NORTH CREEK - A personal interest in local history and historical education has resulted in the appointment of a new interim director for the North Creek Railway Depot Preservation Association.
North Creek resident Michelle SanAntonio joined the museum's volunteer effort late last year and quickly assumed a leadership role. She was appointed as interim director following the departure of the former director, Sharalee Falzerano, in December 2008.
SanAntonio possesses a Master's Degree in Archeology from the University of Montana with a focus on Archeology Education and Outreach for school age children. She will serve as interim director for the next three months at which time she can elect to accept a permanent position on the museum's paid staff.
Her initial introduction to the group occurred after approaching the Johnsburg Historical Society regarding the history of her home. She soon learned about the Depot Museum and its efforts to establish an educational center in the Owens House property. This discovery led to her decision to join the Depot Museum as a volunteer in an effort to lend assistance to the program.
"I really wanted to have a strong role in the education center that they have been trying for so long to get up and running," said SanAntonio. "Sharalee made great progress in getting the specifications for the center - including the computer workstations and the custom-designed tables. We owe her a great debt for the hard work and commitment she put into all of this."
In addition to the educational facility, the group also plans to renovate a portion of the Owens House into a temperature controlled artifact storage room. The availability of proper storage would further strengthen the ties between the Depot Museum and the Johnsburg Historical Society as talks of a potential merger continue.
"I think local Historical Societies are very important to small communities like ours," said SanAntonio.
SanAntonio and Depot Museum president Helen Miner recently met with Johnsburg Central School fourth grade teacher Rebecca Morris to develop the first phase of a cooperative educational effort. A change in New York State public school mandates dictates that children take part in a local history unit in the fourth and eighth grade.
Eventually, SanAntonio and the Depot board would like to expand the program to other area schools through "teacher lending kits" and on-site educational programs.
"I feel very strongly that part of history is education," Miner said. "It's important to educate both the young and old about what we have here in this town."
Miner and the Depot Museum board are looking forward to a dynamic and exciting year in large part due to SanAntonio's appointment and a $12,000 appropriation to the Museum in the 2009 Town of Johnsburg budget.
"We were very pleased with her [Michelle's] resume' and so far she has lived up to every bit of it," Miner added.
She also noted that SanAntonio's ability to multi-task in the face of competing demands, along with her personable demeanor will serve her well in the position.
"There's a lot of things that go into the makeup of that job," Miner said. "I believe she shows great promise and will be an asset to our organization. I know this is going to be an exciting year - especially with the town backing and support."