Questar III Board of Education Member Paul Puccio has served on the board since 1999. He is also a Schodack Central School District Board of Education member and Tech Valley High School® Board of Education.
The following is a letter to the community from Questar III Board of Education member Paul Puccio:
It may seem strange to some, but I have always viewed myself with the context of my work and my community service. It truly gives me a sense of identity and personal self-worth. So when I tell you about my experience with Questar III, I am telling you about myself.
I am increasingly proud of being a member of the Questar III Board of Education. I say increasingly, because as time has gone on, I’ve grown in my appreciation of the very profound impact that this BOCES has had upon our component school districts, and in its educational leadership role. Initially I was intrigued about becoming a member of the board because it was seen as very special. At the time I was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy, it was known as the “Board of Presidents.” Virtually every member of the Questar III Board of Education, since its inception, had been the president of their local Board of Education. It was quite an honor for me to be elected by the component districts to serve on this board.
This is a very special time in public education. We have all been threatened by diminishing resources, and by the impact of decreased enrollment. This has put immense pressure on school districts as they struggle to achieve a balance between maintaining an appropriate and quality education for children and meeting the expectations of property taxpayers. Despite this pressure, this is a time of great innovation. As public schools struggle to find ways to meet rising educational expectations in the face of diminished resources, new ideas, bold concepts, and innovation are taking hold on what has been a relatively unchanged educational culture in New York State.
Questar III has exercised significant leadership in meeting these challenges. When districts have problems meeting student needs, they have turned to us and we have responded quickly and effectively. And, in doing so, we have developed techniques and approaches to education which are then shared with the districts resulting in their being able to the reassume services to their children. Our responsiveness is carried out in a virtually seamless way demonstrating our organizational capacity and flexibility. None of this would be possible without the spirit of innovation and the dedication of our staff.
This BOCES, in partnership with the Capital Region BOCES, developed the “one-of-its-kind,” four-year, STEM and Project-based Tech Valley High School (TVHS). Any from the 47 component districts of both BOCES may attend. This high school has been heralded as unique among all of the high-tech high schools that have been created across this nation. It’s a very special relationship with the business community that enables our TVHS students to experience career and work experiences that are unmatched.
Over the course of the last several years there have been increased expectations for academic rigor and experiential relevance in Career and Technical Education programs. Our BOCES has responded by assuring that our students have a rigorous academic and job and career relevant education. Our programs, like other BOCES’ programs, have produced the most profoundly improved graduation rates for any group of children in New York State. We have demonstrated that when children are given the opportunity to be fully engaged in hands-on, meaningful, and job and career relevant educational experiences, they can and do meet rigorous academic expectations. They acquire knowledge and skills that will enable them to be economically secure in the world of work and successful in both higher education and lifelong learning.
In the face of the educational reform movement, especially associated with the Common Core Learning Standards and with increasing demands for educational accountability, Questar III has been at the forefront of developing and implementing teacher and administrator training and evaluation programs that have been extremely valuable to local school districts. In many respects the public is unaware of the profound impact that educational reform has had on daily operation, management and instruction in our schools. Questar III stepped up to these demands and has been an invaluable partner with local districts in addressing these reform objectives and initiatives. Questar III has made significant contributions to the consistency and success of implementing Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) for teachers and administrators throughout this region.
Because of its proximity to Albany, Questar III has been called upon repeatedly by the State Education Department to exercise regional and statewide leadership. District Superintendent Dr. James Baldwin has been supported by our Board in carrying out roles that address many educational issues. As a board, we are proud of what he has accomplished, and we are proud of the role we have played in supporting policy initiatives and resource allocations at Questar III which have made it possible for this leadership role to be fulfilled.
I have been particularly impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades our organization. The employees of this BOCES, and especially its leadership team, are constantly pursuing new endeavors and new initiatives to allow our service repertoire to anticipate, and then meet, the growing and changing expectations of school districts. Responding to change in a cost-effective and efficient manner through the exercise of rapid and hhigh-qualityinnovation is a hallmark of the Questar III BOCES.
Finally, behind all of the accomplishments of the Questar III is a Board of Education that is truly amazing. This board is focused on children first, builds its actions on a foundation of policy, strives for quality and cost-effective services, is unafraid of taking appropriate risk in the face of significant challenges, and has demonstrated flexibility and predictability in its responses to emerging needs. As I sit at board meetings I am often amazed and thrilled by the wisdom and experience that is reflected in the deliberations and decisions of the board. This board truly believes in and supports not just its service mission, but also its educational leadership mission.
On a personal note, my experience on the Questar III board has been a very satisfying complement to my work on the Schodack Central School District Board. I’ve had the pleasure of learning and growing as a board member because of the Questar III experience, while I am firmly grounded in my home community. I have been given the gift of having a role in enriching the lives of my own children and my grandchildren, and at the same time have had the pleasure of being part of state and national initiatives, like Tech Valley High School®. This has been an amazing and rewarding experience. I cannot fully express my gratitude of having been so fortunate.