It’s been 5 months since Mr. Day retired from the position of Superintendent here at Sweet Home and Mr. Ginestre took over. Panther Eye Editor-in-Chief Matt McGowan and News Editor Hunter Tryloff sat down to discuss how these first few months have gone, and to learn a bit more about him.

As part of our interview, we asked Mr. Ginestre about his past experiences and personal life. He had previously worked as the Superintendent of the Sherman Central School District for five years. Part of his decision in coming to Sweet Home was the opportunity to move back home. “I actually grew up in North Tonawanda and when the opportunity came to move back home near family and friends it was certainly something that I wanted to look at.”

Moving from Sherman CSD, a smaller school district of roughly 500 students total, to a larger school district hasn’t been much of an issue for Ginestre. “There’s been such a great support network here in the district office. There’s Mrs. Balazs and Mr. Feldmann who have been not only very welcoming, but super supportive and [they both] love this school district.” Mr. Ginestre cited his connections to the local area as well in regards to the transition. “It really hasn’t been a culture shock, I feel like I fit in.”

And fit in he does. Before starting his career as a teacher, Ginestre worked as a professor at St. John Fisher College. As a professor Mr. Ginestre had to teach himself how to be an effective educator and how to really connect with students. “I think what benefited me the most is [that] I had to learn it on my own, you know, I really had to learn a lot to figure out how to be effective at what I was doing. In order to reach students, you have to build strong relationships with them.”

Mr. Ginestre also worked in public relations out of college and believes that his experience has helped him alot when it comes to communicating with the community. “It’s a two way street back and forth, you have to talk as much as you listen…and so that listening piece is really what I’ve been focusing on a lot in my first few months on the job here and it’s been fantastic.” 

After signing a three year contract with the district in August, Ginestre started at Sweet Home, the second of August being his first official day on the job. Since then he’s worked closely with building administrators across the district, especially with High School Principal Mr. Perry to ensure the success of the district. Ginestre expressed his interest in pushing preparedness for post-high school experiences for students and making sure the proper courses are offered in the building, “we want to make sure that every student at Sweet Home, no matter what their background is, has every access to every opportunity here and has every opportunity to succeed.” 

Particularly, Ginestre mentioned the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and their work towards ensuring everyone has equal and fair access to all course offerings, jobs and what is taught. “We are working with the student government right now to find members for that committee, which will contain three students.” The committee will work with the Board of Education and parents from the community to determine the best course of action for the district.

When asked about COVID and the impact on his first few months with the district, Ginestre said it made some decisions tough, but overall the impact was minimal. He stressed how safe the schools had been throughout the pandemic, citing only two situations where transmission of COVID-19 occurred within a school building. “We’re trying to bring back the student experience and trying to give students the full Sweet Home experience that they have here,” said Ginestre. In doing so, Ginestre stated that unless the government intervenes, there will be no remote learning for students.

“It’s really impacted a lot of us in an adverse way emotionally and if we go remote again we’re just going to start all over and we do not want to do that. The safest place for students to be is in school. No question about it. So we’re gonna stay open.”

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