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September 22, 2010

 

Hartnett administrator learning on the job

Amanda McKenna adjusts to her new role as part principal, part teacher at elementary school

HartnettJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Amanda McKenna talks with a group of Hartnett Elementary School first-graders Friday.

By JAMAR THRASHER
Staff Reporter
jthrasher@cortlandstandardnews.net

TRUXTON — Amanda McKenna has been settling in as the building administrator and a teacher at Hartnett Elementary School, working as an intern while she finishes her school administration certificate.
McKenna was hired by the Homer Central School District to succeed Hartnett Principal Michael Falls, who transferred to Homer Elementary School to be its principal after Ruth King retired.
Superintendent of Schools Doug Larison said that as an intern, McKenna has most powers of a principal, except she cannot suspend students and she cannot do staff evaluations without the consent of the staff, like teachers, she wants to evaluate, Larison said.
McKenna is an energetic leader, with a youthful spirit, said Linda Llewellyn, her intern supervisor and the director of instruction and evaluation for Homer Central School District.
McKenna, 28, the youngest administrator in the district, has fit in well with other district administrators, Llewellyn said.
“She’s become a valuable member of the team virtually overnight,” Llewellyn said. “I think she’s extraordinary.”
McKenna said she has been interested in educating students since she was a Liverpool High School student and participated in a program where students interested in education would assist Liverpool elementary teachers during class lessons.
McKenna found she loved working with younger students.
“I think you can make a difference if you intervene at an early age,” McKenna said.
At Truxton, she will teach literacy and math.
McKenna graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in childhood education in 2004. She completed her master’s degree in 2005 at Binghamton University with a concentration in literacy education.
McKenna began her career as a substitute teacher for the Syracuse and Mexico school districts. In 2006, after one year of substitute teaching, she was hired as a first grade-teacher in the Binghamton City School District, a position she held until being hired at Hartnett this year.
To fill the vacancy left by Falls’ move, the district advertised for a position that would have half of the responsibilities of a teacher and half the responsibilities of an administrator. The person in this position would be responsible for the staff and students at Hartnett.
McKenna is completing her education doctorate and certificate of advanced studies at Binghamton University. To complete her certificate of advanced studies, she must complete an internship in an administrative role. McKenna will complete her internship in January and will remain in her intern position until the end of the school year, Llewellyn said.
McKenna is paid $55,000. Her salary is likely to increase if she is hired as the principal, Larison said.
Until McKenna completes her internship and is hired as principal, Llewelyn has sole authority over Hartnett, Larison said. The district is saving money by hiring McKenna, Larison said. He declined to say how much the district will save with McKenna’s hiring.
During her internship, McKenna will complete requirements for the program and for the state Education Department by supporting teachers, managing student discipline and developing curriculum, said Marilyn Tallerico, the program coordinator for the certificate of advance studies at Binghamton University.
Administrators say McKenna’s relationship with students is an early signs she might be a reliable fixture in the district.
“She knows her kids so well,” Llewellyn said.
“She’s nice and she smiles every day,” said Kalika BlakeHuffman, a first-grade student.
On Sept. 14, Hartnett students performed songs for McKenna and new students, including kindergarten and transfer students. The students, kindergarten through sixth grade, performed songs from school plays and crowned McKenna “Queen of the School.”
The students are attracted to her effervescent spirit, Falls said.
Falls was part of a committee that recommended the district hire McKenna. He said her lively spirit and personable vibe convinced the committee to select her as his replacement.

 

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