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Aspiring Leaders program kicks off Jan. 14

Jan. 14, 2020
     A new program aimed at developing high-quality school leaders kicked off Tuesday at the OCM BOCES Main Campus, where the first group of seven candidates enjoyed a night of dinner and introductions with their families, mentors and other educators.
     The Aspiring Leaders Institute will provide candidates with these unique advantages as they start their journey into the world of educational administration:
  • An inaugural leadership course that includes mentor support from their home districts.
  • A guaranteed internship at a school district in our region.
  • A guaranteed acceptance into one of five universities that offer administrative degrees and are partnering with OCM BOCES.
     Districts, in turn, develop a pipeline to educational leadership and receive state aid because they are sharing this program through OCM BOCES.
     OCM BOCES Assistant Superintendent Chris DiFulvio spearheaded the project with a 15-member advisory group that included school superintendents, other administrative leaders, and representatives from higher education. Candidates were selected based on superintendent recommendations and the leadership qualities they’ve already demonstrated in their classrooms.
     Marcellus Superintendent Michelle Brantner is the lead instructor. She comes to the position with more than 20 years of administrative experience, including 3½ years as superintendent of Marcellus and seven years as superintendent of Moravia Central Schools. Prior to these positions, she worked seven years as a high school principal in Lansing and three years as an assistant high school principal in Newark. She started her career as a secondary Spanish teacher in the Norwood-Norfolk Central School District.
     At the kickoff Tuesday, candidates came with their district mentors and were invited to bring family members as a show of support for the hard work ahead. Representatives from Le Moyne College, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University also welcomed the students. These universities are participating in the program along with St. John Fischer College in Rochester.
     OCM BOCES Deputy Superintendent Colleen Viggiano told the candidates they will benefit from a robust learning experience that includes close mentorships as a “critical ingredient” to their success.
     “I would just encourage you to continue to be who you are, ask questions, dig deep and reflect on what it is that you see yourself growing into as school leaders,” she said.
     Brantner joked that some educators might refer to an administrative path as “going to the dark side.” Instead she told the candidates, “Welcome to the light.”
      “Today marks the first step in an official journey on your path to leadership,” she said. “I’m confident we’re going to have a fantastic time. There’s going to be a lot of learning, a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.”
Here is the list of candidates and their district representatives who attended Tuesday:
  • Christine Alexander (OCM BOCES) attended with OCM BOCES Deputy Superintendent Colleen Viggiano
  • Gerald Dias (Baldwinsville) attended with Baldwinsville Deputy Superintendent Joe DeBarbieri
  • Dana Eells and Kimberly Smith (West Genesee) attended with West Genesee Superintendent David Bills
  • Ashley Gilbert (Homer) attended with Director of Instruction Ted Love
  • Rosalie Whipple and Sean Zehner (LaFayette) attended with LaFayette Superintendent Jeremy Belfield

Aspiring Leaders: From left to right are Rosalie Whipple, Jeremy Belfield, Sean Zehner, Ted Love (in back), Ashley Gilbert, Colleen Viggiano, Christine Alexander, Joe DeBarbieri, Gerald Dias, Kimberly Smith, Dana Eells, David Bills