Canton students will see new superintendent, principal, teachers when classes resume
Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 8:50 am


CANTON -- Students returning to Canton Central this year will be greeted by several new teachers and a new superintendent when school resumes after Labor Day.

Canton Central will welcome nearly a dozen new teachers and staff members this year. There are several new teachers in the elementary and middle school and a new dean of students as well.

Students will also notice new principals in their buildings. The faces may be familiar. The principals were employees at the school last year, just in different roles.

Ronald Burke, who took over as superintendent Aug. 16, says he is treating this year as a “listening tour” with students, staff and the community.

Enrollment for the Golden Bears is 1,312 students. The smallest enrollment is 64 students in pre-K and the largest class size is grade 10 with 116 pupils.

Super Focus, Plans for Year

Burke says he does not want to be presumptuous in assuming what the direction of the school should be.

He said despite being a Canton resident, an alumnus and having a child who recently graduated from CCS, he wants to hear from students, staff and the community about what they envision the school looking like in 5 to 10 years.

Burke said he does have some concern, along with many other local superintendents, about maintaining programs when they are often working with bare-bones budgets.

Canton used money from its reserve fund last year to bridge a budget gap, which Burke said is the purpose of the fund, but he warns that borrowing from it is not a great long-term plan.

“You can only do that for so long,” Burke said. “We need to develop a plan for the future, one year and even three to five years.”

He wants to work on avoiding budget difficulty in the future, while adding more programs to offer the best academic experience for students.

“As good as we are, we will never be as good as we want to be,” Burke said.

Canton Central elementary students will begin their second year of the Positivity Project. The initiative will be unveiled at the middle school this year. The project is aimed at building character strengths and recognizing and concentrating on commonalities instead of differences.

New Faculty and Staff

Emma Akins has been hired to teach fourth grade. Her previous teaching experience includes assignments with Teach for America Los Angeles, and with the James Jordan Middle School, also in Los Angeles, as a 6th grade teacher.

Erin Elliott has been hired as a teaching assistant. She previously served the district as a special education teaching assistant. Elliot will work with middle school students as a member of the 6th grade instructional team.

Bridget Hall is the new elementary music teacher. She is a 2018 graduate of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Her student teaching placements included K-12 music assignments at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School and an elementary general music assignment at Brasher Falls Central School.

Robert Kotz has assumed the role of dean of students. He is an alumnus of Canton Central and St. Lawrence University. Kotz previously served as an adaptive physical education teacher with St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, and as a BOCES regional summer school assistant principal.

Trina LePage will teach 8th grade special education this year. LePage has taught previously at Massena, Madrid-Waddington, and at Canton Central as well.

Kasey Murray has been hired as a teacher aide. Murray received an associate of science degree in early childhood sudies from SUNY Canton. She attended Canton Central as well.

Emilie Murphy is the new speech language teacher. Last year, she served as a long-term-leave replacement for a speech language pathologist at Stony Point Elementary School, where she provided group and individual speech language services to elementary students.

Mary Parker will work as a school counselor. Parker returns to her alma mater having worked at Potsdam Central as a school counselor for the past three years, and as a high school English teacher for 10 years prior to that.

Deana Renwick will teach Grade 8 science. She is a Canton Central alumna. Deana taught high school science and middle school math at Trinity-Pawling School for six years, where she also coached soccer, basketball, and track.

Kelly Smith was hired as a 4th grade teacher. Smith brings six years of experience as a learning manager teacher at Sage Learning Center in Bozeman, as well as a year’s substitute experience in a variety of teaching capacities at Banford Elementary.

Stephen Smithers is the school’s new technology teacher. He brings 10 years of teaching experience at Owego Free Academy and Thousand Islands High School, where, among others, his assignments included courses in wood technology, architectural drawing, video production, web design, and the suite of Project Lead the Way Pre-Engineering offerings.

Principals Switch Roles

Two Canton Central principals will switch roles when school returns in the fall.

Banford Elementary principal Joseph McDonough will take over at McKenney Middle School, and Viola Schmid-Doyle will go from McKenney to Banford.

In addition to his eight years of experience as Banford's principal, McDonough was the district dean of students for grades seven through 12 for two years.

Schmid-Doyle has been a member of the Canton Central School faculty and administration for 23 years, the last six as middle school principal. Her

preceding assignments were as the dean of students for two years, and as a high school social studies teacher for 15 years.