By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
---- — Three candidates for the superintendent position at Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School met with members of the school board, teachers, students and community members last Thursday.
The decision, which will be made by the school board, will come down to the following candidates: Brian Dineen, Susan Shene and Thomas Sincavage.
Dineen spoke about his many years working in the Cobleskill-Richmondville school district and stressed the importance of literacy education starting at a young age.
“Kids need to be read to and need to learn how to read well,” said Dineen, the current principal of Joseph B. Radez Elementary School in Cobleskill. “It is the foundation of education for our students.”
Dineen said the most important part of a superintendent’s role is “first and foremost student safety.” He said it is important to make sure the students are safe and loved at school and at home.
Dineen also said it is the superintendent’s responsibility to balance the “fiscal realities with the priorities of the school.”
“We need to figure out opportunities for our kids and not do that on the backs of taxpayers,” Dineen said.
When a community member asked how he would do this he said he would “listen to anyone and everyone.”
“My door is open and I’d like to speak with you,” Dineen said.
When asked why he is the best candidate for superintendent, Dineen said he will always be prepared and work tirelessly.
“I will have your kids in mind first,” Dineen said. “It’s not about you or me, it’s about the kids.”
The next to speak was Shene, the principal of Clifton-Fine Central School. She said her passion is working in “small rural schools, where everyone works as a team.”
Shene said she has no interest in working in a big suburban or urban school where her office would not be in the school building because she wants the students and staff to know her.
She said she is a quiet leader who tries to lead by example rather than yelling. She said she only has to give people “the teacher look” to let them know she disapproves.
“I like to motivate people,” Shene said. “I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m not afraid to give praise either.”
“We’re all here because we need to prepare our students for the world,” she continued.
Shene said it is important for the superintendent to be visible throughout the school. She said if she were to become superintendent she and the principal would greet the students as they got on and off the buses to say “good morning” and “goodbye.” She said she would also walk through the classrooms “to get a sense of what is being taught.”
Shene said she would attend the student events to show her support.
“I care about their education and their success,” Shene said.
She said one of her goals would be to increase student achievement goals, and to always meet AYP, Annual Yearly Progress, for all students.
She then spoke about her experience working as an interim superintendent this past year in Fine. Shene said they didn’t meet AYP in some areas and that she talked to the teachers to figure out the problem.
“Teachers should be held accountable for each student,” Shene said.
When asked what is the role of a superintendent Shene said, “It is the number one role of the superintendent to be the educational leader and make students college- and career-ready.”
Shene added that the number two responsibility of the superintendent is to be in charge of the budget.
Shene said her experience is what sets her apart from her opponents. She has 26 years of experience in education in various roles, as a teacher, principal and interim superintendent.
“I bring perspective from all of these roles and also from the role of a parent,” Shene said.
“I bring a positive attitude, I am a hard worker and I will not sacrifice my integrity,” Shene continued.
Sincavage was the final speaker of the evening. He said he is the superintendent of the Wells School District and since it is so small, with only 157 students pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, he is also the principal.
“I have experience from every angle of education,” Sincavage said.
He said he started his educational career as a math teacher for eight years in Canajoharie. Sincavage then moved up to the role of principal at Canajoharie Central School, a position he held for six years.
But, Sincavage said his biggest goal is to “put a smile on every child’s face.”
“Children are the number one reason we’re here and we have to give them the best opportunities to learn,” Sincavage said.
He said if he were to become the CV-S superintendent his first goal would be to know all 525 children on a first name basis. Sincavage said that he knows there are issues with literacy with some of the elementary grades.
Sincavage said he would use “high quality professional development” to get the teachers better prepared.
“Children need to be engaged the entire time they are in class,” Sincavage said. “If the class is 40 minutes, the teachers need to teach for the entire 40 minutes.”
He said one of his accomplishments was changing the culture of Canajoharie Central School to be a lot more positive.
“We were starting to tell the children what they were doing right instead of what they were doing wrong,” Sincavage said.
Sincavage said that he believes respect goes a long way.
“If there’s respect, children can take risks when learning because they aren’t afraid,” he continued.
“The children should always be the center of the organization because everyone has a right to a free and appropriate education,” Sincavage said.
The key to balancing the budget and giving students an excellent education is in having an efficient system, he said. Sincavage gave the example of how he moved staff around in Wells to minimize hiring new staff and save money.
“I’m a big numbers guy,” Sincavage said. “I can give strength to numbers and have them tell a story.”
He said what qualifies him to be the superintendent is his positive attitude and infinite amount of energy.
“Education is going to be changing and it’s going to be through technology,” Sincavage said.
In his vision for the future of education, Sincavage utilizes technology such as ipads to get children excited about their education.
Sincavage closed by saying he is, “As honest as they come. I don’t treat people differently because we are all humans. I try to set a good example every day.”
The board of education is expected to consider the input of all participants while in the selection process and choose a final candidate in July with a projected start date of Sept. 1, according to a media release from the school.