Sep 04, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
Gregory Santoro’s path to becoming a high school principal started back when he was a 10th grade student at East-Syracuse-Minoa high school.
Henry Santulli, the principal of ESM at that time, gave him advice that motivated him and has stuck with him years later.
“He said to me ‘Mr. Santoro I want you to run for class officer and I want you to be the president all the way through senior year, you have the qualities of a leader.’ And then he said: ‘Furthermore, I see you one day in my chair.’ That was powerful for me. I remember exactly what he said,” Santoro said.
Three years later, his sense of leadership also led him to do something unique at graduation. After delivering a speech, he arranged to have “Let’s Get Together” by the Youngbloods play through the public address system while he proceeded to shake the hands of all 276 students in his graduating class.
Santoro was appointed over the summer by the board of education to replace Georgette Hoskins as the new high school principal in Skaneateles. He started on Aug. 14 and has been working with Hoskins, who is retiring after more than 22 years with the district, to meet teachers and administrators and prepare for the new school year.
Santoro comes to Skaneateles from the Cortland school district where he was executive principal at the junior-senior high school, a school with grades seven through 12. That job consisted of overseeing three other principals that were each in charge of different grade levels. He also served as an associate principal in the Ithaca school district.
After graduating from Niagara University with a master’s degree in education, Santoro worked in the Niagara Falls school district where he made the switch from teacher to administrator at 28 years old.
In Skaneateles, he will get his first chance to be principal of what he called a “true high school.”
Today, Santoro, 36, lives in Jamesville with his wife Gina and two children, Illiana, 4, and Vincent, 18 months.
Growing up in Central New York, Santoro said he was aware of the great reputation of the Skaneateles school district and seized the opportunity to become its newest principal. “This is the job that maybe comes across in one’s career one time because people usually stay here,” he said.
When asked about his plans for the school, Santoro said that he wants to continue, and to build upon, the legacy of excellence that has been accomplished under the previous administration. Building on the accomplishments of the current group of administrators (several of whom will be retiring shortly) will be the mission of a “new team” of administrators, of which Santoro is one of the first pieces, he said.
During the interview process and since starting, Santoro has met with a number of students, parents, staff and administrators and he has been impressed with the school spirit and commitment to the community that they have shown. He has taken to referring to this positive attitude and way of doing things as “the Laker way.”
“I see the Laker way as we give 110 percent, and so what I’m going to be doing for my tenure here is asking students, teachers, parents: ‘what is your extra 10 percent?’ Because I believe that we give 110 percent, but the extra 10 percent is the difference, that’s what makes Skaneateles the special place that we know it is,” he said.
Santoro also said that open communication with the community and being visible will be very important. He encourages students to come visit him in his office and get to know him personally.
In the weeks leading up to the beginning of classes, he has even taken to walking around the village during his lunch to meet people, particularly students, and get a better feel for the community.
Santoro said he wants to be approachable, “I’m a human being just like everyone else,” he said.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.