BOCES principal receiving state honor

BOCES Principal Paul Mihalko

ASHVILLE — Chautauqua County can boast another accolade in the education scene, as a local principal has been named among the best in the state.

Paul Mihalko was chosen as the Secondary School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). He will receive the award at a ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 5:50 p.m., at the Creekside Banquet Facility on Union Road in Buffalo.

“I’ve been to awards ceremonies on the other side of it,” Mihalko said, referring to witnessing other colleagues and peers receiving recognition. “… but it feels funny being on the other side when you’re going to get an award.”

Mihalko is the Career and Technical Education Principal for Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES. He is based at the Hewes BOCES center in Ashville.

Mihalko took a leadership role in many ways throughout his life even before pursuing a career in education. After graduating from the LoGuidice Center in 1988, Mihalko was a foreman and a production manager at several auto shops, including operating his own, which he is able to bring as hands-on experience in the career and technical field.

Submitted Photo BOCES Principal Paul Mihalko, center, was named the High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State. He is pictured with his staff at the Hewes BOCES center in Ashville.

Mihalko is a graduate of SUNY Fredonia’s Educational Leadership and Administration program. Mihalko left BOCES to be a Middle/High School Principal at Pine Valley Central School, then eventually returned to BOCES to lead its Career and Technical Education program.

Joe Pagan, Campus Principal at the Philip J. LoGuidice Educational Center for Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, said of Mihalko, “He’s just such a hard worker. … He gets things done for his people. He takes care of his people.”

Pagan is the President of the Principal/Supervisors Association. He has been a mentor to Mihalko throughout his career in education. Mihalko completed his administrative internship under Pagan, and also worked with him as a teacher.

“Pagan was one of my mentors,” Mihalko said, highlighting the structure Pagan implements and the culture he fosters at BOCES as the main things he learned from working at his side.

Mihalko leads with a philosophy of, “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.” He focuses on attitude and attendance with the students and staff, prioritizing treating his staff as people first, then as employees.

“Once you care for the individual, the other stuff will come,” Mihalko said. “… When they know that you care and you (value) their input, then they are putting things together to make things better. That’s empowerment. They take ownership of it, and that’s what is happening here.”


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