ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The Rochester Board of Education has selected Terry Dade as the district’s next superintendent.
In a statement, Board of Education President Van White says, “Mr. Dade looks forward to joining the RSCD community. His professional experience speaks volumes to the quality of leadership that he will bring to the District, where he is eager to begin serving students, families, and staff.”
Dade comes to Rochester from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. That district, which includes nearly 200 schools and centers, boasts a 91.5 percent on-time graduation rate.
Dade will be looking to bring that improvement to Rochester where graduation rates hit a ten-year high last year: 53.5 percent. School board vice president, Cynthia Elliott, said her personal goal is 100 percent graduation rate at RCSD. She is hoping the Rochester community embraces Dade with open arms.
“I’m hoping that the people in our district will work with him- and work with him for the benefit of ensuring that our students will succeed in school,” she said.
Rochester Teacher’s Association president, Adam Urbanski, said he hopes to see Dade take on day-to-day operations and rely on his own experiences and ideas.
“One of his challenges will be to successfully insist on the freedom to actually manage the district without any unnecessary micromanagement from other entities,” he said.
Speaking at a superintendent’s forum earlier this month, as the district mulled its final choices, Dade said he wants to put a focus on two critical periods of development for students.
First, a pivot year for students is ninth grade, Dade says statistics show. If students are engaged and regularly attending class at that point, Dade says that is a great predictor of future success. He wants to make sure there is plenty of support at that period.
Second, Dade says another big indicator of student success is youth literacy rates.
Dade told parents, “Even before we get to the high school experience, there are data points that we have here in the district that are telling us students will not be successful at the rates that we want.”
Dade explains, “Things like the number of students at the second grade level who are reading on grade level here in the district is below 20 percent. If you are not reading on grade level in second grade, the predictor across the nation is third-grade reading proficiency is a great indicator of future success.”
Dade will replace interim superintendent Dan Lowengard who took over for Barbara Deane-Williams after she stepped down earlier this year.
As superintendent, Dade will face the pressures outlined by state-appointed advisor Jaime Aquino. In reports, Aquino says board overreach has undermined previous district superintendents’ efforts. The district has also seen a high turnover rate for the job, with five superintendents serving Rochester in the last ten years.
Speaking at the school forum, Dade said he planned to stay with the district for at least five to ten years to get the job done.
As for working with the board, Dade says he will make it his priority to work with board members to focus on one goal: Helping students.
“It’s not any one group against another,” he explained. “It’s really: ‘How do I articulate a common purpose and a vision for the group that we’re serving.”
“As soon as it becomes about me, I need to find another position,” Dade later explained while recalling his first job as a principal. “It’s not about me. It’s not about any of the adults in this district. It’s about the students.”