September 16, 2013

New principal fulfills goal with new position


SARANAC — Saranac Middle School will soon be under new leadership.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Katie McNeil will take over as principal, replacing Jeffrey Durant, who recently accepted a job as principal of Morristown Central School District in St. Lawrence County.

Since 2009, McNeil has served as the assistant principal to Northeastern Clinton Middle and High schools in Champlain, where she was responsible for managing student behaviors, coordinating curriculum, establishing a mentoring program and acting as the district’s safety and Dignity for All Students Act coordinator.

The Northern Adirondack High School graduate also taught special education at NAC for five years.

“Taking on my first principal position is exciting because this has been a professional goal of mine,” she told the Press-Republican in an email. 

“The face of education has changed significantly in the last year, and when one decides to take on this role, you must be fully committed, accountable and passionate to every decision you make.

“I have had excellent training with my former team, so I feel prepared.”


McNeil’s probationary contract with Saranac Central runs through Sept. 22, 2016, and calls for an annual salary of $82,000.

In addition to a master’s degree in literacy education, she holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Studies in education leadership from SUNY Plattsburgh.

McNeil is also certified in grades seven through 12 English.

“Katie McNeil brings a wealth of administrative experience to Saranac Middle School,” said SCSD Superintendent Ken Cringle in a release. 

“Her vibrant, outgoing and positive demeanor will assist her well during the transition period.

“I am very confident that she will promote the success of every student by fostering a school culture that is conducive to student learning and professional growth,” he continued. 

“I anticipate that she will immediately build upon and sustain healthy relationships with faculty, staff, students and families at the Middle School. I look forward to working with Ms. McNeil as we prepare our students for future careers.”


McNeil, too, looks forward to working at Saranac Central, which, she said, “has a great reputation regarding education and the community within.”

“Just getting to know the lay of the land in the past week, I feel that the teachers, staff, students and parents are very welcoming. 

“The district seems like one big family.”

The soon-to-be principal hopes to help her Middle School students become college and career ready with the use of the new state-mandated Common Core Curriculum, as well as to provide them with “early opportunities to explore post high-school options, whether it be a job, the military or college.

“Getting students excited about their future empowers students to work hard while they are in school,” McNeil said.


The Saranac Central community, she added, can expect her commitment to students to be evident.

“You will often find me with students in the morning, at lunch, after school and on the weekends. I love being involved in their lives, whether it is taking them hiking, having lunch together or planning a fun team-building activity at school,” said McNeil, whose last day at NCCS will be Friday, Sept. 20.

Leaving Northeastern Clinton will be bittersweet, she noted, as the school’s faculty, staff and students have been her second family for the past four years.

“Northeastern is truly a hidden gem of the North Country,” McNeil said. “The people who make up this district are fantastic.”

NCCS, she added, is currently having discussions regarding the assistant principal position.

Email Ashleigh