Cairo-Durham High School welcomes its new Principal, Dr. Paula T. McKeown.
Dr. McKeown started her position in July 2019 after spending many years as an educator in New York City. She enjoys running and Irish literature, and she is looking forward to bringing her passion for education to Cairo-Durham.
Here are a few more things we learned about Dr. McKeown:
What is your role here at Cairo-Durham Central School District, and where do you work?
I am the new principal at Cairo-Durham High School.
What are your job responsibilities/priorities?
I oversee all school programming, instruction, faculty and school-level planning, and communicating news throughout the school community. I also work with other departments on facilities operations and budget planning.
My priorities include listening, learning, and asking questions to identify successes and challenges. I want to build on the positive achievements of CDHS to continue improving student achievement, thereby fostering a culture of engagement, teamwork, and success.
Facilitating a partnership with the school community is a priority – teachers, students, families, and the district. My goal is to work with all these stakeholders to increase student achievement and build on existing practices to cultivate a learning experience that continues to fulfill our mission of partnering with the community and creating multiple learning pathways to maximize student success.
What is your background like – previous jobs, your education, etc.?
I have been an educator for 22 years, holding positions such as high school English and Computer Literacy teacher, high school principal, and college professor. During my time as a high school teacher, I was also an Advanced Placement Coordinator and program liaison for St. John’s University.
For more than 15 years, I taught in the English Department and Education Department at several colleges and universities in New York City, including CUNY College of Staten Island and Wagner College. At Wagner College I taught Assessment in Higher Education and mentored graduate student teachers in public high schools.
I am a serious multi-tasker. I went to college nights and weekends while working full time and raising a family. I received an associate degree in 1990, a bachelor’s degree in English and Writing with a minor in History in 1996, my master’s degree in Secondary Education in 2000 (all from the College of Staten Island). From St. John’s University I received my Professional Diploma in Administration and Supervision in 2005 and my Doctorate in Administration and Supervision in 2015.
What do you like most about your job?
What I love most about my job is working with teenagers. I truly enjoy their energy, curiosity, humor and perseverance. This is probably the most important time of their lives, and I believe it is our role as educators to be positive but firm influences during that time – here to get them through the tough times and encourage them to reach out of their comfort zones to achieve goals they may not have known they had.
I also enjoy the opportunities to create new initiatives that advance student education and learning. For example, in 2010 I worked with faculty to implement the first iPad program in Staten Island schools and in 2018 instituted an indoor hydroponic garden (the first in the Brooklyn Diocese). I am looking forward to new opportunities and working with students and faculty at CDHS.
What goal(s) do you hope to accomplish while working at Cairo-Durham?
A short-term goal is to spend the beginning of the school year listening, learning, examining data and asking questions to identify successes and challenges. This will help advance my long-term goal of fostering a culture of partnership and teamwork with students, families, and faculty. I want to ensure that we are meeting all students where they are academically to further their success, build a foundation for continuous school improvement, and build trusting relationships.
Tell us a bit about your life outside of school.
I enjoy spending time with my family. I am also dedicated to physical fitness and enjoy going to the gym. I especially love running and ran my first race this year.
When I have time, I create oil paintings and other artwork. I am also an avid reader. My favorite literature genre is horror (Stephen King) and various Irish literature.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
I believe that life is about reinvention and seeking new challenges for ourselves.
What is the best advice anyone has given you?
Never be afraid of a challenge, never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something. I can achieve anything I put my mind to!