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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 17, 2009

Dean Keller wants to teach life’s lessons

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — The Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District has hired Brian Keller as its first dean of students to free the high school principal from disciplinary work. Keller sees his new job as an opportunity to teach students about life.

“School’s not just about learning math and social studies,” Keller told The Enterprise this week. “It’s about applying lessons you learn about yourself in life, and how what they do now will effect them later; making positive choices; and trying to see things positively instead of negatively. That makes a big impact on me, and hopefully it’ll make a big impact on them. I think the ultimate goal in education is helping kids reach their potential, and that’s what I’m here to do.”

He will be paid $65,000 a year in his new job, which he is set to start on Sept. 18. It is a 10-month position, plus 10 additional days — five before the school year begins, and five after it ends.

Keller, 34, said he “can’t wait” to start his new job at BKW.

“I’ve been anxious all week,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity, and look forward to working with students in creating their futures, and working with parents to make that happen.”

Interim Superintendent Kim LaBelle told The Enterprise this week that the creation of the new dean’s position will serve to lift some weight from the shoulders of the high school principal.

“We knew that, if a dean position was created, with the primary purpose being discipline, it would then allow more time for the high school principal to concentrate on strengthening our academic and curricular initiatives,” said LaBelle.

Keller stood out among the candidates, LaBelle said, because, “he completed an educational administrative internship at Maple Hill, and his experience as a teacher and during his internship really focused on the qualities of a candidate we were looking at, meaning someone who is familiar with discipline of students and creating programs to promote a positive student climate and morale; he definitely has that experience.”

Keller trained as an educator at Siena College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and was certified to teach. He went on to get his master’s degree in educational administration and his certificate to be a school building leader from The College of Saint Rose. He has taught high school social studies for the past six years, the first three at Granville High School, and the last three at Maple Hill High School in Schodack, N.Y.

Originally from Springfield, Mo., Keller currently lives in Cambridge, N.Y. with his wife and his 2-year-old daughter.

“The Army is what brought me to New York,” Keller said. While stationed for three-and-a-half years at Fort Drum in Watertown, Keller befriended a fellow soldier from Cambridge, and, upon visiting, came to love the area and decided to stay, he said.

Keller had heard good things about BKW in the past, he said, and previous exposure to the district’s athletes gave him a good impression.

“I’ve actually had a few chances to be around students of Berne-Knox-Westerlo, and have been around athletic events with Berne-Knox-Westerlo students,” Keller said, referring to his experience coaching varsity and junior varsity boys’ basketball teams, varsity and junior varsity girls’ tennis teams, and junior varsity boys’ tennis teams.

“Being an aspiring administrator, you learn to listen when you’re around people and think, ‘OK, does this sound like a school I want to be at?’” he went on. “The few instances I’ve been around these students, I’ve been very impressed with the things they’ve had to say. That’s the kind of thing you look for. So, when I saw the position open, knowing what I know and what I heard about Berne-Knox-Westerlo, that made me say, ‘Hey, that’s a place I’d like to be.’”

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