by Amanda Loviza
TOWN OF FALLSBURG — It’s that time of year—backpacks are loaded, empty hallways start buzzing, and teachers bid farewell to their quiet time. Time to go back to school, and local teachers and administrators are feeling the excitement.
Dr. Keith Pomakoy, newly appointed Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at SUNY Sullivan, had only been on campus a few days when classes began Aug. 28. He rushed to start his new post just so he could be there when the semester started.
“I really love seeing the students come on campus,” Dr. Pomakoy said.
Faculty and staff put in long hours to prepare the buildings and grounds, organize curriculum and get technology up and running before a new school year, Dr. Pomakoy said, but they always consider it well worth it. SUNY Sullivan kicked off its new year with orientation and a barbecue welcome event at Morningside Park, and the semester got off to a smooth, excited start.
“It seems that the mood is contagious and the mood is very positive,” Dr. Pomakoy said. “It says a lot about the faculty.”
In the Fallsburg Central School District, Benjamin Cosor Elementary School is kicking off a special year, celebrating its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, teachers and students in the Positive Behavior Intervention Services Program (PBIS) and the Nature Trail Club organized a school-wide effort to paint rocks for an anniversary display. The school will also collect memorabilia from alumni to continue creative celebrations of the anniversary throughout this year.
At The Center for Discovery’s four school campuses, each school year involves new logistical and organizational challenges keeping up with New York State Education Department requirements and coordinating with the many school districts that send students to TCFD. The pace at The Center “tends to be fast and furious,” said Kerri Muzuruk, head of TCFD’s Sports and Social Academy, so she loves to see the staff come back from their two-week summer break full of new energy.
“It is always so energizing to see the new and fresh ideas each teacher and their staff bring with them when they return,” Ms. Muzuruk said, adding that many teachers stopped to see her and talk about their latest plans in the days before school started. “It’s really great to see the expertise and creativity come to life.”
Across the four TCFD schools, which have students aged 5 to 21, new projects range from adopting classrooms in Texas to send needed supplies to enriched science curriculum to employment training in the community. Tom Mead, head of the Thanksgiving Farm and Community School, is excited to see his first student start employment training. Harvest time on the farm is also exciting for everyone. Students collect and sort apples and eggs, weed the crops and package farm products that The Center sells.
“It’s always exciting to see how excited the students are to get back,” Mr. Mead said.
As Dr. Pomakoy gets used to walking the grounds of SUNY Sullivan, he said he can feel that Sullivan County is heading places, and it’s exciting to be a part of it. Community colleges are a place where he often sees young parents guiding their small children around campus with them, and he loves knowing that the school and parents are inspiring children to pursue their own education.
“We have the ability to transform people’s lives,” Dr. Pomakoy said.