The Williamsville School Board Thursday voted to appoint a new superintendent, looking for some upper management stability after a tumultuous year with COVID-19.
The school year opened in September with Superintendent Scott Martzloff being put on administrative leave because of problems getting schools open in the depths of the pandemic. John McKenna was then moved from assistant superintendent for human resources to acting superintendent.
Eventually, Martzloff was bought out and McKenna resolved some, but not all, of the problems brought on by the virus. McKenna moves back to HR July 1 as Buffalo Public Schools Chief of Staff Darren Brown-Hall takes over as the new superintendent.
Brown-Hall said he saw opportunity in Williamsville.
"I felt that this was the right time, learning everything I learned in my role in Buffalo Public Schools, to pursue a superintendent position," Brown-Hall said. "Knowing that Williamsville is the largest suburban district and I'm used to working in a large district and it's the number one-ranked district in all of Western New York, I thought that my skills lined up very well with the greatness that's already here."
Brown-Hall will be the first Black school superintendent outside of Buffalo in Erie County. He was chosen from a field of eight candidates -- seven local -- and three finalists.
"Even thought eight is a small number, the quality of the applicants was very strong and the quality of all three of our finalists was extremely strong," said School Board President Teresa Leatherbarrow. "It was a very difficult decision to make, since all three of our finalists held proven records of demonstrated quality leadership and that's what we were looking for here."
School Board President Teresa Leatherbarrow sids no current school superintendent applied for the position. Brown-Hall is the fourth-member of Buffalo Superintendent Kriner Cash's cabinet to move to another district as a superintendent.
Asked what he looks for when walking through a school, Brown-Hall said learning.
"Always looking for quality teaching and student learning, right? So that's our ultimate goal in education, to make sure students are learning every day and that's there's quality teaching going on," he said. "And our role as administrators and senior staff is to make sure that we're removing any barriers that make or inhibit a teacher from instructing or a student from learning."