The Dutchess BOCES Board of Trustees accepted the resignations for the purpose of retirement for Superintendent Dr. Richard Hooley and Deputy Superintedent Cora Stempel at its December 9 monthly meeting. Stempel’s retirement is effective July 19, 2021 and Hooley retires effective August 31, 2021.
With eight decades of educational service between them, each has decided to retire after the current school year.
“Richard hit the ground running and he was a breath of fresh air,” said Board President Edward L. McCormick during the meeting. “He hasn’t had a moment’s rest since coming here and he’s never complained. He’s all about BOCES and BOCES’ children. It’s a bittersweet moment. Bitter that you are leaving and sweet for all you have accomplished.”
During their tenure, the public voted to approve a $36.8 million Dutchess BOCES capital improvement project, which is currently underway. The project will allow the Salt Point Center, Alternative High School, and Career and Technical Institute to be located on one campus. It was the first capital project approved in more than 50 years.
They also continue to lead the agency and support all Dutchess County school districts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is never easy to leave a position, but after more than 40 years in public education in three states, I think it is time,” said Hooley. “I wanted the Board and the State Education Department to have lots of notice so they could have time to fill the position.”
Hooley began as District Superintendent for Dutchess BOCES in September 2015, after 13 years as Superintendent of the Valley Central School District in Montgomery, NY. In his former work, he never had a failed budget or bond vote, supported one of the best early literacy programs in the Region, and began the Valley Central Education Foundation.
McCormick also praised Stempel during the meeting, saying her work with local districts earned BOCES nothing but respect.
“I’ve been duly impressed with Cora,” he said. “It was amazing she could come in and embrace so many people. I thank her for her contributions, hard work, all of the hard decisions, and the work with our components.”
Stempel, who marks her 40th year as an educator this year, began her career in Camden, Maine as a special education teacher in a private day school. After teaching in public and private, day and residential schools in Maine, New Hampshire and New York, Stempel began her administrative career in 1990. She was named Deputy Superintendent in 2016, after serving 12 years in the Hyde Park Central School District.
“My role as Deputy Superintendent has allowed me to focus on all of the things I love the most: student programs for special populations, professional learning opportunities for educators, leadership development and systems change,” said Stempel. “It's my hope that in the last five years my colleagues and I have strengthened our programs and built the collaborative relationships necessary for that work to continue to grow.”
McCormick said that each had worked hard and earned the right to move on to the next phase of life. “In the future, I know we will be saying ‘What would Richard do? What would Cora do?’” The Board of Trustees expects the search for replacements to begin early next year.
“This has been a wonderful experience with a terrific team. Over my almost six years, together we have accomplished much,” said Hooley. “I will miss the work, but more than that I will miss the people in this Agency who have been so kind and patient with me.”