The transition to interim superintendent has been an exciting one for Matthew Bystrak. His journey began on Monday, July 10 at the West Seneca Central School District Board of Education’s re-organization meeting. His appointment was followed with applause from parents, district employees and community members.
“I am very happy that the board of education listened to the school community and selected an interim superintendent that represents the compassion and collaboration that has brought our district together in the past,” said Joe Cantafio, president of the West Seneca Teachers Association.
“I’m a people person and I really enjoy the people I work with. That includes the kids, parents and all of the staff who work in the district,” Bystrak shared while sitting in his new office. “I like that people are so dedicated to what we are doing here. I would have to say that is my favorite part about doing this job.”
Bystrak, who received a bachelor’s degree in health and human services with a focus on community mental health and a master’s degree in social work from the University at Buffalo, started his professional career working for homeless shelters as well as in family court and the criminal justice system.
“One of my experiences was interning at a day treatment program at Baker Victory Services, which was a school program,” he shared between sips of coffee from his WSCSD mug. “It was my first exposure at a school and one of the first times I thought to myself, ‘I really want to do this.’ ”
The loving husband and father of two daughters started in West Seneca in 2003 when he was hired as a social worker at West Middle and Potters Road Elementary. After attaining his master’s degree in school administration from Canisius College, he became a teacher on special assignment, acting as an assistant principal at West Elementary.
“At the time there were 800 kids there,” he said. “I did that for a year and it was fantastic. I loved it!”
Once that assignment was over, he returned to work as a social worker, but this time at East Middle. A few months later he was hired as the assistant principal at West Middle, and three years later he was promoted to building principal.
In July 2016, Bystrak was promoted once again and was named the director of pupil personnel services, a position he continues to work in alongside his superintendency.
“I wasn’t looking for anything because I liked being the building principal, but I always liked the idea of working at the district level and seeing how the pieces fit together,” Bystrak shared.
He can further that exploration with his recently added title of interim superintendent. He hopes during this time to make sure the district continues to have good programming and support to make sure the school year starts off on a positive note.
“I’m honored and really happy to have the opportunity to be doing what I am doing right now,” Bystrak said.
“Matt hit the ground running as interim superintendent,” shared Carol Jarczyk, president of the board of education. “On day one he was reaching out to staff from every building. On day three I met with him and several members of our team. You could clearly see he was making certain we were moving forward without skipping a beat. The collaboration between all at the table was second to none. He is a great leader.”
“With Mr. Bystrak’s experience at the elementary, secondary and district levels coupled with him being a product of our West Seneca Schools makes him uniquely qualified to keep the district moving forward as we commence in the hiring process that will include all stakeholders to find the best superintendent for our schools,” Cantafio added. “I look forward to working with Mr. Bystrak and the administration.”