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North Castle Daily News

Bryam Hills School District
Lockout at Byram Hills Schools Caused by Parent Concern

Updated November 18, 2017
All school buildings of the Byram Hills School District were in a brief lockout on Thursday morning.

The lockout was due to a reported parent concern, said Jen Lamia, Superintendent of Schools. “During a lockout, all school functions occur normally. Classes are in session, but we do not let people into the building.”

Yesterday's parent concern was family related, added Lamia. An investigation by the North Castle Police was conducted and found to be a non-issue.

Last week there was a district-wide lockdown drill. A lockdown drill involves preparedness in the event of a threat to the schools or in the community. "A lockout is a precautionary measure to be taken when we need to assess a situation, but a lockdown is when there is a dangerous situation (as we had with the bear!)," said Lamia.

Jen Lamia
Bill Donohue

Byram Hills School District Announces New Superintendent
January 6, 2017

Byram Hills Superintendent of Schools William Donohue will retire from the District at the end of the school year and Jennifer Lamia, the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, will succeed him, the District announced Friday.

Ms. Lamia, who joined the Byram Hills schools as an English teacher in 1990, will take on the new position on July 1. The man she will replace, Dr. Donohue, is also a long-time Byram Hills educator, having started in the District the same year as Ms. Lamia. He has served as Superintendent since 2012.

“Bill Donohue has been an outstanding Superintendent, and we are grateful for his remarkable vision and contributions to the District,” Board President Brett Summers said, speaking on behalf of the entire Board. He added that Ms. Lamia’s selection as the next school’s chief followed the District’s practice of cultivating administrative leaders from within.

“The process for selecting Dr. Donohue’s successor couldn’t have gone smoother, and was made easier as a result of years of focus on leadership succession,” Mr. Summers said. “The Board was absolutely unanimous in this decision, and recognized Ms. Lamia’s outstanding intellect, demonstrated leadership, and deep commitment to the success and continued improvement of the District.”

The Board is scheduled to vote on the appointment at the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

Ms. Lamia said she is looking forward to taking the Superintendent’s post in the 2,400-student district where she has served almost her entire career in education.

“What I love about this school community is that you can be the Superintendent and still remain connected to the kids,” she said. “The student perspective drives everything that we’re doing, so knowing a significant number of students in the District and watching them enjoy their learning motivates my leadership.”

She said her aim will be to maintain Byram Hills’ stature as a “high-performing, desirable District,” with an extremely talented faculty and staff.

Her appointment was supported enthusiastically by Byram Hills PTSA President Abby Woodworth.

"Jen Lamia is someone both parents and teachers highly respect,” Ms. Woodworth said. “Her history in Byram Hills and her leadership abilities in the education field make her the right choice for Superintendent. I cannot think of anyone better to lead Byram Hills into the future."

Longtime community resident and former Board of Education member Vince Greco considers Ms. Lamia’s appointment to be an “outstanding decision by the Board.”

“I couldn’t be happier,” Mr. Greco said. “The District is in excellent shape, both from a financial and educational perspective. Jen has a great deal of vision and demonstrated leadership, and I’m confident that the District will be in excellent hands.”

Ms. Lamia came to Byram Hills as an English teacher at H.C. Crittenden Middle School after teaching one year in Tuxedo, N.Y. In Byram Hills, she was struck by the “collaborative and forward-thinking approach, and the dedication to kids, first and foremost. There were also opportunities to grow. You can develop in many ways here and you will be supported.”

In 2003, she became chairperson of the English department for grades 6 through 12. Five years later, she became the assistant principal at Byram Hills High School, a position she held until 2010, when she, her husband and their two sons moved temporarily to Brazil.

When the family returned from South America in 2012, Ms. Lamia took the post of Assistant to the Superintendent in Byram Hills, and was later named Assistant Superintendent.

Looking back on her career thus far, she credits Crittenden Principal H. Evan Powderly with being one of the leaders who encouraged her to move into administration. He and another District leader – a former superintendent – suggested in 2002 that she enroll in a master’s program in educational administration at Fordham University. She received the degree from that program in 2005 and is now earning a Doctor of Education degree from Johns Hopkins University.

She also credits Dr. Donohue as being a key mentor.

“Bill is an incredible leader and part of his leadership strength is in cultivating the strengths of the people around him,” she said. “For many years, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with him and to take part in decision making, which is effective preparation for this new position.”


BOE Prepared for New Byram Hills Superintendent

November 19, 2016
Brett Summers, president of Byram Hills Board of Education says, “The Board of Education is proud of the work accomplished by outgoing Superintendent Bill Donohue, and grateful for his 27 years of service to the District, the last five of which have been as an outstanding Superintendent.”

“Fortunately,” he continues, “the Board of Education has focused on succession planning for a number of years in order to protect and promote the strong, coherent leadership we currently enjoy. We are well positioned for the task ahead of us in selecting the next Superintendent. Not only do we have a very talented and dedicated Board, but several of us have been through this process a number of times during our Board service.”

Furthermore, he says in the coming weeks, the Board of Education will share with the community significant events in the process to select the District’s next Superintendent.

“We wish Dr. Donohue every success in the next phase of his career and are confident that his continued leadership through the end of this academic year will help assure a smooth transition to our District’s next Superintendent,” Summers concluded.

Bill Donohue

Dear Byram Hills Community,

November 14, 2016
After 27 years in leadership positions in Byram Hills, it is with mixed emotions that I now inform you that I will be leaving the District at the end of June, 2017. Though I will be officially retiring, I will in fact be taking the position of Head of School at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side – my own neighborhood!

I have been communicating with our Board of Education about my candidacy for the new position throughout the process, and they have been planning accordingly for succession. As a result, the District will be well positioned to seek and appoint a new superintendent. The Board will be announcing their process in due time.

I want to take this opportunity to assure you that the District maintains an enviable position, both educationally and financially. College admissions for the class of 2016 were outstanding, once again. Our progress with developing a 21st Century curriculum is advancing, and with the support of the Byram Hills Education Foundation, the impact of the state’s tax cap has not deterred academic initiatives. Our financial health remains exceptional; Byram Hills has set a different financial course from most of our neighbors, which should continue to work very well for us for years to come.

Most importantly, the strength of our students, families, faculty and staff is a source of great pride for me, and I feel confident that the leadership is in place to sustain excellence in all aspects of the organization. It has been my pleasure to know and work with so many wonderful community and staff members over the years.

Thank you for a very gratifying career in Byram Hills and for the support and cooperation that you always offered me.

Best regards,

Bill Donohue, Superintendent