Passing The Torch

It was a big night for Jamestown Public Schools’ outgoing superintendent.

The district’s Tuesday board meeting commenced and adjourned with recognition of Deke Kathman, who simultaneously celebrated a birthday and his last board meeting before his pending retirement at the end of the month.

As business concluded, a number of surprises awaited Kathman, The first came in the form of a video made by students and teachers of Love Elementary School, where Kathman’s career at JPS began in 1987 as a building principal. The video depicted a message of thanks to Kathman, as well as a number of songs performed by Love’s students.

A portrait of Kathman was then unveiled on the wall of the JPS Board of Education room, alongside the long line of his predecessors.

The biggest surprise of the night came as board President Joe DiMaio read a resolution proclaiming the dedication and renaming of the JPS administrative offices building, which will now be known as the Daniel “Deke” Kathman Administrative Offices. Kathman then received a gift-wrapped, architectural rendering of the building bearing his name.

Kathman said anything beyond having his portrait displayed in the board room was entirely unexpected.

“It’s humbling. I had no idea, so this comes as a complete and utter surprise,” he said. “I was just talking to (incoming superintendent) Tim Mains and, stepping aside from this honor just for a second, it occurred to me that this, while it’s extraordinarily humbling, also feels like a circle has been completed.”

As for the board’s role in the renaming of the building, DiMaio said concealing the surprise from Kathman was not overly difficult.

“Deke is so unassuming that we knew he would never think about that, so that’s why it made it a little easier,” said DiMaio. “We kind of do (the portrait presentation) for everybody, so we knew he’d be all set with that. And we kept a close-knit thing on this-so it wasn’t too bad.”

He added: “You can say a million things (about Kathman), but the one thing I can say is that he put the kids first every time. Every decision he made, he made with the kids, the students of our school district, in mind. And, like he’s said many times, there’s something about (being a) Red Raider. And he certainly is a true Red Raider. He may not have been here through high school to play sports or anything like that, but being a Red Raider means a lot more than that-and he embellishes that.”

After 26 years of service, Kathman’s retirement will officially commence on July 31.

As for the business side of the board meeting, Kathman presented two separate resolutions which certified those who have undergone training as qualified lead evaluators of principals and teachers under the district’s APPR plan.

The principal evaluators are: Jessie Joy, Daniel Kathman, John Panebianco and Tina Sandstrom.

The teacher evaluators are: Elizabeth Antolina, Dan Bracey, Phil Cammarata, Dave Currie, Maria DeJoy, Ben Drake, Melissa Emerson, Shawn Fink, Connie Foster, Renee Hartling, David Hickey, Michelle McDowell, Leslie Melquist, Annette Miller, Donna Moynihan, Carm Proctor, Denise Pusateri, Tamu Reinhardt, Katie Russo, Brent Sutter, Janice Walters and Dana Williams.

In other business, several instructional and non-instructional personnel recommendations were approved and confirmed, a list of several policy changes were approved and adopted and the board recognized the resignation of board member Timothy Thomas. Thomas accepted a job in Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo, and will be relocating to the Williamsville area.