On Sept. 1, Debora Van Slyke became Central Valley School District’s Director of Curriculum & Instruction. A Mohawk Valley native, she worked in private industry and public education before joining Central Valley.
Hospital to classroom to administration
Mrs. Van Slyke grew up in Rome where she graduated from Rome Free Academy. In 1978, she earned her B.S. in Dietetics and Child Development & Family Living from SUNY Oneonta. She was a diet technician at Faxton Hospital for four years.
When she and her family moved to the Syracuse area, she began substitute teaching. Teachers saw her potential in the classroom and suggested she apply her undergraduate credits toward a teaching certificate. She took that advice, attended LeMoyne College, and became certified to teach earth science, health, and home economics in 1992. She later earned her M.S. in Health Education from SUNY Cortland. She taught earth science, health, and three health electives at Liverpool High School for 14 years. While at Liverpool she introduced one-to-one computers in her classroom and embedded the technology into her curriculum. She also developed and taught the first online health course in New York state through Blackboard.
In 2006, she earned her C.A.S. in Educational Administration from SUNY Cortland and became Assistant Principal at Canastota Junior-Senior High.
In 2010, Mrs. Van Slyke left Canastota to join the Mohawk Regional Information Center (MORIC) as a Team Leader/Education Data Analyst. She and her team of up to 20 analysts supported school administrators in 50 school districts across four BOCES. Their role was to help schools report data to the State Education Department, interpret data from state and local assessments, and to use data to guide learning in the districts.
Central Valley role
Here at Central Valley, Mrs. Van Slyke will share her experience as a teacher and administrator and her understanding of the effective use of data with faculty and administration. Her ultimate goal is to support the district’s strategic plan and vision to ensure Thunder graduate as college and career ready.
To be effective in her role, she said the first step is to understand the school and community culture, to meet people, and to assess administrator and teacher needs.
“I want to identify the things we do well and expand on them, instead of seeing them happen in pockets,” she said.
Other goals include supporting teachers and providing them with leadership opportunities, encouraging students to explore multiple pathways to graduation, and broadening the definition of teaching beyond lecturing.
She said improving upon the district’s instructional practices best occurs when teachers can meet and share ideas.
“I want to facilitate collaboration through regular meetings,” Mrs. Van Slyke said.
Although the bulk of her efforts will be working with teachers and administrators, she said everything comes back to students.
“We need to see how kids are doing and adjust what we do accordingly,” she said.