Not many retirees can say they are opening a new chapter in their lives that will include international travel and a new marriage.
But Croton-Harmon Assistant Superintendent for Business Diane Chaissan of Newburgh is about to turn that page.
Chaissan will be retiring in January, closing an 11-year career in the Croton-Harmon Union Free School District that she said she has enjoyed immensely.
“I love this district. I love the people,” she said. “My staff is the best and we work so well together as a team. I will miss them the most.”
Chaissan joined the school district in October 2007, after interviewing with former Superintendent of Schools Marjorie Castro, who persuaded her to leave Garrison, where she had been the business official for six years.
“I immediately fell in love with Croton-Harmon,” said Chaissan, “and with the opportunity to work for three great superintendents: Dr. Castro, Dr. Edward Fuhrman and Dr. Deborah O’Connell.”
Chaissan said she was blessed to have a second career in public service, after working for many years in the private sector running a family-owned 350-acre apple farm in Ulster County.
She received her master’s degree in educational administration from SUNY New Paltz after it became clear that the family would be selling the orchard.
Her plans include a lot of traveling. Her son, Kevin, lives in Australia, where Chaissan’s two-year-old grandson, Alec, is growing up fast. Her daughter Stephanie lives in Miami.
And perhaps most important is the location in Arizona of Chaissan’s fiancé, Dan, who is retired from a law enforcement career and is waiting for his future bride to visit more regularly.
For now, they plan to travel back and forth between Arizona and New York, where Chaissan will keep her home in Newburgh.
They have known each other since fifth grade and reconnected many years later.
"It’s one of those opportunities where it’s time,” said Ms. Chaissan, who hopes to parlay her business experience into non-profit work once she retires.
“I want to find something that I can really sink my teeth into, and give back,” she said.
What is she most proud of about her tenure in Croton-Harmon?
“From the beginning, I was included in discussions about the schools and the curriculum,” she said.
“Because of that, I know what questions to ask whenever we discuss spending. I meet with our unit presidents monthly to keep the lines of communication open, so we can discuss how to fix things and not to let any issues fester.”
People tell Chaissan that she will be missed because she makes things happen.
“I can’t think of many requests that we’ve had to turn down,” she said.
She is also proud of the fact that Croton-Harmon has budgeted wisely, retiring the district’s debt service but managing to stay on top of replacement schedules for items like computers, buses and large equipment.
“It’s all about maintenance,” she said. “We have done our best to run a smooth operation financially, without unnecessary spikes in spending or taxes. But we’ve still improved our schools.”
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