Add this to the very full job postings bulletin board in the Board of Education administration building lobby: Seeking Superintendent.
Those faculty members already adjusting to the from the system this year just received another surprising blow: Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith himself will be retiring next year.
Smith first made the announcement to faculty last week in a colloquial message signed "Howard." He plans to complete the next school year and retire in August-September 2013, which may leave plenty of time to find a replacement but still comes sooner than expected.
After a considerable amount of soul searching, I have decided to retire at the end of the 2012-13 school year. I am announcing it now so the Board can get an early start in the process of selecting my successor and so we all can work together during the coming year to provide for a smooth transition. Being a superintendent is kind of like running a leg of a relay race. You pick up the baton, run as fast as you can, and then when you sense it is time, you look to hand off the baton to a fresh runner.
Twelve years represents a pretty good run. I cannot begin to tell you all how much both the schools and the community have come to mean to me. While I will not miss the alphabet soup of accountability that we find ourselves swimming in, I will truly miss a group of people whom I greatly respect and whom I have become very fond of. I will look for more opportunities during the coming year to let you know individually just how good you are at what you do and how well our students are served by your extraordinary commitment to meeting their uniquely diverse needs.
Nelly Valentin, District Clerk for the last six years (for a total of 14 in the administration building) was saddened by the news. “I was just in utter shock,” she said. “I still am. I was at least expecting another two or three years with him. But he had other plans.”
Smith could not yet be reached for comment but we suspect his other plans might involve more walks along the Tarrytown waterfront, where he is often spotted, and other simple retirement pleasures.
Since 2001, Smith has served as Tarrytown superintendent. Before this, he was in Canton, New York, where he was school superintendent and an adjunct professor of education at St. Lawrence University.
Valentin said Smith is the first superintendent she's worked with directly. Their interaction in adjoining offices in the handsome high-ceilinged building (which once housed the first Montessori school in the nation in 1912) is close and “as you can imagine, constant,” she said. With a year though, at least “we have some lead time there” to find a suitable replacement. And Smith can keep interviewing all those new teachers.