This post was submitted by Matt Leon of the Niskayuna School District.
Board of Education appoints new art and foreign language directors
At its May 27 meeting, the Board of Education appointed new K-12 art and foreign language directors who bring to Niskayuna a broad range of experiences in the classroom, in educational leadership, and supporting and collaborating with teachers. They are replacing retiring department leaders, Art Director Scott Walroth and Foreign Language Director Edward Alston.
Art Director Kelly Jones
New Art Director Kelly Jones has background as both a K-12 art teacher and as a college level instructor with experience in teacher preparation. Jones has been an assistant professor at the Esteves School of Education at The Sage Colleges for the last six years. At Sage, she has been responsible for the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Art Education program, advising and teaching graduate art education courses and teaching and supervising interns and student teachers. Jones has taught a variety of college art courses.
She has 12 years of K-12 art teaching experience in the Shenendehowa and Schodack school districts. Jones has a bachelor of fine arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, a master’s degree in education from the College of St. Rose, and a master of fine arts from Vermont College of Fine Art.
Jones’ post-graduate experience in art education and her connections and partnerships with colleges and the art community made her an excellent fit for the district. Her background and skills make her well-qualified to teach upper level courses at the high school.
Foreign Language Director Marie Digirolamo
New Foreign Language Director Marie Digirolamo comes to Niskayuna with foreign language teaching experience in the region, and a background in school leadership and curriculum development. She is currently serving as a junior/senior high school principal in Taconic Hills Central School District, where she has worked for five years.
Prior to that, Digirolamo was a French teacher at all three academic levels, teaching in the Cohoes, Albany, Stillwater, and North Colonie school districts. She has a bachelor’s degree in French and anthropology and a master’s in education and French from the University at Albany.
As a junior/senior high school principal, Digirolamo’s current responsibilities include observing and evaluating more than 50 teachers, mapping curriculum aligned to the Common Core, and analysis of student performance with a data team she created, along with managing her school of six grade levels (7-12). As a teacher, she took a leadership role in integrating technology into the foreign language program.
“Kelly and Marie each bring a strong teaching background and a wealth of educational leadership skills and experiences to our district,” said Dr. Deborah Shea, assistant superintendent for educational programs and instruction. “Scott and Ed, in partnership with their excellent teaching staffs, have led our renowned art and foreign language programs to new heights. I expect them to continue to grow and succeed under the leadership of Kelly and Marie, and I welcome them to Niskayuna.”
The interview process for each position began with a meeting with the respective departments to discuss the process and desired attributes of a new director. This was followed by an initial screening interview and then a 75-minute interview with the selection committee, which included parents, the department secretary, teachers, current administrators, and a member of the Board of Education. A final interview was held with the superintendent and central office administrators.
The art and foreign language director positions carry the equivalent of a 40 percent full-time teaching assignment.