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Super candidate outlines her vision for Massena Central School District

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MASSENA - One of two finalists for the upcoming superintendent vacancy in the Massena Central School District outlined her vision for the district during a community forum Tuesday night.

Lisa L. Grenville highlighted her experience in the education world and told a crowd of about a dozen people what her goals would be for Massena if she’s appointed as its next superintendent.

“I really have a desire and a passion to be in this position. I want to create, wherever I am, the best district in the whole world. I have a moral obligation to do what I know how to do - lead. What is important is, if you know how to do something, you have an obligation to do it,” Ms. Grenville said.

Her background includes her current position at K-12 supervisor of special education for the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Education Services in Potsdam.

“I supervise some of the most difficult children. I work with many school districts on a day-to-day basis, she said.

Ms. Grenville has also served as elementary principal for five years and high school principal for one year at St. Lawrence Central School, as well as the director of special education for three years and director of instruction for a year.

As high school principal and director of special services, she said she was involved with the district’s implementation of new initiatives such as the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) for teachers and principals, as well as Student Learning Objectives.

“I created a chart and put it into a color-coded sheet and numbered sheet so when teachers met with administrators, they knew exactly what would be expected of them,” she said.

As director of instruction, Ms. Grenville said she worked with now-retired St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephen M. Putman on a number of initiatives, such as updates to the district’s code of conduct and safety plan. She also helped develop the district’s Response to Intervention for students needing extra assistance.

“It took me about a year-and-a-half to develop a comprehensive plan,” she said.

Ms. Grenville said one of her focuses as elementary principal and Committee on Special Education/Committee on Preschool Special Education officer was improving reading skills at the elementary level. That, she said, was aided by a Reading First Grant received by the district, which allowed them to better address individual children’s needs

“Reading First was something that was near and dear to my heart,” she said.

Ms. Grenville noted that less than 19 percent of third graders were at the reading benchmark when they started with the Reading First Grant, and that number later jumped to 65 percent.

“I felt like we were really making progress there,” she said.

Ms. Grenville has also served as a regional professional development specialist with Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington BOCES. She began her teaching career in 1992 as a special education teacher in a 12:1:1 program and later an 8:1:1 program with Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES. She also served seven years as a high school special education teacher for grades nine through 12 in the Malone Central School District.

Her career background includes education for kindergarten through 12th grades, as well as adults, and she said that led her to want to pursue a superintendency.

“She really has gone through the pipeline and experiencde just about every position... and at all levels,” said Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, who is assisting the district with the search.

She outlined a number of goals if she was named the next Massena superintendent. Among them was increasing student achievement. That would be done through professional development for staff and student development.

“That’s what we’re about in school,” Ms. Grenville said, noting she would bring “goals-driven leadership with a team focus.” Those goals and focus, she said, would keep them moving in the right direction.

Ms. Grenville said she would also focus on school safety.

“While people are here and entrusting me with their children, I want to ensure them that everybody’s safe. It’s important that parents not worry about their babies, no matter how old they are,” she said.

She also wants to form “professional learning communities” to provide training for staff members who decide they want to be a leader.

Ms. Grenville said community involvement will also be a part of her efforts - not just what the community can do for the district, but also what the district can do for the community.

“Community involvement goes both ways,” she said.

Other areas of focus will be college and career readiness of students and increasing the number of students graduating with a Regents and Advanced Regents diploma. She noted that Massena’s graduation rate was 76 percent, and 37 percent of those were with the Advanced Regents diploma designation. Of that 37 percent, 40 percent had taken Algebra II Trigonometry.

“There’s a strong correlation between Algebra II Trig and Advanced Regents diplomas,” she said.

Ms. Grenville said she would also like to focus on teacher/leader mentoring and modeling.

“This is huge for me. I like to do a lot of my own professional development when I can. I know in a district this size, there’s an expert in everything,” she said.

Data-driven instruction and interim assessments are also on her list. The interim assessments would be used as a “check-up” to see how students are doing rather than waiting until the end of the year to find out the students did not know the material, she said.

Research-based intervention, another goal, would help to accelerate the learning process for students who need extra assistance, according to Ms. Grenville.

“The days of taking students out of class and remediating them are over. We can pull students ahead based on how we know the brain works,” she said.

She also wants to increase academic achievement and personal growth for all students by encouraging participation in extracurricular activities at school.

“Those things to me are very important. They create a well-rounded person,” she said.

And how will she accomplish the laundry list of goals?

“It’s all about teamwork, strong teams moving in the same direction” Ms. Grenville said, quoting from Helen Keller who once said, “Alone we can do little; together we can do much.”

That includes gathering feedback from stakeholder groups; creating evaluation teams to assess feedback and determine needs; and creating professional learning communities for each area that needs improvement and developing strategic plans.

“We need to make sure we are moving in the right direction,” she said.

Only one resident, Joel Grigg, had questions for Ms. Grenville after her presentation.

“It’s very clear you’re high energy,” he said. “How would you juggle all that stuff. Give me three priorities. You had 19 up there. What are your three priorities?”

Ms. Grenville said it would be school safety, developing a strong leadership team and community engagement.

“At what point do you let go?” Mr. Grigg wondered. Ms. Grenville said she would not be leading each of the efforts she discussed, but would be involved.

“Someone else is going to be leading those committees based on need. If there are definite gaps in areas, I’ll focus on that. I won’t be leading. I will be mentoring people in charge,” she said.

The second finalist for the job, Dr. David J. Glover, will be in the district on Thursday, and another community forum will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

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