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Richard Wiesenthal
New Paltz Middle School
New Paltz Central School District
New Paltz, New York

Bringing in an “amazing” team of teachers is one of Richard Wiesenthal’s proudest accomplishments as principal of the 535-student, grade six through eight New Paltz Middle School. Over the twenty-six years of his tenure, Wiesenthal has had the opportunity to hire the majority of the existing staff, each of whom shares the philosophy that all students can learn, and given the right circumstances, do. Always knowing that the hallways and classrooms were “where the action was,” Wiesenthal has learned over the years to rely on the extraordinary people in his team who play critical roles in ensuring managerial tasks are performed so that he can step up as the school’s instructional leader. Wiesenthal credits the collaborative strengths of his assistant principals, guidance counselors, teachers, and office staff for making the leadership-management balance a success. In turn, he provides broad support to teachers by scheduling time for daily team meetings to discuss student progress and by meeting with each team weekly to share plans and ensure that their efforts on behalf of students get every chance to succeed. Says his superintendent of Wiesenthal, “This is the mark of a great instructional leader, to view his successes in terms of the professional learning community he was instrumental in building.” Revamping Paltz to reflect the middle school philosophy through mixed grade home-bases, interdisciplinary overnight trips, a personal responsibility program, and a highly active student council are additional significant accomplishments of Wiesenthal. He holds a B.S. from the State University of New York as well as an M.A. and Ed.D. from Fordham University.