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Potsdam Central School District

District » Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent of Schools

Joann Chambers, Superintendent
Dear Families and Community Members:
In June, Business First Magazine named the Potsdam Central School District as #1 of 33 upstate schools for academic performance for the 6th year in a row! This is truly an accomplishment shared by our entire school community and a testament to the power of our collaborative efforts.

In addition to this recognition, we also enjoyed many other accomplishments in the 2016-17 school year.  Potsdam High School received Silver Medal recognition by U.S. News and World Report. High School math teacher Jodie Tiernan joined Jim Allott and Lisa Dunkelberg as a New York State Master Teacher. Our Teacher Leaders helped lead the work in creating Taught Curriculum Maps, which document what we expect students to know in every grade level and in every course.  The District Technology Committee, under the leadership of Mark Bennett, worked hard to ensure our staff and students are ready for the implementation of a 1:1 device initiative. We administered the first School Climate Survey, which will give us a baseline to see if our efforts are having a positive impact on our school climate. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)  was implemented at Lawrence Avenue Elementary School,  and a Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Team was installed in all three schools, with all staff receiving some initial training in how to effectively de-escalate students in crisis. The Latchkey Program at Lawrence Avenue and the Beyond the Bell Program at AAK were begun, both of great benefit to our students and their families. The middle school took the plunge into Computer Based Testing. And teachers in all three schools looked for opportunities to engage students in self-directed learning including Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, Genius Hour or 20 Time Projects, a 7th Grade Science Fair, and MakerSpace at both LA and AAK.


During the 2016-17 school year, a Strategic Planning Team was formed to collaborate on the development of a three-year Strategic Plan for the school district. The team of about 25, which included Board of Education members, administrators, parents, teachers, and members of the CSEA, met over the course of four days in May to develop a new district mission statement, vision statement, and to articulate a set of Core Values and Beliefs. The team next identified data that we felt was important to track, including student achievement data, attendance data, discipline data and more. We then set three-year targets in each area and identified key strategies we believe will help us in attaining our goals.


For the 2017-18 school year, we will be focusing in four areas. First, we will implement strategies, including The Positivity Project, that nurture the social and emotional development of all students. Second, we will implement a fair, consistent, developmentally-appropriate student code of conduct. Third, we will collaborate PreK-12 to align curriculum horizontally and vertically and to share instructional practices. Finally, we hope to improve the PreK-12 schedule to better meet student and staff needs. This last strategy will include investigating school start time options in all three schools. We are excited about all four of these areas and hope to involve parents and community members in this important work.


As we look to the new school year, I am very pleased to welcome Mark Bennett to his new role as High School Principal. With eight years of experience in administration, he has a proven track record in educational leadership. I know he will help propel the high school to new heights. I am also very pleased that Daniel Cook was recently appointed as principal of A.A. Kingston Middle School. A 2004 PCS graduate, Mr. Cook comes to us with eight years’ teaching experience and one year administrative experience in the Tupper Lake Central School District.


Though we still have a few positions left to fill, we are very fortunate to have recruited and hired such an outstanding group of talented educators including:

Lisa Bradley - Middle/HS Health Teacher
Beth Chambers-Barney - Elementary Special Education Teacher
Ashlee Flener - Teacher Aide
Matthew Gayle - Middle School Music Teacher
Patricia Gonyou - Custodial Worker/Bus Driver
Mary Harper - High School Math Teacher
Margaret James - HS Special Education Teacher
Christopher Johnson - A.A.K Counselor
Jillian Tardelli - Teaching Assistant
Paul VanLeuven - 5th Grade Teacher
Carey White - Teaching Assistant

I am looking forward to continuing to serve students and families, collaborating with the Board of Education, and supporting our teachers to provide a world-class education for the students of Potsdam Central School District. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if there is ever anything I can do to enhance your child’s experience at PCS. My email is and I can be reached by phone at 265-2000 ext. 733.

Best wishes for a happy and successful school year.



Joann Chambers
Superintendent of Schools