The Kingston school board held their annual reorganizational meeting earlier this month, agreeing by consent agenda to a wide range of personnel and other district matters. Trustees also reelected President Nora Scherer to another year in office, and elected Priscilla Lowe to serve as vice president.
Lowe, nominated by fellow trustee Suzanne Jordan, will take over from the Rev. James Childs, Sr. Lowe was the only nominee.
Scherer faced a brief challenge from Robin Jacobowitz, who was nominated by fellow trustee James Michael. Jacobowitz quickly and graciously withdrew her candidacy, with Scherer earning full support during voting.
“I so appreciate the nomination,” said Jacobowitz during the meeting held on Thursday, July 5. “I’m honored and surprised. But I feel that I can’t take on that responsibility at this stage of my life.”
Trustees also approved the hiring of two new principals who will fill vacancies at Edward R. Crosby and John F. Kennedy elementary schools.
“We had several very good candidates, and these two impressed us above and beyond,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino. “They distinguished themselves above and beyond the other candidates, and we’re really excited, very impressed, and we can’t wait to get rolling as soon as possible.”
Kathleen Sickles is the new principal at Crosby, after serving as an assistant principal at Highland Elementary School since October 2014. Prior to her move to Highland, Sickles was an assistant principal and third-grade teacher at St. Joseph School in Kingston. Sickles has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz, and a certificate of advanced graduate study from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. “I’m looking forward to getting started,” Sickles said.
Melissa Jamieson will take over at JFK, moving upstate from Brooklyn, where she most recently served as assistant principal at P.S. 164 Caesar Rodney in the Borough Park neighborhood. Further details on Jamieson’s background were not available as of press time.
“I’m honored to be a part of the Kingston City School District,” said Jamieson.
Both principals were hired on a four-year probationary term with an annual salary of $115,000. Jamieson’s official start date is Tuesday, Aug. 1, while Sickles’ had yet to be determined.
In other personnel news, Jordan was the sole trustee to vote against extending the assignment of tenured elementary teachers Michael Circe and Jonathan Hambright as instructional coaches through June 30, 2019. Instructional coaches primarily work with other teachers and school leaders on contemporary evidence-based practices.
“I have a concern about instructional coaches serving for more than two years,” said Jordan. “I just feel that a teacher who is exceptional should be working with kids in our district. I fully support the instructional coach idea, but I philosophically cannot keep good teachers out of the classroom.”
Jordan added that she would prefer to see teachers serve as instructional coaches for no more than two years before returning to the classroom, a discussion she said she was bringing to the board for the first time after numerous conversations in the district’s teaching and learning committee.
“Personally, I can’t support more than a three-year term,” Jordan said. “These two individuals are going into a four-year term. I’m just forced to vote no. And I’m not trying to influence anybody else. It’s just something I feel very strongly about and I wanted to explain why.”
Padalino said he expected the debate would continue in committee as part of a larger discussion about instructional coaches.
“There’s a conversation going on around the instructional coach model in a lot of different ways,” Padalino said. “So I think this is something we will continue to discuss in the teaching and learning committee.”