The City School District of Albany Board of Education has appointed Elaine Griessler as the new director of special education. A district veteran and currently the assistant director of special education, Griessler will replace Debby Sharpe-DeFries, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Griessler has worked in the district’s Special Education Department for six years, three as the Committee on Special Education chair and three as the assistant director. Prior to coming to Albany she served as a special education teacher and administrative leader in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District from 1998 until 2013.
“Many years of experience working in special education has taught me that there are a number of components involved in being a successful leader,” Griessler said. “It begins with communication, which includes building and sustaining positive relationships with families, students, teachers, administrators, staff and community partners.
“I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and expertise as the director of special education as I serve the students and families of Albany.”
Griessler is a graduate of the University at Albany, and holds a bachelor’s degree in both English and women’s studies. She earned a master’s in special education from The College of St. Rose and went on to earn a master’s in education from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where she also completed her administrative certification.
Sharpe-DeFries is retiring at the end of the school year after 31 years in the district.
She started as a special education teacher at Albany High School in 1988 and also served in that capacity at William S. Hackett Middle School and the district’s former Sunshine School. She then served as the Committee on Special Education chair and the assistant director of special education before taking over as director in 2006.
“It’s been my pleasure to work for the City School District of Albany all these years,” Sharpe-DeFries said. “I am so proud of the programs and services we have been able to develop and offer to our students during my time as director.
“I am grateful to the district for having given me the opportunity to serve staff, students, families and the community.”
The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves approximately 9,300 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.