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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 25, 2011

New middle-school principal
Franchini comes home to Voorheesville

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — When James Franchini was thinking about going to graduate school or law school, he saw an ad promoting the Teach For America program and started down an unplanned path.

He had graduated with a degree in science and technology studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then he took a job with an information technology consulting firm and, after a few years, he was looking for a different experience.

He tried interning on Capitol Hill, where he thought he could make a difference, Franchini said, but found instead that it was too big of a system for an individual to have an impact.  When he was teaching, Franchini said, he couldn’t wait to get to work on Monday morning.  “The thing I had been looking for was there,” he said.

For the two years he was in Teach For America, Franchini taught sixth grade social studies and science in Jersey City.  After that, he taught fifth grade at a charter school there.  When he and his wife moved back to the Capital Region to raise their family, he taught science and math at the New Covenant Charter School in Albany.

Franchini made the leap into administration with the encouragement of an assistant principal at the first school where he taught.  The assistant principal convinced Franchini that, as an administrator, he might not have as much of an immediate impact as a teacher, but he’d have an effect on a greater number of kids, Franchini said.

“As an administrator, you can affect the way an entire building runs,” he said.

He spent six years as a principal at Averill Park’s Algonquin Middle School, which had 800 students last year, he said.  Part of what attracted him to Voorheesville was the small size — he likes to be able to develop relationships with the kids, he said.  The Voorheesville Middle School has less than 300 students.

Also, Franchini grew up in Voorheesville, attending the school through eighth grade.  Chris Allard, the long time head of the United Employees of Voorheesville, was his bus driver, he said, explaining that every day since starting work at the beginning of the month, something has reminded him of going to school there himself.

The district chose Franchini from a pool of roughly 30 applicants, said superintendent Teresa Thayer Snyder, through a winnowing process that involved multiple meetings with teachers, parents, students, and administrators.  The school board interviewed the final four applicants and chose Franchini because of his broad experience at urban and suburban schools, Snyder said.  Franchini, who is 38, will be making $98,300 annually.

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