PAINTED POST | Linda Perry will be shifting her focus from 21 school districts to just one as she makes the move from GST BOCES to be an assistant superintendent in the Corning-Painted Post Area School District.
Perry, a Bath native and graduate of the pre-consolidation Campbell High School, will fill the assistant superintendent for secondary education role being vacated by Michelle Caulfield, who is in turn transitioning into the superintendent role upon the retirement of Mike Ginalski in June.
Perry told The Leader her BOCES experience will be invaluable to her new position at C-PP.
“I was a teacher coach, I was a curriculum facilitator -- most recently I have been the director of Instructional Support Services,” she said. “We do all the behind the scenes things that support educators -- staff development, supporting teachers and administrators when new initiatives come from the state.”
Curriculum is central to her new role at C-PP, so her familiarity with the changing state standards and initiatives gives her a head start.
“My work with the curriculum has probably been the biggest thing that I can bring to this district,” Perry said. “I have been involved in that process, I sit on the statewide curriculum development network and I travel to Albany regularly, so I’ve made connections at the state level and in other regions.”
But she said she’s coming into a district that’s already well-positioned in keeping up with new developments in curriculum.
“Corning-Painted Post has done a really great job -- they’ve already done the lion’s share of the work,” Perry said.
She said there’s no awkwardness in coming into a job that’s not quite vacant yet -- quite the opposite.
“I see that as a real gift for us,” Perry said. “While Michelle [Caulfield] is busy taking on new and bigger leadership responsibilities here, she needs someone to start moving in behind her and learning things that can come ‘off her plate’ so that she can really dig into learning the superintendent role.”
She said at least to start, she sees her role as simply maintaining the momentum of positive work that’s already underway.
That doesn’t mean she won’t bring her own ideas.
“This is a nice chance at a fresh lens,” Perry said. “I’m coming from the outside, so I can see things in the district with a fresh eye.
“So right now I’m looking for what needs to be preserved, but also where are the opportunities for us to think about trying some new things.”
She also said she feels absolutely free to raise those questions about what she might want to change about the district’s current approach -- even if the existing approach was put in place by Caulfield.
Key to that is the “collaborative” culture that Perry said she immediately saw in the C-PP leadership and wanted to be a part of.
“Any changes would be very systematic, and we would need to all agree on that,” she said. “This is a very strong educational system that is already in place, so [I’d be] looking at tweaking things, not any overhauls of things.
“We will need to monitor and adjust in a collaborative way, like this district always has. This team really understands that education is an ever-evolving thing.”
That “collaborative” approach is obvious just in looking at the adjacent offices of the assistant superintendents for secondary and primary education -- both devote most floor space to a meeting area with a table and chairs, as if time spent working alone at a desk is a rarity.
That relationship, with Assistant Superintendent for Primary Education Kerry Elsasser, is a very important one, as indicated by the side-by-side offices.
“[Elsasser and I] are really looking at where we can balance each other, what are our strengths and where are some things where we can really challenge one another to try some new things,” Perry said.
She said everyone is open to change, but with an eye to the district’s mission at all times.
“We [have to] preserve the core of what has made Corning-Painted Post so special, which is challenging every student, every day,” Perry said. “We know that every student, with the right support, can really succeed. As long as we keep that at the core -- ‘Students are the center of all we do’ -- there’s nothing we can’t do here. It’s really fabulous.”