CRARYVILLE--The Taconic Hills school board announced May 23 that it has chosen Taconic Hills Middle School Principal Dr. Neil Howard to replace departing Superintendent Mark Sposato. Dr. Howard will assume the post September 8.
“I am honored to be chosen by the Board of Education and look forward to a long and productive working relationship with the school community. I am excited about the opportunity to provide a leadership role in the educational experience of our community's children,” Dr. Howard said Wednesday.
When Dr. Sposato announced in December that he would leave the district, the board decided to do an in-house search and appointed a superintendent search advisory committee to work with the board. Sandra Gardner, Director of Instruction and Staff Development, and Elementary School Principal John V. Gulisane also applied for the job
Dr. Howard and his wife, Cybil Howard, business manager for the school district since 2010 and formerly a business teacher at the high school, live in Churchtown in Claverack with their two daughters, who attend Taconic Hills.
While principal at the Middle School, Dr. Howard initiated a curriculum mapping project and championed an anti-bullying initiative that included a revision of the district's code of conduct. During his four-year tenure, He also made it possible for parents to contact the school through an email system, extended the science fair to include the 6th grade, worked to reconfigure the middle school to start with 6th grade rather than 5th, offered introductory courses in agriculture, keyboarding, foreign language, character development and library skills to 6th grade students.
Although born into a family of educators, Dr. Howard, after graduation from Hudson High School and two years at the United States Naval Academy, decided to pursue training for a career as a chiropractor at Syracuse University and Texas Chiropractic. While developing his practice in Hudson, he taught physiology and anatomy at Columbia-Greene Community College. There he discovered he liked to teach and went back to school.
He received his MS in biology education from the University at Albany in 1995 and joined the faculty at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Middle School in Selkirk the following year. There he taught science classes, including living environment, physical science, health, biology and college-level anatomy and physiology. He received his certificate in school administration from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams in 1996. He rose to the position of dean, adding crisis management, grant applications and curriculum development to his teaching duties.
In 2005, while still working in Selkirk, Dr. Howard joined the Taconic Hills Middle School Shared Decision Making Team. In 2007, he ran for and was elected to the district's board of education.
Dr. Howard is a volunteer with the Churchtown Fire Department and sits on the County Youth Board.
Dr. Sposato called Dr. Howard a team player in 2008 at the time he was appointed Middle School principal. The new superintendent loves sports, including scuba diving. He has coached varsity football and baseball at Taconic Hills, Columbia-Greene Community College and other schools.
Dr. Sposato leaves at the end of the third year of his five-year contract. He gave the board eight months notice so that they would have time to choose a successor. His wife, Kathleen, formerly the director of infection control at Glens Falls Hospital, accepted a position at a hospital in Orlando.