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Welcoming new faces to the BKW Central School District

If you see these new faces around BKW, be sure to say hello and welcome them to the district! Here are the four newest members of BKW district staff...

 

Brian 'Jeff' Keller, Dean of Students/Director of Athletics

Jeff KellerBrian Jeff Keller returned to the district in February as Dean of Students – a position he previously held at BKW. He is also the new Director of Athletics. He says he is excited about coming back to BKW “because of the community, students, and faculty/staff that we have here and how close of a community it is.”

This is Brian’s third year as an educational administrator after teaching high school social studies for nine years. It is also his fourth year serving as an athletic director. Brian has coached multiple sports and at all levels during his career from modified to varsity.

What are your immediate goals in the district?

“To help the entire community increase the quality of education that our students here already receive.”

 

 

Amy Santandrea, Director of Transportation

Amy SantandreaAmy Santandrea joined BKW in December as Director of Transportation. She started her career in pupil transportation in 1991 as a school bus driver with the South Colonie Central School District.

Amy began attending college in her 30's to study law. But after having her first child, she took a few years off from work to be home with her new baby. During this time, she was fortunate to have a long-term Director of Transportation from an area school district mentored her. That led to Amy being hired as the Transportation Coordinator for Northeast Parent & Child Society in 2006. After gaining some experience and learning the federal and state laws and regulations, Amy decided she wanted to get back into a school district because “that's where my roots are.”

Why do you like working in education and for BKW?

I've loved school buses ever since I was a little girl and knew that I would someday become a school bus driver. As my career progressed, I realized that I wanted to be in the management end of pupil transportation because that's where I would have the most impact and be able to do the most good. Once a person is a school bus driver, all of the children become "their children" so I not only have two of my own, I also have about 1,000 others here at BKW!

What are your immediate goals in the district?

One of my biggest goals is to get the current bus routing system that the district has in place to be used to its optimum capabilities; when we get this completed it will be a great tool for this department. Another goal that I am working on is to bring school bus safety into the elementary classroom and have it as a yearly refresher. If we start when the passengers are young, then safety knowledge will stay with them as they grow older. I also want to work with the bus drivers on roads where passing motorists run through our bus red lights. In order to make it an all around safe environment for everyone, it will require a team effort with the Transportation Department, passengers, parents, law enforcement and other motorists on the roads.

 

David Thomas, Information Technology Supervisor

David ThomasDavid Thomas became BKW’s new Information Technology Supervisor in January. He has 15 years experience in the IT field, working 11 of those years with the BOCES Northeast Regional Information Center (NERIC). While with NERIC he worked part time at BKW since 2012, and helped build NERIC’s mobile communications service from the ground up.

Why do you like working in education and for BKW?

I like supporting the people that teach our children. Teaching is a job I couldn't do and I have a ton of respect for the men and women that choose to be teachers. I think it is important to give them the tools they need to teach 21st century ideas to 21st century students. I love walking into the schools and seeing the teachers, support staff and students every morning. There is a real sense of community here that you don't often see in the bigger schools.

What are your immediate goals in the district?

The IT network here is in better shape now than it has been but there is still room for improvement. I have many ideas about what we should do but I think it's important to gather information and ideas from others as well. In January when I started full time, we introduced a Technology Committee made up of teachers, administrators and the IT staff to help make decisions and drive discussions of where we need technology in the classroom. I try to look at every decision we make here in terms of how does this benefit the students? After all, our overriding goal is producing graduates that are prepared to enter the world.

 

Darlene Thurber, Fifth Grade Teacher, BKW Elementary School

Darlene ThurberDarlene Thurber joined BKW in December as a fifth grader teacher at the Elementary School. She earned a master’s degree in Childhood Education from Sage Graduate School and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Siena College. At Siena she received the Outstanding Performance in the Field of Psychology Award and was nominated for Psychology Highest Honors Award.

Prior to coming to BKW, Darlene was an elementary school teacher in the Schenectady City School District since 2007 at Elmer Avenue and Zoller elementary schools. At Schenectady she served on committees for school technology, curriculum analysis and development, and PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support).

Why do you like working in education and for BKW?

I am so excited to work at BKW! The parent support and involvement is outstanding! Being an educator fulfills me. It has always been a passion of mine to help children learn. Building strong, trusting relationships with students and their families is so important for learning. I strive to make a difference in children's lives. My favorite part of teaching is when the "light bulb" turns on, and the smile appears on the child's face. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that I have helped that child feel successful.

What are your immediate goals in the district?

My immediate goals are to settle in to BKW, get to know my students better along with their families, get to know the faculty, and continue to learn how to contribute to this excellent school district.