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WACS finds good fit with Rockey

August 25, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

Dr. Mary Rockey has experienced a lot in the world of education, but Westfield is the place she has chosen to build the future.

Rockey was hired by Westfield Academy and Central School District to take the place of elementary principal Shanda DuClon, who left at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Rockey has been in the education field since 1978 and brings a plethora of knowledge and experience with her. But she said she chose Westfield because the community values education.

"Westfield is a homey community where children are raised in a way that they were years ago," Rockey said. "Children come to us much more ready to learn than they do in bigger schools, and parents are much more supportive of learning."

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Dr. Mary Rockey

Rockey brings many gifts to the position of principal. The most important gifts, she said, is that she is "extremely dedicated to the improvement of all children to their fullest ability." Also, she said, she is highly organized and possesses and broad knowledge base with a strong curricular background in Math, Science and ELA.

"I've been doing this for years and years," Rockey said. "I would say that I am a well-rounded person for this position."

Rockey's resume bears out this statement. From Edinboro University, she has earned a bachelor of science degree in music education,; and master of education degrees in music and special education. She also earned a M.Ed. degree in Educational Leadership from Canisius College; and a Ph.D in Human Services with a Education Specialization from Walden University in Minneapolis. On top of this, she has received seven certifications in various aspects of education.

She comes to Westfield from Randolph School District where she was the director of pupil services. Other work experience includes serving as adjunct faculty for Capella University in Minneapolis, and for the University of Phoenix;

Consultant to school districts, private agencies, parents and municipalities for children with severe behavioral disorders; director of educational services and staff development at The Resource Center in Jamestown; adjunct faculty for the Human Services Department of Jamestown Community College; and unit manager at the Dr. Gertrude Barber Center in Erie.

She has made numerous presentations and publications, including speaking at the Chautauqua Institution four times, as well as four times at the New York State Association of Retarded Citizens Annual Symposium. She belongs to several organizations including the board of directors for Success by Six; the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; the Council for Exceptional Children; the Chautauqua County Association for Aging; and the Chautauqua Regional Civic Orchestra.

With all this background, Rockey said she has chosen to stay at Westfield for a long time. "It is only through longevity that you can create the change you need," she said. "If you change positions too often, no one wins."

Rockey said she has not made any concrete plan to be implemented at Westfield because she has not had the opportunity yet to observe the interaction between the students and teachers and staff. "I've only had the opportunity to observe through paper and pencil," she said. "What you see on paper and what you see in operation are often way different."

The summer has been spent getting to know as many of the teachers and staff as possible, Rockey said. "I love the staff I have met. From what I have seen. They are an open and giving group, willing to work together and clearly dedicated to the children," she said.

In her meetings with teachers and staff at the elementary school, Rockey said two themes have emerged. There is a desire for "stronger curricular alignment," both within each grade level and throughout the school, she said. Also, teachers and staff desire to have "a sense of ownership" in teaching of the students so that they feel they are part of a team. ""These are the key things are going to start out the year with," she said.

Rockey said she feels it is "critical" to provide each child with what they need to reach their potential. This not only involves academics but opportunities for extracurricular activities.

"Every child needs something. Every child needs a passion," Rockey said. "We need to work with the community to help children engage in their passion."

Rockey said she believes in positive discipline that focuses on being preventative. Most discipline problems occur in unstructured settings, such as hallways and the cafeteria, and often are a result of a child not thinking about their actions, she said.

Rockey said she tries to build a rapport with students that fosters mutual respect. "This becomes the foundation for appropriate behavior," she said. "I usually put my arm around the child and say: 'You know, that may not have been the best decision.'"

At the end of the day, Rockey said, the purpose of education is the improvement of the child. "We have smart kids at Westfield and we need to see that each one reaches their capacity."



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