As the new Executive Director of CASDA I am fortunate to be joining an organization with a long history of positively impacting the regional education community. CASDA will celebrate its 70th year of existence in 2019. As an arm of the University at Albany School of Education, CASDA has supported area school districts meeting a variety of needs, developing educators and bringing research to practice. Over the many years, CASDA has become a catalyst, convener, community developer and capacity builder as it has endeavored to achieve its mission: CASDA engages educators and their schools in addressing challenges, embracing opportunities, and creating positive, lasting outcomes for students.
In looking back, CASDA’s rich history of collaboration, partnerships and accomplishments, is the result of visionary leadership. I want to thank the many leaders who contributed to building CASDA’s strong foundation. I am fortunate to be following in the footsteps of Dr. James Butterworth, a colleague, mentor and friend. Jim elevated CASDA’s role in the region by forging trusting and mutually beneficial relationships. I look to his leadership approach as a model to follow.
Ones view of the future is often reflected in one’s personal past. As I consider CASDA’s future direction I look to my personal experience for guidance. A transplant to the Capital Region of New York at age 10 from Queens, New York my belief system was galvanized in the experience of poverty. Neither of my parents attended high school. I carried a free lunch punch card with me every day to school. I witnessed the advantages and access classmates from homes of privilege had over me. As a result, equity has been the driving force behind over 30 years of a labor of love in public education.
From my first teaching position at a small middle school in Potterville, NY to completing my career as Superintendent of Schools in the Saratoga Springs City School, I have challenged systems and people to ensure equity for all students. These experiences drive a vision for CASDA that champions access and opportunity for all students in all school districts regardless of demographics. Through services like the highly successful Poverty Simulations facilitated by talented CASDA faculty and staff we can support school districts and communities concerned with issues of equity.
Growing up in Lake George I lived at the foot of a mountain. On a clear day from the summit of Prospect Mountain in Lake George you can see for 50 miles, the ad on the billboard boasts. A panoramic view like the one from the summit of a mountain provides the advantage of seeing in all directions. As leaders, we can benefit from a panoramic view of the educational, social and political landscape. From the mountain top we gain perspective, which as leaders we turn into a vision of something bigger than ourselves; outcomes that benefit the students and communities we serve. Seeing what lies ahead, near and far, is critically important in these complex times.
The work ahead for CASDA in 2018 – 2019, is exciting. For a more detailed description of key focus areas read our newsletter column, On the Horizon.
As CASDA enters its 70th year we continue to be here to support your district in meeting the needs of your students, faculty, staff and community. With your input, CASDA will continue developing technical assistance contracts, conferences, workshops, webinars, roundtables and other innovative approaches to meet our members’ professional development needs. I am honored to be leading CASDA and look forward to working closely with all of our member districts in the year ahead.