LOWVILLE Cheryl R. Steckly has undertaken a crash course in how the Lowville Academy and Central School District operates, aside from the teaching aspect, since being appointed interim superintendent last month.
It takes everybody to make this work, said Mrs. Steckly, who had been the elementary school principal since September 2007. All these jobs are important.
The new superintendent, who took the helm last week, said she is most familiar with the districts educational component, having been hired in 1984 as a teachers aide, then serving for many years as a teacher and elementary administrator.
But, even with her long tenure, Mrs. Steckly said there was a lot she didnt know about operations, including transportation and business practices.
Helping to ease the transition has been former Superintendent Kenneth J. McAuliffe, who recently retired after 32 years as a school administrator, the last 11 as superintendent.
Mr. McAuliffe has met frequently with Mrs. Steckly over the past month and plans to spend a few days per month here to assist with ongoing issues or questions. He took time out of his vacation Wednesday to find out how the first day of school was going.
His commitment to the district will go with him in his retirement, Mrs. Steckly said. This has been his life, so its going to be a change for him and a change for us.
After Mr. McAuliffe announced plans to retire, the district in March received 29 applications for the post.
Mrs. Stecklys resume was not among them.
I really enjoy my connection to children, and I wasnt sure I was ready to take that next step away from them, she said.
Mrs. Steckly said she also thought the Board of Education was looking for candidates with superintendent training, which she does not have, and was concerned about the time commitment and dedication needed to replace a fixture such as Mr. McAuliffe.
Its daunting to try to live up to that, she said.
However, school board members, after narrowing the field to two finalists, in June decided to extend the application deadline to see whether any other strong candidates would come forward.
After thinking more about the situation and talking with several people, Mrs. Steckly decided to see if board members would be interested in appointing her on a trial basis for the 2012-13 school year.
Theyll have an opportunity to determine if its a good fit for them, and Ill have time to see if its a good fit for me, she said.
Mrs. Steckly, who turned 50 during the summer, said she had decided to commemorate the milestone by participating in a triathlon near Syracuse. Training sessions gave her a lot of time to think about the possible career change.
I saw a lot of back country roads, she said.
Much of Mrs. Stecklys initial focus will be on completing implementation of an evaluation system for teachers and principals and a new curriculum based on common core standards.
A committee of teachers and administrators has been working on the evaluation protocol for nearly two years, while teachers have been working at school throughout the summer to help ease the curriculum change, which is to go into effect for students in grades three to eight in the spring, Mrs. Steckly said.
We want to do it right, she said.
Mrs. Steckly said her husband, Edward F., a student advocate at LACS who is employed by Mountain View Prevention Services, has been very supportive of the move, as have school employees and community members. Neighboring school superintendents have also offered their assistance, she said.