June 5, 2013

Principal candidates discuss their visions


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Stafford Middle School principal candidates Ted Binion and Jamie LaBarge shared their visions at a recent public forum.

“The teachers, students (and) the administration are temporary inhabitants of this school,” Binion said. “It’s the community’s school, and what we need to do is we need to keep growing and building on what has happened before us.”

Before his current post as a special-education teacher at Spotsylvania Middle School in Virginia, Binion served as an administrator at two separate middle schools, including Willink Middle School in Webster, where he was principal.

The SUNY Potsdam graduate earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, has taught middle-school social-studies and English and sits on the Virginia Middle School Association Board of Directors. 

He has also presented at conferences focused on interdisciplinary teaching, anti-bullying and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports at the middle-school level.

Binion said he wants Stafford to be a school where students are actively engaged in their own learning and a place that models collaboration and open communication. 

“We have to make sure that we are working together because working together, you can accomplish so much more,” he said. 

In addition, he noted, he expects that when students leave Stafford Middle School, they will be well on their way to future success.

“I want critical thinkers to leave this school because when they leave this school, they’re going to the High School, and when they leave the High School, I want to make sure that they are college- and career-ready.”

Binion added that while he will undoubtedly make mistakes, he is determined to learn from them.

“I will never make the same mistake twice,” he said.

LaBarge, currently the assistant principal of Plattsburgh High School, also told the crowd he would like the school to be a place from which critical thinkers emerge.

“My vision for Stafford Middle School is to create successful, 21st-century learners through an environment that’s collaborative, safe, nurturing, kind and respectful,” said the Northern Adirondack Central School graduate, who received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY Plattsburgh.

He earned an administration certification from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

LaBarge has coached sports and taught global studies at Moriah Central School and NACS, as well as eighth grade at NACS.  

He is involved in several teams and committees within the City School District. Among others, he is the leader of the PHS Universal Team, which works with Response to Intervention and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports; administrator in charge of nurses; and district Title I and Title IIA director.

LaBarge is also the coordinator of a regional assistant principals group, which has worked with local law enforcement in an effort to increase daily student attendance. 

The assistant principal said he believes in building strong relationships with all members of the school community, fostering collaboration and being visible in classrooms, hallways and at school functions. 

“I don’t sit in my office often,” he said. 

LaBarge added that, if chosen as Stafford Middle School’s next principal, he would encourage more parents, as well as the Press-Republican, to come into the school and see for themselves the positive things taking place in the building. 

“I don’t want people wondering what’s going on in there,” he said. “I want people to see what Stafford Middle School is all about.”

After consideration by the City School’s search committee, Binion and LaBarge emerged as finalists in the search for a successor to Patty Amo, who will retire in July.

Both were also scheduled to be interviewed by the School Board following the forum. 

Forum attendees were given forms on which to rate each candidate based on his presentation and to provide feedback, which City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short said he would consider when making his final recommendation to the board.  

That recommendation is expected to be made at the board’s next meeting this Thursday in the Duken Building.

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