OSWEGO, NY – When Erin Noto stepped down as principal of Oswego High School earlier this year, the district didn’t have to look too far for a successor.
At a special meeting Thursday, the board of education approved Dr. Heidi Sweeney to take the reins at OHS starting next week.
Born and raised in Oswego she graduated from Oswego High School.
She attended SUNY Oswego for her bachelors (and masters). Later, she earned her doctorate from Walden University and a CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study) from SUNY Stoneybrook.
A move to Florida was rather short-lived.
“We moved to Florida for a few years and came back. Didn’t like the weather; I really like winter,” Dr. Sweeney explained. “I missed it a lot. I missed the seasons. So my husband and I returned to Oswego to raise our family.”
She said she was “just fortunate enough after a few years” to have finished her masters degree in education and took over teaching for Pete Myles (currently the district’s personnel director) during his leave of absence that year.
“He was my biology teacher in high school,” she told Oswego County Today. “I have just been blessed since then to a part of the Oswego City School District.”
She was a biology teacher and then last year took the dean of students position in the spring and now is currently the interim assistant principal (at OHS).
“Applications were submitted over the summer and the process has been going since then,” she said. “I had committee interviews and follow-ups with the superintendent.”
The appointment feels surreal, she noted following the board’s unanimous vote (members Sam Tripp and Tom DeCastro were absent).
“It’s an amazing idea to think that I am going to lead the high school that I graduated from,” she said. “To me that’s awesome. It’s a little surreal. It’s definitely a surreal moment for me. My son is in sixth grade and our older son just graduated this past June.”
“I really firmly believe in providing the best educational opportunity to our students. We have a number of students who live in various states of need here in our city. We need to ensure that they are college and career ready before they leave us,” she added.
Dr. Sweeney is scheduled to start her new duties on Oct. 13 at a salary of $92,500. Her tenure date is Oct. 13, 2019.
“It’s hard to tell people to trust you until you’ve made yourself trustworthy. I think the fact that I am a product of this community will speak to that,” she said. “I’ve been in the district for 15 years. I have held a lot of various roles and worked with the district in different capacities. So, I think that I bring that level of trust, at least with our faculty, to the table. And, hopefully, parents and students who knew me as a teacher will see this transition as a positive one.”
She has been a teacher since 2001, getting her start substituting for a teacher’s two maternity leaves.
“I taught French, passably, I believe. But certainly not my forte at the time. Then I was really happy to be able to start teaching biology and English,” she said. “I had continued to take French during college. There were a couple of maternity leaves and they needed someone who could speak French and do the job and I did it.”
“Dr. Sweeney has worked for the district for a number of years as an educator and moved to the high school administrative staff as dean of students last year and recently as interim assistant principal,” Superintendent Ben Halsey said. “She’s a proven talented educator and decision maker. We feel she’ll have long-term success as principal and bring some stability to the position.”
There were more than 20 candidates originally and they went through an interview and review process by committees and stakeholders.
“The finalists met with me and I selected Dr. Sweeney. The board approved my choice this morning,” the superintendent said, adding that now, the district will look to fill the assistant principal position.