5 Questions with Dr. Duncan Wilson, incoming superintendent of North Salem Central School District


Dr. Duncan Wilson was recently appointed by the North Salem Central School District Board of Education to be the district's next superintendent of schools, effective July 1, 2023.

Dr. Duncan Wilson was recently appointed by the North Salem Central School District Board of Education to be the next superintendent of schools, effective July 1, 2023. Wilson succeeds current superintendent Dr. Ken Freeston, who will retire at the end of the current school year. Wilson has spent the better part of his career working in public school districts throughout Westchester County. He recently talked with the North Salem Post about his professional experiences, educational philosophy, and what he’s most excited for in this new role. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What drew you to this position?

I’m now in my fourth year working in a central office role. Before that, I spent 15 years as a building-level administrator. The timing felt right. I had heard that this role was available, having worked in the region for a long time, and I was approached to consider it. North Salem has a great reputation.

How would you describe your educational philosophy?

I think the role of schools is to take an optimistic stance and talk about how we are going to prepare kids for the future, as uncertain as it may seem right now. We need to educate people not just for jobs, but so that they’re good citizens of the world.

Schools really evolve around great work happening with students in the classroom. I always felt that my goal was to help facilitate those relationships. In my dissertation work at Teachers College, Columbia University, I looked at the role that teachers play in driving learning through good assessment. The value comes when teachers create assessments and other experiences in which kids can demonstrate their learning and then receive immediate feedback.

“Learning happens when good ideas, excited kids and passionate teachers come together.”

North Salem, as a district, is very interested in the kinds of learning experiences kids can have and the ways in which they can demonstrate their learning through things like capstone projects and civic engagement.

What kinds of work are you most passionate about?

I love working with teachers and seeing them do what they do. One of the pleasures I have in my current role as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Ardsley schools is working with new teachers. To see the excitement of the next generation of teachers - as they find their craft and ways to engage with kids - that just brings me joy. I also love seeing all the possibilities of kids engaging in different learning environments and excelling in different ways. That could be in the classroom, at a science research presentation, or at a cross country meet. Seeing kids trying to do things, excelling and being challenged - that’s what makes school a lot of fun.

What can North Salem families expect when you first assume the role of superintendent?

I plan to hit the ground learning. For the first six months to one year, I plan to be reaching out, listening, hearing what people in the school community are seeing and experiencing, and then reflecting that back to the community. That's part of what we call a good entry plan.

I’m not coming in with a Band-Aid telling people how to fix things. Together is how we set the path forward.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

My wife, Mary Elizabeth, and I are both career educators. In fact, she was “Dr. Wilson” before I was. She is the senior director of professional development and instructional technology at Southern Westchester BOCES. She’s one of my ‘phone-a-friends’ whenever there’s a question I have about a lot of things.

Our son is a competitive swimmer at Brown University. We get to head up to Providence, Rhode Island several weekends a year to see him do that.

Years ago, we lived on Route 116, so I’m fairly familiar with the North Salem area. I used to love going to the Swan Deli. Now that it’s closed, I’ll be looking for new recommendations for local lunch spots.

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