A visibly overwhelmed James Scannell, who was officially announced as the next superintendent of Baldwin schools at a Board of Education meeting on April 10, didn’t know when to stop shaking hands. A standing ovation followed board President Kim Taylor’s reading of the personnel action appointing Scannell, and the superintendent-elect rose and proceeded down a long table, beaming and accepting the congratulations of his colleagues.
He shook hands with the current superintendent, Dr. James Mapes, who will retire in June, and then with the board trustees. Moving down the line, he found Ed Cullen, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, and Rosemarie Coletti, the assistant superintendent for human resources. Reaching the end of the row, Scannell doubled back and, clearly a bit flustered, shook some hands for a second time.
During his return trip, the applause died down and the nearly 100 residents in attendance resumed their seats. Still grinning broadly, Scannell made his way back to the end-of-the-table seat he has occupied since 2009 as the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction.
There was no embarrassment in this good-natured mishap; it was merely the happy confusion of someone seeing a long-held dream finally morphing into a reality. It was a special night for Scannell, who heard congratulatory remarks from his brother, County Legislator Joe Scannell, and State Assemblyman Brian Curran.
A lifelong Baldwin resident who, as assistant superintendent, spearheaded popular education initiatives, including the School-To-Careers program and the Hastings Academy, Scannell was the unanimous choice of a board that mulled its options carefully.