Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School Principal Michael Dardaris has been named the New York State High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).
This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS who has set the pace, character and quality of education for the students in their school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.
As the principal of the innovative HFM PTECH, Dardaris’ leadership goal has been to completely redefine not only what leadership looks like, but what learning looks like in the public school. Recognizing that vision alone cannot cultivate innovation and school change, Dardaris and his team worked collaboratively to transform the traditional educational system through teacher leadership and student empowerment. “As the school’s leader, Michael encourages teachers and students to take risks, and in doing so has fostered a student-driven culture in which teachers function more like coaches and students take ownership of their education,” HFM BOCES Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel said.
The PTECH program targets students who might not otherwise consider a college pathway and centers on a project-based curriculum focusing on professional skills in four career pathways: business management and administration, advanced manufacturing, information and technology, and health sciences. Students entering the program work simultaneously toward a Regents high school diploma and an associate’s degree in applied science from Fulton-Montgomery Community College. There is no cost to the student’s family.
Students say they appreciate their principal’s ability to go with the flow. “His willingness to take opinions and put them into action is something we appreciate most,” junior Natalie May said.
Now in its fourth year, HFM PTECH will have its first graduates this year. Among these graduates, 10 to 15 students are expected to graduate with both their high school diploma and associate’s degree. PTECH has been recognized as one of 25 national models of Innovative Successful Practices by the American Association of School Administrators and The Successful Practices Network. “Students and educators from the HFM BOCES made a powerful presentation to the Board of Regents at our meeting earlier in March. It’s very easy to understand why their PTECH model is being hailed as a national model to be emulated by others,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “These students are also inspiring us with their service projects that benefit both the local community and the wider world around them.”
Coordinator for the New York State P-TECH Program at NYSED Amy Cox credited the school’s success to the way Dardaris seeks out students whose needs — academic or socio-emotional — are the highest. “It is because of the leadership of Mr. Dardaris and his staff that these students, who once felt like outsiders themselves, are now empowered to be leaders at their college and community,” she said. “Their success is a shared success that continues with each new class at HFM PTECH under the amazing leadership of Mike Dardaris.”
Dardaris earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, his master of science in education from LeMoyne College, and his certificate of advanced study in education administration from SUNY Cortland.
Dardaris will be honored for his accomplishments at an awards ceremony on May 4 at the Century House in Latham.
SAANYS represents nearly 7,200 school administrators, supervisors, and coordinators. As a professional association, SAANYS is committed to providing direction, service, and support to the membership in their efforts to improve the quality of education and leadership in New York State schools. SAANYS is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).