ALBANY, N.Y.00It's a new era for the City of Albany's School District, as Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard steps into the role of superintendent.
The district has been riddled with challenges for years----the most recent----being put on the State Education Department's "priority schools" list----with a major need to improve test scores and graduation rates.
"I've never backed away from a challenge, that's not who I am," she says, speaking very openly, labeling herself as a hands-on leader, who has no other main priority than student achievement.
"You will see me in the community, working with students, working with families and working in our buildings, to make things better."
Dr. Wyngaard comes from an urban public school district in NJ, a district which is three times the size of Albany. Wednesday, she received a welcoming standing ovation from not only the school board, but also from parents, eager to see what is in store.
"I hope she will look into the matters and get the classes, the kids and the parents to communicate," says Cheri Delarosa.
"I hope the students get a voice with this new superintendent," adds Esther Patterson-King. "I hope she's listening to what the students need, I hope she hears what the community and parents are asking for."
Dr. Wyngaard is the first African-American woman to permanently fill the shoes of superintendent, and says it is a heartfelt honor.
"I didn't really realize the impact until today, it was a little overwhelming," she says. "But at the same time, an exciting opportunity for the kids to see what can be."
But Dr. Wyngaard says she knows the road ahead won't be obstacle-free, acknowledging the achievement gap in the schools. She says her promise to parents is to make sure there is a caring and competent teacher in every classroom, and plans to partner with the Albany Common Council to hold public forums in various neighborhoods.
"We can't do it by ourselves, but I'm not by myself," she says. "There's a lot of people who want to do that, but I've got to create the avenue to allow them to do so."
Dr. Wyngaard's first official day as superintendent will be September 24th.
The district's interim superintendent, Dr. Raymond Colucciello, will be hold a new role as Dr. Wyngaard's special assistant.