PERU - Dr. Thomas A. Stapleford has been named the new superintendent for the Peru Central School District.
The district board of education awarded Stapleford a three-year contract for the position April 28 after a more than three-month process of reviewing applications and interviewing candidates for the position. Stapleford will be paid $145,000 annually.
Superintendent A. Paul Scott, who announced his retirement in December, said he was involved in the board's selection process and had the opportunity to meet with Stapleford, whom he credited for having "an extensive experience in public education."
"The board was fortunate to have 11 very strong candidates apply," said Scott, "many of whom had the appropriate types of background and experience that enabled them to be considered."
In the end, the selection process came down to Stapleford and Stephen Broadwell, superintendent of the Willsboro Central School District. Broadwell withdrew his name from consideration, citing a desire to remain in his current position at WCS.
When reached for comment, Stapleford said he was "very, very excited" to receive the superintendency and that he was excited to return to his roots in K-12 education. Stapleford previously served as superintendent of the Germantown Central School District in Columbia County and the Tuscarora School District in Mercersburg, Pa.
"I've really always liked working with parents, faculty members, boards, and the community in general," said Stapleford. "That's really where rubber hits the road when it comes to education."
Stapleford comes to the area most recently serving as an assistant professor and coordinator of graduate studies at Temple University in Harrisburg, Pa. The 48-year-old educator and administrator said he sought the position at Peru when he learned his position at Temple would likely be eliminated. His first thought, he said, was to go back to working in the public school sector where he had "really great memories and experiences." Though Stapleford acknowledges "significant challenges" face today's public school system financially, not all hope is lost, he said.
"I believe the future is actually quite bright," said Stapleford. "I think that there are many, may ways in which our school system has the opportunity to evolve, and through the use of technology, I think that will provide us with new modes of teaching learning to help us on our way."
Stapleford is a father of three and the author of the book, "Dispute: Conflict Resolution for School Leaders," which has been widely used in school districts in the Midwest and West Coast.
"When a conflict arises, there are folks within that situation that have needs they want met, and a way to resolve the situation is meeting those needs," explained Stapleford, who added he hopes his philosophy can be used in his new position to continue the work of what he calls "an excellent school district." "Conflict is an inevitable part of life and we have to deal with efficiently. And, it's the same with students or whoever it may be. You have to identify where you can begin and find a place where you can all agree."
"I only hope I can add to the very strong leadership of Mr. Scott and the work of a very proactive board of education," added Stapleford.
Stapleford holds a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa.; a master's degree from Brown University in Providence, R.I.; and a doctorate from Columbia University, New York City. His first day on the job will be Friday, July 1. Stapleford will work with Scott in the coming weeks to prepare for the transition of leadership.
"[Stapleford] is certainly very experienced but as with any new job, there's a period of time to become familiar with the policies and procedures. I will do my best to see he has access to everything he needs to start July 1 well-prepared," said Scott. "It'll be a privilege to engage with him in these weeks ahead."