by Heather Colley and Rick Pezzullo
Sleepy Hollow High School will be saying goodbye in June to longtime Principal Carol Conklin-Spillane, but neighboring Pocantico Hills Central School District will be laying out a welcoming mat on July 1 to their new superintendent of schools.
In April, the Pocantico Hills Board of Education voted to appoint Conklin-Spillane to replace Interim Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Terranova after conducting a national search and convening a committee of community stakeholders. Conklin-Spillane served as principal of Sleepy Hollow High for 22 years.
“The Board of Education is honored to welcome Mrs. Conklin-Spillane to the Pocantico Hills School,” the Board of Education stated in a release. “She brings with her a long and positive history of working with our district and our children. She is a respected, nationally recognized educator who understands the wonderful traditions that make Pocantico so special, and also recognizes the need for innovation and rigor in 21st century academics.”
Conklin-Spillane first announced speculative plans to retire in Hillary Clinton’s campaign video last summer, which brought publicity to the school’s administration. A few months later in January, an official notice was sent out that she would officially be retiring at the end of the school year.
Besides the “high numbers” in test scores, GPAs, and graduation rates that are produced out of Sleepy Hollow High School, Conklin-Spillane prided her school environment in being a place that fosters generosity, acceptance, diversity, and a professional atmosphere geared toward success. She is one of 15 educators from New York State chosen to serve on Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force.
“I’ve had opportunities to work on issues that involve education at the state and national level. It’s come to a time where I have to make a choice and I’m leaning towards making a broader impact, and seeing if I can apply what I’ve learned here going forward,” she said.
Back in 1994, Conklin-Spillane’s first year at Sleepy Hollow, the school was much different in that the graduating class had only 94 students, and Conklin-Spillane was principal of both the middle and high school. Despite changes in structure, Conklin-Spillane said some traditions will never disappear. Spirit Week, for example, has only grown in its excitement and community atmosphere.
In 2012, Conklin-Spillane was selected as Outstanding Regional Administrator of the Year by the Empire State Supervisors and Administrators Association. In 2014, the National Association of Secondary School Principals named Sleepy Hollow High School a Breakthrough High School. In 2015, Sleepy Hollow High School was recognized as a “School of Opportunity” by the National Education Policy Center.
Smith Named New Principal
Meanwhile, the Tarrytown Board of Education appointed Dr. Tracy Smith to replace Conklin-Spillane as principal at Sleepy Hollow High. Smith has served as assistant principal at Nyack High School since 2011. Prior to that, she was an English teacher at Nyack High School for 13 years.
“As the new principal of Sleepy Hollow High School, I am excited about partnering with teachers, parents and the community to ensure the success of all students,” Smith said. “I look forward to being a part of the Sleepy Hollow family.”
Board of Education President Mimi Godwin said the district was “delighted to welcome Dr. Smith.”
“We are sure she will make significant contributions to Sleepy Hollow High School and the district as a whole,” Godwin said.