Cairo-Durham News

The annual Board of Education election is on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 (1-9 p.m. in the CDHS Distance Learning Room). Click here for voting information.

There are six candidates running for three open seats as the terms of current Board members Tonya Frickey, Dale Handel and Todd Hilgendorff are set to expire on June 30, 2022. All three seats are three-year, non-paid terms ending in June 2025.

About the Candidates

The six candidates will be listed on the ballot as follows (voters should select three or write in a candidate): James H. McManus III, Dale Handel, Tonya Warner Frickey, Todd Hilgendorff, Cheryl Moore, Dermot Gavin.

Each candidate was asked to submit a brief bio to introduce themselves to voters. Learn more about the Board of Education candidates below (listed in the order they will appear on the ballot):

James H. McManus III

My name is James McManus, and I have been a lifelong resident of Cairo.  I grew up in Acra and currently live in Round Top.  I graduated Cairo- Durham in 2001.  After high school I graduated SUNY Maritime College with a bachelor’s degree, and a US Coast Guard Merchant Marine License.  I was also commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy Reserve.  I spent the last 16 years going to sea as a Merchant Marine Officer, during this time I married my wife Felicia and we welcomed two children into this world who both attend Cairo- Durham Elementary

In September, I retired to focus on the education of my children and be an advocate for them.  When I began this journey, I did not foresee myself running for school board, but events over the last several years have forced me to step up as a parent and begin to question some of the decisions being made by the school district.  

I would like the parents of this district to be given back their voice.  I would like to help make Cairo- Durham a place that we are proud to send are children.

Dale Handel

My name is Dale Handel. I am a graduate of Cairo Durham, a father of 4 Cairo Durham students, a local business owner, and a taxpayer. I learned firsthand as a child how powerful good schools are in nurturing and supporting students. Schools are about much more than covering the curriculum, managing classrooms, and preparing students for life after high school. Good schools help students to feel accepted, safe, and loved.

So many of our students are struggling with many challenges at home, which inevitably affects their ability to focus and succeed in school. This makes the role of schools in creating safe and loving spaces even more critical. It also means we must look at the educational system in context.

One thing I hope to bring to this race is a focus on how Cairo-Durham works in determining how students show up to school (or do not show up).

Teachers cannot do this work alone. It matters whether the families of our students have stable housing, food security, health insurance, employment, mental health treatment services, etc. The community school’s movement is a good start in addressing this issue, but we need to think bigger, starting with how schools are financed.

I am so grateful for the education I received from Cairo-Durham schools and the caring adults who nurtured me. I want that for every child, and I look forward to working with others on this board, all the teachers and staff doing this most critical work. Thank you!

Tonya Warner Frickey

Tonya (Warner) Frickey grew up in Acra and attended Cairo-Durham Elementary and Middle School until she relocated to Kinderhook in Columbia County. After graduating from Ichabod Crane Central School in 1988, she attended Potsdam College where she earned a Bachelor’s in English Writing and Communications. Pursuing a career in education, she later earned a Master’s in Secondary Education from Russell Sage Graduate School and a Master’s in Information Science from the University at Albany.  In 1995, Tonya began her career in San Antonio, Texas teaching high school English and Social Studies. In 1996, she accepted an English position at Vanderheyden Hall in Wynantskill, NY. A year later, Tonya began teaching English at Germantown Central School, where she remained for five years. In 2000, Tonya was elected to the Taconic Hills Board of Education, and served for two years before she accepted a position as an English teacher at Taconic Hills. After teaching English for 21 years, Tonya accepted a new position as the middle and high school library media specialist at Taconic Hills. Additionally, she currently is a adjunct instructor at Columbia-Greene Community College, as well as The University at Albany. Last spring, Tonya was elected to the Cairo-Durham Board of Education and has proudly served as its newest member for the 2021-2022 school year. In her spare time, Tonya enjoys spending time with her three children: Jeffrey (23); Samantha (22) Jonathan (20). She and her partner, Robert Orin, reside in Round Top.

Todd Hilgendorff

I graduated from CD in 1998 and then earned a BS in biology from Cornell University and a MS in education from the College of St. Rose. I have worked in education for 17 years. For eight years I taught MS science in Guilderland CSD. Since 2013 I have worked in educational leadership at Greenville CSD, first as HS principal and then my current role as Director of Curriculum. At the same time, I’ve enjoyed being the Rotary Youth Exchange Officer as a way of building connections between the school and community. Education is not just my profession, but also my passion. I come from a family where an importance was always placed on education. As a CD BOE member, I am a 3rd generation board member following in the footsteps of my mother and grandfather who both served on C-D’s board at different times.  I value creating relationships between school and community and developing programs to serve the varying needs and interests of our youth. I’m proud to be part of our board and value the different perspectives we bring to the table while at the same time sharing a common goal of making Cairo-Durham the best it can be for our students. As a Round Top resident, I hope to be reelected as a board member so that I can continue to use my expertise and knowledge of education to serve as a member of a team dedicated to continually improving our school.

Cheryl Moore

I was raised in Otsego County in a community much like this one, then attended the University of Albany, earning a BA in English (Education). My partner has taught at Cairo-Durham Elementary since 2002, and we moved to Cairo in 2015. We were so touched by the outpouring of support and kindness from neighbors and friends here, and have felt at home ever since. In 2019 I earned an MA in Learning with Emerging Technologies from Empire State College, while working as an instructional designer and educator at SEFCU’s Institute for Financial Well-Being. Our daughter will graduate from CDHS in June. I have been an active parent and volunteer since 2002.

I am interested in serving on the Board to make positive contributions to District leadership as an advocate for parents, students, and employees. Our district must build trust, collaboration, and shared drive for excellence among board members, families, students, and administration. My strengths include valuable leadership, project management, and communication skills, as well as critical thinking, teamwork, compassion, and standards for high-quality work. I am to support impactful public education by: reducing leadership turnover; building partnership between the Board, staff, and community; elevating standards of education and professionalism. There is talent in Cairo-Durham, but there are systemic concerns and communication breakdowns that block progress. I want to mend the cracks so that we can live up to our motto of “Expect Excellence.”

Dermot Gavin

I am a lifetime resident of Durham, NY. I graduated from the Durham Elementary School in 1996. I hold a B.A. in History from the Virginia Military Institute and a M.A.T in Social Studies from Russel Sage Graduate School. I taught Social Studies 9-12 for 9 years before transitioning to full time active service with the New York Army National Guard as a commissioned Infantry Officer. I am currently a Major and operations officer for the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Tara and I have two sons attending C-D Elementary and a daughter at the Middle School. We want to help continue the capital, academic, and athletic improvements at Cairo-Durham. As a C-D School Board member I plan to utilize my experience as an educator and combat leader to ensure all C-D children are provided the best educational experience.