In retirement, Conners will be missed for her 'passion'

FCSD Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Betsy Conners, standing, kicks off the 2019-2020 school year by briefing the board of education on the latest student test scores. Conners is slated to retire in August 2020. 

FULTON — Betsy Conners said she has “lots to do” in her final year as the Fulton City School District’s executive director of instruction and assessment.

Conners has announced that she will be retiring at the start of the 2020-2021 school year after more than three decades working in the district.

With the approval from the Fulton City School District (FCSD) Board of Education’s Tuesday vote, Conners made her retirement effective Aug. 31, 2020, giving district leaders the next 11 months to find and train a replacement to carry forward a hefty work portfolio.

“Her passion for our kids is matched by my own, so it’s really been a great partnership,” FCSD Superintendent Brian Pulvino said Wednesday. “She has been a really valuable resource of information and history.”

As the district rolls out its changes to instruction and assessment practices through the Strategic Coherence Plan over the next several school years, Pulvino said he’s hoping to start training a replacement for Conners in the early spring of 2020. This way, Pulvino said, her successor can learn directly from Conners and be ready to take over her expansive workload at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, when her retirement will go into effect.

“I want to continue to grow the implementation of our strategic coherence plan for our district, which covers literacy and instruction,” Conners said.

Conners’ 14-year tenure in the role as executive director of instruction and assessment has seen the development of a state-supported, district-wide universal pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program, whose cohort of students graduate at higher rates than the general student body.

“My greatest accomplishment would definitely be adding transportation to our UPK program,” Conners said. “I was involved in starting the UPK program. That was part of my internship I was under with (my predecessor) Superintendent Bill Lynch, when he was in the role I’m in now.”

Under her watch, all six FCSD schools have achieved “good standing” with New York state, a state Education Department status that recognizes attendance rates and standardized test scores.

Conners has also committed several school years to enhancing student support services to fit student needs and finding “ways for us to individualize the program for them in order to be successful.”

“It’s really a focus on the individual. We need to be making sure we’re looking at all kids,” she said. “I think another thing that I’m proud of is the professional development we offer our faculty. We offer a lot of opportunities for them that are on the cutting edge of their subjects.”

Conners began at the Fulton City School District (FCSD) as a kindergarten teacher at Lanigan Elementary School, fulfilling a “dream” of hers right out of college. After 13 years in the classroom, she became Lanigan’s principal, and in 2005 she transitioned to her current role in the office of instruction and assessment as its executive director.

“If you were to ask me what’s the thing I’m most proud of, it is building those relationships with the families,” she said. “And I’m proud to call Fulton my home.”

 

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