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District Hires Director Of Curriculum And Instruction

photo of michelle robinette


The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District has hired a former student and current parent to serve as its next Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Michelle Robinette’s appointment was approved by the Board of Education to take over for Patti Larche, who retired in December after spending about 20 years in various roles at Midlakes. Robinette joined the district on Dec. 3 after an extensive interview process involving teachers, administrators and other district personnel.

She previously served as the Director of Curriculum for the Red Creek Central School District, and has a background that includes work as a district data coordinator, in addition to several teaching roles, said Matthew Sickles, superintendent of Phelps-Clifton Springs schools.

"Michelle is also a Midlakes graduate and parent of four current Midlakes students," Sickles said. "The Board of Education and I are excited to add Michelle's professional expertise and investment in our community to the Midlakes family."

Robinette, whose great-grandparents, and then great-uncle, ran Goodman’s Corner Store in Phelps for many years, shared more about her connection to Midlakes, background and interest in social media during a recent interview.

Why Midlakes?

My father graduated from Phelps. He was proud to play sports against Clifton Springs as a Phelps Bulldog. I graduated as a Midlakes Screaming Eagle in 1992. It is a great community. Now my four children attend Midlakes and I always thought it would be a dream come true to come back here to work. 

What’s your educational philosophy? 

I have always had a “whole child” philosophy. I grew up on reduced-price lunch, living in a trailer on my grandparents’ property. I was successful in school and was the first in my family to go to college because of the supportive people in my life, including my teachers at Midlakes. Some are still on staff. I believe it is of the utmost importance that we do all we can to help our students to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Can you share more on your career?

I always wanted to be a math teacher but once I began teaching I decided to get my master’s in special education thinking it would make me a better math teacher. I loved it so much that when an opening came up at Palmyra-Macedon Middle School, where I was teaching, I applied and made the switch. I was later asked by many administrators if I would consider going into administration, so I decided to complete the program at SUNY Oswego, and later worked as a data coordinator in Syracuse. With four young children, I wanted to get back into the Wayne-Finger Lakes region so I took a position at BOCES and later went to Red Creek before joining Midlakes.

Have you always aspired to be a Director of Curriculum and Instruction? 

In special education, I had the opportunity to co-teach with several different educators, which opened my eyes to the different styles of teaching by my colleagues. I learned so much from each of them. Once I decided to get my administrative certifications, I knew I wanted to work in curriculum.

What impresses you about Midlakes? 

I couldn’t be happier with how the Midlakes staff is so caring and positive, not only with the students but with each other. They are willing to try new things and reach out to each other for ideas. It makes it exciting to come to work. It is great that we are small enough to still have that strong community feel, but large enough to offer so many academic and extracurricular programs.

What areas are you ready to tackle?

I see my role as an opportunity to help and support the principals and staff in achieving vertical alignment across subject areas so that there are smooth transitions for our students from one grade level to the next, particularly when they change buildings. 

You’re fairly active on social media. Why?

I typically use social media to stay connected with family and friends (Facebook) or to learn and share new things in education (Twitter). I have an Instagram account, but that is mainly to stay connected with what my children are doing. 

What role can it have to connect with parents and students? 

On all of these platforms it is important to be a messenger of positivity. There is too much negativity in the world right now. Sharing information with parents and students has to come in many forms — from hard copy newsletters and handouts to digital sharing on the district website or social media — to meet the needs of everyone in this busy world.