Rhonda Underhill, the new principal at Perkins Elementary School, said she loves learning.
“I’m always learning, I’m often reading about learning,’’ she said. “My kids think I’m working when I’m reading books about school, as they call them, and I remind them that this is what I enjoy doing.”
Underhill comes to Newark from Watkins Glen Elementary School, where she was the assistant principal. The Penn Yan resident’s appointment was approved by the Newark board of education in April 2019 to fill the vacancy created by Sue Achille after her retirement.
“I’m very excited about being hired to be the new principal at Perkins,’’ Underhill said. “I feel this district and its vision matches my vision for education.”
Underhill spent 14 years in the Hammondsport Central School District, six as a first grade teacher, six teaching sixth grade and two as a special education teacher for grades K-5. She was the staff coordinator with Greater Southern Tier BOCES for the Canaseraga and Avoca school districts before moving to Watkins Glen.
“My most recent classroom experience was in first grade,’’ Underhill said. “I’ve also done a lot of work around social-emotional learning with students and its impact on academics, especially with the youngest students to make sure their brains are prepared for learning.”
Underhill believes in the effectiveness of parent and community involvement in education — everyone working together to provide the help and wrap-around services to meet individual student needs.
Newark Superintendent Matt Cook and Krista Lewis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said they are thrilled about Underhill’s hire and how she’s prepared for her new job.
“This was one of the most competitive hiring processes that I have seen and we had several excellent candidates vying to take over for Sue Achille at Perkins,” Cook said. “Everything we have seen from Rhonda so far has reinforced the committee’s decision. Since her appointment in April, she’s come to board of education meetings, the Elementary Art Show, Perkins field days and sat in on a session writing the Perkins school improvement plan for next year. She’s working on learning the names of all the students and staff, and is looking forward to hitting the ground running in September. I’m thrilled to have her as part of this team.”
“Rhonda has already attended several Perkins School events, and is getting to know students, staff and families,” Lewis said. “Students and staff will surely continue to learn and grow with her leadership.”
Underhill graduated from Campbell-Savona High School. She received her Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education from Keuka College, Master of Science in education from Elmira College, and Certificate of Advanced Study in educational administration from the College at Brockport.