A message from Gladys Cruz

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

June 27, 2017  

This is a bittersweet time for many of our staff, as we say goodbye to students and another school year. In many of Questar III’s programs, we have served these students for multiple years – providing us with the opportunity to really get to know them. This is why we smile because it happened, not cry because it’s over.

For me, I always enjoy the opportunity to attend our end-of-the-year awards and celebrations. It is particularly gratifying to hear about the special memories that shaped our students and staff alike. At Questar III, these celebrations take many formsawards, scholarships, stories of success and perseverance, the ceremonial lighting of candles, the movement of tassels from right to left, handshakes, hugs, high-fives, laughter and tears.

These events also demonstrate the power of our staff and the vital role they play in the development of our students, from pre-K to adult education. Throughout their work, they demonstrate and model extraordinary commitment, service, patience and empathy.

Since the month of June is a lot like the end of a calendar year, I want to take the time to update you on our work as a BOCES.

Implementing a new framework
Over the past year, Questar III implemented The Leading Edge, a framework for goal-setting, innovation and growth. Thank you to our staff for their feedback and reflections on this new framework. Next month, our executive leadership team will meet to look back on the past year and look ahead to next year’s thematic goals. 

Reviewing our programs
This year, we reviewed the Special Education and CTE programs. This process culminated in two reports containing findings and recommendations. The CTE report was presented to the Board in May and subsequently shared with CTE staff. The Special Education report will be presented to the Board on June 28 and will be shared/discussed with Special Education staff this fall. Looking ahead, these recommendations will be highlighted in the scorecards of our various buildings.

Building and maintaining our facilities
Building and maintaining our facilities was one of this year’s four thematic goals. In addition to the development of a new educational center, we completed work at Columbia-Greene Educational Center and planned for work at Sackett. The new building project is moving forward, as planned, for a September 2018 opening. This year, a design committee met on a weekly basis with the architects as we prepare to finalize plans.

Staffing changes
Our Director of Special Education Robin Sobol is retiring on June 29 after 12 years of service. At this point, our search for her replacement continues. In light of this, Robin will be working part-time this summer (three days/week) until we hire a new director. A special thank you to Robin for assisting us during this transition period.

We are recruiting for a new Director of the School Library System (following the departure of Jen Cannell to Capital Region BOCES). This position also oversees our Arts-in-Education services and the regional Odyssey of the Mind tournament. 

Cara Talmadge is leaving the BOCES to begin her new role as principal of Granville Elementary School. I want to thank Cara for her service as the interim principal at Columbia-Greene Educational Center this year. Best wishes in your new role!

Other notable items
Like any cooperative venture, we rely on strong working relationships with our stakeholders, from staff and business partners to superintendents and board members.

Over the past year, I visited, along with Deputy Superintendents Harry Hadjioannou and Matt Sloane, the school boards of our 22 component districts. We also successfully implemented recommendations from last year’s listening tour of superintendents.

July 1 will see five new superintendents and 20 new board members in our region. Over the past year, Questar III coordinated three of these searches for local boards. We look forward to working with these new school leaders. Questar III will also welcome a new board member in July – Mary Daly of Hudson. Thank you to Jim Keegan for 26 years of dedicated board service.

Commissioner MaryEllen Elia visited our region three times this year. In October, she met with board members and superintendents to discuss changes at SED. She also visited Castleton Elementary School in Schodack in May. Finally, she visited our BOCES special education programs at Rensselaer Academy and Red Mill Elementary School on June 16. These visits are designed to provide her with the chance to see our programs as she advises the Board of Regents and State Education Department on policy recommendations, from graduation requirements to special education settings.

Summer is a busy time at Questar III, from the 12-month staff who continue to provide service to the summer school staff that deliver extended year programs to our students. Our Summer School Program will open on July 3. Questar III will also offer a wide range of professional development this summer, including our STEM Research Program. This two-year program places teachers in laboratories for four days per week for two summers, with one day of professional development each week.

We will also provide a week-long STEM experience to incoming ninth graders as part of the Tech Valley Region Science Camp July 10-14. This camp, which predates Tech Valley High School, allows students to spend five days at different businesses, engaged in fun and exciting, hands-on activities.

As we prepare to wind down one school year and look ahead to another, I want to thank our BOCES and school district staff for their work. For those who are heading towards a summer break – I wish you a relaxing and energizing summer!  For those who are working summer school, I wish you a great summer of teaching and learning. Working together, “we are changing lives, realizing dreams and doing together what can’t be alone.” On behalf of our Board of Education, I look forward to continuing our work together in the new school year.

Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
District Superintendent