Catholic Courier

Posted: February 20, 2009

Last Updated: February 1, 2010

Finger Lakes Catholic schools go through transitions in leadership

By Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier

The next few months will be a transition period for two Catholic schools in the Finger Lakes region.
 
At the end of the school year Dr. James Tette will retire from his position as principal at St. Michael School in Penn Yan and will be replaced by David Paddock, former principal of Fairport High School. Meanwhile, Martin Cox, principal at DeSales High School in Geneva, recently left his post for another position, and former vice principal Scott Redding is leading the school as interim principal.
 
Tette, who earned his doctorate at SUNY Buffalo, served the Penn Yan school for four years, and under his leadership the school's enrollment has increased each year. When he became principal in mid-July 2005 there were only 61 students enrolled in preschool through fifth grade at St. Michael, he told the Catholic Courier, but by the beginning of the 2008-09 school year enrollment had risen to 110 students. During Tette's tenure the school also adopted a five-year strategic plan and launched a $1.25 million capital campaign in honor of the school's 125th anniversary in 2007.
 
"I have loved being principal. The children are wonderful, parents and friends are supportive, and the teachers are just the best," Tette said.
 
Nonetheless, Tette and his wife, Sharan, recently began to think it might be time for Tette to retire and spend more quality time with his family. This was a tough decision, he said, but it was made easier when an interested candidate for the position stepped forward from the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community, which comprises churches in Dundee, Naples, Penn Yan, Prattsburgh, Rushville and Stanley.
 
Paddock has lived in Penn Yan for 30 years, according to a press release from St. Michael, and his first teaching assignments were in the Penn Yan and Branchport elementary schools.
 
"He is a Penn Yan resident, a member of St. Michael's church and open and welcoming person," Tette wrote in a Feb. 8 column in the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community's bulletin.
 
Paddock has experience as both a teacher and an administrator. He served as an administrative assistant in the Kendall School District from 1987-90, assistant principal at Newark High School from 1990-91 and principal of Newark High School from 1991-95. He then served as principal of Fairport High School from 1995-2008, and in 2006 the School Administrators Association of New York State named him New York State High School Principal of the Year.
 
"David Paddock is an educator par excellence and his presence at St. Michael's will be a tremendous asset as he carries on the marvelous success of James Tette," diocesan superintendent of schools Anne Willkens Leach said in a statement.
 
Paddock said he's honored to be able to lead the Penn Yan school.
 
"I am ... looking forward to the challenge of continuing and advancing the outstanding academic and community-service traditions of St. Mike's," he said.
 
Although he will retire from his position as principal, Tette doesn't plan to give up his association with the school, and said he and his wife will continue to pray for and be involved with the school community.
 
"We will stay connected to the school and it will stay in our hearts," he wrote in his bulletin column. "It has been a true blessing for both Sharan and me to know and serve the faculty and the families of the school. Truly, they and the members of the OLOL community have brought us much joy."
 
The DeSales High School community also brought joy to Cox, who left to take a new position, effective Jan. 5, as superintendent of schools for the Fillmore Central School District in Allegany County. Cox, who also will serve as principal for the kindergarten through fourth grades in the Fillmore district, said he's grateful for the gifts DeSales' students, teachers, staff, parents and alumni shared with him each day.
 
"My time here at DeSales has given me memories I will cherish for a lifetime," Cox said in a statement. "DeSales is not just a high school, but rather a family."
 
Cox, who had been principal at DeSales since the fall of 2007, said he is confident the school will continue to progress under Redding's leadership. Redding, who has been a DeSales faculty member for 10 years, was appointed interim principal by the school's board of trustees because he is an advocate for the students and is well-respected by the faculty and the rest of the school community, said Samuel Casella, president of the board of trustees.
 
"He is the natural choice to lead us through this transition period, and we are very confident in his ability," Casella said.
 
In his decade with DeSales Redding has served as a biology and earth-science teacher, dean of discipline, and vice principal, and in 2005 was included in Who's Who Among America's Teachers.
 
"I'm looking forward to this responsibility with great excitement," Redding said. "The opportunity to continue advancing DeSales in a positive direction is a challenge I embrace and look forward to with great excitement."

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