New Superintendents Get to Work in the Region


Kindergartners and first-time high school and middle school students aren’t the only newbies excited about the start of a new school year. In Peekskill, Pelham and Yorktown, newly minted superintendents are starting the tough, but rewarding, job of leading a school district.

All three – Cheryl H. Champ in Pelham, Mary Keenan Foster in Peekskill and Ron Hattar in Yorktown – are graduates of, or current students in, the Manhattanville College doctoral program in educational leadership, which is offered in partnership with Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES. The program is designed for mid-career professionals who already have leadership experience and is structured to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals.

Dr. Champ credits the Manhattanville program with giving her entre into the world of school leaders “committed to equity, social justice, scholarship and service to their communities. They were the people who made things happen and put their heads on the pillow at night knowing they had made the world a better place one student at a time.”

Dr. Champ came to the program after participating in an Education Policy Fellows Program, also offered by BOCES. There she met many of the educational leaders who serve on the Manhattanville faculty and was inspired to advance her education even further.

“The courses at Manhattanville, in addition to being incredibly intellectually stimulating and relevant, provided opportunities for more relationships with former, current and future superintendents,” Dr. Champ said, adding that it made her see that the position of superintendent was within her reach and a good match for her skills.

For Foster, Manhattanville’s themes of “becoming a sophisticated practitioner scholar and developing self and others “resonated with how she viewed her own career in education. “It has been the most rigorous, challenging and rewarding experience of my career,” Foster said.

Foster said she was humbled to serve as Interim Superintendent of the Peekskill City School District, adding “I am committed to sharing my belief that every child holds within themselves the ability to be whatever they choose and to achieve whatever they dream.”

Dr. Hattar, who earned his doctorate four years ago, had been serving as an assistant superintendent in the Eastchester Union Free School District before being tapped for the Yorktown position. Dr. Hattar embraced the job with great enthusiasm, noting that he lives in Yorktown and has children so he is doubly invested in the success of the system.

Dr. Hattar said that he and his wife moved to Yorktown nine years ago because they liked the school district. “It is a great district, first and foremost, and there are so many wonderful things that are happening here,” he said.

Like his counterparts in Peekskill and Pelham, Dr. Hattar credited the Manhattanville doctoral program with preparing him for his current position. “The Manhattanville College Doctoral Program provided me an intellectually stimulating array of courses with some of the most brilliant minds in the region,” he said. “In reflecting on my experience at Manhattanville College, it was the relationships with my fellow doctoral students and faculty that had the most profound impact on me.”