During its May 6 meeting, the New Paltz Board of Education approved the appointment of Angela Urbina-Medina, of Port Jervis, as the district’s next superintendent of schools. She will assume her post on July 1. Her contract with the district is for four years with a starting salary of $197,000.
Urbina-Medina was selected following a five-month nationwide search process conducted by the New York State Leadership Group after the retirement of former superintendent Maria Rice this past December.
An educator since 1997, Urbina-Medina currently serves as deputy superintendent at Ellenville Central Schools, a position she has held since July 2018. Prior experience at Ellenville includes serving as the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for three years and principal at Ellenville Middle School for five years. Before the principalship, she served as assistant principal at both Warwick Valley’s Middle School and Haviland Middle School in the Hyde Park School District.
Urbina-Medina says that she is driven to be involved in transformative work on behalf of children. “Creating initiatives that can be life-changing for students puts the steam in my engine,” she said.
She is especially proud of her work with the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which provides programming to reach students that might otherwise be disengaged. The creation of the Ellenville Elementary School Summer Boost Academy, a program designed to protect and advance educational progress over the summer months, is also a source of pride. “Creating an environment where kids want to be in school when they could instead be out playing is a challenge. Through a collaboration with Ulster BOCES, we created a program that kids come back to year after year.”
Urbina-Medina cites her ten years as a classroom teacher at Monhagen Middle School in the Middletown School District as having a significant impact on her career. “I know what it is like to be a classroom teacher, and the perspective is valuable. My wife is also a teacher, so I am still deeply connected to the day-to-day,” she explains.
While the new superintendent’s path from classroom teacher to district leader is not uncommon, Urbina-Medina didn’t start her career in education. For six years, she served as a New York City police officer, assigned to the NYPD’s 40th precinct of the Bronx. She said her job provided her with a view of an environment that was very different from the one in which she was raised, instilling invaluable insight. Through an early police/school collaboration, she was assigned to visit classrooms to help students understand “appropriate physical contact” and to teach them about being in control of their own bodies.
“As parents, we all want the same things for our children — to be happy and successful. Yet, there are stark differences in how we experience life, which was very eye-opening,” she said. As a result, the police officer-turned-educator feels strongly that “the types of environments we are committed to fostering and the ways we form relationships with kids really matter.”
“I consider being a woman in uniform, at a time when there were so few, as one of my most significant accomplishments. This experience expanded my view of the world and the challenges we face as a society,” Urbina-Medina said.
Planning to start a family of her own, in 1991 she decided to transition out of law enforcement and start the journey that would soon put her into the classroom.
“The Board of Education is excited to welcome Ms. Urbina-Medina to the New Paltz Central School District,” said Michael O’Donnell, New Paltz Board of Education president. “She is a proven equity-centered leader and informed decision maker with a strong background in curriculum. We believe her calm, clear and concise communication style will resonate with the full spectrum of students, parents, faculty, staff and community members to foster a positive school culture.”
According to O’Donnell, Urbina-Medina was selected from a national pool of 40 applicants, 32 from New York State and others from as far away as Arizona, Florida and Texas. The board’s decision was informed by input collected from district stakeholders through focus groups and an online survey about the desired traits in their new school leader.
Her her most immediate priorities include establishing a level of stability and preparing for the reopening of schools. As superintendent, Urbina-Medina said that she is committed to clear, consistent communication that includes ongoing stakeholder input in support of an environment where everyone feels they belong.