Pawling Public Radio is proud to introduce a new program called “Get to Know Your Pawling Schools.” This program is in collaboration with Pawling Parents, an online community started by Inga Garbarino with the goal of fostering constructive discussions about education, our local schools, and school district issues. Each month, we will interview an administrator or school board member so that the community can get to know them, their views on education, and their hopes for the future of our district. With so many new administrators joining us within the last two years, we welcome this opportunity to learn more about the folks who are charged with the task of preparing our young students for their futures.
On a sunny day in late September, Pawling’s brand new superintendent, Dr. William Ward, sat down in PPR’s recording studio for an interview with Amy Emke. Dr. Ward answered questions about a variety of topics, from what inspired him to get into education, to his goals for our public schools, to what parents can do to support their children’s education.
During the interview, Dr. Ward revealed that he became inspired to pursue a career in education when he was a university student and participated in a volunteer tutoring program working with struggling young students in Wilmington, Delaware. He then changed paths from pursuing a degree in law to becoming a teacher. During Dr. Ward’s long career in education, he has been an elementary school teacher, a middle school teacher, a principal and, of course, a superintendent. Dr. Ward said that he had held several principalships, and spoke fondly of his longest one, when he was an elementary school principal in Ridgefield, New Jersey for 18 years.
Dr. Ward was asked what he would most like to bring to our school district, if the sky were the limit and he had no financial or political constraints. He replied that he had two thoughts about that.
“The first is that the most powerful thing for kids is a great teacher in every classroom. That’s really the most important thing–and making sure that they have the training, the background, and the materials they need to really make an impact on students. Part two to that, is that what happens with the Pawling Public Schools is something that really has to be co-constructed. That’s not something that a new superintendent brings or a new principal brings. That’s something that comes together as the people in the community come together around the schools: so that’s parent involvement, a committed staff, support from the larger community, a board of education that is involved and has their priorities on what is best for students, while being responsible to other people in the community. I think one of the mistakes new superintendents sometimes make is that they have programs that they want to bring in, because they like a certain program. In my experience, that doesn’t usually succeed. What succeeds is people working together–they have agreement on the goals, and that’s how things move forward.”
To listen to the complete interview with Dr. Ward, tune in to Pawling Public Radio online or in the Village of Pawling at 101.7 FM., Monday through Friday at noon and 6 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at noon.
–by Amy Emke