With apologies to the Beatles, you could say that Paul Casseri took a “Long and Winding Road” to becoming the superintendent of the Lewiston-Porter School District.
Starting as a social studies teacher at South Park High School in Buffalo, Casseri moved on to a number of other teaching posts, in a variety of suburban school districts, before finally returning as the principal at South Park in 2002.
“For the longest time, I wasn’t sure I could hold a job,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ve found a niche here.”
Though he interviewed for a job in the Lew-Port district in 1987, Casseri didn’t arrive there until 2005, when he become the high school principal. Ten years later, he now finds himself in charge of all the district’s schools.
“I have a really supportive school board and a great instructional program,” he said. “Lew-Port has always been recognized as a lighthouse school district, so to be able to come here was a great opportunity.”
In addition to his relationship with the members of the school board, which he called “critical,” Casseri said the community support for the schools was equally important.
“What really makes a difference in this community is they realize how important the schools are,” Casseri said. “To have a strong working relationship (with the school board and the community) is the key to being a good superintendent.”
Casseri said that before becoming the schools’ superintendent, “(I) considered myself a teacher’s principal.” He’s trying to apply that same notion on a larger scale now.
“Your faculty and staff are so important,” he said. “You need to inspire people to do their best, and not just in teaching but in the staff too.”
A graduate of the University at Buffalo, who is working on his PhD at the University of Toronto, Casseri said he won’t change his approach to his work with a fancy new title.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be a ‘doctor’,” he said smiling, “I think I’m more a ‘mister’.”