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Breakthrough Coach Transforms Croton School District

Edward Furhman
Edward Furhman Photo Credit: Contributed

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- These days you won't find Croton-Harmon School Superintendent Edward Fuhrman sitting behind a desk in his office all day.

Instead, you'll find him in classrooms, visiting school administrators and seeing the district firsthand.

In fact, he no longer even has a desk in his office – and it is not because of budget cuts. Fuhrman’s office, and indeed, his entire way of doing business, was transformed when he and his secretary, Denise Cuomo, recently attended the Breakthrough Coach program offered by the Center for Educational Leadership at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.

A two-day course for school administrators and their assistants, Breakthrough Coach is designed to teach administrative teams how to work together more effectively, freeing the administrator to spend more time visiting classrooms and focusing on student achievement.

“It has had a major impact on how I operate,” Fuhrman said. “I don’t have a desk in my office anymore, which means all my files are not in my office. They are outside my office and managed by my secretary.”

Rather than occupying a desk just outside the superintendent’s office, Cuomo now works from an adjoining office, reflecting their partnership. She is also now responsible for Fuhrman’s schedule and acts as a gatekeeper, deciding when he needs to see something.

For example, Fuhrman said, he needed to review the new services guide for BOCES. So, he told Cuomo he would need about an hour. She found the time in his schedule and when it was time, she handed him the services guide.

“I have given her much more responsibility to talk with parents, to decide when I need to see something. We meet once a day to go over what needs to be accomplished. That is a critical component to the Breakthrough Coach system,” he said.

Another benefit of the Breakthrough Coach program was the opportunity for the superintendent and his assistant to attend a professional development program together.

“I highly recommend the Breakthrough Coach,” said Cuomo. “We learned valuable tools, such as letting go of the need to save so many useless files, the importance of calendar planning, setting time aside each day to meet, and having the ability to keep the superintendent's day moving by ensuring that meetings do not run over by allowing the assistant to knock on the door and remind the boss that he has another meeting scheduled and will need to abide by the schedule. The idea that the secretary is the 'boss' was interesting for the both of us.”

The next session of Breakthrough Coach will be offered August 7 and 8, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, click here.

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