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The Telegram
  • Ilion superintendent honored

  • To honor retiring Superintendent Robert J. Service staff, faculty and administrators had to take the surprise approach.

    Serving the district for almost five years, at the end of a career spanning over 30 years as a teacher, administrator and superintendent, Service built a reputation for being humble.

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  • To honor retiring Superintendent Robert J. Service staff, faculty and administrators had to take the surprise approach.
    Serving the district for almost five years, at the end of a career spanning over 30 years as a teacher, administrator and superintendent, Service built a reputation for being humble. 
    So, at the Ilion Central Music Awards on Wednesday, Marsha Mays-Smith, director of Public Personnel Services, delivered a highly dangerous speech of recognition.
    “You see, he is very modest about his accomplishments and threatened the life of anyone who made a big deal out of his retirement.” said Mays-Smith.
    To compound the risk of bodily harm administrators presented Service with an unconventional award.
    Playing off of the superintendent’s adventurous streak, a $500 gift from his staff to purchase hot-air balloon rides and hamper with balloon bouquet served as the culmination of the unexpected ceremony.
    “I was very surprised,” said Service in a phone interview, and he didn’t seem angered by the gift, “They tease me about it (the expeditions)...I like snorkeling, and my family and I have even gone zip-lining through the jungle.”
    With a calm demeanor on the phone, Service proved the jokes about threats of rage and injury false, and yet he couldn’t help but live up to the part about being humble.
    “Frankly, I’m honored, but the recognition belongs to the students. It’s for the kids.” said Service, spreading the credit for his work. “I’m lucky enough to have a great board, staff, and faculty; I just happened to be in the position.”
    Having cited numerous additions to the district, from new computers to an improved literacy program, Mays-Smith emphasized Service’s commitment to a rounded educational experience that includes art and music.
    “It’s apropos to recognize him at the music awards,” said Mays-Smith in a phone interview, “He knows what is necessary to build a person of character.”
    “When you look at what our kids are doing with music and art...it really makes you proud,” said Service who went as far as comparing student plays and musicals to the shows in New York City, “Ours are better than Broadway.”
    As the end of the school year approaches, and despite his not asking for the fuss, the devoted educator summed up the send off by saying, “I’ll remember it the rest of my life.”

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