Special Services Assistant Director Andrea Byrne
SWBOCES' Center for Special Services Has a New Assistant Director
Administrator Brings a Wealth of Experience to the Position
The new Special Services assistant director, a veteran educator with 25 years of experience, said Southern Westchester BOCES staff members have been “extraordinarily welcoming and receptive to ideas.”
Andrea Byrne, who started the job last summer, said her new colleagues are enthusiastic and work hard to support students, communicate with families and help children grow.
“The Southern Westchester BOCES faculty doesn’t hesitate to bring ideas to the table to make sure that students are getting everything they need instructionally, socially and emotionally,” Ms. Byrne said. “We consistently collaborate as a team within BOCES and partner with our families and the districts we serve to support all students.”
Ms. Byrne said she looks forward to working alongside faculty to support students and their families in their transitions.
Before accepting the SWBOCES position, Ms. Byrne spent some time chairing the Committee on Special Education meetings in the New Rochelle School District. Prior to that, she was director for curriculum and instruction at the Greenburgh-Graham School District, which educates children with learning challenges who can’t be served by their home districts.
In that job, which she held for eight years, Ms. Byrne worked with and coached teachers to create, adapt and implement curriculum and instructional practices that met the needs of all students.
“Our goal was to make learning more engaging and accessible for students,” she said. “We also wove in more experiential learning in the arts and athletics.”
She also worked to foster greater collaboration among teachers and among students and their peers at Greenburgh-Graham. She brought in Google Apps for Education and was involved in a grant through HP to fund Chromebooks for students. In addition to an achievement gap that kids faced, there was also a technology gap.
“Students had limited access to technology, so in the interest of equity in learning and building viable communication and vocational skills, we worked to change the culture,” Ms. Byrne said.
Before Greenburgh-Graham, Ms. Byrne was a consultant for curriculum and instruction in about 15 districts in three states. She supported administrators and teachers in reexamining programs; made recommendations for curriculum changes; coached educators on how to offer more engaging programs; and encouraged deeper data analysis of students’ performance.
Ms. Byrne is married to Eric Byrne, the Rye City School District superintendent. The couple has a daughter in college.
“We have spent our lives together in education,” Ms. Byrne said of her husband. “We met teaching at our first school 25 years ago or so.”
In addition to their dedication to education, they also share a love of travel. “I guess I see myself as an adventurer,” she said, adding that adventures include skiing, horseback riding, hiking and other outdoor activities. “We like to travel together. I do think that fuels my thinking and experiences, and I never want to be too far from kids.”
They have traveled to Europe, Thailand and China. Japan will be one of their next destinations. Earlier in their careers, the Byrnes spent four months helping set up an international school in China. She had been teaching English and journalism in the Ardsley School District when the opportunity arose. The couple took their daughter, who was 6 at the time, with them.
“It was a great exercise for me in learning about cultural diffusion and in the acceptance and understanding of identifying biases and making sure that an educational program does what it can to counteract those biases or just eliminate them altogether,” she said.