MENANDS – After 10 years serving as the Menands School District Superintendent, Dr. Maureen Long will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. The Menands School Board of Education appointed Principal Jennifer Cannavo to succeed Long as the next superintendent, effective July 28, and a search for a new principal is ongoing.
search for a new principal is ongoing.
Menands Union Free School District educates children from kindergarten through eighth grade. It is one of only 13 schools in that category in New York State. Both Long and Cannavo enjoy the unique small-district environment and recently shared their thoughts with Spotlight News about their educational journey and the upcoming change.
Spotlight News: What made you decide to retire from your position as superintendent?
Long: I am eligible to retire this summer. I have been in this position for 10 years and worked closely with Jennifer during those years. I know now there’s somebody who’s fully capable in many ways and far more capable than I am to step into that role.
Spotlight News: What are your plans for retirement?
Long: I’m looking forward to some non-professional reading, spending some time with family and being able to do some traveling.
Spotlight News: What has your experience been as a principal?
Cannavo: (Earlier in my career) I took the opportunity for an administrative position at another district and stepped away from here for a couple years. When the opportunity presented itself, I was more than happy to come back. I spent most of my career here, and my experiences have been outstanding.
Spotlight News: What made you decide to apply for the superintendent role?
Cannavo: I was interested in district leadership and the work that it involves, not only locally, but also the advocacy work, and the partnerships that go beyond the current school district. There’s no other place that I wanted to do it except here.
My student-teaching and entire teaching career was here. I was given different opportunities under Dr. Long. She saw some leadership potential with me and afforded me some opportunities in the area of special education, professional development and leading professional development here.
Spotlight News: What was one of your greatest achievements at Menands?
Long: One of our biggest accomplishments is the development of the strategic plan and doing that as a collaborative effort that included our faculty, staff, broader community and feedback from some of our students.
The relationships I’ve developed with our students and our families over 10 years were special. We have children who we had as students look into a career in education, then come back here to do student teaching or volunteering.
Spotlight News: What do you have planned as the new superintendent?
Cannavo: As Maureen steps away and I step in, I need to get to know our community from a different role. Whenever there is a change in role or a change in leadership, you need to understand folks’ priorities from that position versus a principal’s decision.
Spotlight News: What were you most proud of?
Cannavo: There are two things that I would reference.
I was proud that we were able to allow any child that wanted to be in-person throughout the pandemic, to be in school. If students wanted to be here, they were here.
I would also add that one of the things that we are most appreciative of her (Long’s) time was the light that she was able to shine on our students that were in transitional housing and making this a welcoming place for them to be and provide stability for them while maybe other circumstances for them in life weren’t as stable.
Long: One of the things about being a small district that I do like the most is we all wear a lot of hats. Everybody does whatever they have to do from our custodial staff, kitchen staff, teachers, aids, administrators, and our bus drivers to support our kids and the families to give them what they need to be successful here and outside of school and beyond.
Spotlight News: How would you summarize your experience?
Long: I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to serve as the superintendent of Menands. Our kids are great, our families are great. One of the things that I loved about being in a small school in this role is I got to see our students every day and interact with them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cannavo: I am excited for the opportunity. I have loved Menands and have spent most of my career here. There isn’t another place that I would have wanted to be the superintendent. It’s a place that I’m happy to be in and a place that I’m excited to continue my career in. It’s a good place to be.