New Paltz Middle School will educate more than 500 students this year in grades six through eight. At the helm as principal will be Ann Sheldon, formerly the school’s assistant principal. And while the new position will bring increased responsibilities, she says, Sheldon doesn’t anticipate her daily activities will change all that much.
“On a typical day as the assistant principal, I was out in the building, in the halls and at lunch, accessible to the kids. And I don’t plan to really change that as the principal; I plan to continue to be accessible to students and staff.”
The position of assistant principal that Sheldon held for the past two years will be filled by Daniel Glenn, most recently a first grade teacher in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Sheldon says she plans to have the same working relationship with Glenn that she shared with former principal Dr. Richard Wiesenthal, who retired at the end of the school year. “We’ll be a team. It’s a partnership, really. If something comes up, it will certainly be a team approach on how to move forward, although ultimately, I do have the final say, just as Dr. Wiesenthal did when I was the assistant.”
Sheldon grew up in the small town of Frewsburg, New York, “about as far west and south as you can go in the state before hitting Pennsylvania,” she says. Her undergrad degree is in psychology from Marist College and she holds a master’s degree from Walden University in integrating technology in the classroom. Sheldon also earned a certificate in educational leadership from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Married for 31 years to Kevin Sheldon, assistant superintendent in the Arlington Central School District, the couple have two grown children, Andrew and Erin. The most recent family development was the arrival of Andrew’s twins, Miles and Penelope, on July 27. If there’s a glow in her eyes, Ann says, it’s from being a first-time grandmother.
She and her husband are both outdoors enthusiasts who love to hike, bike, ski (cross-country and downhill) and kayak in their off-time. “It’s a good partnership,” Sheldon says. “And we love living in this area. It’s beautiful, and it’s very reminiscent to me of where I grew up, going apple- and grape-picking, the orchards, the vineyards… that was all part of my childhood, so this area really resonates with me.”
Prior to her employment at New Paltz Middle School as assistant principal two years ago, Sheldon taught special education at the high school for three years and was a fifth grade teacher at Lenape Elementary School for 11 years.
Middle school students face specific challenges, she says, that elementary school students haven’t yet encountered and high school students have already dealt with, to some degree. “Middle school students are developing in so many different ways in these years: emotionally, physically, intellectually… not that that doesn’t happen at other levels, but at the onset of adolescence, there’s just a little more turmoil in middle school students compared to elementary or high school students. They’re really looking for friends, figuring out who they are and who they want to be, and are starting to break away from mom and dad. They’re more willing or able to experiment than elementary school students. And by high school, they may not have everything fully determined, but they’re a little more assured.”
When New Paltz Superintendent of Schools Maria Rice announced Sheldon’s appointment as principal for the middle school, she said it was going to be an asset for the students to have a person in charge already familiar with the building and its operations during a time when the capital project is still in full swing; “providing the stability our students and staff need during this time of physical disruption.”
Sheldon says she is excited to see the project come to fruition. “What is going to be available for students is amazing. The art and music facilities that are being built are excellent. The students will have a core space that is just beautiful, and I think that will give them pride in all the things they’re doing. And I think the teachers are going to be inspired.
Right now we’re in the messy stage of it, but it’s exciting to see; it’s going to be a wonderful thing.”