CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – An applauding packed house officially welcomed Robert Rhodes as Horace Greeley High School's new principal at Tuesday night’s Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education meeting.
"I'm very thrilled to be here, it's quite an honor," said Rhodes. "It's been wonderful getting to meet people and I feel like I've just been able to scratch the surface talking to some students, parents and teachers. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get to know a lot more people a lot better."
Rhodes, a principal at Millenium High School, was unanimously approved by the board nearly two weeks after being recommended by Superintendent Lyn McKay. With the board’s approval, Rhodes will officially begin his new position on July 1.
"I spent four years at Greeley trying to avoid any interaction with the principal, and I can assure you that students at Greeley next year should go out of their way to get to know Mr. Rhodes," said Board of Education president Alyson Kiesel.
Rhodes will be taking over for Andrew Selesnick, who was principal at Greeley for nine years before being promoted to assistant superintendent for leadership development and human resources on Dec. 1.
The selection was made after a search process that included interview committees and focus groups consisting of parents, teachers, staff and students. Rhodes was chosen from 147 candidates who applied open position after advertisement was posted in The New York Times on Dec. 11.
"As you can see he comes to us as the result of a very thorough and rigorous search," said McKay. "He has a strong understanding of high school academics, extenive experience reaching out to students and teachers and parents in the community, and most critically, he has a great sense of humor."
During the interview process, Rhodes met with students, parents and teachers in an on-site visit at Greeley. Kiesel, McKay and other school administrators also visited Rhodes in his element at Millenium in New York City.
"It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience," said Kiesel. "We met with teachers, we met with parents, we met with students, and every single group raved about Mr. Rhodes."
Before spending 21 years as an educator in New York City public schools, Rhodes earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Science in 1990 from Sarah Lawrence College. He followed that up by earning a Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration from Fordham University in 1997.
The Ohio-native began his education career in 1990 as a math teacher at a small alternative high school in Jamaica, Queens. In 2003 he received Clark University's Secondary Educator of the Year Award and in 2008 was awarded a Cahn Fellowship designed by Teachers College to recognize outstanding principals. He currently lives in Brooklyn and has two children.
Rhodes has been the principal at Millennium in lower Manhattan’s financial district since its inception in 2002. The school was established in an effort to revitalize the area following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Millennium currently boasts 98 percent graduation and college placement rates. According to David Hayes, Chappaqua’s public information officer, 5,300 eighth-graders applied for 150 openings at the school for the 2011-12 school year.