After 19 years of teaching 8th grade social studies at Goff Middle School, Patty Farnan is returning to her alma mater Columbia High School to serve as an assistant principal. Mrs. Farnan, who is replacing Martin Mahar, said she is excited for this new challenge.
Mrs. Farnan has a bachelor’s and master’s degree, both from Union College, and an administrative degree from SUNY Albany.
We sat down with Mrs. Farnan this week to learn more about her and her new responsibilities.
Q: Why did you want this job?
A: I love the kids and I love teaching. This was an opportunity to affect positive change at a broader level. In addition to still interacting with students, I can interact with younger teachers, offer them my perspective and help them as well.
Q: What are some of your duties as assistant principal?
A: I will be the 9th grade principal. I will be involved with the APEX credit recovery program, jump start and the distance learning program. I will be evaluating teachers and I’ll be a part of several district-wide committees. My first big project will be the freshmen orientation on August 24th.
Q: What are your responsibilities as principal of the freshmen?
A: My job is to make the transition to high school easier for them. I’m here as their ally, their supporter. I have a unique perspective in that I taught over half of those kids last year. I’ve already developed relationships with those kids and their parents so we can build upon that.
Q: What are you most looking forward to?
A: I know it’s going to be challenging, but I’m excited for the opportunity to deal with students in a different way. All of the decisions I make are student-centered. What we’re doing here is trying to achieve success for every kid. And I’ll be in a support role to move them forward – not as their teacher, but as an advocate for them.
We have a great staff here and a great administrative team. I have a lot to learn but I’m excited about it.
Q: What made this a good fit for you?
A: I’ve lived here most of my life so I’m invested in the community. This is the job that I wanted. I had opportunities to go other places, but I want to be here where I know many people in the community. I’m a product of this environment. I moved back here when my daughter was going into kindergarten because I wanted her to have similar experiences that I had.
Q: How has your teaching career and your experiences prepared you for this?
A: Middle school has been my wheelhouse for 20 years. And 8th graders and 9th graders are not all that different. When students come into middle school they enter as dependent learners and the goal is to make them independent learners as they move on to Columbia. But they still need help and support moving in that direction.
Having kids in that age group, too, I can empathize with parents. I’m not just talking lip service. I have a 10th grader, an 8th grader and a 5th grader so I’m living high school and middle school right along with them.