By Elizabeth Riggs
New ECS Superintendent Bob Miller first started working in the Ellicottville School District in July 2005 as the Middle School/High School Principal. On July 1, he began his term as the Superintendent, filling the shoes of former Superintendent Mark Ward, who retired after 42 years in education.
As the torch is passed from one leader to the next, many may be wondering what is in store for the district so well known for their tradition of educational excellence. This week we sat down with Mr. Miller to talk about his plans for the upcoming school year, his approach to the new position, and what students and families can expect from Superintendent Miller.
What are you looking forward to in your first year as superintendent?
Continuing the tradition of excellence for which ECS is known. I’m looking forward to working with staff throughout the entire district to ensure that students are receiving a quality education. This will include, but is not limited to: “unpacking” and analyzing the revised Next Generation Standards (formerly the Common Core Standards); determining what we need to do to meet and exceed these standards; gearing up for the NYS switch to two days of testing for 3-8 ELA and Mathematics exams; and introducing and using the “new” CA BOCES science kits in the elementary classes.
What can people expect to see in the way you will lead the school, versus the way Mr. Ward did? What will the differences be?
I do not anticipate major changes in this area. I worked with Mr. Ward for the past nine years and learned many valuable lessons about leading a school district. During my time with Mr. Ward, I learned about the importance of building relationships with people, letting them know that we are all working hard for the benefit of students. When you have built such relationships, people feel comfortable approaching you with ideas, thoughts, concerns, etc. I want people to know that they can approach me. I might make some different decisions when presented with them, but that’s to be expected with any position.
Do you have any big initiatives or changes in the works?
As a first-year superintendent, I don’t foresee making any major changes. ECS is an academic leader in Western New York. As opposed to making lots of changes, I will be focusing on ways to ensure that the district continues to be an educational leader.
What are you hoping to learn during your first year as a superintendent?
I look forward to learning as much as I can in this position, as it is different than being the MS/HS Principal. While there are some similarities between the two positions, there are many more differences. I’m having to look at the bigger picture now … the entire district, not just the middle school and high school. For example, in the past I had to worry about a small part of the budget process. This year, I will have to work with all aspects of the entire budget. Another example would be ensuring that we are getting teachers what they need for instruction from a curriculum standpoint. Again, over the past nine years, I have focused on grades 6-12. Now I need to be aware of changes to curriculum from pre-K through 12. I will now get to see the “whole” curriculum picture across all grade levels.
Is there any information you’d like to share with the families and parents in the district?
In the end, I’m still Bob Miller. Sure, I’m in a new position and office. But, I will still work hard to ensure the success of students at ECS. My “door” as a Principal was always open for students, staff and parents, and my “door” as the Superintendent will continue to stay open. I want people to know that they can still talk to me about ideas, thoughts, concerns, etc.
What will you miss about being a principal?
The day to day interaction with students. While I can still ensure that I make time to interact with students, there will be times when I will not be able to interact with them as much as I did in the past. On a related note, I will get to interact more with the elementary students. This is a change that I’m truly looking forward to— interacting with all students in the District.