Dear Putnam Valley Community:
As we move beyond the holiday season, we are refocusing our attention on our academic program. While there are many exciting initiatives underway, extracurricular activities to enjoy, and opportunities to celebrate student success on the horizon; I would like to take a moment to address some of our current administrative positions.
As we approached the beginning of this school year, we needed to work quickly to fill vacant administrative positions. Both the High School Principal and Assistant Principal positions were filled by internal candidates, with Mr. Matthew Mello becoming the Interim Principal and Dr. Letitia Payne as the Interim Assistant Principal at Putnam Valley High School. Ms. Jaime Zecca emerged as the leading candidate for the Middle School Assistant Principal position and was appointed as Interim Assistant Principal at that building. These interim appointments served both short and long-term needs. We provided individuals the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and talents in new positions, we ensured a collaborative K-12 focus on improving student learning and the day-to-day operations of our buildings continued with consistency.
Over the past five months, we have worked closely with Mr. Mello (Interim High School Principal), Dr. Payne (Interim High School Assistant Principal), and Mrs. Zecca (Interim Middle School Assistant Principal) to ensure that each was successful in their respective administrative roles. By all accounts, we have been impressed by the work of each of our interim administrators. They have embraced their new roles, forged new relationships, and supported students and families, all while continuing our push toward excellence. Each is responsible for improving academic rigor and engagement, supporting student wellness, and cultivating a culture of collaboration and partnership with teachers and parents.
Based on what I have observed this school year, I will be asking the Board of Education for their approval to remove the interim titles for each of these administrators and allow them to continue their probationary appointments in their respective positions. Each of these administrators will have to complete a four-year probationary period before they can be considered for tenure.
Having had the opportunity to work alongside these individuals, I strongly believe that each of these administrators has demonstrated skills and talents beyond any that may emerge during a traditional interview process with an external candidate pool. Each has demonstrated a firm grasp of curriculum and pedagogical best practices, established productive relationships with their colleagues, and has made a commitment to the Putnam Valley school community, our students, teachers, and parents.
I am confident that these individuals are the right fit for Putnam Valley and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the students of Putnam Valley are successful inside and outside of the classroom. I will be recommending that the Board of Education remove their interim titles and appoint each of them to their probationary positions at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.
I look forward to working with these administrators as they continue to grow in their roles as building leaders.
Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools