Neighbors, staff, and community leaders came to a reception to wish Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Dennis Lauro well on his retirement on Dec. 31, 2012.
Proclamations from the two villages, the town of Pelham, Senator Klein and Assembly Woman Amy Paulin were presented.
Dr. Lauro joined the Pelham School District in 1996 as Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel and was promoted to Assistant Superintendent and later Deputy Superintendent before being named Superintendent in August, 2008.
Numerous changes occurred during his tenure:
• Enrollment grew in the Pelham Schools by almost 900 students, a 44% increase requiring the hiring of more teachers and building more classrooms in a Middle School addition;
• Technology revolutionized teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom, from Smart Boards and document cameras to iPads and laptops;
• The District’s commitment to excellence resulted in national and regional awards for students in a range of subjects such as Forensics/Speech, Science, Math, History, Writing, Sports and the Arts;
• School community partnerships grew, including with PACT (a PTA sub-group which focuses on helping youth make good choices), the Pelham Education Foundation, and the Picture House and new and ongoing programs with groups such as Civics Association, Junior League, the Art Center, and Rotary, all to address needs of students.
At the same time, state and federal mandates increased and an economic crisis capped the growth of school budgets, putting more demands on schools.
Dr. Lauro played a key role in positioning Pelham Schools well for all these changes. His own interest and expertise in the area of technology contributed to the District’s slow, steady build up of the right tools to improve education and the training of staff.
Initiatives such as developing electronic maps of the curriculum, K-12, allowed teachers to more effectively build and improve upon an aligned and coherent educational program.
Pelham’s own strong teacher evaluation program developed in 2000 and revisions to report cards in the elementary schools to measure more precisely what students know and are able to do also have allowed for a smooth transition to the demands of higher expectations today.
Dr. Lauro, who teaches school finances to administrators, has also been instrumental in ushering the district through the economic crisis, working with staff to renegotiate contracts and seeking cost savings while preserving programs in the annual budget.
Other goals was the addition of community service and a writing seminar as high school graduation requirements.
Dr. Lauro began his career in public education as a high school mathematics and computer science teacher, then as a mathematics and computer science department chairperson, before becoming director of the Northern Westchester/Putnam Teacher Center. Dr. Lauro was instrumental in getting the state teacher center program passed by the New York State Legislature while working for the New York State United Teachers in the 1980s.
He earned a bachelor of science and a master’s degree from Western Connecticut State University, a certificate in School Business Administration from State University College at New Paltz, and an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia.
Dr. Lauro will begin a new phase in his career upon retirement from Pelham when he will become Executive Director of the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, effective in January 2013.