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Mr. Renino Reflects on 34 Years of Learning and Growth in Scarsdale

ReninoAfter 34 years in Scarsdale, SHS Assistant Principal Christopher Renino will retire at the end of the school year. While at Scarsdale, he has served as both a middle and high school English teacher, English Department Chair at the high school, and in his current position as Assistant Principal (AP) of the high school. As AP, he is responsible “for the instructional program at the high school, which includes creating the master schedule, working with department chairs and teachers to design and implement curricular changes, managing the building facilities, and overseeing the high school budget, among many other tasks,” noted colleague and fellow Assistant Principal Ms. O’Gorman. When asked about her colleague, Ms. O’Gorman called Renino “the kindest, most generous person I know. He possesses infinite patience in working through complex problems, always with an eye toward students' needs. He is a wonderful listener, and many have benefited from his advice over the years, including me. Chris is a deep thinker, a talented writer, a capable musician, an expert puzzle solver, and a devoted family man. Chris and I have worked closely together for many years and while I will miss his professional collegiality and expertise, that loss will pale in comparison to how much I will miss laughing with him over lunch!”. Below, Mr. Renino answered a series of questions and reflected on 34 years of learning and growth.

How did you end up in Scarsdale?
I was student teaching at the middle school when a position opened up mid-year due to a late year retirement. Luckily, my student teaching had just ended, so I took the position. I taught at the middle school for four years before transitioning to the high school, and later became English Department chair before becoming an assistant principal.

What has been the most rewarding experience(s) in your time at SHS?
The interpersonal relationships; having three roles as English teacher, English Department Chair, and Assistant Principal has shifted my perspective on both the school and the district. It’s allowed me to meet a new range of people and face a new range of challenges while becoming close to students, faculty, and leaders alike.

What has been one of the most difficult challenges you have overcome?
The tension between the individual and the institution. On a given day, there are roughly 1,800 individuals in the building. This complex organization can only function properly if we think in terms of the whole.

How did your role evolve from teacher to Assistant Principal?
Each role I’ve had has brought joy, challenges, and responsibility. Being a teacher means being passionate about the students and the curriculum while advocating for their personal mission. Being an Assistant Principal has the deeper responsibilities of communicating the broader perspective and missions of individual teachers. Although these responsibilities are different, everyone has the same goal.

What are some of the biggest challenges the school faces now?
SHS is a unique place that helps people learn and grow while meeting individual needs. We need to maintain aspects of the SHS experience that provide a rich education while not being complacent or self-satisfied.

On the topic of issues the school faces, how should school address Juul moving forward?
From a general perspective, schools are a reflection of broader society and the challenges faced by those in it, students come to us as people who have lives in and out of the building. The school needs to work with individuals to deal with the student as a whole while respecting their independence to create a community that allows us to deal with real issues.

What are some of the greatest lessons that you've taken away from the students here/from your experience?
Always listen. Be empathetic, kind, and optimistic. Be ready to grow and change.

Have you noticed any specific trends in education?
It’s hard to predict the future given the current generation’s communication is evolving quickly. The future is shaped largely on the way technology shapes communication and the challenge is to use tools we have to facilitate communication while simultaneously being constructive.

Do you have any specific retirement plans?
I’m going to spend more family time with my parents, siblings, in laws, and son and lead a less agenda-driven life. I’m going to enjoy a wide range of opportunities in more spontaneous ways.

What advice would you give someone who is entering the field?
Thirty-four years at Scarsdale have both challenged me and allowed me to grow. It’s been a real joy to teach at such a great place. It’s extremely important for new teachers to have a passion for education, to enjoy its pleasures and many growth opportunities.

Note: The Scarsdale School District has hired Chris Welsh to replace Chris Renino as a new Assistant Principal for Instruction and Operation. Welsh is now completing the school year in Pleasantville where he is the Curriculum Coordinator and Coordinator of Student Services. He who will officially join the SHS administration on July 1st.

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