Interim Lake Placid High School principal hired long-term

Tammy Casey, pictured, has been named principal of Lake Placid High School. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District will welcome a familiar face to the position of high school principal.

Tammy Casey, the current acting principal and interim dean of students, was appointed to the position of high school principal by the Board of Education on Wednesday. She’s served in that position in a temporary capacity since the start of the year. Her four-year term in the school’s top slot formally starts July 1. She’ll be paid at a salary of $80,000 per year.

Casey, 40, has built her career in education at the Lake Placid Central School District. She started as a mathematics teacher in 2001 before becoming the math department coordinator.

She earned her certification in administration from the Massachusetts School of Liberal Arts last year before accepting the position of acting high school principal at the start of this year. Her appointment followed the retirement of the previous acting principal, Ernie Witkowski, and the promotion of former principal Dana Wood to district business manager.

Casey graduated from the Peru Central School District in 1996 and from SUNY Plattsburgh with degrees in secondary education and mathematics in 2000. From 2012 to 2017, she was a New York State Master Teacher, a designation given to the highest-performing STEM (science technology, engineering and math) teachers in the state, as well as a national instructor for Texas Instruments, another designation awarded for excellence in teaching and the use of technology.

“It’s a pleasure to recommend someone who has been such an important part of the school community,” district Superintendent Roger Catania said at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday. In a statement later that evening, he said that school officials “know that students are Ms. Casey’s highest priority.”

“I am confident that her collaborative and inclusive leadership style will fit well within our shared middle and high school structure,” he said.

Always improving

Casey said she knew when she was young that she wanted to be a teacher.

“Math came a little later; that came when I was in high school,” she said. “But I didn’t like the feel of the classroom. I thought it could be taught in a way that was more fun.”

Sitting in her office at the high school Thursday afternoon, she folded her hands in her lap and glanced out the window and across the Olympic Speedskating Oval.

“Every year, at the end of the year, you look back and say, ‘I did the best that I could with the students that I had that year,'” she said. “Along the way, I always tried to grow and change. I was always of the mindset that I was never perfect and there’s always room to grow.

“I never had that moment where I was like, ‘Oh, this is it.’ I kept thinking: What can I do to improve and change and make this class better for me, and for my students?”

Casey plans to bring that mindset to her new role.

“I hope to create a positive school climate,” she said. With the school’s small class sizes, she said it already has a “homey, community feel.

“I want the students to want to be here, want to come to school. That’s, I think, goal number one: to make a school somewhere where people want to be.”

Behind her, a single word was painted on a large blue-and-white sign: “Welcome.”