PNW BOCES’ Fourth Annual Leadership Institute Calls for Students to Pave the Way for Educators


The future is here and it’s coming to a school near you. That was the key message conveyed at PNW  BOCES’ Fourth Annual Leadership Institute, which took place on July 12-13, 2017 at Brewster High School.

To kick-off the event, District Superintendent Dr. James Ryan welcomed attendees and expressed his excitement regarding the 2017 Institute.

“BOCES is happy to be able to offer this program for educational leadership,” Dr. Ryan said. “It’s a great opportunity for the current and future leaders of our region to come together and experience a variety of different topics over a two day period. The chance for us to meet and engage in productive conversation is very exciting.”

Calling for a “mindset shift,” keynote speaker Dr. Ross Kasun, Superintendent of the Freehold Township School District in Freehold, New Jersey said, “we need to change to meet the changing world and the needs of our kids for tomorrow. We need to do something different, not better, but just different.”

The Freehold Township School District was recently selected as one of the most innovative districts in the country and has been invited to join the League of Innovative Schools. In addition to these honors, Dr. Kasun was also named New Jersey’s Superintendent of the Year for 2017.

Other speakers included Freehold Township’s Joseph J. Catena Elementary School Principal Dr. Jeff Huguenin and West Freehold Elementary School Principal Dr. Edward Aldarelli.

A room full of more than 60 district administrators from across the Hudson Valley Region gathered to hear from Dr. Kasun, his colleagues and other expert panelists on subjects that ranged from student focused leadership to innovative professional development and more.

“In addition to helping our own district move forward, we have helped other districts move forward,” Dr. Kasun said. “We just want to share how the world has changed, and that we need to do the same in our schools. We need to adapt to meet the modern world and the needs of our kids for tomorrow.”

The work in Freehold Township, which is a K-12 district, has been largely successful from Kindergarten through Grade 8. In addition, they have helped implement plans in other districts for Grades K-12 and even on the college level.

“If you can make it work in elementary school, you can really make it work anywhere,” Dr. Kasun said. “The message is global, but there is a mindset shift that schools need to undergo.”

The team's three-part presentation included examples of Freehold Township’s work, as well as inspirational videos and multiple recommend reading resources, much of which embraced the mantra of, “out with the old, in with the new,” and focused on leaders “unlearning” what they thought they knew about the field of education.

Dr. Alderalli spoke to the audience about leveraging the use of technology to facilitate 21st Century learning and how to make the student learning experience “irresistibly engaging.”

“There’s a huge digital world out there and the traditional school models tend to push students away from learning,” Dr. Alderalli said. “What we really need to do is marry the two together so we can make sure that what kids are experiencing inside of school, is just as good as what they are experiencing outside of school.”

The event lived up to PNW BOCES Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen’s opening remarks: “We promise to inspire you today,” said Dr. Allen, as she welcomed Institute participants earlier in the day.

Those who attended the Institute said they were grateful to hear about what actions have produced successful results in other districts. Many noted the way their own schools and leaders have jumped head first into the era of innovation.

“It was extremely helpful to hear how the Freehold Township School District mobilized to create a system dedicated to 21st Century learning and the role that personalized professional learning plays in ensuring the implementation of their mission,” said Brewster Superintendent Dr. Valerie Henning Piedmonte. “Other presenters shared similar stories about efforts underway in their districts and schools to integrate 21st century skills into curriculum, instruction, assessment, the learning environment and professional learning. We now have other colleagues engaged in the same work that we can contact to arrange visits or share ideas.”

“I thought the presentation was validating and I found it very inspiring,” said Peekskill Interim Superintendent Mrs. Mary Keenan Foster. “It validated my own belief system about school systems and how we can be very stuck. It got me thinking about how it could be, and helped us imagine a better future for our kids while giving us ideas on how we can inspire our teachers and our leaders for that future. This presentation said, ‘just go for it. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake - just innovate and let the kids lead the way.’ In fact, last week we did just that and had a group of our Robotics students teach our administrative team how to fly drones, which was a fascinating experience for me as a learner.”

Mahopac Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon agreed that the theme of this year’s Leadership Institute firmly grasped the possibilities and challenges facing educators today.

“Today’s presentation actually gives us a look into the future of education, as well as the challenge to see whether or not we are ready for the transition that is coming with these technologies and innovations, not only in America, but globally,” Dr. Creedon said. “The jobs of the present don’t exist in the future and if we want our children to be successful, we need to prepare them to be leaders in that future.”

“At Mahopac, we are looking at transiting and the biggest hurdle sometimes is helping some parents and some leaders understand that this is the future of education,” Dr. Creedon added. “So we are developing breakthrough classrooms with Dr. Pease, our Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and the goal we have is to empower our teachers to be the educators of tomorrow.”

By the end of the two day institute, after attendees had the chance to sit through several workshops and clinics, and discuss best practices with each other, it was apparent that Dr. Allen’s promise to “inspire” had been realized.

“It was with great pride and pleasure that PNW BOCES' Center for Educational Leadership was able to offer the Fourth Annual Regional Leadership Institute to over 60 school leaders at Brewster High School this year,” Dr. Allen said following the event.  “A special thanks to Brewster CSD and the committee of school leaders who worked tirelessly throughout the year to plan two days of high quality, relevant professional development activities for their colleagues.  As always, the event inspired and motivated everyone to begin a new school year with newfound knowledge, innovative ideas and a network of collegial support.”


HV Leaders: More than 60 of Hudson Valley’s educational leaders gather for PNW BOCES’ 4 th Annual Leadership Conference at Brewster High School

Dr. Kasun: Keynote speaker and Superintendent of the Freehold Township School District Dr. Ross Kasun speaks to the audience about his district’s successes

Dr. Ryan: District Superintendent Dr. James Ryan welcomes guests to the first day of PNW BOCES' Fourth Annual Regional Leadership Institute, which was held at Brewster High School on July 12

ENL Panel: The Model ENL program panel discusses bilingual education, Dual Language programs and transitional classes at PNW BOCES' Fourth Annual Regional Leadership Institute

Dr. Ed. Aldarelli: West Freehold Elementary School Principal and one of day's three keynote speakers, Dr. Edward Aldarelli speaks to the audience about creating meaningful, personalized student engagement strategies

Recommended Reading: At PNW BOCES' Fourth Annual Regional Leadership Institute, Freehold Township School District Superintendent Dr. Ross Kasun shared reading recommendations that helped inspire Freehold's critical work that led to the District being recognized as one of the most innovative school districts in the country

Peekskill Admin group: On July 12, twelve administrators from Peekskill City Schools came to represent their District at PNW BOCES' Fourth Annual Regional Leadership Institute. Peekskill's

attendees were joined by many other administrative teams who came from several school districts across the Hudson Valley region


District Superintendent Dr. James Ryan echoed Dr. Allen’s promise by noting his own excitement about the event.

“BOCES is happy to be able to offer this program for educational leadership,” Dr. Ryan said. “It’s a great opportunity for the current and future leaders of our region to come together and to experience a variety of different topics over a two day period. The chance for us to meet and engage in productive conversation is very exciting.”