Finalists Announced for DeRuyter Superintendent of Schools
The DeRuyter Central School District Board of Education is pleased to announce that three finalists have been selected to move forward in the search for a new superintendent and will interview on May 16, 2018 with district stakeholder groups consisting of teachers, students, administrators, community members/parents, support staff and district office staff. Twelve candidates applied. The Board hopes to make a final decision soon so the new superintendent can begin on or about July 1, 2018.
The finalists are:
David M. Brown has worked in education nearly 30 years and currently works as chief administration officer and director of fine and performing arts for the Ithaca City School District, which he first joined in 2012. Brown launched his teaching career as a 6-12 music and theatre teacher in DeRuyter from 1989 to 1994. From there, he worked two years as the 7-12 vocal music and theatre teacher for Herkimer Central Schools. His next career step involved nearly 11 years of work as a music teacher, theatre director and department leader at Pittsford Mendon High School, a position he held from 1996-2007. He then worked five years for Fayetteville-Manlius Central Schools as a district music coordinator, music teacher and theatre director before making the move to Ithaca. His educational background includes a master’s degree in music education from Ithaca College, a bachelor’s degree in music education and theatre direction from Nazareth College, and an associate’s degree in business administration from Monroe Community College. He holds a Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Brockport. He is currently working toward his doctorate in executive leadership at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Outside of his administrative work in Ithaca, Brown works as an adjunct professor in music education at Ithaca College, a position he has held since 2016, and currently serves as president of the New York State School Music Association.
In his cover letter, Brown said his administrative experience in Ithaca has allowed him to “successfully make contributions that demonstrate leadership, flexibility and commitment to excellence.” In his role as Ithaca’s chief administration officer, his work has touched several departments and included the creation of a new professional development plan for non-instructional staff. In the area of music, he touted a 75% percent increase in participation that has included students of color, special needs and low socioeconomic status. As for DeRuyter, Brown said he applied for the superintendent’s position because he spent the first five years of his educational career “teaching the amazing youth” of this district. He added: “I lived in the community and created collaborations with many neighboring districts. I understand and love this community and always said how I hoped I could finish my career in one of the most appreciative and supportive towns in New York State.”
Brett P. Fingland has worked in education since 1997 and is currently the principal of the Weedsport Junior-Senior High School. It is a position he held from 2008-2011 (when the position was eliminated) and again in 2015 (when it was re-instated). In all, Fingland has nine years of experience as a high school principal and seven additional years of experience as a school administrator. Four of those administrative years included his role as assistant principal at Pine Grove Middle School in the East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District from 2004-2008. He later worked from 2011-2012 as an assistant principal at Cortland Alternative School and as principal of Dryden High School from 2012-2015. Rounding out his experience was five years of work as a global history teacher at Cato-Meridian High School from 1997-2002 and two years of work as the dean of students/athletic administrator at Camden High School from 2002-2004. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Brockport; a master’s degree in education from Le Moyne College; and a Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Oswego. In related experience, Fingland has served as a varsity football and track coach and has volunteered in other community and school-related organizations.
In his cover letter, Fingland wrote: “I have spent the majority of my career in smaller rural districts. My knowledge of DeRuyter’s school system and community makes this position appealing to me both personally and professionally.” Fingland said he has a proven track record of leadership, management and collaboration with colleagues, staff, students and the community. He specifically cited his leadership role in increasing the number of students at Weedsport who take college and online courses, noting a 72% jump since 2015. He also noted his role in creating new courses in Weedsport such as Drone Design and Applications, 3-D Printing and Robotics. In addition, he cited his work in implementing the Read 180 program to assist struggling readers and another program, AIMS WEB Plus, to monitor student progress. “I feel one of my greatest strengths is to work with all kinds people with varied backgrounds and experiences,” he wrote. “I am an administrator who is visible, accessible and committed to the school community.”
Kimberly O’Brien has worked nearly 30 years in education and is currently the PK-5 principal and PK-12 director of curriculum development for DeRuyter schools, having first joined the district in 2010. Prior to this experience, her career involved a combination of teaching and administrative roles. From 1989-1998, O’Brien worked as an elementary teacher in the Weedsport and Port Byron districts and at Bishop Ludden/Bishop Grimes. From there, she worked as a planning coordinator at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES before becoming the supervisor of curriculum instruction and assessment for Broome-Tioga BOCES from 2000-2002. She then became the principal of Millard Fillmore Elementary School in Moravia from 2002-2007 and Tully Elementary School from 2007-2010. Her educational background includes a master’s degree in curriculum development from SUNY Oswego; completion of the Superintendent’s Development Program at SUNY Oswego; a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Oswego; and an associate’s degree in human services from Onondaga Community College. She also holds a Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Cortland. Outside of her work in public schools, she worked seven years (2000-2007) as an adjunct professor for the graduate education programs at Syracuse University.
In her bid to become the superintendent of DeRuyter schools, O’Brien said she initially was attracted to the principal position at DeRuyter because the small rural district offered “a unique opportunity ... to see a student begin their educational career at four years old and watch them grow every day until they walk across the stage at graduation.” She added: “The small family environment filled with people that care deeply about the students and the community has become my home.” Her resume lists five pages of detailed accomplishments in the areas of instructional leadership, fiscal management, personnel duties, district/board initiatives and more, including her work at the two area BOCES. In her cover letter, O’Brien notes a multitude of tasks she has assumed outside her building responsibilities, including the implementation of new, research-based programs in reading and writing; the implementation of new state standards in ELA and math; the establishment of the 1:1 Chromebook pilot; and the development/implementation of a district strategic plan, among other initiatives. “I am committed to a collaborative working environment will all parties of the school community,” she wrote. “I believe that, together, we will be able to prepare all students for success not only in school, but in life.”