Educators Celebrate Tenure of Dr. Terry Orr, Co-Director of Future School Leaders Academy (FSLA)

YORKTOWN, NY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 – School leaders from across the region gathered to welcome the incoming class of the FSLA at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES on Oct.5th and celebrate the contributions of Dr. Margaret (Terry) Orr, who has served as co-director of the program for 18 years.

"I'm never gone. We'll work together in a different capacity," said Dr. Orr, who has accepted a position at Fordham University's Graduate School of Education. "We'll find new ways to work together and make schools better through leadership."

FSLA is a partnership between PNW BOCES and Bank Street Graduate School of Education that works with school districts stretching from the Bronx to Sullivan County, and Fairfield County to Rockland. The two-year, 30-credit program leads to an advanced master’s degree from Bank Street and dual New York State certification as school building and school district leader. Participants are chosen by their districts for their leadership potential.

Many of the school administrators present were graduates of FLSA. Some of their cohort were advisors to current participants, while others had nominated teachers from their district for FLSA. The web of relationships was as complex as any family reunion.


"Dr. Orr was one of my teachers when I went through FSLA, " said Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Katonah-Lewisboro School District and member of the FSLA Advisory Board. "This program taught me an enormous amount. It's designed from beginning to end to develop school leaders. It's also immensely valuable to be part of a cohort and learn from people with different backgrounds."

"FLSA gave me a systems view of what works," said Carrieann Sipos, Assistant Superintendent of Ossining School District. "I learned how to get every single gear working toward the vision."

Dr. James Ryan, District Superintendent for PNWBOCES, opened the reception with remarks about both the future and the foundation of the program. "We've created a program that allows us to identify talented people and develop them as leaders," he said.

The twenty-one participants of the incoming class, Cohort X, introduced themselves, each recognizing the superintendent who had nominated them for FLSA. Fourteen districts--from Mount Vernon to Putnam Valley--were represented.

Renee Gargano, a Program Developer for PNWBOCES' Center of Educational Leadership, gave a brief account of FLSA's growth and legacy.

"It's an honor to recognize Dr. Terry Orr, a dear friend and colleague who has been part of FLSA since its inception. FSLA began as a partnership with Columbia Teachers College, where Terry taught," said Gargano.

"Terry was handpicked by New York State's Education Commissioner Tom Sobol who launched the program. He knew. He was in awe of Terry."

"When Terry moved to Bank Street, she brokered the deal to take FSLA there. She nurtured the program and it was transformed. There are now 195 alumni working in educational leadership positions throughout the Hudson Valley region."

Anthony Conelli, the Chair of Educational Leadership at Bank Street, highlighted FLSA's distinctiveness. "The program builds relationships between district and university, and between aspiring leaders and mentors and supervisors.," he said. "Leadership is not learned in the classroom. It grows from the relationships we build."

"Dr. Orr has had a significant impact on how we think about leadership in schools. Her work has had an incredible influence on me," said Conelli. "One of my top ten books is 'Developing Effective Principals through Collaborative Inquiry,' a book Dr. Orr co-wrote with Monica Byrne-Jimenez."

When Joan Thompson, FLSA's co-director, thanked Dr. Orr for teaching her "the power of reflection," a knowing laugh rippled through the room.

"Just when we thought FLSA had reached the highest pinnacle, Terry brought it to another level," said Dr. Lynn Allen, Assistant Superintendent for PNWBOCES, "You are a champion for us all."

Dr. Orr took the podium and thanked her colleagues for the priceless opportunity to work with FSLA, and to evaluate the program and its effect.

"It's wonderful to see all of you here. You came to FLSA because you wanted to become leaders. And you did," she said. "We know that how candidates are prepared for leadership makes a difference."

About the Center for Educational Leadership

The Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) is a program of PNWBOCES. It provides programs, services and customized offerings to over 800 school leaders and 200 various school personnel from 144 school districts.