BRASHER FALLS — A 2002 graduate of St. Lawrence Central School is back in the district as the new elementary school principal.
Danielle Colterman replaces Johnathan R. Hirschey, who accepted a position with the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services after serving as elementary principal for seven years.
“I definitely have some big shoes to fill. I think highly of Mr. Hirschey. I thought he did some great things here,” she said. “I’m up for the challenge. Being a part of the community, I’m fully invested and have the best intentions for all kids.”
It’s the second time Ms. Colterman has returned to St. Lawrence Central. She taught in the district for 10 years and has spent the last three years working at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.
She said that when she graduated, she had no intention of becoming a teacher. She was originally on a pre-med track at St. Lawrence University and had the opportunity to observe children and later discuss their behaviors.
“I was just so intrigued when I was observing the children. I was intrigued by the way kids were playing with one another and learning from their environments. I decided to transfer to Potsdam, and here I am,” Ms. Colterman said.
She said, while working at BOCES, she loved her job and the work she was doing.
“I was learning a ton. The people I worked with were fantastic,” she said.
However, she knew that if the elementary principal position opened up at St. Lawrence Central, she would apply for it.
“That would be the one position, if it opened up, I would be applying for. Never in a million years did I think Johnathan Hirschey would leave,” Ms. Colterman said.
She has a love not only for the school, but also for the community where she grew up.
“The Tri-Town community is a very tight-knit community. It’s one thing to do this work, but to be here in my hometown doing this work ignites the fire in me. I’m fully invested. When I’m here until 6 p.m. it doesn’t seem like it’s work. It’s in my nature to want to help others. To me, the work I’m doing is going to benefit our next generation and our community. I’m just very passionate about it. It’s not work to me. It’s just part of my everyday life,” she said.
Her husband, who she met at SUNY Potsdam, hails from the Toronto area.
“He didn’t have any idea of what our small town community was like here. Now he totally understands where I’m coming from. People have each other’s back. They support each other. We really like to take care of our people. I’m so excited to be back at the school in this community. I see school as the hub of the community,” Ms. Colterman said.
Having arrived in the midst of planning for the school’s reopening, made challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic, she said things have been busy.
“There’s a sort of energy that comes along with it. My concern is the teachers and students and what they are going to come back to in the fall,” she said.
As of mid-week, they were waiting for responses from parents about whether they would be sending their child back to school starting Sept. 8 or if they would be participating in remote learning from home.
Parents of elementary school students have two options — return to school for a hybrid model, or learn entirely from home, with material and support provided by the school. Under the hybrid model, the students would be in school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with remote learning for all students on Wednesday.
“All of our planning hinges on those numbers,” Ms. Colterman said.