TONY D'IMPERIO/Special to the County News
Mount Morris Central School
New Mount Morris principal will stay for one year
Tom Kelleher’s position as Mount Morris K-12 school principal is interim until next June when the school district will hire a permanent replacement for Mike Murray, former K-12 principal who left Mount Morris and is now Athletic Director with the Churchville Chili Schools.
Since his retirement as high school principal in 2006 from Letchworth Central, Kelleher, 61, has served several interim terms in area schools: half-year in LeRoy; one year in Avon and two years in Attica.
Kelleher says that he didn’t go looking for these positions, but when the calls came, he was ready to get on board. The network of school districts in the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership provides communication that helps schools to make contacts with each other about jobs; this was the case with Kelleher.
We hear a lot about interim positions lately in this area. Their popularity is related not only to the advantages of less bureaucracy in finding people when using the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership association, but also school districts can save money by hiring interim employees because they don’t have to pay for health insurance or pension benefits.
Kelleher grew up in Hornell, now resides in Castile with his wife of 37 years. She is a fourth grade teacher at Letchworth Central. The Kellehers have four grown children. “A good family is my most significant accomplishment,” he says with a big smile.
He graduated with a BS degree in Physical Education from SUNY Cortland, NY and Masters in Health Education from Michigan State. Kelleher taught Health Education for 11 years and in 1985 was appointed Assistant Principal in Wayland for two years. He then went on to Letchworth.
During his year at Mount Morris, Kelleher plans to emphasize work with teachers on interpreting student test scores and using results to make changes in programs and teaching strategies. “The scores can be better,” he says.
Another prominent place ‘on Kelleher’s plate’ is carrying out the new state-mandated teacher evaluation procedures. Under this law, teachers will be rated as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. Earning two consecutive years of ineffective ratings could be grounds for termination. Concentration is planned for grades three through eight in Mount Morris this year.
Three indicators will be used to determine effectiveness: student growth on state assessment tests will make up 20 percent; student growth on local tests, 20 percent; and observations of teachers by administrators and peer reviewers, 60 percent.
Tom Kelleher is personable and easy-going, so I’m betting that his relationship with staff and students will be comfortable and productive.
He is conscientious about and committed to his one year stay in Mount Morris.
Kelleher plans to communicate regularly with students, encouraging and supporting them to take part in school activities, something that could use some improvement he said.
When I asked if there was anything he’d like to change about himself Kelleher said, “I’d like to be able to shut the office door behind me at the end of the day and not take the job with me, but it’s not that easy for me.”