Jonah M. Schenker, Ed.D., of New Paltz, has been appointed as the new District Superintendent of Ulster BOCES, effective March 23. Schenker will serve a dual role as the state education commissioner’s representative for the eight local component school districts in the Ulster BOCES region and as chief executive officer of Ulster BOCES. The Ulster BOCES Board of Education approved Schenker’s appointment on Wednesday, March 22. He also needed approval of New York State Commissioner of Education Betty A. Rosa, Ed.D., which was secured on March 14.
Schenker, a veteran educator with 21 years of experience, is replacing Charles V. Khoury, Ed.D., who retired on December 31, 2022. Schenker, who is currently Deputy Superintendent at Ulster BOCES, has been overseeing the agency’s day-to-day operations since Khoury’s retirement.
Board of Education President Barbara Carroll says the decision to appoint Schenker was made after the Board completed an extensive, nationwide search that attracted more than 20 qualified applicants from several states. The Board was able to screen candidates through a series of video responses to a series of questions, as well as review of documents including detailed personal statements. Prior to evaluating the candidates, the Board also reviewed feedback from over 500 students, parents, staff and community members who participated in a survey to identify the skills and qualities desired for the next leader of Ulster BOCES.
“The survey responses provided added guidance and helped inform the values shared by the Ulster BOCES Board members as they reviewed candidate qualifications and conducted interviews with the finalists,” explains Carroll.
After independently evaluating the candidates, Carroll’s confidence in the process was reinforced after individual Board member rankings were predominantly in alignment with selecting four finalists to advance to the interview phase (of which three accepted). “Dr. Schenker ultimately stood out because of his passion for students and learning and his long and intimate knowledge and experience with so many BOCES programs.”
“I am honored to have been selected to lead Ulster BOCES into our next chapter,” says Schenker. “I am committed to serving the needs of our component districts, locally and as a representative of the Commissioner, and to harnessing voices and listening so that we are better informed about the immediate and long-term work that needs to be done within Ulster BOCES and across Ulster County.”
Among Schenker’s priorities for the future are strengthening countywide literacy and numeracy outcomes; expanding whole-child focused special education programs to meet increasing needs of our student population; supporting educator knowledge and professional growth through relevant, high-quality, professional development offerings; establishing Ulster BOCES as the hub and nexus for all students and families to access, in a cost-effective way, robust integration with local workforce and mental health services beyond the walls of their component school; addressing the workforce shortage in the education sector; and advancing the important work in diversity, equity, and inclusion to eliminate structural and systematic barriers and support success for all students.
“I hope to foster innovation to address the shifts needed in the traditional educational model to ensure all learners have what they need to succeed,” says Schenker. “Our work always needs to be centered around students and starts with building relationships and actualizing a vision where every staff member sees themselves in the path forward, regardless of what work they do.”
Schenker says his passion and energy comes from a lifetime of connections with people who have crossed his path that inspired him to question the status quo and always seek out the answer to “what else is possible?”
“I find great passion in learning and in the ability to share, teach and inspire people,” he says. “I am who I am today through the influence of a collection of people from different sectors and backgrounds who had one common theme: they went into whatever they did with a passion and with care for other humans. For me, this translates to how I can contribute to doing what is right on behalf of learning and students.”
Outside of his professional responsibilities, Schenker enjoys cooking, researching and discussing food, and travel. He somehow also finds time to teach and train at his brother’s dojo, Fighting Spirit Karate in Gardiner. He is grateful for the strong support system his wife, two teenage children — ages 13 and 19 — and extended family provide. “Being an educator has never been ‘just a job’ to me, and when you pour your all into each and every day, it is important to have a strong community behind you. For me, this is my family.”
Schenker accepted a three-year contract. As a District Superintendent of a Board of Cooperative Educational Services, contract terms are heavily directed by New York State Education Law and the position has a salary for New York State and a salary for Ulster BOCES. Schenker will earn a salary of $164,751 as the Ulster BOCES Chief Executive Officer. The State salary as the Commissioner’s representative for the region is $43,499.