CHAZY - With one quarter of the school year under his belt, Jon Fairchild is settling into his new role as superintendent and high school principal at Chazy Central Rural School.
Fairchild lived in Chazy while growing up and attended the school from kindergarten through graduation in 1977.
"You've heard the expression, 'Dying and going to Heaven,' Sort of fits that," said Fairchild of returning to his alma mater. "It's just a very special community and one of the real nice things is the staff and the people that were here when I was a student, they've all retired, so there isn't that role reversal, which can be a challenge."
Fairchild added he hasn't seen much change in the school since he attended.
"The rules are almost the same," he said. "Even the time to get from class to class hasn't changed. So, when a student tells me they can't make it from Point A to Point B in three minutes, I know he's not telling the truth."
Fairchild took the position at CCRS following a one-year principalship at Salmon River School and eight-year principalship at Plattsburgh High School, where the class roster was much larger, a difference he finds has its pros and cons.
"I'm a firm believer in small K through 12 schools. Students don't get lost in the shuffle. Fortunately we don't have a lot of turnover in students, which is really good to know the students and their families," he explained. "Downside is we can't offer the same things we can at PHS. Both situations have staff members that are extremely talented and do a great job with kids and are fun to work with."
Balancing the roles of both principal and superintendent has also been a transition for Fairchild.
"It gets a little hectic sometimes. Really struggle when I have to reevaluate myself. Haven't figured that one out yet," joked Fairchild.
"For me the biggest challenge is learning the superintendent's role," he admitted. "It's different from what I've done in the past. My experience at St. John's gave me a taste for some of that. The budget and the finances. It's a full day."
Other transitions Fairchild is making is determining what the school can do a better job at.
"Fortunate thing is we do a pretty good job across the board," he said. "We do have a couple of things we're starting to look at, but the big thing right now is going to be, as every school in the state is doing with the new regulations for evaluating teachers."
Fairchild said that goal will probably be one of the main challenges he'll face during the school year, although he's also looking at taking on another challenge.
"I'd like to see ways that we can improve our graduation rate," he said. "Again, it's a state-wide initiative, and unfortunately with a small group of kids, it doesn't take too many kids to not make it to drag the rate down."
"I'd also like to see ways that we can fine-tune and challenge the upper-end kids more than they are," Fairchild added. "It's always hard to find ways and have enough kids that need a particular program."
Overall, Fairchild is happy with the way the school year has developed so far.
"It's been a really nice start to the school year," he said. "The staff, the community, the board of education, everyone is really headed in the same direction. It's a nice group to work with. Like any other school, we have issues we have to deal with, but most of ours are not critical issues, they're just things to just keep doing what we do, better."