Pavone Began Middle School Tenure in October

By Jeff Martin

Gayle Pavone has many goals as the newly hired middle school principal for the Cattaraugus-Little Valley School District.

Hired in late September and beginning her role officially on Oct. 28, Pavone said her current circumstances are actually more manageable and conducive for success than when she served as director of pupil personnel and students services at the Friendship Central School in Allegany County, a position she held for over a decade. In that role, she oversaw technology, grants, assessment, curriculum and special education.

Pavone has also taught kindergarten, third and fifth grades.

By being hired as the new middle school principal, other changes were made at Cattaraugus-Little Valley: former middle school principal Tony Giannicchi was moved to the high school principal position, Aaron Wolfe moved from high school to elementary school, and the middle school principal position was filled by Pavone. She was one of 28 applicants who applied for the position, one that requires a bit of multitasking.

“I learned to wear a lot of hats there, and it was a great experience,” Pavone said recently. As the new grade 5-7 middle school principal and director of special education at Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Pavone said her pared-down responsibilities will allow her to concentrate her talents and skills on just two roles.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” she said. “I’m used to it. With the smaller districts, there’s a need for teachers and administrators to wear multiple hats because of district size and funding and available personnel.”

With approximately 1,000 enrolled students at Cattaraugus-Little Valley, the small district sandwiched in a sprawling valley struggles and achieves like many state schools. There are mandates to reach, specifically state standards in core studies, and Pavone feels qualified and experienced enough to help teachers and students alike.

“The core standards teachers have to teach and students have to learn are wonderful,” she said, “but the pace isn’t ideal. I’m just doing what I can to give the support they need.”

It’s not an easy task. With state funding decreasing to levels that aren’t necessarily supportive for mandates, Pavone said every district, including Cattaraugus-Little Valley, has to rely on the resources available immediately.

In addition to achieving core standards, the district must continue to focus on integrating curriculum and technology, which is another area of experience for Pavone. Yet in most cases, achieving the necessary balance costs districts significant money.

“It’s just a matter, again, of working with what we have to our best ability,” she said.

Admittedly, Pavone wants, most of all, to spend her first year getting to know staff and students so that a strong relationship can be forged. Helping is the fact that Pavone was born and raised in Kenya, Africa. She moved to the United States when she was 18. It’s that worldview and experience that can sometimes make a difference.

“Students and staff both want to hear about it,” she said, chuckling. “And I interject that experience whenever I can.”

If nothing else, until all goals are met, Pavone can — and will — concentrate on one very important job requirement: learning everyone’s name, including students’.

And just how many has she committed to memory?

“I’m getting there,” she said, laughing.