North Colonie school superintendent reflects on long career

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COLONIE – Joe Corr is a familiar face in the large North Colonie school district.

“We’re all teachers in our family and I like to say that it is the family business and I’m proud of that fact,” he said. “I think it’s a blessing to be an educator. I think it’s a blessing to work with kids. It’s a blessing to work with their families. It’s a blessing to learn with them, to grow with them, to provide opportunities for them. I think it’s a wonderful—I think it’s more than a career, it really is a calling, a vocation.”

He taught at Shaker in the 1980s into the 1990s, eventually becoming superintendent in 2010.

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Even in tough economic times, he says, they still were able to improve programs.

He’s devoted more than 40 years to North Colonie schools.

“Teaching is such a beautiful activity,” he said. “When students from the past speak to me now and when they talk about a moment of joy or something that was really positive in their experience, that really is —the reward that you get from that is indescribable. Teaching is wonderful, and it’s so great, but I think if you’re in education, and you move into administration, and you look into superintendency, you still are teaching.”

He’s led North Colonie through challenges, including the pandemic.

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He is proud of the new middle school expanded facilities, and of the popular innovation labs, which are spaces for collaborative project-based learning.

“I’m also proud of our commitment to meeting the educational needs of each and every child and to look at providing an equitable experience for each and every child, so that really means giving children what they need, not giving them the same, but looking at each child, looking at what children need and modifying programs.”

“His dedication to this district is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Deputy Superintendent Kathleen Skeals, who will be the next superintendent. “His commitment, he thinks about it 24/7, so I’m so happy he can have some time for himself for his family to travel, to do other things. But we will miss him because everything about him is infused in this district. The values, the philosophy comes from the top. He has set that for all of us to be what I think is a really humane organization, a caring organization.”

“He will be tremendously missed,” said incoming Assistant Superintendent Natelege Turner-Hassell. “Personally for me, it’s been a wonderful experience, a wonderful opportunity to get to know him better. He will be greatly missed.”

After 50 years in education, he’s not sure what he’ll do next, but he’s keeping an open mind.

“It has been a blessing and I feel that I am going to miss it, but I’m also just filled with gratitude, having had the opportunity to serve.”