Brian Edmister II – Genesee Valley Elementary School
Brian 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.