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Knight moves: Turnover continues to mount at Silver Creek

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Silver Creek Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston, left, recognized Mary Williams, right, for her service to the district at a meeting earlier this school year. Williams has since resigned from her role as Native American Education Program Coordinator.

SILVER CREEK — Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston did not have a stress-free first year at Silver Creek. In addition to adapting to her new role at a new district, several notable resignations within her first year made things even more challenging.

The latest of such resignations was accepted at a recent Board of Education meeting, as Mary Williams resigned from the role of Native American Education Program Coordinator.

“I’m sad to see Mary go,” Ralston said. “She did wonderful things for our students and for our community. We were very lucky to have her as part of Silver Creek for the time that she was.”

While at Silver Creek, Williams led the implementation of the district’s Indigenous Honor Society, which held its first Induction Ceremony a year ago. Williams was responsible for writing and implementing the district’s Title VI grant and was the facilitator of the Title VI Parent Committee.

The position of Native American Education Program Coordinator was established as a full-time role earlier this year by the Board of Education. It was previously a part-time position. Ralston noted that the position was increased to a full-time role in the district to “build the program and the connections that we know that we need.”

Several key figures of the Silver Creek Central School District have resigned in the past year since Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston took over. Ralston said no one factor has contributed to the recent departures.

Ralston stated the position will remain as a full-time position, with the hope that a qualified candidate can be added to the team prior to next school year.

“I’m very hopeful that we will fill that position with someone who knows and understands Silver Creek, and is excited to work on that partnership with us,” Ralston said.

Williams departs on “good terms”, but even so, key departures have been mounting at the district within the past year. Since Ralston took over as District Superintendent last summer, the district has had several key resignations, including Business Administrator Lisa Rohloff and High School Principal Kyle Yelich, which each came since the calendar flipped to 2024.

The district also recently accepted the resignation of High School Science Teacher Zachary Colson and Clerk II Chelsea Ardillo. Both departures came with positive reviews of the district.

“My time at Silver Creek will certainly be a profoundly positive experience from my educational career. I wish the district nothing but continued success,” Colson said in his letter of resignation.

In her resignation, Ardillo said, “Silver Creek has been more than accommodating during my initial diagnosis and has shown me that as a community, Silver Creek cares.”

Ralston stated that no one factor has led to so many key departures within the past year, and also felt that none of the departures are tied to each other. “Each person resigned for their own reasons,” Ralston said.

Ralston speculated the desire for progression within the field of education is partly to blame for the recent departures.

“People are looking to grow, and people are looking to expand their own experience and their own repertoire. Sometimes, that’s not in the same place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that leaving means things were bad or there is a problem. Leaving sometimes also means opportunity for the right change at the right time,” Ralston said.

Even though many employees are leaving the district, a few have recently reached a permanent milestone to commemorate their commitment to staying within the district. Three Silver Creek employees recently received tenured status at the district: Lisa Anderson, Art Teacher; Nicholas Gerard, School Psychologist; and Michelle Helmer, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Integration. Additionally, Lisa Izzio was granted a permanent appointment as Transportation Supervisor.

Anderson was commended by Elementary Principal Heather Krystofiak for her “student-centered approach that encourages students to cultivate critical and creative thinking skills.”

Krystofiak also highlighted Anderson’s work with the art club and annual art shows to exhibit student work. “Overall, she is a well-respected individual in (the) elementary school. Students love attending her class and it shows in their continuous high academic performance. Mrs. Anderson has a positive impact on all our student populations and throughout the building,” Krystofiak added.

Director of Special Education Megan Cook recommended Gerard for tenure, due in part to the fact that “he always approaches each day with a positive attitude.” Cook also highlighted Gerard has served as the department chairperson for the district’s social and emotional staff this school year. Cook stated that Gerard “contributes greatly to the positive school climate and culture.”

Helmer was recommended for tenure by Ralston, who has worked closely with her since Ralston took over as Superintendent last summer. “Since my first day at Silver Creek, Michelle Helmer’s genuine love for learning and unwavering dedication to the Black Knight community has been evident. She makes a point to connect with all colleagues, regardless of position, and her kind and caring demeanor is evident,” Ralston said. “… Leaders like Michelle Helmer add to all that the Silver Creek aims to be. We have been blessed to have her and will continue to see the benefit of her work for years to come.”

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