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SUNY Potsdam Forms Professional Development Schools Committee

Photo of the Professional Development Schools Committee
Members of the Professional Development Schools Committee recently gathered for a photo after their first meeting at SUNY Potsdam. The group included, from left: Ronald Burke, Joseph Kardash, Nicole Conant, Jane Akins, Thomas Burns, Joanne Stiles, Walter Conley, Jennifer Gray, Joe Binion, Julie Reagen, Amy Guiney, Susan Jacobs, Chad Graham, Nicole Weakfall, Laura Brown and Karla Fennell.

SUNY Potsdam’s Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Development recently tapped 23 individuals to serve on a new working group dedicated to identifying and fostering partnerships to support education and educators in the North Country.

The Professional Development Schools Committee launched this spring, with the goal of uplifting the teaching profession, while addressing the educational needs of the region.

“The Professional Development Schools Committee has been an excellent partnership between higher education and Pre-K to 12 educators. The past few years have been a time of great change in education, and the timing is right to have meaningful conversations about what the teachers of the future will need to be successful, and we have begun that process,” said Thomas R. Burns ’92, district superintendent/CEO of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. “We are also able to increase our collective capacity at a time when funding and resources are limited. Being an alumnus of SUNY Potsdam and the teacher education program, I’m looking forward to our work and continuing partnership.”

Under the leadership of Nicole Conant, who is the assistant director of the Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Development, the committee includes a range of stakeholders, including public school teachers, college faculty members, school administrators and alumni. The group meets monthly on the SUNY Potsdam campus.

The Professional Development Schools Committee is working to develop a strategic vision for Pre-K through college partnerships, based on best practices.

“As a teacher, it’s been a pleasure to serve with representatives from various stakeholder groups to develop ideas for how to further improve partnerships and increase the teacher pipeline in the North Country. Colton-Pierrepont has had a great deal of success in partnering with SUNY Potsdam in several ways that have been mutually beneficial to our students and theirs. I look forward to seeing what comes, as the work of the committee continues,” said Nicole Weakfall ’06, an elementary teacher at Colton-Pierrepont Central School.

The SUNY Potsdam Professional Development Schools Committee includes:

  • Jane Akins ’99, director of career and technical education and adult education, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES
  • Alyssa Ashlaw ’16, teacher, Brasher Falls Central School
  • Joseph Binion ’04, middle/high school principal, Madrid-Waddington Central School
  • Ronald Burke ’92, superintendent, Edwards-Knox Central School
  • Thomas Burns ’92, district superintendent/executive officer, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES
  • Danielle Colterman ’07, teacher, Brasher Falls Central School
  • Nicole Conant ’08, assistant director, SUNY Potsdam Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Certification
  • Walter Conley, interim dean, SUNY Potsdam’s School of Education and Professional Studies
  • Jamie Cruikshank ’92, superintendent, Norwood-Norfolk Central School
  • Melissa Cummins ’98, instructor of secondary education, SUNY Potsdam
  • Susan Dodds ’98, director, St. Lawrence Valley Teachers’ Center
  • Karla Fennell ’07, coordinator of early college programs, SUNY Potsdam
  • Lauren French, superintendent, Gouverneur Central School
  • Chad Graham, clinical faculty member for elementary education, SUNY Potsdam
  • Jennifer Gray ’05, elementary principal, Lawrence Avenue Elementary, Potsdam Central School
  • Amy Guiney ’01, director, SUNY Potsdam’s Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Certification
  • Vicki Hayes ’90, clinical faculty member for elementary education, SUNY Potsdam
  • Susan Jacobs ’86, elementary principal, Ogdensburg City School
  • Joseph Kardash, superintendent, Colton-Pierrepont Central School
  • Julie Reagen ’82, clinical faculty member and chair of elementary education, SUNY Potsdam
  • Angela Robert ’86, director of curriculum, Salmon River Central School
  • Joanne Stiles ’94, National Board Certified Teacher and instructor of secondary education, SUNY Potsdam
  • Nicole Weakfall ’06, teacher, Colton-Pierrepont Central School
  • Amanda Zullo, New York State Master Teacher, Saranac Lake Central School

The Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Development at SUNY Potsdam is dedicated to developing future educators, by providing unique hands-on experiences at public or parochial schools alongside highly qualified faculty and staff who partner with the College. To learn more, visit

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of College Communications,
(315) 267-2918