Dr. Michele Darby
PD Center Welcomes New Assistant Director
Enthusiastic Educational Leader Michele Darby Named SWBOCES P.D. Assistant Director
Michele Darby is passionate about helping people improve. After years of directly impacting students as a teacher and principal, she now works collaboratively with administrators and faculty, facilitating their professional progress.
In July, Dr. Darby became the assistant director of professional development at Southern Westchester BOCES. She joined a strong team that plans and implements professional development and learning for SWBOCES’ 32 component districts. The Professional Development Center partners with districts to find the best ways of meeting student needs. The team also works alongside the New York State Education Department to train educators and disseminate critical updates.
“I’m very excited to be here at BOCES,” Dr. Darby said. “I want to help teachers and administrators so that they can help students. We’re guiding them from the theoretical to the practical and making them more comfortable.”
Dr. Darby believes in Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela’s philosophy that education is an individual’s strongest tool in life and that it can be used to change the world. She remarked that people can attain their goals if they have the right means. Similarly, teachers have the biggest impact on a students’ education. Dr. Darby’s job is to guide those teachers and administrators to perform their jobs as well as possible.
“Right now, we have to make sure that we’re doing a good job for the students,” she said. “We have to teach every adult how to be there for every child. We want to teach teachers how to deal with kids now. They need to be good leaders and impact the kids on their level, cultivating strong relationships and letting them know that we care.”
Dr. Darby is looking forward to the 2017-18 school year. She will be responsible for leading the Science and Technology Instructional Leadership Forum, the Fine and Performing Arts Instructional Leadership Forums, the P.E. Consortium and the New York State-mandated Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) trainings. She is also creating a leadership series designed specifically for new administrators. She welcomes the task of working hands-on with district employees to augment their work and ensure that they are kept up-to-date on all state mandates, curriculum news and compliance issues. She has already begun cultivating an engaging environment with continuous contact and support for the educators she works with to make sure that they can successfully implement SWBOCES’ instruction.
“I want all educators to look to BOCES as a leading source of guidance – no matter what the issue is,” Dr. Darby said. “In my sessions, I want people to walk away deeply impacted by something we discussed. Then they can implement what they learned, and we’ll follow up to ensure their success.”
Dr. Darby’s passion for education has not gone unnoticed. This summer, she was nominated for a Woman of Distinction Award by the New York State Assembly. The award honors women “who reach the very summit of perseverance and excellence, both in their professional fields and civic endeavors.”
Before arriving at SWBOCES, Dr. Darby was a teacher in Brooklyn. She then transitioned to assistant principal roles in Brooklyn and on Long Island, followed by principal positions at two schools on Long Island.
Despite her passion for instructional leadership, Dr. Darby did not initially intend to become an educator. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morgan State University and anticipated a successful career in that field. She turned to education at a friend’s suggestion, and was mentored by the friend’s friend, who was a principal. She then earned two master’s degrees – one in educational administration and supervision from Touro College and the other in school district leadership from Hofstra University – and her doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Dowling College.
Her knowledge of psychology has positively impacted her relationships in the education field. She has been able to develop stronger bonds with people – both adults and students – and brings a rich understanding of human nature and development to her work.