Gleason to help lead GHS

GUILDERLAND — Rebecca Gleason knew since she was in the fourth grade that she wanted to be a teacher.

Next month, she’ll start a new job as an assistant principal at Guilderland High School at an annual salary of $90,000.

“I’ve found that, as an administrator, you are still a teacher, just in a million different ways. You impact hundreds of kids over the course of a year,” Gleason told The Enterprise yesterday in the midst of the dismissal of summer school at Schenectady High, which she is overseeing.

Gleason, who grew up in Cohoes, had Susan Smeaton for a fourth-grade teacher at St. Marie’s, part of the Cohoes Consolidated Catholic Schools.

“I loved everything about her and we’re still in touch,” said Gleason. “When I was in seventh grade, I’d go back and work with kids in her class and help out.”

Describing her life-long love of school, Gleason said, “I always enjoyed learning new things.”

After graduating from Cohoes High School, where she played both tennis and basketball, she went on to Elmira College.  She continued to play basketball and majored in English, which she taught for 11 years.

Gleason combined her two passions — for English and athletics — by creating a course at Niskayuna in sports literature.

She began her teaching career at Waterford Central Catholic School. She had to work two other jobs to sustain herself but said, “I felt like I was giving back.”  Gleason had valued her early Catholic education.

She went on to teach in the Greene, Lansingburgh, and Niskayuna central school districts. She doesn’t have a single favorite author or period of literature but, rather, she said, “I’m open to a lot of different things and taught different content…I’ve always loved to read.”

She earned a master’s degree in reading from The College of Saint Rose, which led her on the path to become an administrator, receiving her certification from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

“I wanted to do curriculum work, which impacts anyone exposed to the curriculum, not just the students in your classroom,” Gleason said.

The program required her to complete an internship with a building principal. “I was really good at it,” she said “I surprised myself.”

Then, when an administrative post opened up at Niskayuna High School where she was teaching, she took it and is now the assistant principal and director of high school counseling.

“I love what I do,” said Gleason. “I think about it from a teacher’s perspective: What do teachers need?”

Gleason, in addition to working at the high school level, has, over the years, also served as an adjunct faculty member at Hudson Valley Community College, where she taught freshman English, and at Schenectady County Community College, where, with her master’s degree in reading, she worked with students who were conditionally enrolled and needed help to complete college work.

Having also taught graduate students at Saint Rose — “teachers from different disciplines,” Gleason said — she is aware of the whole spectrum of learning.

She is excited about the next step in her career. “I know Guilderland is a good district,” she said.

Asked about her goals, Gleason said, “First is to acclimate myself and be as supportive as I can, and also to bring new ideas.”

Gleason’s “wealth of experience as a teacher, administrator, and school leader” is what made her stand out in a large pool of applicants, according to Demian Singleton, Guilderland’s assistant superintendent for instruction.

Over 100 applied for the job, said Singleton, and eight were interviewed. A team that included school board, parent, and student representation as well as administrators and teachers conducted the final round of interviews. After the field was narrowed to three, two recommendations were made to the superintendent.

“She had a very solid teaching background, coupled with a long tenure as assistant principal at Niskayuna, which is comparable to Guilderland,” said Singleton of why Gleason was ultimately chosen.

Guilderland High School has three assistant principals working under Principal Thomas Lutsic. All three handle discipline issues, said Singleton.

Mark Brooks, who right now is running the summer-school program, will be in charge of master scheduling in the fall. Lisa Patierne focuses on the transition program, easing students from the middle school to the high school. And Gleason will focus on managing clubs and extra-curricular activities, Singleton said.

She is replacing Aaron Sicotte who, Singleton said, accepted an assistant principal’s job near Boston to be close to family.

“Aaron is a rising star and will one day be a school principal,” said Singleton. “He’s a natural leader — organized, motivated, and student-centered. He’s a complete package.”

Singleton went on about Gleason, “Rebecca has similar qualities. They were both English teachers. We’re very excited to have a new face. She’ll bring a great skill set and a new perspective we can learn from.”

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