By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — The school district is expected to hire a new principal at RCS High School at this week’s board of education meeting.
The board held a special virtual meeting Sept. 6 to interview candidate Ryan Funck, who is currently the principal of Hunter-Tannersville Middle/High School in Greene County.
Current RCS High School Principal Dr. Lisa Patierne announced in late July that she will retire Oct. 28 from the post she has held for the past six years. The district launched a hiring committee in August to identify her replacement.
“We had 16 to 18 candidates apply for the position,” District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey said. “We met as a small committee and we decided on what our priorities are for the building and then included that in our posting. Ryan [Funck] was one of the five candidates that we had come in for the interview process, which began almost three weeks ago. We’re very impressed by him.”
The board is expected to hire Funck by a resolution at its Sept. 14 meeting this week. If Funck is hired at the meeting, he would start working at the high school around Oct. 23, Bailey said.
“We would have a week of overlap so that he could spend that week with the outgoing principal and get a more intimate experience in understanding some of the things that we’re working on,” Bailey said.
Funck attended the Sept. 6 virtual meeting and outlined his professional experiences for the board.
“This is my fourth year as a middle school/high school principal at Hunter-Tannersville,” Funck said. “Prior to being the principal, I was a math/business teacher at Hunter for 11 years, so I have dual certification in math and business. I taught about 50/50, more leaning towards math in the later stages of my teaching career.”
In addition to teaching, Funck said he advised classes, did fundraisers and coached three sports in the district — soccer, basketball and baseball — later narrowing his focus to coaching girls’ varsity basketball, which he did for about eight years before taking on the role of principal.
Before teaching at Hunter-Tannersville, Funck started out his career teaching at Delaware Academy in Delhi for three years.
In addition to dual teaching certification, Funck also has school district leader certification.
RCS Board of Education member William McFerran asked about how visible Funck would be at the high school should he be appointed principal.
“I think one of the things the board has asked for improvement in is the visibility of the principal,” McFerran said. “What is your philosophy on getting out and meeting the kids, being visible and present in the building, whether it be for in-school activities or even extracurricular activities. I think the presence of the principal is big, at least to myself, and I want to hear your thoughts on it.”
Funck responded that visibility is an important factor for a principal.
“I would agree that visibility is key for sure. I do my best to be at as much as I can possibly be,” said Funck. “I am a father of three children and they are just getting into sports as well. But I agree there’s no better way to connect with a student than being visible at things outside of school, things that they’re interested in inside of the school — sporting events, concerts, plays, clubs, all that stuff. If you were to call the school where I work now and ask how visible I am, that’s a big part of who I am.”
Funck said his three young children — ages 4, 6 and 8 — sometimes accompany him and his wife to outdoor sporting events.
“Their mom actually graduated from Ravena, so we’ve been to track meets and stuff like that here,” Funck said. “They enjoy the outside events, and they’re going to enjoy the swimming pool for sure. They did swimming lessons there when they were little… so I’m pretty familiar with the area.”
Board of Education President Teddy Reville asked about Funck’s approach to mentoring teachers.
“One of the challenges with being a school leader or principal is we have teachers that are brand new with one, two, three years of experience, and we have teachers that have 25 or 30 years of experience,” Reville said. “They teach in different ways and they need to be mentored in different ways. What kind of approach do you have when it comes to that?”
Funck said he enables teachers to “be who they are,” but also encourages them to try new things.
“I think the worst that we can do is go in and try to change somebody personality-wise,” he said. “I challenge teachers to try new things. I think there’s no better way to grow than to try something that they’ve seen or try something that they’ve heard or seen other people do.”
For mentoring, Funck said he likes to pair teachers with a mentor who will encourage them to try new things.
“When I pick mentors, I don’t like to pair somebody with somebody that is completely like them because then they’re not going to go outside of their comfort zone. They’re going to do the things that they’re used to doing,” he said. “I like to pair teachers and mentor teachers so that they’re willing to take that risk, whether it’s trying a different technology or trying something in the classroom that they may not have [done before.]”.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Fred Engelhardt asked Funck to explain the WISE program implemented at Hunter-Tannersville that Engelhardt thought would align well with the mission of the RCS district.
“It’s an individualized senior experience — it’s an internship/research thing that seniors can partake in,” Funck said.
The program can replace credits the senior student would earn in government/economics and English 12, and teams them up with a professional in the community who works in a field the student thinks they may be interested in. They attend meetings and write journal entries about their internship, and at the end of the program the student makes a presentation about their experience.
For some participating students, they learn first-hand about a field they decide is in their future; for others, they find out the field does not appeal to them. Both are valuable experiences and results, Funck said.
The board of education is expected to vote on Funck’s appointment at its Wednesday meeting.