Dr. Michael O'Laughlin
Kendall Central School
1932 Kendall Road
Kendall, New York
(585) 659-2741

Dr. Michael O'Laughlin

(speech given at Dr. O'Laughlin's farewell reception - January 2007)

by Edward Gaesser, Kendall Board of Education President

Over the Xmas holiday I started inquiring about Dr. O's reception. I quickly found out that Mike really did not want any fanfare.

As Board President I wanted to respect Mike's wishes, however we cannot let him just quietly move on to the pinnacle of his career with out a proper send off and show of appreciation from this District that he has dedicated so much of his life and career to. But what to do? Dr. O is not retiring, in fact, he probably will be more challenged and work harder than when his career first started, also he is not really leaving us, as now he will be our new Superintendent's boss. So the only thing I can think of that is really fitting is that after 21 years at Kendall Mike is now finally graduating.

One of the most enjoyable and nerve racking jobs of being Board President is reading all graduates profiles. So Dr. O. are you ready, (here we go.) Please step forward – front and center just like every Kendall graduate.

Dr. Michael O'Laughlin Class of 2007
Dr. O'Laughlin began his career at Kendall as Administrative Assistant for grades K-12 in August of 1985. The following year in September 1986 he became Principal of the Junior Senior High School.

During Mike's tenure as Principal he was perhaps best known for:
  • his near zero dropout rate, expressing his belief many times that “all students can learn if they believe that they can”;
  • He lead the district to improve services for special education students, with the introduction of the inclusion setting;
  • Mike worked to expand Kendall's enrichment offerings through GCC, the 3-1-3 program, advanced placement courses, and programs for all grade levels through BOCES 2 Gifted and Talented Education, indicative of Mike's attitude that “students and teachers can achieve great things with encouragement and support”;
  • Mike was also known for challenging students to take a more strenuous approach to their coursework, especially as seniors;
  • He has always supported the arts and athletics which was always apparent in his attendance at games and concerts alike.
In August 2000 (Mike) became Superintendent of Schools. To his credit for the last 6 years KCS has ranked high on the list of public school districts in Western New York as rated by Buffalo's Business First Newspaper. Last year, the Jr. Sr High School also ranked 21st of all 114 public high schools in the 8 county region, and 9th out of 97 school districts for cost effectiveness based on a comparison of academic performance and school expenditures. In 2002, Mike led the district through a $4.75 million facilities project including an addition to the High School, new athletic facilities, a new bus garage, and updates to the Elementary School .

While Dr. O will always be known as a motivating force for higher standards and improved technology here at Kendall, I think he will be even more remembered for his “people skills”. As Superintendent, he greeted his students outside, in front of the elementary school every morning; and took a daily walk through the school chatting with students. He walked through the high school at least 3 days a week talking with students and staff getting the general pulse of the building. Regardless of whether it is a student, a staff member, or a colleague – Mike always takes the time to listen………….

I believe Dr. O' leadership quality is best described by Author Peter Drucker who said: Leadership is not magnetic personality—that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people"—that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

After 21 years at Kendall, Mike has become a trusted friend, an academic leader and one of the most respected members of our community. The Kendall Centrall School District and the Kendall Community will greatly miss him. We wish him and his family health and happiness as he takes over as the Superintendent of Monroe County Boces2.

It is my pleasure to present to you the first graduate of the Class of 2007 . . . . . Dr. Michael O'Laughlin

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