Honoring the Past, Welcoming the Future: River Dell School Board Celebrates Milestones and Introduces New Leadership

The River Dell School Board convened to both honor long-standing employees and welcome incoming staff members. In an evening steeped in nostalgia and hope, the meeting marked several significant transitions in the district’s leadership and celebrated the dedicated service of its personnel.

An air of gratitude enveloped the room as the board commemorated numerous staff members who reached significant service milestones. Four standout members, Dr. Kiara Brandoni, Demetra Binder, Dawn, and Kelly Shell, celebrated an impressive 20 years with the district, each bringing their unique expertise to middle and high school education. Similarly, Darren Binder, Suzanne Dureno, and Vicki Kantanus were applauded for their quarter-century of service, enhancing the school’s operational efficiency and educational quality.

As part of the celebratory proceedings, the board also recognized and bid farewell to a handful of employees entering retirement. Notable among these was high school principal Jeff, who served the district for 29 years. Starting his journey as a math teacher, Jeff ascended through the ranks, even taking on additional responsibilities during financial crises. Expressing affection for Riverdale, Jeff described it as a place that had profoundly impacted his life.

The board also acknowledged Luis Luca, Pete Barbieri, Dr. Randy O’Neill, Patricia Barlow, and John Kneble. The meeting pulsated with touching testimonials as these individuals reflected on their careers, each leaving indelible marks on the River Dell community.

The meeting, however, wasn’t solely about saying goodbye. Aaron Character and Dr. James Albra were welcomed as the director of guidance and the new superintendent of schools, respectively. The announcement symbolized the ushering in of a new era for River Dell. Dr. Albra replaces the outgoing superintendent, who was honored for his 17 years of service to the district and an impressive 40-year career in education.

The board also celebrated recent student achievements, including the Riverdale drama department’s award for their spring show, ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and seventh-grader Andrew Lee’s selection as a finalist in the IAC National Geography Bee. Notably, sports teams also garnered applause, particularly the girls’ track team and boys’ lacrosse, which set a school record for wins in a season.

In an exercise of linguistic gymnastics, the board engaged in a spirited debate over the descriptors and qualifiers to be used in their competency program, highlighting the term ’empathic contributors.’ After a robust discussion, alternative words such as ‘connector,’ ‘heart sense,’ and ‘social intelligence’ emerged.

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