DELMAR — The Bethlehem Central Board of Education is expected to name Jennifer Szpila as elementary assistant principal, a role serving all five elementary schools in the district.
Szpila has worked in the South Colonie Central School District for 15 years, most recently as an administrative dean and a Committee on Special Education chairperson addressing the individualized education plans of students at the middle school level. She began her career in education in the Albany City School District as an elementary teacher and reading specialist.
In Bethlehem, Szpila will work with each of the elementary schools as coordinator of the district’s Response to Intervention program, a tiered instructional program designed to support struggling learners in the early grades. In addition, she will be responsible for helping develop curriculum and collaborating with teachers at the elementary level, lending support in the use of technology hardware, apps and resources that can enhance student learning.
The Board of Education is expected to appoint Szpila at its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
“We are very fortunate to have Jen Szpila join the BC community as elementary assistant principal,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “She comes to us with more than 20 years of valuable experience supporting young learners. Her experience goes beyond the classroom. She has been invested in the whole child and in their wellness both physically and emotionally. She will be a tremendous asset to our elementary staff and students.”
Monroe said Szpila has experience as a member of her current district’s mental health team and has been a leader in therapeutic crisis intervention and trauma-sensitive instructional practices.
The soon-to-be elementary assistant principal says she will always consider herself a teacher first.
“As a leader, I will stay true to my roots and always put students at the center of my decisions,” said Szpila. “My time in the classroom gives me a unique perspective for how to best support teachers and a clear understanding of the challenges and rewards that come from teaching.”
Szpila, who holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education from The College of St. Rose, and an educational leadership certificate from the State University at Stony Brook, said she decided to pursue a degree in administration later in her career to be an example to her own children.
“I was driven to return to school by my strong beliefs in equity, inclusivity, and continual improvement,” said Szpila. “I have two teenage daughters and as a professional woman, it is important to me to be a role model and example for what strong women can achieve.”
With her daughters and her husband, Szpila says she enjoys traveling and cooking and that she has developed a “green thumb” with a love of gardening indoors and outdoors.
Looking ahead to her new role in Bethlehem, Szpila said her biggest challenge is also what she is looking forward to most.
“I am most looking forward to meeting everyone and building relationships with the staff, students, and community in Bethlehem,” said Szpila, who said she will wear her new favorite colors of orange and black with pride. “I am excited to share my expertise and continue my own path of teaching and learning.”
Szpila’s first, official day as elementary assistant principal will be January 24.