By Barry Warner
This summer, Martin D. Cox took command of the Clarkstown schools, Rockland’s largest K-12 district consisting of 8,000 students dispersed across nine elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools. He has spent over a decade in leadership positions, most recently serving as Superintendent of the Sodus Central School District in upstate New York. He sharpened his leadership skills as an elementary school principal and later as a high school principal. Mr. Cox earned a Masters in Education from Nazareth College, a Certificate of Advance Studies from SUNY Brockport and is working toward a doctorate in Educational Leadership.
In an interview with the Rockland County Times, Mr. Cox said, “I believe that the lessons learned from playing sports applies to my work as a school leader, where it is important to display teamwork, perseverance and good sportsmanship. Participatory leadership is grounded in a foundation of trust and new ideas are explored through constructive debate with a strong sense of commitment and accountability to produce positive results for the students.”
As part of his ‘Strategic Leadership and Guiding Principles’, Mr. Cox plans to:
. advance ‘21st century skills in the classrooms which are core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving to help students thrive in today’s world.
. be visible in the schools by having lunch in at least one school per week.
. establish professional relationships with the Board of Education by interviewing each Board member individually to create Board-Superintendent goals.
. schedule weekly meetings with the district office administration and staff.
. review district data and key measurements with Administration regarding shaping the classroom of tomorrow.
. get to know students and their interests by attending school council meetings.
. determine how to best leverage the district funds with BOCES to meet students’ needs.
. assess the district’s fiscal status by analyzing how spending is impacting student achievement, programs and facilities.
. partner with Clarkstown PTA and the Special Education PTA by working on behalf of students to create leaning opportunities and support systems.
. strengthen partnerships with community service agencies by meeting with safety leaders, authorities and service providers.
. learn the history of the community by meeting with the Town Historian and reviewing the community and district archives.
. develop professional relationships with local leaders to partner in order to impact schools and community.
. partner with community libraries to promote literacy by meeting with the librarians to learn about programs.
. support and promote school events by being visible and interacting with many stakeholders.
. promote health and wellness in the community.
. be a leader in the community through a personal membership in a service organization.
. be proactive with multiple forms of communication through the CCSD website, Facebook, newsletters and newspapers.
According to Mr. Cox’s blog, he met with Carrie Steindorff of the Rockland County Department of Health, who taught a class entitled ‘Learning in Motion’ to a number of teachers in the county. The concept of the class is to utilize varying strategies to incorporate physical activity within classrooms in order for students to further activate their brains. Also, he recently read a book that employed the need for educators to praise students for their efforts in order to build a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset.
Mr. Cox models a healthy lifestyle through his personal involvement in a variety of sports including marathon running, kayaking, swimming, cycling and participation in triathlons. He and his wife Mary Beth live in Clarkstown and have three children-Hillary, Kevin and Abby.