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Panama’s Wolfe Ready For New Role

Aaron Wolfe

Panama Central School’s newly appointed superintendent is looking forward to his new position.

Aaron Wolfe currently works as director of human resources at Olean City Schools, where he has been for six years. Before that, he worked at Cattaraugus Little Valley.

Wolfe’s appointment, announced in July, will take effect Oct. 1, following the retirement of current superintendent, Bert Lictus, who has been with the district for the past 21 years.

He first began looking into becoming a superintendent during his time at Cattaraugus Little Valley.

“Previously before my current role in Olean, I worked in a principal and curriculum role at Cattaraugus-Little Valley,” Wolfe said. “When I came to Olean I was already moving into a more district level position instead of a building position. I thought about it then, and I think I now have a feel for a district position.”

Additionally, Wolfe said growing up in a rural area has left him with a liking for rural school districts.

“I always wanted to start in a position like this in a rural area,” he said. “I grew up in a farming community and I’m looking forward to being back in a rural environment once again.”

Mostly, Wolfe feels like he can bring a lot of experience to Panama from his time in different roles.

“My experiences have been varied,” he said. “I’ve been in teaching roles, a counselor, a curriculum coordinator, a staff developer through BOCES, a principal, and I’ve recently had experience in school personnel leadership.”

Wolfe added that he is excited to follow in the footsteps of previous leaders at Panama.

“There’s a strong leadership history here and I’m excited to be part of it,” Wolfe said. “I intend to listen to stakeholders in Panama and be a leader with an understanding of the values of the community. I’ve already met some of the members of the Panama community through the interview process and at the reception and I’m looking forward to meeting more of them and working with them.”

Though Wolfe applied for jobs in both larger and smaller districts, he said the size of the school district is what attracted him the most to Panama.

“I’m fairly familiar with smaller districts,” he said. “I also became very interested in Panama after the first interview and interaction I had with people. I think you don’t really understand a district until you’ve spent some time in it and with the people there. I had a really strong connection with the people that I interviewed with. They have a great sense of humor and a strong passion for the standard of education in Panama. Throughout the whole process of interviewing with the board and the different interview groups, I became even more interested.”

There are a number of different challenges that face small school districts and Wolfe hopes to be able to address those in Panama.

“One of the greatest challenges I think for small schools is the shrinking student population,” he said. “Another is the need to attract staff to come and work in smaller districts. The third I think is the need to be financially responsible with district funds. Small districts are already attractive for many people. I think we can provide programs for students that allow them the opportunity to get involved in local industry and business. I think Panama already has a solid system that is attractive for many local families.”

Wolfe said throughout the interviewing process all he heard was praise about Panama.

“A lot of people said, ‘Oh, you’re moving to a great district,'” Wolfe said. “I want to be able to help Panama increase the pride and expand the boundaries of education that already exist and to help them be able to attract more great people in teaching, administrative, faculty and staff positions. This is a problem all across New York State, but it can have a greater impact in smaller communities.”

Wolfe said he is excited to start this new position.

“I’m very much looking forward to being superintendent,” he said. “The people there have such kindness and openness and it has been a joy already to work with them. I’m excited to start in October. It’s a fantastic school and has a great reputation. I’m honored to get to be a part of it.”

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