February 9, 2011
Homer superintendent of schools comes home
Nancy Ruscio expects to finish career in the district she graduated from nearly 40 years ago
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central School District Superintendent Nancy Ruscio in her office on Tuesday.
HOMER – In 1972, 18-year-old Nancy Stoker walked from classroom to classroom as Cortland County’s dairy princess, delivering presentations to elementary school students about the dairy industry.
She had grown up in Scott and was a senior at Homer High School. Her father, Max, was a longtime member of the district’s Board of Education.
Almost 39 years later, she has returned home as Nancy Ruscio, a career educator who is Homer Central School’s new superintendent of schools.
“I see this as a final place in my career,” said Ruscio, who started last month. “It’s kind of a full circle for me to finish my career here. It’s been great to come back.”
Ruscio, 56, said she has spent a lot of her time during her first few weeks meeting district employees, students and the community. During her first week, she also rode the bus with students to introduce herself and joined the Cortland Rotary Club.
She said she has two primary goals at the start of her time as district superintendent. She wants to work collaboratively with members of the district and address the challenges that come with making the annual school budget.
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a state budget that would cut aid to the district by $2.3 million or 13.9 percent.
Ruscio said the district was preparing for the aid cut and would have to find ways to work around it, if the figures are maintained in the final state budget.
“This is a very difficult time for public schools in general,” Ruscio said. “But I embrace the challenge of being creative and working to find efficiencies.”
She replaces Doug Larison, who served as the district’s superintendent for seven years.
Ruscio has more than 35 years of experience in education. Before returning home, she served as the assistant superintendent of instruction in the Canandaigua City School District since 2000.
Homer Board of Education President Scott Ochs said Ruscio was chosen for her strong administrative background and communication skills.
“She has a lot of background in administration and working with teachers, administrators, and the community,” Ochs said. “Communication skills are important because the job requires an emphasis on communication with members of the district and the public.”
Her local roots were an added bonus, he said.
Donald Raw, Canandaigua district’s superintendent, said Ruscio served a vital role in Canandaigua, supervising the district’s instruction and principals at its high school, middle school, elementary and primary schools.
She was also in charge of staff development, home schooling and the registration processes.
“Nancy is an excellent administrator, and we miss her a lot,” Raw said. “She’s a great person to work for. She’s very professional in how she looks at her responsibility.”
He described how Ruscio organized a committee, called the Council for Instructional Excellence, that brought together faculty, administrators, parents and students to discuss instruction and curriculum and give recommendations to the superintendent.
“She brought all of them together, and then made it work,” Raw said.
He said the committee developed a system that improved student reading and performance on state assessments.
He also recalled the efficient way Ruscio handled the hiring of new principals, with commentary from different stakeholders, a realistic time line for the process and appropriate reference checks.
“Her standard for getting things done is only the top standard,” Raw said. “I have all the confidence in the world that she will do a great job. I’m very happy for her. It’s something she’s wanted to do for a while and she will be great for the community.”
Before working at Canandaigua, she worked for the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES, Manchester-Shortsville Central School District and Moravia Central School District in Cayuga County.
Ruscio said she hopes to cap off her career in education by making a difference in her hometown.
“I view this as the final point in my career, and I’m really looking forward to working here,” Ruscio said.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe