Gowanda says goodbye to superintendent

GOWANDA – The Gowanda Central School District is saying goodbye. At a recent meeting, the board of education honored retiring Superintendent Charles Rinaldi.

Rinaldi was given his own copy of the 2014 yearbook by staff member Delaney Van Wey. She thanked him for his time and service over the past 12 years.

“It seems like just yesterday that the class of 2014 began first grade. An early step of what proved to be a long journey. Thankfully Mr. Rinaldi was there for us every step of the way? Even if he seemed to be like a behind-the-scene character in his office at the end of the art hallway …,” Van Wey said.

Board of Education member Mark Nephew met Rinaldi in the 1980s when both were working with the Seneca Nation of Indians. Nephew was also on the board of education when Rinaldi was hired as superintendent and commended Rinaldi for coming into the district during a financial crisis. During Rinaldi’s tenure at the district, Hillis Field was redone, a new high school science wing was built, a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum was implemented and various academic initiatives were started. Nephew credited him for helping to change the atmosphere of the district.

“Some of the major changes though that I have to credit him for are changes in attitudes – attitudes of the staff, attitudes of the students. We no longer have the fights and confrontations in our buildings that we used to have. There’s not as heightened racial tension…,” Nephew said.

Business Administrator Joelle Woodward first met Rinaldi at Forestville Central School when her daughter was attending school. She admired Rinaldi’s experience and financial knowledge; Woodward said she wanted to work with Rinaldi and finally got the chance eight years later at Gowanda.

“This district is unlike any other district, I’ve ever been in. From the first time I walked in the door, I felt welcome. There were smiles on people’s faces,” said Woodward. “Yeah there has been challenges but it’s easy to overcome those challenges when you have someone like (Rinaldi).”

James Klubek, incoming superintendent, commended Rinaldi for allowing a smooth transition between superintendents. Rinaldi has kept Klubek informed of everything happening in the district through email and phone.

“I was a little worried, I’ll be honest with you, that I didn’t know if I would have time to have a transition plan, then Mr. Rinaldi and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk; it turns out we both have a lot in common. We both want this district to do well. Mr. Rinaldi has been more than accommodating and I think I’ve been here as much as I have been anywhere else. … Honestly, you’ve made my transition a lot easier and I appreciate it. I wish you all the best,” Klubek said.

Rinaldi was grateful for all the kinds words throughout the meeting. He said that when Nephew was speaking of his accomplishments it was really the community who had the accomplishments. He said the district staff has been “very wonderful” and he will miss working with such a great group of people.

“As you listen to Mr. Nephew, of course you hear of the things that the staff working together, the students, the community accomplished. I didn’t accomplish really anything. … It was the people who were here … it’s their good work. Hire the right people, get the resources and get the heck out of the way. That’s what we’ve done here. The staff have done a wonderful job. It’s really been a joy,” Rinaldi said.

In addition to Rinaldi, the board also honored board members Sheri Wing and Lynn Hammond and student representative Jenna Grainer who are all leaving.

Comments on this article may be sent to scmdonnell@observertoday.com