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Lyndonville drops interim title from elementary principal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Kathleen Stewart brings administrative experience to job

Photo by Tom Rivers – Kathleen Stewart in November started as interim principal at Lyndonville Elementary School. The Board of Education hired her on a permanent basis last month.

LYNDONVILLE – When the elementary school principal left for a new job in November, the Board of Education brought in veteran school administrator Kathleen Stewart to fill the position on an interim basis.

Her predecessor, Patrick Whipple, was hired by the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership to serve as Director of School Improvement. GVEP works with 22 component school districts in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties.

Stewart has proven a good fit for Lyndonville. Last month the Board of Education voted to drop the interim title and make her job permanent.

Jason Smith, the district superintendent, worked with Stewart previously at Elba Central School, another small school district. She was the director of curriculum and instruction for seven years before that position was eliminated in budget crunch about two years ago.

“Mrs. Stewart has demonstrated a commitment to Lyndonville, our students and our programs since her arrival here in November,” Smith said.

A selection team reviewed Stewart and favored her leadership style and experiences, Smith said.

Stewart has worked as a school administrator for about 20 years, starting in Dunkirk and then North Tonawanda before going to Elba.

The job of a principal has changed with more requirements for teacher evaluations and standardized tests. But Stewart said the core mission of the position remains.

“A big part of the job is making sure you have the best teacher in front of the kids,” she said.

She worked with Smith to secure a new state grant that will bring in resources to help students struggling academically. The grant funds professional development for Lyndonville staff to brainstorm intervention strategies for students.

Stewart also has worked with parents to revive the Parent-Teacher Association. After being idle for a year, the PTA now has more than 40 members.

“The more parent involvement, the better the student success,” Stewart said. “They will work with teachers with before- and after-school activities and fund-raising. They build a stronger sense of community.”

The elementary school has about 625 students in grades Pre-k through 6. Stewart has worked in larger districts. She prefers a smaller school.

“You get to know the kids and staff a lot easier,” she said.

She marvels at the school setting by Johnson Creek.

“It’s a beautiful campus with the pine trees and the water,” she said.