SUNY Potsdam Alumni Education Leaders Speak with Aspiring Teachers


SUNY Potsdam welcomed alumni superintendents and principals to speak with education students at the annual Teacher Education Student Association conference last month.

The SUNY Potsdam School of Education Alumni Board recently brought together 22 alumni who are leaders in education for a career advice session for current students who aspire to teach.

The session, titled “Entering the Teaching Job Market: Advice from Potsdam Alumni Superintendents and Principals,” was held on campus on March 9 as part of an annual conference offered by the College’s Teacher Education Student Association.

The conference was organized by Assistant Director of the Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Certification Nicole Feml ’02, who is the group’s advisor, along with TESA Conference Chair Sarah Adams, a junior from Evans Mills majoring in early childhood/childhood education, with a specialization in mathematics.

According to Adams, the students “thoroughly enjoyed the alumni session” and are looking forward to next year’s program.

“Not only was I able to learn a lot from the principals and administrators, but I was able to use their advice to reflect on myself as a teacher candidate. Many administrators even gave their email addresses for us to continue our conversations,” Adams said.

More than 80 college students attended the conference, including a visiting group from SUNY Canton.

School of Education Alumni Board President Dr. Mark Davey ’84 delivered welcome remarks to the group. Davey, who is superintendent of the Gates-Chili Central Schools, thanked the alumni for returning to campus to speak to the students. He spoke about the importance of preparing good teachers to enter the profession in what has become a very challenging time for education.

“The TESA conference was a unique opportunity for our students to hear the perspectives of school leaders who are alumni of our teacher preparation programs. The students were able to gain excellent career guidance, and our alumni were able to give back to their program in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Peter Brouwer, dean of SUNY Potsdam’s School of Education and Professional Studies.

In addition to Davey, other alumni presenters included St. Lawrence/Lewis BOCES Superintendent Thomas Burns ’92 and Oswego BOCES Superintendent Christopher Todd ’92. Additional speakers included a number of district superintendents: Patrick Brady ’88 of Potsdam Central Schools, Dr. Harry Brooks ’68, retired from the Broadalbin-Perth School District, Frederick Hall, Jr. ’84 of Sackets Harbor Central Schools, Christine Holt ’93 of the Inlet Common School District, Seth McGowan ’96 of Tupper Lake Central School District, Dr. Randy Richards ’83 of Lake Placid Central Schools and Susan Todd ’88 of Heuvelton Central Schools.

High school principals who presented at the conference included: Joann Chambers ’87 of Potsdam Senior High School, Jeremy McBride ’95 of Webster Schroeder High School, Jonathan Parks ’85 of Saranac High School, Lee Roscoe ’91 of Westhill High School in Syracuse and David Treharne ’83 of Auburn Enlarged Central Schools.

Middle school principals who presented included Jamie Cruikshank ’92 of Potsdam’s A.A. Kingston Middle School, Scott McDonald ’94 of William Golding Middle School in Cobleskill and Nancy Taylor-Schmitt ’84 of Indian River Middle School.

Elementary school principals included Scott Gilbert ’86 of the Potomac (Virginia) Elementary School, Larry Jenne ’83 of Potsdam’s Lawrence Avenue Elementary School, Charity Zawatski ’02 of West Side Elementary School in Gouverneur and Sharlee Thomas ’89 of the St. Regis Mohawk School.

In addition to the session on entering the teaching job market, the TESA Conference also offered a session called “Best Practice Approaches to Teaching Literacy: Stories from the Field.” Presenters included alumni Faith Bish ’03 of Jefferson Elementary School in Massena, Randy Burlingame ’90 and David Vroman ’83, both of Potsdam Central Schools, Megan Leger ’10 of Colton-Pierrepont School District, Amanda Chapman ’09 of Gouverneur Central Schools, Tiffany Maynard of SUNY Potsdam’s Rebecca V. Sheard Literacy Center and Rebecca Ouderkirk ’10 of Madrid-Waddington Elementary School. Amy Schwerzmann ’73 of the Watertown City School District was the keynote speaker for the conference’s session on literacy.

The School of Education and Professional Studies at SUNY Potsdam has been preparing educators for nearly 200 years. For more information, please visit 

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.