It has been a crazy year for Central Valley Academy Principal Renee Rudd. Just six months after the merger vote that joined Mohawk and Ilion central schools, she had to open the doors of a school building still under renovation to a newly combined student body taught by a blended faculty. The magnitude of that challenge and her success will be recognized on Friday, May 9 when she is honored with the School Administrators Association of New York State’s (SAANYS) James E. Allen Award.
The annual award recognizes a secondary school leader who has made significant contributions to education and leadership at the secondary school level and service to the community and professional organizations.
“Renee Rudd faced huge obstacles. She had to combine two former rival schools, both rich in pride and tradition, into one cohesive body,” said Superintendent of Schools Cosimo Tangorra.
“That would have been hard enough, but she also had to meet our community’s expectations of an improved education in the merged district. That meant everything, from classroom opportunities to extracurricular activities to the graduation ceremony, would come under scrutiny. Renee did not wilt under the pressure. Instead she embraced the challenge and made Central Valley Academy’s first year a success to build upon.”
Ms. Rudd is quick to give away the credit. She will explain that it was students who chose a new school name, mascot and school colors. It was guidance staff who melded the course offerings into an expanded course list. It was faculty who helped kick off the year with a school-wide, student icebreaker on opening day that earned Ms. Rudd and the school the 2013 Campus Event Planner of the Year. It is the continued collaboration of those teachers and staff that strive to raise student behavior, expectation and achievement. Her new assistant principal Richard Keeler, coaches, chaperones, office staff and volunteers all played important roles in Central Valley Academy’s first year.
“While all of that is true, it takes a leader to unite, to inspire and even to push people toward a goal. Renee developed a vision and found a way to share that vision with others,” said Dr. Tangorra.
The year has not always gone perfectly. Former Mohawk students were sometimes uncomfortable in the former Ilion building. Both Ilion and Mohawk students saw their traditions swallowed up by new practices. Competition was fierce for spots on sports teams and parts in the musical. Change was hard for many.
“We traveled unfamiliar territory. There was no handbook explaining how to merge schools. We had to gather the best ideas from everyone and try to put together a program that served our students,” said Ms. Rudd.
“I’m sure there are things we could have done better, but I’m not sure how. Everyone came together, our students and our staff, to make this first year successful. I want to thank everyone for helping me earn this very special award.”
SAANYS will honor Ms. Rudd at its annual awards ceremony on Friday, May 9 at the Century House in Latham, NY.