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Hudson’s newest principals laud district’s diversity


HUDSON–Hudson High School is getting a new principal and a new associate principal. Robert LaCasse will become principal on November 23, after five years as associate principal under Principal Antonio Abitabile, who is leaving to become Superintendent of Lansingburgh Central School District. Replacing Mr. LaCasse as associate principal will be William Wood, who has taught in other school districts. Both Mr. LaCasse and Mr. Wood noted the significance of Hudson’s cultural diversity, in recent telephone interviews.

Born and raised in the Hudson City School District, Mr. LaCasse has worked for the district 20 years as a teacher, sports coach, and administrator. He graduated from Hudson High School in 1994, got a BA in Education at SUNY Cortland, and an MA at the College of St. Rose.

In 1999, he returned to the district, teaching ELA (English Language Arts) and social studies to 6th graders. In 2000, he started coaching junior varsity baseball; in 2002 he started teaching global studies to 9th and 10th graders; and in 2003 he started coaching varsity football. He continued coaching baseball until 2012, when he became dean of students, and continued coaching football until 2014, when he became associate principal of the high school. He now lives in Rensselaer County; his wife works north of Albany.

“Education is a pretty dynamic profession,” Mr. LaCasse said November 6. “We’re always looking to improve ourselves.” In addition, an overall goal is to “get our kids ready for careers.”

One of his first concerns as principal will be to wrap up the district’s 2020 goals and work with Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier and the Board of Education to create new goals. “I definitely look forward to it,” he said.

Comparing today’s students to “when I was a kid is not valid,” because of all the technological changes since then, Mr. LaCasse said, adding, “Technology is a blessing and a curse.”

What is an eye-opener for him is “how much our students have on their plate outside of school; what the kids bring here. Our district is so unique, so different from the districts around us. We focus on our community, the diversity of our community, working to develop an understanding of each other.” The multicultural festival, where people celebrate their backgrounds, is a good example.

Mr. LaCasse observed that he and Mr. Abitabile graduated from Hudson High School together in the same class, but Mr. Wood will be the first person for such a position from outside the Hudson City School District in a long time.

Mr. Wood, reached November 7, said that he is from Long Island, majored in English and minored in Italian at SUNY Albany, got an MA in Teaching at the College of St. Rose, and took a School Building Leadership Program at SUNY Albany. He taught English at Canajoharie High School, and went on to teach English and global studies at the Adirondack Academy, an alternate school for middle and high school students who have shown a need for a non-traditional educational setting, in Johnstown. In addition, Mr. Wood said, he has been a musician since he was eight, when he started playing the double bass. He has been performing live since he was 14, playing guitar and singing. Currently, Mr. Wood lives in Rensselaer County with his wife and daughters, ages 2 and 4.

What attracted Mr. Wood to Hudson was both its “diversity, the mix of cultures and traditions” and its vibrant music scene. “There’s a lot of positive change happening in Hudson,” he said. “I look forward to being part of the growth. I’m really thrilled to be part of this community. “

Mr. Wood’s first official day with Hudson High will be December 9.

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