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New Fredonia hires have community ties

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia Board of Education President Brian Aldrich, left, and Fredonia Superintendent Brad Zilliox listen as Megan Ferguson speaks prior to her approval as a full-time teaching assistant.

When looking to fill an open position, often it is not only about finding the best candidates, but also to make sure they are a great fit. With the hirings approved at the Fredonia Board of Education meeting earlier this week, the district has clearly leaned on a partnership with the local university to make sure that is the case.

“I know that we’ve had a partnership with Fredonia State students in several areas. If we can vet these people and we can see who the best ones are and entice them back in, that’s an excellent recruitment opportunity,” said Fredonia Board of Education President Brian Aldrich.

“That is definitely a theme in this round of hiring — people who attended SUNY Fredonia and had a positive experience and felt good about the community – and/or their student teaching experience, if not with us, also locally,” said Fredonia Superintendent Brad Zilliox. “That’s a credit to what Fredonia as a community is about.”

At this week’s board meeting, four teachers were appointed to probationary teaching positions commencing Aug. 31.

Kaylee Eaton was appointed as a Middle School Science teacher. She holds Initial Certification in Earth Science 7-12 and has been teaching Earth Science at Cattaraugus-Little Valley for the last three years. Eaton is part of the pattern of new hires who has plenty of Fredonia ties.

“Kaylee has a Bachelor’s from SUNY Fredonia and a Master’s from UB. … Since she was a SUNY Fredonia student, she did student teach here in 2019, at the middle school,” said Zilliox.

“That certainly brought another element to the interview process. … We’re excited. She is very positive, very upbeat, very friendly, welcoming personality.”

Another SUNY Fredonia graduate, Tyler Burkett, who is certified in Students with Disabilities Grades 1-6 and Childhood Education Grades 1-6, was board-approved as an elementary Special Education teacher, as well. Zilliox cited his experience in programs related to growing leadership skills in youth. “Tyler has energy and a personality that will fit in well at the elementary school.”

Also hired as a teacher for the elementary school was Amanda Russo, a graduate of SUNY Brockport with prior teaching experience in Grade 3. Russo is certified in Students with Disabilities Grades 1-6 and Child Education Grades 1-6. “Again, part of the things we were talking about with the candidates as much as their technical experience in teaching was also what is the energy, what is the attitude and what is the demeanor they will bring to our building, and Amanda is a great fit for the elementary school and for the district,” said Zilliox.

Lindsey Lauber, who has prior teaching experience at North Collins, Eden and Dunkirk, was approved for a Response to Intervention (RTI) position at Wheelock, in what Zilliox noted as not an added position, but rather a “slightly different way” of using the position. RTI is responsible for providing interventions for students based on strengths and weaknesses. Lauber is certified in Literacy B-6, Literacy 5-12, Students with Disabilities 1-6, and Childhood Education 1-6. “A great thing about Lindsey is she that is certified in multiple areas of literacy, early childhood and special education,” said Zilliox. “She really has a wide variety of professional development and training in her background. … We look forward to her working with our students at Wheelock.”

Along with the four new teachers hired, Fredonia filled two full-time Teaching Assistant positions. Megan Ferguson, who was previously a teacher aide at Fredonia, and William Wright, a retired teacher from Silver Creek, were appointed to those positions.

“I’m very excited. … I’ve enjoyed working here for two years as an aide. Working up to a teaching assistant, I was really diligent about going through the courses. I enjoyed going through it and I was excited to get the certification on the 20th of July,” said Ferguson, who was in attendance at the meeting and received applause from the board upon approval.

Katherine Rivera Cruz, Maria Marquez Aldarondo, Ariel Prowse and Anda Barreto were approved to Teacher Aide positions. “Sometimes it is the teacher aides or teaching assistants that are the unsung heroes of our classrooms and the work we do with students,” said Zilliox.

The Fredonia Board of Education also approved the resignation of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Jerome Bradigan for the purpose of retirement. Bradigan served the district for 20 years.

“We appreciate all (Bradigan) did for the district,” said Zilliox. “He is a positive presence, a hard-working guy. … Best of luck to him.”

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