Hudson board meets new teachers

HUDSON–Staff, administration and school board changes–as well as a proposed new teacher preparation program for high school students–highlighted the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, August 13.

The board is down to six members and is seeking a seventh, to complete a term that lasts through June 30, 2019. HCSD residents interested in this position should send a letter of interest to Board Clerk Leslie Coons by September 14. The board expects to select from the candidates at its September 24 meeting.

The vacancy results from the resignation for personal reasons of Sumayyah Shabazz, who has served on the board since July 2015. “We enjoyed working with her,” said Superintendent Maria L Suttmeier. “This was a difficult decision for Sumayyah.”

At the meeting Dr. Suttmeier and the board also recognized five new or reassigned staff members:

• Chris Gilhooly joins the district as a social worker. He said he is originally from New York City, has taught psychology in the SUNY system and, “what attracted me to Hudson is the diversity of the student body.”

• Ashley Oakes joins the district to teach first grade special education. She grew up in Chatham, taught special education pre-school at The Starting Place and, “This is where I belong. This is where my path has led me.”

• Katelyn Reeves joins the district to teach fifth grade special education. She said she came from Long Island and taught for five years in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

• Taylor Teal joins the district to teach physical education in the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School (MCSES). “I’m grateful to be here and work with younger students,” after previously teaching older students, she said.

• Colleen Pitts will teach Kindergarten after teaching reading in the district for 16 years. “I’m very excited to make this move and lay down the foundations in kindergarten,” she said.

Later in the meeting Dr. Suttmeier announced the change of April Prestipino’s title from coordinator of school improvement to assistant superintendent for school improvement. “Thank-you for the surprise,” Ms. Prestipino said. “I had no idea you guys were discussing this.”

Also at the meeting Dr. Suttmeier proposed a new career path to offer high school students: Urban Teacher Preparation. Some Hudson high school students already participate in Questar III BOSCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, such as automotive and food preparation. Under the proposal, Questar would add Urban Teacher Preparation to its CTE programs. Dr. Suttmeier hopes this will encourage students in the district to become teachers in districts like the HCSD.

The proposal followed a presentation by Rachel M. Risetto, interim human resources director for the HCSD for July and August, about a Diversity Symposium she attended in Ithaca in July. One point she made was that “the HCSD isn’t unique” in needing a staff “that mirrors our student population more.” Several racial groups comprise over 10% of the HCSD student population, with not one comprising over 50%.

“The only way we can improve the diversity of our staff is to grow our own,” said Dr. Suttmeier. The challenge is “how do we get our kids–of all identities–to decide: I want to be a teacher!”

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