Special Edition: HCS Principal Discusses Relationship with Colgate

Since 1946, Colgate University and Hamilton Central School (HCS) have shared the responsibility of educating students within the Hamilton area. While commonly known by students as the school on West Kendrick Avenue, HCS is the primary educator of local Hamilton citizens, educating students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

For the past ten years, Kevin Ellis has been the Hamilton Central elementary school Principal. Prior to his role as head of the school, he taught fourth and fifth graders for thirteen years, and he served as a reading teacher and coordinator for one year. He has dedicated his time and skill to educate the Hamilton youth and throughout his time at HCS, he has defined and implemented the school’s mission. 

The HCS Elementary website states its goal as: “[Establishing] independent thinkers, metacognitive learners and seekers of knowledge.  We strive to create an environment that allows for collaborative learning and academic discourse. Authentic, student driven learning increases the engagement level and provides opportunities for students to be creative, resilient and develop self-efficacy. In addition, it is our responsibility to grow self- reflective and appropriate decision makers, in order to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

Mr. Ellis, a significant contributor to the mission’s constituents, commenting on the school’s development.

“My hopes for the school are to be a world class school that gives students the opportunities to be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century,” Ellis said. 

By virtue of its geographic location, HCS benefits from the close relationship it shares with Colgate students and resources.

Mr. Ellis highlighted his gratitude for the many clubs and organizations that Colgate volunteers offer HCS students of all ages. Colgate has extended its hand through a variety of extracurricular programs, including the Foreign Language program, which introduces foreign languages to second graders each Friday, as well as the Women of Computer Science, which has taught coding classes for the past two years. Other clubs include the Writer’s Club, the Liberty Kids Reading Club, the Math Club, the Prize Speaking Club, the Hamilton Outdoor Group, the Geography Club and the Side-Kicks mentoring group.

Principal Ellis mentioned that Colgate’s donations to HCS have been an integral part of the school’s success, as the funding has been used to provide professional development opportunities for HCS educators. Because of the upcoming year’s 0.06 percent budget reduction, Colgate’s contributions are especially valuable. According to Ellis, on behalf of HCS, Colgate volunteers and administrators should know that their support is greatly appreciated. 

In reference to the Colgate students and faculty, Ellis lauded the University’s contributions to HCS.

“Were it not for the volunteering of Colgate student’s and faculty’s time,

energy andexpertise we would not have [so many opportunities] that most schools do not have,” Ellis said.

HCS’s principal then alluded to the economic disadvantages that contribute to some of the school’s struggles. With 25 percent of its students eligible for free reduced lunch, HCS recognizes that many of its students need “supplemental supports to be successful,” and that it is imperative for the school “to identify these students early and give them the supports they need to advance their learning.” 

“It is also important to meet the needs of our accelerated learners. Providing programs and practices for all students to grow and be challenged everyday is in our mission,” Ellis stated.

Despite the school’s economic obstacles, HCS benefits from its small-sized community, which allows the school to conduct itself in an intimate fashion while still offering students “the educational opportunities of a large school.” 

HCS educators meet their students in prekindergarten and watch them grow in the same building until graduation, which may be accredited to the school’s “family-like environment.”

In January, Hamilton Central School was named one of Niche’s 2016 top 100 school systems in New York state. With Colgate’s support, the faculty’s dedication and the students’ drive, HCS can continue to educate and serve the district at a high-performing level. Principal Kevin Ellis confirmed HCS’s mission to meet the needs of its students, as well as stimulate and develop their intellect.