St. Lawrence principal takes superintendent role

Christopher Rose, who has served as the St. Lawrence Central Middle School principal, is moving up to take over as superintendent, replacing a retiring Robert Stewart. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

BRASHER FALLS — He’s been a social studies teacher for 10 years, then a middle school principal for grades five through eight for 15½ years, and now Christopher Rose is a superintendent, all in the same school district.

Mr. Rose begins his new role as St. Lawrence Central School’s new superintendent on Monday. He replaces Robert Stewart, who officially retired at the end of December.

“It was on my list of future goals for sure. People have asked me about other times when other superintendent openings have come up or they’ve come up here and I haven’t applied. I say I wasn’t ready,” he said.

Now is the time, though.

“When I left teaching, I didn’t leave because I was ready to get out of it. There was a time here in the district where we had such a turnover in administration that we were all going crazy. Sooner or later you have to stop complaining about it and be part of the solution,” Mr. Rose said.

The district began its middle school about 16 years ago. The first principal was Lynn Roy.

“Halfway through that year, our high school principal left for a superintendency job somewhere else, so she moved to the high school principal. I was doing an internship with her, so I finished out the year for her and have been here ever since,” he said.

As a veteran of the district’s staff, Mr. Rose said it’s a plus to become superintendent for a district he knows well.

“It gets frustrating, all the people that come in and don’t know the district. I’ve been here since 1975 when I started kindergarten here. This community has been real good to me. I felt like I owed that debt of gratitude when I came back and decided to teach here, to thank them for everything that had happened. They’ve been good to me through teaching and through being a principal. I’m going to need their support even more as a superintendent,” Mr. Rose said.

He has been working with Mr. Stewart to settle into his new role while at the same time, working with new middle school principal, Jamie LaBarge to get her acclimated to her position.

“It’s not a long walk to the job, but what’s on the plate is different. I spend the mornings with Mr. Stewart and I come and do the same thing the other way for Jamie here. Mr. Stewart’s been great. I’ve had well into the 200, 300, 400 questions for him. He’s been so patient with me, sharing information and the documents he can share with me. He’s been awesome,” he said.

The move down the hallway to the superintendent’s office is sentimental.

“The hardest part is trying to pack up 15½ years worth of stuff. The packing process has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve come across a lot of things that spur memories from the past, the good things we’ve done as a middle school together, as a district together,” Mr. Rose said.

He said that prompts him to jot down ideas that could be useful in the future.

“I have a pad of paper in my office where I’m jotting down ideas. You know how some people wake up in the middle of the night with all these things you want to get written down? That’s what I’ve been doing here while I’ve been packing. The list gets really long,” he said.

Mr. Rose will enter his new role at a time when budgets are starting to form, and at a time when COVID has left so many uncertainties.

“It’s a tough time. We’re trying to create a budget for next year and not knowing if we’ll have the money we’re supposed to get for this year to get through and how to handle that. At least it’s not just St. Lawrence Central. It’s everybody. Everybody across the state, across the country, we’re all in the same situation. Mr. Stewart has been good at sitting down with me and getting through that process,” he said.

Being familiar with the district has its advantages at budget time, he said. When tough decisions need to be made, Mr. Rose said those are being made by somebody who knows the district, “not somebody from the outside that could care less who or what gets moved to what positions.”

“It’s about what’s best for our kids and best for our taxpayers, too, obviously,” he said. “I think everybody understands the circumstances we’re up against right now and knows that something is probably going to have to happen. We’ll just have to sit down together and make the best decisions for the kids in the district.”

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