadership in harnessing the potential of technology to further teaching and student achievement. The candidate will have demonstrated excellent organizational and communication skills in supporting and promoting such innovative digital practices for his/her learning community. 

A nationally recognized leader, Lehner has been actively involved in the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) for many years, and has given several invited talks to the national organization. CGCS is a membership organization comprised of 70 of the nation’s large urban school districts. Commented Robert Carlson, director of management services for the CGCS, “My work with the CGCS, as well as my previous work as a senior executive in a major urban school district has provided me with the opportunity to interact with some of the best, brightest, and hardest working professionals in the business. Annmarie Lehner is without a doubt at the very top of this group.” 

Commented Superintendent of Schools Barbara Deane-Williams, “As a recognized national leader in the field, she is a dynamic communicator and team builder with the ability to cultivate and manage high-quality strategic partnerships with business and educational leaders.” Deane-Williams continued, “She has constantly demonstrated exceptional and creative leadership in harnessing the potential of technology to further teaching and student achievement within the Rochester City School District.”

Lehner has implemented several innovative programs in the Rochester City School District, not the least of which is her mission to provide cost-free home internet access to low income families in the City of Rochester. Her tireless work in this area has since expanded beyond her initial focus, bringing together all the large urban districts across New York State, forming the Coalition for Upstate Broadband (CURB). Commented Principal Jennifer Gkourlias, “Annmarie Lehner is a visionary, steadfast leader whose actions have singlehandedly transformed our Rochester City School District. Her vision, articulation thereof, and stewardship of the digital transformation project has been inspirational. She is truly among the best in her field and we would not be where we are as an educational system without this competent and forthright leader.”

Commented Glen Van Derwater, executive director of instructional technology, “Annmarie’s popularity among the staff with whom she works and the professionals she supports is testament to her interpersonal skills, dedication to education, and loyalty to the Rochester City School District.”

Lehner is also praised fro her focus on professional development for both teachers and administrators amid the district’s “digital transformation” – meeting educators “where they are” in their use of instructional technology.

Outstanding Educator Award - Peter Kruszynski

Peter-Kruszynski-150Peter Kruszynski, principal of Lancaster Middle School in the Lancaster Central School District, has been selected for the 2018 Outstanding Educator Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a SAANYS member who has made outstanding contributions in New York State schools through public education, professional organizations, or research and/or writing in the field of education. 

A longtime educator, Kruszynski has served the Lancaster CSD for 24 years, and has been in his current position since 2000. During that time he has mentored nine assistant principals, five of whom have since moved on to become principals of their own buildings, and one who is currently in the district office. Noted Kruszynski, “My approach has been to involve and divide the responsibilities so the assistant principal is immersed in the daily routines we work in. As a two-person administrative office, we work in close proximity and make the building decisions in concert for the betterment of the school. I am very proud to support new aspiring administrators and give them the training to be successful.” Commented Andrew Kufel, director of secondary education, “Mr. Kruszynski’s biggest strength is his sincere care for the welfare and betterment of his faculty, staff, students, and those with whom he works with at the school and district. Mr. Kruszynski sets the bar high for himself and expects those around him to do the same. He understands, as the principal of LMS, he is the face of LMS.”

Kruszynski is also known as an administrator who consistently puts his students first. Under his leadership the number of students enrolled in accelerated studies have increased steadily, reaching an all time high this past year. More than 60 percent of the student body participates in extra curricular musical instruction, and there are over 30 different clubs and activities available for participation. Students who are at risk or high needs are supported via a core team that meets weekly to assure that those students reach their ultimate potential. Additionally, Kruszynski reorganized the building so that departmental courses are in proximity to each other and teachers have been given common planning times, which has enabled them to align curriculum and create common formative assessments for the school.

In addition to his work within the district, Kruszynski has also made significant contributions to the profession of school administration through extensive association leadership. He has been an active member of the School Administrators Association of New York State since 2000, serving in many positions ranging from regional president, to the state level board of directors, and finally serving as state president in 2009. He also previously served as the SAANYS state representative to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and is currently a member of the NASSP board of directors. Commented Andrew Kufel regarding Kruszynski’s professional service, “This combination of experience and leadership has provided him with a unique global perspective that allows him to keenly understand education in a changing society.”

Leadership and Support Award - Andy Scott

Andy-Scott-150Andy Scott, data management specialist for the Rochester City School District, has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Leadership and Support Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

The SAANYS Leadership and Support Award was established to recognize the outstanding leadership efforts of those members whose responsibilities require leadership through support services to educators and students across and between buildings and districts.

A dedicated administrator in a large school district serving almost 30,000 students, Scott’s role in the (External School Operations) Office of Accountability is to identify processes to improve the quality of data and to communicate these results on a daily basis to end users. He is known as a mentor to all, a person who always takes the time to help teachers and staff to empower them to perform each technical task with accuracy and confidence. Commented Bettyjean Callon, senior information services business analyst, “Andy is a consensus builder who looks at the big picture in addition to the details. He is always available to answer questions or volunteer for a project that needs additional help.” Noted Karl J. Kania, director, external school operations, “No matter the task or request, Andy’s friendly demeanor and patience with even the most novice data manager/input person makes what he does extra special.”

Commented Assistant Principal Kwame Donko-Hanson, “He mines school data reports and shares out trends and notifies schools and administrators of certain anomalies and suggests ways to fix them. When I have questions about the information management systems of the district, Andy is always a phone call away to explain things so that I can understand it to aide me in performing my job responsibilities better.”

Scott serves on the Executive Council and Professional Development Committee for the Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester (ASAR) and was elected to the position of treasurer in 2017. As a part of that work, he focuses on how ASAR members can work together to move the Rochester City School District forward as a quality institution. As a parent to two children in the district, Scott is also a strong supporter of the district’s fatherhood initiative campaign “Men of Action Network,” whose mission is to develop, implement, and sustain fatherhood groups in the schools. Scott also serves as an Eagle Scout advisor for the Genesee Crossroads District sharing his expertise with those in the pursuit of becoming Eagle Scouts.

Commented John Rowe, first vice president of ASAR, “Mr. Scott is an exemplar leader. He leads with his heart, maintaining a clear focus on department/student achievement and their daily needs. He is a role model and has always been the consummate professional.”

Friend of Education Award - Tony Martinez

Tony-Martinez-150Tony Martinez, franchise owner of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Deer Park has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Friend of Education award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given to an individual, group, or organization that has consistently contributed to the support and advancement of outstanding public education and the students of New York State. 

Noting his personal commitment to community involvement, Martinez describes himself as a “yes man” who will always find a way to make things happen if the community has a need. At almost every event in the area, one can usually find Martinez in attendance. If it’s not possible for him to attend personally, he will always send a representative from the Texas Roadhouse in his stead. Commented Susan Bonner, principal of Deer Park UFSD, “Tony is a force to be reckoned with. He has supported the Deer Park school district and individual schools in the district in so many amazing ways.”

Not only has he provided hundreds of hours and countless donations of food to fundraisers and events within the district, he has also participated as a business partner, providing a work site for special needs students to practice and reinforce their life skills, as well as providing other employment opportunities to countless high school students. Additionally, he regularly allows the schools to use his venue for fundraising functions. As a direct result, the district has been able to purchase much needed playground and physical education equipment, a mobile school store, and has been able to offer a variety of assemblies and programs for students. In honor of everything he has done for the district, Martinez was made Grand Marshall of the district’s homecoming parade in 2017. 

Martinez and the Texas Roadhouse of Deer Park have received numerous community service awards. In 2016, he was the recipient of the SCOPE Education Services Community Service Award, and was recently honored as a Hispanic leader in the community by Senator Boyle with the Hispanic Heritage Award. Martinez is also a member of the Deer Park Community Association, and served as the president of the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce from 2014-2017.

Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award - Gene Gordon

Gene-Gordon-150Eugene (Gene) Gordon, retired principal from the Schalmont Central School District, has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

Embracing retirement as an opportunity for continued community service, Gordon has worked tirelessly to serve SAANYS and numerous other community organizations. A longtime member of SAANYS since 1986, Gordon has served both on the regional executive committee as well as regional representative. He noted, “As a regional representative in SAANYS, I had the opportunity to assist members on a wide variety of issues from negotiations to professional relationships with colleagues, teachers, superintendents, and school board members.” Commented colleague Tom Sands, “Gene has been a key individual for years working for the region’s Day at the Races and Support a Scholar Golf Tournament. He has also assisted in the Recognition Dinner and has been on the selection committee for our student scholarships. SAANYS has been very fortunate to have benefitted from Gene Gordon’s outstanding efforts over the years.”

Continued Sands, “Recently, Gene has worked diligently to rejuvenate the Retirees Group and through his leadership planned the well-received Lessons Learned professional development program.” Gordon, worked with SAANYS in the development of Lessons Learned, a professional development program that brings together veteran administrators, most of whom are retirees, and newer administrators in their first 3-4 years of service, for conversations on the most challenging aspects of school administration. Plans are underway to launch this program statewide.

Gordon received his bachelor of arts in sociology, master of science in education, and master of science in educational administration from the University at Albany.

Irving Schwartz was a founding member of SAANYS. This award is given annually to a retired SAANYS member who, in retirement, has made significant contributions to the welfare of the association, education, and the greater community.

2017 Award Winners

NEW AWARD! Leader in Digital Education – Michael Sylofski, Capital Region BOCES NERIC

MSylofski PhotoMichael Sylofski, managing program coordinator — e-learning services for the Capital Region BOCES Northeastern Regional Information Center (NERIC), has been selected as the first recipient of the 2017 Leader in Digital Education Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award recognizes a SAANYS member who has demonstrated exceptional, creative leadership in harnessing the potential of technology to further teaching and student achievement. The candidate will have demonstrated excellent organizational and communication skills in supporting and promoting such innovative digital practices for his/her learning community. 

Known as a leader in implementing e-learning opportunities, Sylofski and his team developed a successful regional interactive video distance learning program for high school students. This program has grown into its own virtual “mini-high school” and serves more than 2,500 participating students from 69 organizations with 150 daily courses. The program is considered a national model and was highlighted by Cisco Systems in 2014 as a case study for its Education Industry Solutions YouTube channel. Commented NERIC Director Dale Breault, “Mike’s leadership has led to the creation of a system where any student, no matter where they go to school, can have access to a diverse and high quality curriculum taught by our region’s best teachers.”

Sylofski and his team were also instrumental in the growth of the Model Schools program, which now includes 44 districts across ten counties in northeastern New York. Noted Sylofski, “This program is geared towards helping teachers integrate the use of technology tools and resources to impact student learning.” He continued, “and is having a meaningful impact in participating schools by supporting technology integration professional development, assisting districts with local technology planning, creating a regional community to share best practices in technology integration, and introducing new technology resources into schools including robotics, coding, makerspaces, and virtual learning environments.”

In addition to these programs, Sylofski also serves on the board for the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education (NYSCATE), currently as president-elect; and was a member of the NYS Education Department’s Instructional Technology Plan Work Group. Commented NYSCATE CEO and Executive Director Dr. Amy Perry-DelCorvo, “I hold Mike in the highest regard as his professionalism and commitment extends well beyond our board room. Mike is a thought leader who knows how to ask the right question, in the right tone, at the right time. His role as a leader in the state with distance learning has allowed thousands of students and teachers to engage in classes and professional development that would not have been possible without his leadership and guidance.”

NYS Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year – Nicole Ey, Port Jervis CSD

Nicole Ey HeadshotNicole Ey, assistant principal at Anna S. Kuhl (ASK) Elementary School in the Port Jervis City School District, has been selected as the 2017 New York State Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process. 

An administrator in a school facing challenges due to a merger within the district, as well as frequent staff turnover, Ey is credited with leading the effort to turn around the morale at the school by strengthening communication among all stakeholders and implementing a positivity and character program called “Doing Things the Right Way.” Ey noted, “Since its implementation in 2012, close to 7,000 certificates have been presented to students earning ‘Doing Things the Right Way’ awards. Staff recognized my commitment to improving important components of school life and discipline referrals fell from 1,011 in 2013-14, to 652 in 2015-16.” Attendance at the school has also improved, currently standing at more than 96 percent. Commented parent Tanya Duryea, “The climate of ASK and the sense of community was indeed healthy and allowed my girls to thrive. I know the sense of community, trust, and excitement was a direct result of [Ey’s] positive strategies and the countless hours she stayed at the school. She certainly made an extraordinary difference in the lives of so many children in Port Jervis.”

Needing to address overcrowding at the school, Ey also spearheaded the revitalization of a little used (and often neglected) courtyard space into a vibrant outdoor learning classroom. She secured a grant from Lowes, and spent a summer organizing community volunteers and other donations. The space has become a popular venue for regular instruction and special events. The district high school has since created their own outdoor space, modeled after this one, and a neighboring district is considering replicating the idea as well. Commented colleague Andrea Rearer, “One of her most amazing endeavors is the outdoor classroom. She won her grant proposal and months of organization and tireless hours of work have resulted in a fabulous space for staff and students to embrace learning in a place that is inviting and peaceful. Her generous and kind nature inspires staff and community members to collaborate as a team to achieve goals. This is true leadership.”

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Bongiovi remarked, “I have been in education for 29 years and have had the honor of working and collaborating with some of the finest professionals in New York State. I can say without hesitation that Nicole Ey is one of the top educators that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

NYS Elementary Principal of the Year - Jeremy Rich, Central Valley CSD

RichJJeremy Rich, principal at Barringer Road Elementary School in the Central Valley Central School District, has been selected as the 2017 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

An educator for many years, Rich has served the Central Valley CSD as a teacher or principal for more than two decades. Former principal of the now closed Remington Elementary School, Rich helped facilitate the successful merger of the Mohawk and Ilion school districts. Rich then became principal of the Barringer Road Elementary School, which was originally set up as a pre-k through 4 building. Just a few years after that change, it is now serving grades 2 through 4 for the entire district. Throughout this time of uncertainty for the school, Rich was known as a leader who created a culture of “encouragement, modeling, being involved, staying positive, finding solutions, being creative, working hard, and persevering when life gets tough, which then translates to profoundly impacting students to have the ambition, know how, and drive to create a better tomorrow.” First grade teacher Stephanie Szratter commented, “As a staff member, Jeremy has been able to create a feeling of ‘family’ within our building. It is a place that staff look forward to entering each day.”

Commented Director of Elementary Education and Human Resources Frances LaPaglia, “Jeremy has successfully shaped the culture of every building he has lead. He successfully transitioned to Barringer Road Elementary and immediately earned the admiration and respect of the Barringer Road teachers. I can attest to this personally, as I was the former Barringer Road principal.”

As part of his efforts for advancing a positive climate in the building, Rich, teachers, and the PTO implemented a character education program for the students called “Barringer Road Shining Stars,” as well as a “Buddy Bench” on the playground, so that no student need feel alone. Any staff member may nominate a student seen demonstrating good character. In addition to recognizing students, Rich shares a daily story centered around a positive character trait, and ends each morning announcement with “make it a great day.” The staff also looks forward to his daily “Inspiration Morning Coffee” email, which has now grown to a district-wide distribution. As noted in the numerous letters of support while speaking about the students and the character program, a colleague wrote, “Transforming them into people with empathy, generosity, patience, kindness, respect, responsibility, and all around integrity could not happen without the leadership of a man who also displays these character traits on a daily basis.”

Believing that “Awards are a collection of efforts,” Rich noted that, “The Barringer Road staff is an amazing, thoughtful, hardworking, committed, and caring group of teachers that have dedicated their lives to the teaching profession and the many hats that we all wear to help students find success. I am part of that team.”

NYS Middle School Principal of the Year – Mary Beth Fierro, Oswego City SD

FierroMary Beth Fierro, principal at Oswego Middle School in the Oswego City School District, has been selected as the 2017 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

A long-time educator of more than 30 years, Fierro has served in her current position as principal of Oswego Middle School for the last 6 years. During that time, she has worked diligently to lift up the school from SINI (School in Need of Improvement) status from the State Education Department to a flourishing school with a shared vision for all students and staff. One notable accomplishment is the 64 percent reduction of disciplinary referrals over the last five years, a direct result of a careful review of discipline data, and pro-actively implementing measures such as faculty and staff professional development on working with at-risk students, and introducing a strong character program within the school. Commented Superintendent of Schools Dean Goewey, “Although I have known Mrs. Fierro for over 40 years, my observations of her as our middle school principal have distinguished her in my mind as an agent of change for her school. She took the reins of a school in accountability status and has brought it to a high performing school. Her commitment to excellence for all students is evident in her leadership and love of her school.”

Well known as a mentor to fellow teachers and administrators in the district, Fierro has also implemented several mentor programs for students at the middle school. In her first year there, she introduced the Mentor-Scholar program where at-risk students are paired with a mentor from the SUNY Oswego School of Education working one-on-one with their mentee twice per week after school. This program has grown to include more than 75 students this year. For two years, the school was also able to offer a Mentor STEM program centered on forensics and robotics, which provided supplemental programming to highly interested students. Additionally, in an effort to reach students struggling with learning in a traditional classroom setting, Fierro implemented a PLATO (Standards Based Online Learning Program) Learning Lab, which enables students to work at their own pace all while benefitting from personalized instruction from a dedicated classroom teacher. Nominated by a team of teachers, they noted, “These are only a small portion of Mary Beth’s actions as a leader that have made her school a great place to work and educate students.” Parent Julie Chetney added, “I speak on behalf of so many parents in saying because of Principal Fierro, OMS is a place where parents feel welcomed and students feel at home.”

Commented Minetto Elementary School Principal Julie Kimmel-Gorman, “I am always amazed by the devotion Mary Beth has to the Oswego Middle School and the surrounding community. She treats every student like they were her own. She honestly wants what is best for each and every one of them. The best part is, she will go the extra mile to make it happen.”

NYS High School Principal of the Year & NASSP NYS Principal of the Year – Thomas Hall, Brighton CSD

HallPictureThe School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) has selected Dr. Thomas Hall, principal at Brighton High School, as the New York State High School Principal of the Year. The award is given annually to a member of SAANYS who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Hall will also represent New York as the NASSP NYS Principal of the Year as sponsored by SAANYS’ national affiliate, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). In addition to selecting a National Principal of the Year from all the state finalists, NASSP honors all state principals of the year at the Principal’s Institute held each year in Washington, DC.

Hall’s nomination was supported by teachers, students, community members, and fellow administrators, all noting his commitment to school climate, student supports, and teacher growth. In the past four years under Dr. Hall’s leadership June graduation rates have increased from 86.4 percent to 96 percent and notably, June graduation rates for special education students rose to 88 percent, the highest special education graduation rate in Monroe County. This is not by happenstance, but rather a result of Hall’s creation of support and monitoring teams put in place to offer targeted interventions to students. “He never loses sigh of the individual child,” commented fellow administrator Robert Thomas.

“When a school is lucky enough to have a principal with Dr. Hall’s passion, ingenuity, intelligence, and genuine kindness, its students are prepared to achieve greatness,” said student leaders Ally Thayer and Matthew Lipschitz.  “Dr. Hall feels as though he succeeds when his students succeed; however, we feel it is time for him to receive recognition solely as a reflection of him.”

“Never can I recall feeling as though an honor was more deservedly or accurately being awarded,” said Brighton Superintendent Dr. Kevin McGowan. “Dr. Tom Hall is an outstanding leader. He is an even better person.”

 

Outstanding Educator – William Davern, West Genesee CSD

Davern ColorWilliam Davern, director of fine arts for the West Genesee Central School District, has been selected for the 2017 Outstanding Educator Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a SAANYS member who has made outstanding contributions in New York State schools through public education, professional organizations, or research and/or writing in the field of education.

Well known as an energetic and passionate leader for the arts, Davern led the curriculum redesign and growth of the music, visual arts, and dance programs for West Genesee’s 3,500 fine arts students. Specifically, Davern worked tirelessly to revitalize the West Genesee music program that had been experiencing declining enrollment. Through his efforts, the program has since rebounded and now serves 30 percent more students within the district. A testament to his passion, this past spring he had the privilege to lead a 630 member alumni marching band in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade, for which many past students traveled from across the country to participate! Commented Camillus Middle School Principal Beth Anne Lozier, “The pure force of his nature and energy for his work are just that visible to all of us who have the privilege to work with him. Bill’s outstanding leadership is rooted in his passion for excellence, razor-like focus on our district’s vision, combined with a collaborative approach.”

Under his direction, the Wildcat Marching Band captured an unprecedented twelve consecutive NYS Field Band Conference National Class State Championship titles, were three-time Grand National Finalists, as well as the 1990 Class AA National Champions. Additionally, many of the district’s ensembles have received numerous Gold and Gold with Distinction ratings from the NYS School Music Association.

Davern is recognized as a leader among his peers, taking numerous leadership roles within the West Genesee Administrators Association. Davern was also recognized as Citizen of the Year by the local Camillus Chamber of Commerce, was the first recipient of the Syracuse Area Music Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Music Education, and was inducted into the NY Field Band Conference Hall of Fame. Commented West Genesee High School Principal Barry Copeland, “Bill’s leadership has resulted in numerous and highest level of local, state, and national accolades reflective of distinguished achievement in music and all the arts. I would rank Bill in the top one percent of all educators and administrators I have ever worked with regarding talent, knowledge, service, integrity, and dedication.”

Leadership and Support - Christopher McGinley, Williamsville CSD

McGinley - Headshot 4x6Dr. Christopher McGinley, instructional specialist for k-12 mathematics at Williamsville Central School District, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Leadership and Support Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

The SAANYS Leadership and Support Award was established to recognize the outstanding leadership efforts of those members whose responsibilities require leadership through support services to educators and students across and between buildings and districts.

A dedicated educational administrator in a large school district serving almost 10,000 students in thirteen schools and one alternative education center, McGinley is known as a trusted leader in the community and a tireless advocate for students, supportive of parents, and a promoter of professional development for teachers and other administrators. Believing that “communities are the backbones of our society and that our educational community is not just comprised of the one in which we work,” he routinely invites educators from local colleges and from outside the district to professional development opportunities. Some of these have included regional math conferences; Common Core math institutes; a support group centered around implementation of standards, best practices, and assessment; as well as recurring parent math nights to which an estimated 700 parents have attended over the last two years. Dodge Elementary School Principal Charles Smilinich commented, “Dr. McGinley is one of those rare educational leaders who truly understands the holistic nature of the k-12 educational system and how to support fellow administrators – both within and among school districts.”

McGinley was also recognized by the United States Congress in 2006 for outstanding and invaluable service to education, advises the New York State Education Department in the area of mathematics, curriculum, and assessment by serving on the commissioner’s Content Advisory Panels, and has formed his own advisory group in Western NY. Commented colleague Eileen K. Ryan, “Dr. McGinley is highly regarded as a steadfast advocate for educators, providing them with every possible valuable resource to improve student learning. It is little wonder that literally hundreds of teachers volunteer to work on teams and committees led by Dr. McGinley.”

Noted in a joint letter by Superintendent of Schools Anthony J. Panella and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology Ryan Schoenfeld from the neighboring Amherst Central School District that “the handful of examples shared in [their] letter only scratches the surface of the contributions that Dr. McGinley has made to the field of education. He has touched many educators’ lives, who in turn shape the trajectory of our learners.”

K-12 Building Principal Award - Sheelarani Webster, Rochester City SD

SheelWebster_PhotoSheelarani Webster, kindergarten-12 principal of the World of Inquiry School #58 in the Rochester City School District, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 K-12 Building Principal Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

The K-12 Building Principal Award was created to recognize the unique characteristics of a K-12 building and the related demands, expectations, and challenges of a principal in this multi-level environment. It is given annually to a SAANYS member who is a successful K-12 principal, a recognized educational leader, and who demonstrates leadership in establishing the pace, character, and mission of the building and demonstrates creativity and resourcefulness in providing comprehensive programs and services for all levels and grades.

Webster has been the principal at the World of Inquiry School since 2010 but has deep roots in its unique learning environment, starting there as a teacher over 20 years ago. The school began as a K-6 school and has grown out into a K-12 using the EL Education approach since 2002. The growth was purposeful, using EL to “put the inquiry back into World of Inquiry.” The school is focused on the values of tenacity, inquiry, compassion, self-discipline, and integrity and Webster is known for her empowerment of teacher leadership and trust to make this vision a reality for the entire school community.

“We have a school work plan that outlines what a rigorous approach for education looks like at our school and Sheela is tenacious about analyzing data that provide evidence as to whether or not the plan is being implemented with fidelity,” commented teachers in a letter of support. “The fact that we have almost 100 percent retention… and a graduation rate of 90 percent in a district where the graduation rate averages [46 percent] is strong evidence that her approach is working.” The school also boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate for its graduates.

Webster has won the hearts of her students along the way. “Mrs. Webster is making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream come true because she is loving, caring, and respectful,” said a student. “She never gives up on us and she believes in all of us and our school.”

NYS Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year – Thomas Kachadurian, South Colonie CSD

Kachadurian-150Thomas Kachadurian, an associate principal at Colonie Central High School in the South Colonie Central School District, has been selected as the 2017 New York State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually by SAANYS and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to an assistant principal who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Nominated by a team of teachers, students, and parents from Colonie Central HS, Kachadurian is known as a dedicated leader with limitless energy, empowering both students and staff to embody a culture of caring and commitment to the greater school community. Parent and PTSA president Stephanie Cogan noted, “He constantly brims with ideas/solutions/innovations. He thinks and plans big, and is absolutely positive that plans (and dreams) will come true.” Along those lines, Kachadurian embarked on an effort to return the high school culture to a place of “Raider pride” where all students and staff share ownership and responsibility for their shared community.

To that end, Kachadurian created Raiderfest, an all day event focused on celebrating community and raising charitable funds; and developed the iCARE program at the high school. iCARE is a unique character education program standing for integrity, community, accountability, respect, and empathy. Kachadurian notes that iCARE was designed to “give voice to the voiceless, and empower the marginalized and disenfranchised.” A hallmark of this program is allowing the students to lead. As noted by elementary principal, Jill Penn “Each step of the way, Tom Kachadurian was there, a silent leader and tireless champion of what it means to be a person of character who never stopped encouraging the students to try and take their vision of iCARE to the next level.” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Timothy Backus commented, “He is thoughtful and inclusive in his organization of these events, but also tenacious in securing resources and looking for the hook that will bring more people together. He is one of the finest administrators and overall individuals that I have worked with in my educational career.”

The success of this program can be gauged by the following comments from students: “Mr. Kachadurian often offers kids who get into trouble a chance to make good rather to face detention. These kids come into iCARE and immediately gain a sense of belonging and welcome. To give someone a sense of belonging is to give them hope, is to give them purpose.” And, “In reflecting upon my own experience, I can say that it is exhilarating to see ideas become reality. My own experiences with iCARE helped me develop self confidence as well as communication and leadership skills.” And finally, “I went from being someone who didn’t really fit in anywhere at our high school, to being one of the co-presidents of iCARE. He not only helped me to find a place where I could belong and make a difference, but also provided me with skills that I will need and use for the rest of my life.”

Friend of Education - Kim McCluski, Pittsford

Kim McCluski_ColorKim McCluski has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Friend of Education award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given to an individual, group, or organization that has consistently contributed to the support and advancement of outstanding public education and the students of New York State.

A highly respected supporter of public education through her long-standing membership on the Pittsford Board of Education, McCluski has also served as president on the Monroe County School Boards Association and the Nazareth College Board. Honored with the PTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 by the Pittsford District PTSA for her leadership and the many program improvements she instituted at the district level since joining the organization in 1988, PTSA Co-President Elizabeth Norten noted, “Kim is an innovative thinker, always looking for creative ways to solve the complex issues facing school districts today.” She cares deeply about the district and it is reflected in her willingness to serve on committees, the way she gets to know the students and staff, her support at athletic events, musical performances, awards ceremonies, and more. Commented Pittsford Mendon High School Principal Karl Thielking, “Upon my arriving in Pittsford sixteen years ago as a high school principal, I immediately became aware of the deep and broad esteem in which she is held. More importantly, I quickly understood that that respect was due to her absolute focus on the importance of public education and her own infinitely deep respect for the work and abilities of school administrators and teachers.”

Together with the Pasley family, who had originally established the event, and honoring the memories of her son, Ryan and the Pasley’s daughter, Katie, McCluski helps facilitate the annual Rainbow Classic Basketball Games between the district’s two high schools for both varsity boys and girls. This event raises money for Golisano Children’s Hospital where Katie and Ryan were treated. She noted that the two families “combined our efforts to help bring something good out of something so tragic for our families. The game does many things on many different fronts and sells out in one day.” Over the past 16 years, they have donated close to $500,000 in Pittsford School’s name, all while teaching the students there the importance of volunteering, giving back to the community, community service, and compassion. She continued, “It has been a wonderful way for me to use my grief towards uniting our schools and community with the hospital.”

Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award – Thomas Long, Cazenovia CSD (retired)

 Thomas Long-croppedThomas Long, retired high school principal from the Cazenovia Central School District, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

Embracing retirement as an opportunity for continued community service, Long has worked tirelessly to serve SAANYS and numerous other community organizations, all with an eye toward benefitting education. Commented colleague Frederick Kirsch, “Tom Long is a distinguished educator and effective SAANYS leader. Respected by teachers, parents, and students, Tom was an impeccable instructional leader. In retirement, Tom spent many years advocating for SAANYS members.”

He is active as a board member for the Cazenovia Area Community Development Association, and successfully lobbied to add a high school representative to the board of directors, becoming “an impactful program for both the participating students and for the development of our board” as noted by Executive Director Lauren Lines. Long is also an active member of the Cazenovia Lions Club. Having previously served as its president, he currently leads numerous committees including the student scholarship and the student of the month committees. He is also a current member of the Lions Club Foundation, which has helped to raise nearly $10,000 to help the Cazenovia CSD implement an anti-bullying campaign known nationally as Rachel’s Challenge. Commented fellow member of the Lions Club Nick Kagey, “For all Tom does for his community, the one characteristic that stands out to me most of all is that he serves with great humility. Others are drawn to service because of the humility that is omnipresent in everything he does. Tom leads by example.” In addition to these community service efforts, he is also a long standing board member of the Cazenovia Methodist Church and volunteers as a driver for the Cazenovia Area Transportation Service.

Commented Cazenovia CSD Superintendent Matthew Reilly, “Tom Long has given me the model for my eventual retirement. He has continued to help students and others in his community. He selflessly shares his time and wisdom with others as he relentlessly strives to make the world a better place.”

 

2016 Award Winners

Dr. Donald Gately - SAANYS New York State Middle School Principal of the Year and NASSP NYS Principal of the Year

Dr. Donald Gately – Principal, Jericho Middle School, Jericho School District

GatelyServing as a school administrator since 1996, Gately has been in his current position at Jericho Middle School for the last 10 years. Known for his sensitivity to the unique emotional and developmental needs of early adolescents, he is always available and works diligently to create a safe and welcoming community for everyone. Gately implemented the Olweus Bully Prevention Program resulting in a substantial decrease in incidents of bullying. The school is a member of the Nassau County Anti-Bias Consortium and hosts an annual Diversity Day, as well as being one of the few middle schools to offer a Gay Straight Alliance Club. As noted by student Nuzhat Tarafder, “JMS offers a safe space for all its students. I am a Bengali Muslim student who is a strong ally for the LGBTQ community. I am proud to say in the brief three years at the school, I have heard no homophobic remarks or witnessed homophobic activity.” Tarafder continued, “Diversity Day has offered me a place to talk about Islamaphobia. I finally was able to face my demons after years. The students were attentive and the staff very comforting.” 

Considering himself lead learner, Gately is equally passionate about professional growth and community development. Commented the team of teachers that nominated him for this award, “His work ethic is infectious. It trickles down to his staff and ultimately to the students of JMS, providing a shared vision for every member of the JMS community. Dr. Gately refuses to accept anything less than his own personal best and this permeates throughout Jericho Middle School.” Under his leadership, Jericho Middle School has been selected as a National School to Watch in 2009, 2012, and 2015 and hosts visiting teams from throughout the state. He is also the co-founder of EdCamp Long Island, which recently hosted over 275 educators; serves on the planning teams for nErDcampLI and EdCampLeaderNY; and consults with several districts to help organize their staff development activities. Noted colleague Tony Sinanis, “Don is a true lead learner in that he is always modeling what he expects of others, which is evidenced by the fact that he leads voluntary PD sessions during lunch for his staff, consistently engages with students in an effort to amplify their voices, and shares his beliefs with the world in the form of a blog. He also always maintains an incredibly positive attitude that he shares with everyone around him! He is an example for all those around us!”

Gately received his bachelor of arts degree from Marist College, his master of arts in literature degree and professional diploma in supervision and administration from Queens College-CUNY, and doctorate of educational leadership from Concordia University.

Suzanne Gray - SAANYS and NAESP New York State Elementary Principal of the Year

Suzanne Gray – Principal, Old Bethpage Elementary School, Plainview-Old Bethpage CSD

Sue HeadshotAn experienced educator, Gray has served in her current position at Old Bethpage Elementary School for the last seven years where she believes that it is just as important to teach kindness and empathy, as to teach math and science. To that end, every student at the school learns to embrace the “bucket filling philosophy” of author Carol McCloud. Each month is centered around a social-emotional learning goal such as citizenship, dignity, acceptance, and integrity, for example, and a monthly charity is identified to align with that goal. As noted by parent and president of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Board of Education, Gary Beton, “At Old Bethpage, the students don’t just learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, they learn about the world and the impact they have on it. Developing global citizens who care for each other, the environment, and the world we live in has become the culture of Old Bethpage Elementary School under Suzanne Gray’s leadership and I could not be prouder.” 

Gray has also worked diligently with staff to maintain a culture of continuous learning, all the while keeping the focus on “what’s good for the kids?”­­ – a concept she is passionate about. As noted in the numerous letters of support from colleagues, including Old Bethpage Elementary School Special Education Teacher Nancy Klein, “Suzanne Gray is an instructional leader who understands the importance of positive culture in a teaching and learning environment. By establishing a culture of trust, collaboration, respect, and support, Mrs. Gray has helped develop a learning atmosphere centered on a love of learning.” 

Recently, she implemented a “Share and Steal” program open to colleagues in the surrounding area. Building leaders from neighboring districts meet for a morning of collaboration and conversation, to share great practices that others can steal, or request guidance and feedback on an issue. Subsequent meetings are scheduled in different school districts, giving everyone an opportunity to show innovations within their own buildings.

Commented Superintendent of Schools Lorna Lewis, “Ms. Gray embodies passion for students, instruction, collegiality, and life-long learning. Her capacity to engage and build leadership skills is exceptional, because she leads by example. She represents what we hope all educators will become: a fierce advocate for children and strong role model for setting and achieving excellence in education.”

Gray received her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the College at New Paltz, her master of science in elementary and special education from Touro College, and her advanced certification from Baruch College.

Matthew Younghans - 2016 New York State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year (NASSP)

Matthew Younghans, Clarkstown High School South, Clarkstown CSD

Matthew Younghans, assistant principal at Clarkstown High School South in the Clarkstown Central School District, has been selected as the 2016 New York State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually by SAANYS and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to an assistant principal who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Hired as assistant principal of the high school from within the district, Younghans has strived to continue his approachable and consistent leadership style, while maintaining and expanding relationships first developed at the middle school with the students now at the high school. Often visible in the hallways and at extra curricular activities, he has fostered a climate of openness at the school. As noted by Debra Tarantino, principal of Clarkstown HS South, “Mr. Younghans is an approachable, talented, intelligent, and well-rounded assistant principal whose empathy towards all stakeholders allows him to be able to handle even the most delicate and difficult situations with professionalism and respect.”

Known as a lifelong learner, Younghans has offered many professional development opportunities to teachers including “Viking Institutes,” which offer workshops on Common Core, Google Classroom, the teacher evaluation process, and adapting modules to meet the needs of instruction. Several teachers have now become Google certified and are able to offer ongoing support for building teachers to incorporate Google within their classrooms. Additionally, he is recognized as a mentor to the new teachers at the school. A colleague commented, “He takes the role of being a mentor seriously and goes to great lengths to include the interns in all aspects of school building leadership.” Special education teacher, Jacqueline Hurley noted, “Matt has not only taught me to grow as a teacher, but how to be an effective building leader. Matthew Younghans truly fits the description of an outstanding leader.”

When students approached Younghans to be the staff advisor of the Youth United Way Club, he immediately jumped in to raise awareness of local poverty and to meet the needs of less fortunate students within the community. Of obtaining and distributing formal dresses and suits for underprivileged students to use at school events, one of the students in the club stated, “Mr. Younghans is up for anything including dresses. This selfless act taught me to never underestimate people’s willingness to give.” Under Younghans’ guidance, the student leaders in the club have received county recognition from the United Way of Rockland County.

Younghans received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Hartford, his master of science in education from the College of New Rochelle, and his certificate of advanced study in school leadership from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

 

Richard Loeschner - SAANYS New York State High School Principal of the Year

Richard Loeschner, Principal at Brentwood High School

LoechenerA school administrator for sixteen years, Loeschner has served as principal of Brentwood High School for the last seven years, in which time he has been credited with leading the school out of significant challenges and turning the school culture around. Under his guidance, the graduation rate has increased by 17 percent with about 85 percent of the graduating class attending two or four year colleges, and through Loeschner’s leadership, school suspensions have been reduced by an astounding 65 percent. Commented fellow administrator and former Superintendent of the Brentwood School District Joseph Bond, “Rich is the best principal I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Rich’s values, beliefs, attitude, and vision have been apparent to all stakeholders at BWHS. Mr. Loeschner’s passion, ideas, and leadership style have had a major impact on BWHS.” 

A strong believer in a trustful, happy, and loving learning environment, Loeschner makes it a point to be visible all day, every day, greeting every student as they pass, and attending as many extra curricular and special events as possible. Commented former student Sapna Rampersaud, “Mr. Loeschner was always available and, most importantly, genuinely interested. There isn’t anyone that I knew who was more devoted to seeing Brentwood HS prosper than Mr. Loeschner. I was always so inspired by his eloquence when he spoke at every school event, the way that he managed to succeed both in doing his administrative work and building relationships with students, and the way that he was committed to leading each student toward their success.” 

Brentwood High School is a unique school in that it has one of the largest English Language Learner populations in New York, as well as a large population of Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE). The student population represents more than 50 nationalities and a significant portion will be the first in their families to graduate from high school and have the possibility to attend college. In order to reach these families and students, teams meet with the students monthly to monitor their progress and give them strategies to help them acclimate to their brand new environment. The school also hosts five Bilingual Parent Informational Nights throughout the school year. Noted parent Judy Crawford, “He was proud to be a principal in such a diverse school community. Mr. Loeschner would give the shirt off his back if it meant providing a student with the opportunity to complete high school and further a career, whether it be in college, the military, or the world of work. He is a dedicated, caring, hardworking man who always seems to place the needs of others before him. He truly has been an inspiration to the Brentwood school district and community.” 

Loeschner received his bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from Stony Brook University and his professional diploma from Dowling College.

Joanna Valente-Orr - Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award

Orr150Joanna Valente-Orr, retired elementary principal from the Northeastern Clinton School District, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Irving Schwartz Distinguished Retiree Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

Valente-Orr has dedicated her professional life to public education and educational leadership. She has been a member of SAANYS since 1984, serving not only on the board of directors and executive committee from 1995 until her retirement in 2006, but still currently active as the SAANYS Region 7 representative. Valente-Orr remarked, “Being the local ‘face of SAANYS’ has been a privilege.” She continued, “SAANYS gave me an incredible opportunity in the fall of 2009. I was asked to represent SAANYS on the statewide committee that was formed to write the New York State Teaching Standards. The opportunity to work with educators from all over our state was a privilege and a professional learning experience for me.”

Embracing retirement as an opportunity for continued community service, Valente-Orr serves numerous local organizations, including the New York State Retired Teachers Association, where she served as membership co-chair and program chair; Champlain Valley Educational Services and their Career Connect Project; the CVES/BOCES Advisory Committee for the Health Insurance Consortium; and the North Country Teacher Resource Center as part of the Community Action Poverty Simulation. She is also on the board of directors for the Clinton County ARC where she serves on the personnel and guardianship committees.

Considering herself a life-long learner and equally committed to all aspects of education and believing that she was a better principal because she taught, and a better teacher because she was a principal, Valente-Orr has been an adjunct professor at SUNY Plattsburgh since 1988, a position she still holds. Noted Dr. Peggy Snowden, chair peer review group, “Students derive great benefit from having Ms. Orr as their instructor. She serves as a role model both for faculty as well as students as she models lifelong learning and continued professional growth.” Commented an adjunct faculty colleague, “Joanna has been such an inspiration and support for me since I first met her three years ago. She has always offered honest feedback and encouragement. She has helped me look at teaching, and myself, with a clear head and positive perspective.”

Irving Schwartz was a founding member of SAANYS. This award is given annually to a retired SAANYS member who, in retirement, has made significant contributions to the welfare of the association, education, and the greater community.

Genna Suraci - James E. Allen Award

Genna Suraci – Principal, Ulster County BOCES Career and Technical Center

A long time school administrator, Suraci has been principal of Ulster County BOCES Career and Technical Center for the last 21 years. She is known as a leader who believes in her staff and students, noting that “If the teaching staff has an idea for student improvement or curriculum change, I will explore, plan, and implement it with them. If it is successful, then it is their success. If it fails, then it was our failure.” Commented teacher Gen Rochetti, “She truly believes that all students can succeed and her passion for education is apparent in her interactions with staff and students. Her love of education permeates the building and creates a ripple effect that can be found in every program.”

A testament to her leadership and her extraordinary and accepting staff, the school has become a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ students. Suraci works diligently to ensure that the Career and Technical Center is also a welcoming and safe place for all students. She’s a very visible administrator and greets the buses every day, giving her the opportunity to look for potential problems and talk with students about their issues or concerns. Noted student Annonda Williams, “I really like that Ms. Suraci and her staff wait outside by the buses or inside by the door. They do it to get a feel for how kids are feeling that day. I’ve seen them stop kids if they saw that they were having a problem. I love the fact that she sees past the issue and tries to get to the root of the problem.”

Commented administrator Amy Storenski, “Ms. Suraci promotes social justice. Often, students who have experienced failure in traditional schools come to the Center and make great gains because they have discovered a love for learning and a passion. It is rewarding to witness such student transformations. I have seen first hand many lives transformed at the Career and Technical Center under Ms. Suraci’s leadership, my own included.”

Suraci received her master of science in educational administration from City College of New York.

Brian Edmister II - T. Walsh McQuillan Award

Brian Edmister II – Genesee Valley Elementary School 

Edmister150Brian Edmister II, principal of Genesee Valley Elementary School in the Genesee Valley Central School District, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the T. Walsh McQuillan Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

Walsh McQuillan served the children and educational leaders of New York State throughout his life. He was the fist person to serve in joint capacity as executive secretary to the predecessors of SAANYS and was an outstanding contributor to elementary education throughout his career. This award is given annually to a SAANYS member and administrator who has strong leadership skills and has made exceptional contributions to elementary education.

A long time educator, Edmister has served as principal of Genesee Valley Elementary School since 2006, in which time he is credited with turning the school culture to one of collaboration and trust. Commented Director of Curriculum, Instructional, and Pupil Personnel Services Carol McCarville, “When I reflect on Brian’s leadership style, I always think of him as more of a ‘leadership coach.’ Through his constant stream of support, encouragement and ‘yes we can’ attitude, Brian has earned the respect and following of his faculty. Brian has developed a culture of risk-takers where teachers view failure as a learning experience and feel free to implement new ideas.” One such new idea was the result of a collaborative effort among Edmister and the teaching staff, a unique STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) program, the goal being full-integration of all curriculum and incorporating movement activities into every lesson. On speaking about the STEAM program, first grade teacher Nichole Wesche noted, “This is allowing our students to enter into a hands-on world that is benefiting them in more than one way in their education. He listens to his staff and works alongside them, not powering them from the top. This is what a true leader does.”

Another innovative change implemented by Edmister, was moving from percentage-based grading to a standards-based grading systems based on best practices. This new grading system has allowed teachers to make classwork more intentional and integrate their lessons more fully. As a direct result, developing skills has become more important than a percentage grade of an individual assignment.

Also a leader within his community, Edmister and his family were active in the renovation of a local building along the Genesee River, which opened as a non-profit called “Healing Waters.” Healing Waters houses a community center, a teen recreation area, as well as renting kayaks for use along the river. He also founded a youth swimming club, which has now grown to more than 70 swimmers. Commented Superintendent Brian Schmitt, “Mr. Edmister cares deeply for children. He serves as the instructional leader and cheerleader-in-chief of the Genesee Valley Elementary School. Brian is personable, approachable, and engaged with all stakeholders in the district. He distinguishes himself through his dedication and commitment to the community. He organizes fundraisers for families who face hard times and gives personal time generously to support community endeavors. Brian coaches swimming, wears costumes to promote reading, and sits in a dunking booth to fundraise for student activities. He has a laser-like focus on creating and supporting instructional and enrichment activities that benefit students.”

Edmister received his bachelors degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, his masters degree from Empire State College, and his certificate of advanced studies from SUNY Brockport.

Mary K. Kline - Leadership and Support Award

Kline-150Mary K. Kline, Director of Adult, Early Childhood, and Outreach Education, Herkimer- Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES

A dedicated educational administrator at BOCES since 1982, Kline has implemented countless new initiatives and educational programs for the school and community. These services are wide ranging and include prekindergarten programs, migrant education services, services for homeless students, adult continuing education, as well as a nursing program offering both day and evening options. The prekindergarten programs are located in eight buildings and migrant education services span 143 school districts across 14 counties in central and eastern New York state. Commented colleague David Dudgeon, “While the list of accomplishments is grand, I am most impressed with her ability to balance this wide range of programs, find resources to fund all of them, and deal cooperatively with clients, parents, students, administrators, funding sources, and her staff. Mrs. Kline seems always present, always involved, always leading, always innovative, and always in the center of planning for yet another service to meet the needs of students, parents, staff, and the community.”

Known as a cooperative and collaborative leader whose door is always open, and with an unfaltering commitment to students and families, Migrant Educator Kathleen Smith noted, “Across the various programs in Mary’s supervision, I daresay that no needy family goes unnoticed. Her office is a veritable Santa’s workshop as Christmas nears. In addition, no member of Mary’s staff suffers a loss or problem alone.” Continued Smith, “Mary has built trust among and with her staff. She does so by example, as her staff members quickly recognize Mary as a steadfast professional.” Noted LPN Coordinator Sara Nicolette, “When I am dealing with my adult students, she gives me sound advice and has the ability to defuse any situation. Her door is always open and her advice is always welcome.”

Commented District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua, “She has a quiet and unassuming manner which puts people at ease while steadfastly advocating for the most vulnerable among our children and adults. Parents will rightly think of certain principals or superintendents when identifying effective educational leaders. When those same administrators, as well as business and industry leaders in and around Herkimer County identify exceptional educational leadership, they think of Mary Kline.”

Kline received her bachelor of science from Nazareth College, and her master of science and certificate of advanced study from SUNY Cortland.

Dr. Douglas Regan - Friend of Education Award

Regan150Dr. Douglas Regan has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Friend of Education award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given to an individual, group, or organization that has consistently contributed to the support and advancement of outstanding public education and the students of New York State.

Dr. Regan has truly dedicated his professional life to the service of education and the children of western New York. Spending 39 of his 40 years as an educator in the Starpoint Central School District, Regan was the longest serving principal in Starpoint history. Honoring his commitment and service to the district, the intermediate school was officially renamed the Dr. Douglas J. Regan Intermediate School on his retirement in 2011. Commented Superintendent of Schools C. Douglas Whelan, “Dr. Regan is a respected member of the Starpoint community and is known to all of us as a person of very high moral character and ethical standards. Throughout his career, he was an excellent role model for students, staff, and his administrative colleagues. His guidance and advice on instructional matters was invaluable to me as a new superintendent and I valued his commitment and expertise during the 13 years we worked together.”

Continuing his dedication to education and community in retirement, Regan is currently the education chairman of the Niagara Region PTA, which serves more than 30 school districts across western New York. Honored by the PTA, he has been the recipient of their Special Service Award, as well as the NYS PTA Life Membership Award. Regan also served as the first executive director of the Partnership for Smarter Schools. Additionally, he served as the SAANYS region 12 retiree representative; serves on the board of directors for his alma mater, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute; the board of directors at St. Amelia’s Elementary School; and volunteers at the Nativity Miguel Middle School in the City of Buffalo. He is also presently an adjunct professor of education at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, NY. In 2012 he received the Adjunct Teacher of the Year Award from the college.

Commented colleague and SAANYS President John McKenna, “Dr. Regan embodies excellence and exemplifies every positive quality a person can possess: dedication, passion, integrity, honesty, and professionalism are only a few of the words people routinely use to describe Doug. Most of all, he has been dedicated to helping children learn and may be the most compassionate person in the world!”

Amanda Greene - Outstanding Educator Award

Green150Amanda Greene – Assistant Principal, Red Hook High School

Embracing the school philosophy that every student be challenged to reach his or her greatest potential, regardless of their circumstance, Greene works diligently to guarantee that every student be given every chance for success. Considering herself lead learner, she noted, “Continuing to grow in my practice as an educational leader is the greatest service I can give to the learning community. There is always more to learn, always people who know more than I do and endless collaborative learning opportunities to take advantage of.” Under her leadership, the school implemented a “course recommendation change contract” that outlines a path for students with big dreams, who may not have been recommended for a higher-level class, the ability to pursue those dreams. These contracts have had a 22 out of 23 success rate, proving that academic excellence is possible if you have someone who believes in your potential. 

Additionally, she coordinated a free after school tutoring program in math, science, English, and social studies; and organized summer global history and ELA bootcamps for struggling students. These courses resulted in a 92 percent pass rate for those New York State regents exams. Commented Roy Paisley, Red Hook HS principal, “I believe it is Mrs. Greene’s efforts that have enabled Red Hook HS to achieve ‘NYS Reward School’ status through her work with students who are at-risk for failure, for whatever reason. We are a high preforming school with extensive international baccalaureate and advanced placement programs. It is Mrs. Greene who insures that we don’t lose sight of those who have the greatest academic difficulties.” 

Also known as an administrator who is always available for her students, parents, teachers, and community, Greene supports a collaborative and positive culture in her building. Following the suicide of a sophomore student, Greene led the way in providing appropriate services for students and families by collaborating with district and county mental health colleagues, as well as working to implement suicide prevention programming at the school.

Commented student Isabel Vasquez, “She has taught me much about maintaining personal dignity and humility in the face of stress or contention. She is always willing to take time to listen to students. She will always greet you when she sees you, ask about your life, support you in making things happen, and most importantly, make you feel capable and valued as a student. She has remained one of the greatest influences in my school career.”

Greene received her bachelors degree from SUNY Geneseo, and her masters in secondary education, masters in educational leadership, and her advanced certificate in school district leadership from Queens Graduate College.