For more than 90 years, the school superintendents of Dutchess County have been passing along a trophy to recognize the longest serving superintendent in the county as the “Dean of the Dutchess County Administrators.” The trophy, a mace in the shape of a club, is a symbol of authority. The tradition dates back to 1929.
Upon retirement, the superintendent entrusted with the Mace has his or her name engraved upon the trophy and then returns it to the Dutchess BOCES District Superintendent who then presents it to the next in line.
“If you’re the most senior superintendent right now, when you leave your name is added,” said Dr. Richard Hooley, Dutchess BOCES District Superintendent. “Some of the superintendents were true legends because of their seniority.”
The most recent name engraved on the trophy is Dr. Greer Rychick of the Hyde Park Central School District. She retired November 1 after 10 years as superintendent. She is the first female to hold the trophy.
"I was surprised and honored to spend some time with the Dean of Dutchess County Administrators’ Mace. I did not even know it existed until Dr. Hooley informed me that I was the new recipient,” said Rychick. “The fact that it took 91 years to land in the hands of a female superintendent speaks for itself. There are many extraordinary seasoned and fledgling educators in Dutchess County and I hope that my tenure as a superintendent inspires other women to seek top administrative positions."
Dover Union Free School District Superintendent Michael Tierney will next receive the MACE, Hooley said. The first superintendent to have their name engraved in the MACE was Earl Norton, of the Pawling Central School District, who served from 1929 to 1963, a total of 34 years. Tierney will be the tenth caretaker of the Mace.
“It’s kind of an interesting and fun recognition of service,” Hooley said. “I’ve never been in a place where they do this. We have a relatively new group of superintendents now,” he said.
In the past four years, eight superintendents have been hired in the Beacon, Hyde Park, Millbrook, Pawling, Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Spackenkill school districts, Hooley said. He added that the search is on for new superintendents in both the Arlington and Wappingers districts.
The last superintendent before Rychick to receive the MACE was Joe Phelan, of the Rhinebeck Central School District, in 2006. Phelan retired from his role earlier this year after 22 years of service.