The Pulaski Academy and Central School District’s 2013-14 school year motto “staying true to the crimson and blue” couldn’t be better exemplified than it is in PACS Middle School Principal Michael Bateson.
A nearly two-decade veteran of the district, Bateson takes the reins at the Middle School as principal, but according to him, not a lot of changes will be evident at first.
“The district is already going through so much change, with APPR, Common Core Learning Standards and implementing modules into the curriculum,” Bateson said.
One of the biggest challenges faced across New York State in education this year is the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards.
The middle school is adapting the CCLS modules into curriculum and Bateson said he wants to support staff with time to work through this change effectively and use the standards this year as a resource, incorporating modules into the district’s already focused, educational practices.
“A year from now,” he said, “we’ll look back and see how to integrate the successes into our best practices.”
Acknowledging that the middle school years are pivotal in a student’s educational life, Bateson plans to establish the middle school’s own identity.
“We are the most important time in a student’s life,” he said.
Statistics show that while many students get “hooked” on education during middle school, others begin a downward slide. Bateson’s goal for the school is to be recognized by the State Education Department as one of the top schools in the county, educationally as well as for good character.
He plans to expand upon the character education development begun by former principal Jean Lynch, where character traits were taught and reinforced each month.
“I plan to continue with the character education piece that Mrs. Lynch implemented,” he said.
But, he will also expand it to include an additional recognition for student behavior.
The middle school will develop a character club this year with teachers selecting students from their class who best exemplify the month’s character trait along with special recognitions for those in “character club.”
Bateson grew up in Whitesboro and attended college at Mohawk Valley Community College, transferring to SUNY Cortland where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree, and continued, to earn a Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in Administration from SUNY Oswego.
“I knew I wanted to teach right out of the gate,” he said, crediting his fondness for education to some high school and college teachers he had.
His high school English teacher, who he calls “phenomenal,” inspired him to study English.
Bateson taught English for 19 years, nearly all of the time in the Pulaski district where he also served as class advisor, coached several sports, and coordinated many other co-curricular activities.
The opportunity to support the middle school staff prompted Bateson’s move into administration.
“We need good people to step into leadership roles and help where they can,” he said. “I knew I could have a wider spread and impact on the students.”
When asked about the perceived downside of administration: discipline, he answered, “Some of the most powerful conversations I have had in my 19 years of education have come in the process of discipline.”
The district administration and middle school staff have been tremendous according to Bateson who said the district represents “a true sense of community.”
“Everyone has been phenomenal,” he said, “The support has been incredible.”
Bateson praised the district leadership with Dr. Marshall who has been incredibly supportive of his ideas, the entire middle school staff, and his fellow administrators in the district who have allowed him to “pick their brains” as he plans for the coming school year.
Bateson makes his home in Brewerton with his wife and two children.
He can be reached at the middle school office at 315-298-6001.