Well, it is finally June of what has been a very interesting school year. We began the year inspired and energized by Dr. Luis Cruz who challenged us to become a school that does whatever it takes to ensure success for ALL students, and I believe we are making great strides toward that goal.
Cruz said collaboration is key, and it is through the work of many that we began to put into motion a comprehensive technology plan for truly becoming 21st Centuryready.
We now have greater access to technology tools and resources in the classroom and beyond. We completely upgraded our technological infrastructure and underpinnings to become a wireless district. Laptops were provided to all teachers along with many professional development opportunities. We’re poised to provide incoming freshman with a 1:1 device they will keep throughout high school, and each building will be equipped with banks of Chromebook carts and interactive projectors in September. None of this would have been possible without the commitment and foresight of nearly 30 committee members who were involved in developing the district’s technology plan during the course of two years.
I continue to encourage all employees to become involved in moving our district forward—whether it be on district- and school-level committees or by teaching and learning from one another as in a true professional learning community. Implementation of the district’s strategic plan continues to allow opportunities for teachers to serve in roles where they facilitate learning and professional development for their peers.
This is an unprecedented, confusing, and yet amazing time in
education. So many resources are available that have the possibility
of helping us reach the student of today. The rapid pace of technology
acceleration is hard to keep up with, but, at the same time, we cannot
disregard it. Change is difficult and scary, and I think we all
understand that. But change is always the constant. Just because something is challenging does not mean we can ignore it or put up barrier after barrier to make it go away. The new standards have caused all educators to shift and reflect on instructional practice. While this leads to a period of discomfort, it always provides for growth, so it helps if we can develop that growth mindset I talked about in an earlier newsletter.
There are still many unknowns surrounding the direction of education in New York and across the country. We don’t know how the new evaluation system will look, nor whether testing will remain as it is currently administered or what direction our new education commissioner may take. However, I do know that facing all of these things is easier when we do it together as educators.
I’ve witnessed our staff members come together time and again—whether it’s comforting students and staff who have suffered the personal loss of friends or family members, or mourning the loss of one of our own students.
We’ve persevered through the ugliest winter we can recall in some time, budgeted without state aid figures, and endured the education industry’s changing political landscape. Despite these challenges, we also have much to celebrate.
The majority of students in the senior class plan to attend a four
year college after graduation, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell,
Purdue, Indiana University and Union College. Many students even
received academic or athletic scholarships. This was not done alone
but in collaboration with families and all the teachers, coaches,
administrators and support staff they encountered over the years who
helped them grow into the well-rounded students they are today. We
witnessed the remarkable talents of our students in plays and
performances, including a fantastic musical for which both the high
school and individual students were recognized. We enjoyed the success
of many of our athletic teams, including our varsity boys’ baseball
team coming off a championship season as number one in the state and
our varsity boys’ football team returning to the dome in the number
two slot. Both our boys and girls teams throughout the year sustained
a high level of academics and each season we gathered to recognize
scholar athletes. Students also participated in extra-curricular
events, such as Masterminds, Student Cabinet with Assemblyman
Santabarbara, Respect Club and many others for which they were often
recognized with honors and awards.
We had fundraising opportunities, 5K runs and other events to aid
community members in need or support students and their families. So
many individuals participated or donated to these events,
demonstrating their love and concern for others. We shifted our food
service program at the high school to allow for increased options for
students and opened the Sabre Café which has been a great hit, all while helping to increase the food service department’s bottom line. We passed another school budget and elected three members to our Board of Education. We also survived the testing season with about 31% of our students in grades 3-8 refusing to take the ELA, math, or science exams this year. As many embark on their summer vacation, we say goodbye to many dedicated and devoted staff members including:
We appreciate all they have done on behalf of our students and families, and they will be greatly missed. We will be hiring new staff this summer and look forward to introducing them to you in September.
There are many professional development opportunities offered during the summer that I hope you can take advantage of, particularly around the technology initiative. Of course, I also hope you use the summer time to relax, refresh and enjoy the warmth with family and friends.
I look forward to seeing everyone back together again in September!