During the Averill Park Central School District Board of Education meeting on May 11, Joshua Gela was appointed the new Principal at Poestenkill Elementary School and Brian Rhode was appointed the new Assistant Principal at Algonquin Middle School.
Mr. Gela holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Elementary Education, which he earned at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and a Master of Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction from MCLA. He also completed his CAGS degree through MCLA’s Leadership Academy.
“My decision to become a teacher began between my sophomore and junior years in high school when I spent the summer as a coach in the Learn-to-Skate hockey program,” he said. “I would spend a significant amount of time on the ice each day working with the youngest players. It was there that I realized how much I enjoyed working with children and helping them develop and grow their skills. From that point on I knew I wanted to teach, and sought out other opportunities to volunteer in classrooms, coach and tutor.”
After college, Mr. Gela accepted a position as a teaching assistant in a special education preschool. He later spent a year teaching fifth grade at New Covenant Charter School in Albany and was hired to be a fourth grade teacher at Miller Hill-Sand Lake Elementary School in 2005.
In 2013, Mr. Gela moved to Algonquin Middle School to teach Social Studies before becoming a Data Coach. For the past four and a half years, he has been the Assistant Principal at AMS.
“Josh has proven to be an asset to the Averill Park community in every role he has taken on, from teacher to assistant principal,” APCSD Superintendent Dr. James Franchini said. “I am extremely confident his track record of success in our District will continue as he moves into the role of principal.”
Becoming a principal has always been a goal, dating all the way back to his own his school years.
“During my senior year in high school, the building principal was a great person. He cared about students and built lasting relationships with them. He and I had many conversations about my interest in becoming a teacher and I would often ask him about being an administrator. His advice was always the same – don’t leave the classroom before you are ready. That advice stuck with me and I spent 11 years teaching,” Gela said. “During all my experiences in education, I have always had great mentors who truly demonstrated the positive impact that administrators can have on the entire school community, and it was at that point that I decided to take the steps toward becoming an administrator.”
Mr. Gela has three children, a seventh grader and twins in fourth grade at Hoosic Valley CSD. His wife teaches fourth grade in Brunswick CSD. He is excited to take over at Poestenkill Elementary.
“This is an interesting and unprecedented time in education, and as a result I want to truly focus on building relationships with the entire school community so that I can support teachers, students and families,” he said. “I am looking forward to a time when students and staff are able to fill the halls and classrooms of Poestenkill Elementary School. PES has a rich sense of community and I am excited to be a part of a school that is passionate about creating opportunities for every student, every day.”
Mr. Gela is taking over for former Principal John Bishop. Mr. Rhode was the Interim Principal while APCSD conducted a search for a full time Principal.
Mr. Rhode now transitions into the role of Assistant Principal at Algonquin Middle School.
Mr. Rhode holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Eastern University; a Master’s Degree in General Education from West Chester University; and a PhD. In Education Policy and Leadership from SUNY Albany.
“Education changed my life for the better,” he said. “It has broadened my views about people and society and increased my desire for social justice. I went into teaching to help other people reach their potential and become more thoughtful and responsible citizens. I went into educational administration because I had the desire to be involved in continuing to shape the lives of students while also encouraging and nurturing the teachers who work with them. I believe that schools should be systems that equalize our society and bolster our collective humanity, making life better for all. As a school leader, I hope to be influential in realizing that vision.”
Mr. Rhode has been with APCSD since 2005. Prior to being the Interim Principal at PES, he was the Director of Professional Development and Teacher Evaluation. He also taught multiple grade levels at Poestenkill Elementary from 2005-2018.
“I am very excited to become part of the staff at AMS and to help to continue the excellent work they do with their students,” Rhode said.