Outgoing super praises Oriskany community

Published May 10, 2017 at 12:00pm

ORISKANY — After eight “blessed” years of service to school and community, Gregory K. Kelahan is stepping down as superintendent of Oriskany Central School District.

Kelahan recently announced that he has accepted a position as superintendent of Watkins Glen Central School District effective July 1, at the start of the new fiscal school year.

‘Committed to the core’

Superintendent since January 2010, Kelahan said while he treasurers his years of service in Oriskany, it was time to “become energized by a new adventure.”

“I was blessed to work in a community that gives its entirety to the school district...I couldn’t have wished for anything that was not already here,” Kelahan said as he reflected on his work in Oriskany. “The children are kind and respectful, the parents are nurturing and the staff is bar none — each and every one of them is committed to the core to helping each child.”

Kelahan received his bachelor’s degree in elementary/secondary science education from the State University College at Buffalo, a master’s degree in science teaching from Syracuse University and a certificate of advanced study in educational administration from the State University of New York at Cortland.

Headed to Finger Lakes

With more than 25 years experience in education, Kelahan previously served as coordinator of curriculum and special programs at Cazenovia. He was also the elementary principal/K-12 curriculum coordinator in the Madison Central School District. Prior to that, he was a staff and curriculum development specialist for Madison-Oneida BOCES.

Kelahan said an opportunity arose in Watkins Glen, a school district nearly twice the size of Oriskany’s approximately 610 students that encompasses portions of Whitestown, Floyd and Marcy.

With daughters Alaina, 22, who graduated from Wells College and Glenna, 20, attending SUNY Brockport, Kelahan said he and wife Linda, a school counselor, felt the Finger Lakes region was a nice place to relocate as the couple starts to look into their retirement years.

Emotional connection

Besides working in Oriskany, however, the couple shares fond memories of the community, both spending the night before their wedding at the former Trinkaus Manor.

“We will always have an emotional connection here,” he said.

The superintendent said he considers Oriskany a place where he accomplished great things and looks forward to leaving a legacy in Watkins Glen.

“I had the privilege to be here when wonderful things happened and these were great chapters” in my career “that were written here,” Kelahan said of Oriskany. “The economy fell out and we were not only able to get through, but we survived at a tremendous level of performance. That shows that this is a community that invests in its children” and will continue to succeed “in the years to come.”

During Kelahan’s tenure in Oriskany, he and the Board of Education established the district as a “School of Innovation.”

Educational initiatives

The Beyond the Box Innovation Initiative is a district-wide project geared toward better preparing students for college and the careers of the future. “Beyond the Box” is part of a movement to identify how the district can market itself as one that effectively prepares children for careers and opportunities of the 21st century.

Kelahan said the initiative created a partnership of supports that went well beyond the school, and included collaborations between Utica College, Griffiss Institute, Utica thINCubator, ANDRO Computational Solutions, Rome Air Force Research Laboratory and others. The superintendent said a similar “innovation lab” exists in Watkins Glen.

“The Board of Education in Oriskany thinks so far ahead, attending to the needs of the community,” Kelahan said. “It’s a very exciting time not just for me, but for Oriskany.”

He said the village, “is right in the heart of an exciting region of New York State. We’ve been able to work with outstanding colleges and with neighboring school districts” to grow students’ educational experiences, “without merging, while working along with BOCES.”

Kelahan said he will be “forever grateful” for the personal and professional growth he has experienced while serving as superintendent in Oriskany.

“I’m leaving Oriskany with great memories, great experiences and great friends that will last forever,” Kelahan said. “I will forever be indebted, and I certainly expect Oriskany to continue to do great things.”

Board OKs interim super; new principal

ORISKANY — Oriskany Central School Board of Education appointed Alicia Koster as the district’s interim superintendent Tuesday.

Koster will assume the position on the start of the new fiscal school year on July 1. She will replace Gregory K. Kelahan, who after eight years of service is stepping down to take a position with Watkins Glen School District.

“Alicia will work closely with me over the next two months to ensure a very smooth and successful transition,” Kelahan said.

“As we have seen since she began work in Oriskany, Alicia is committed to the ideals and values of Oriskany and will provide the leadership necessary to continue the outstanding work for which our district is known,” Kelahan added.

Koster has 17 years of experience as a school district leader and completed the state Superintendent Development Program through SUNY Oswego.

“I am honored and privileged to serve as interim superintendent,” Koster said. “I am committed to the ideals and values of Oriskany, and I will continue to provide the leadership necessary to ensure a smooth transition.”

Kelahan stated that further details regarding the superintendent search will be provided as they become available.

Board of Education members would only say Tuesday that the superintendent search, being conducted by Madison-Oneida BOCES, is “in process.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Education accepted Kelahan’s recommendation to appoint Karen Hinderling as the next principal of N.A. Walbran Elementary School, also effective July 1.

“Karen has been an integral and positive contributor to the building for many years as both a teacher and a leader,” Kelahan said.

“Her dedication to the success of the school is unquestionable and I believe she is an exceptional choice to lead the school into the future,” Kelahan added.