Dear Putnam Valley Community and Colleagues:
As we look forward to a sunny and safe summer vacation, we look back on a productive and meaningful year with a mixture of joy and sadness. For many reasons, this has been a very long and emotional school year. The weather was relentless and cruel, and we continue to mourn the loss of our lovely fifth grader, Carmelo Prince Singleton. The Middle School yearbook is dedicated to this sweet and kind young man, and we know that he will always live on in the memories and affections of his classmates. His loss reminded us that we must treasure each moment with our loved ones. With the vulnerability we all share, I try never to say goodbye in the morning without a hug and the words, “I love you.” Finding something to be grateful for each day is also very good for our health and well-being.
For our staff and students, there was the disappointment of losing spring break and making up school days was imperative in order to meet state requirements. Teachers were seeking stability and continuity so that they could cover the academic material. I am grateful for the dedication of our staff as they recreated curriculum and practice opportunities. Many of our students were awarded recognition at the local and state level for their achievements. Our science research program, in particular, has demonstrated the capacity of our students to achieve at a world-class level. At recent Board meetings, we have had presentations by students who studied Mandarin Chinese this year and classes that worked with new technology, Flipgrid, to build public speaking and problem solving skills. A remarkable math challenge program at the Elementary School combined art and math to replicate the geometric abstract work of 20th century master, Piet Mondrian. Arts are active at every level, with exceptional performances. The Ruby Bridges Shadow Play at fourth grade tackled a sensitive subject to explore the courage of a child who integrated the Louisiana schools as the lone African American six year old child in an all-white segregated school setting. Most recently, the sparkling and hilarious duet, “Love is My Legs” from the PV High School musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels received a “Metro,” the regional four county high school equivalent of the Broadway Tony award.
We have many long-range projects that we are continuing to develop, along with our wide-ranging academic and elective programs, clubs and extracurricular athletic opportunities. A list of some of these projects follows:
- The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, science research program, full block schedule and unit lunch at the high school;
- “Later start” design and implementation at the high school;
- Block schedule at the middle school;
- Co-teaching models that add value to student learning through collaborative planning and teaching strategies;
- Engaging classroom instruction that challenge all students and develop student voice, choice, leadership and self-directed learning
- Integrated sustainability instructional goals and energy performance savings;
- Safety and security policy protocols, training and infrastructure;
- Next-Gen K-8 curriculum standards in ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies;
- Math and ELA challenge program at the Elementary School;
- Mandarin Chinese 7-12;
- K-8 Academic Intervention enhancement;
- Social Emotional Learning projects, including RULER;
- Negotiations with our administrators, teachers and CSEA Associations;
- A substantial K-12 facilities project without an increasing tax impact; developed with a community planning committee
- Safety and security policy protocols, training and infrastructure
- Strategic and thoughtful response to future planned retirements;
- Adherence to tax cap and appropriate budgetary restraints;
- Engaging classroom instructional strategies that challenge all students and develop student voice, choice, leadership and self-directed learning.
In announcing that 2018-19 will be my final year as Superintendent of Schools in Putnam Valley, I will be continuing to work closely with our administrative team to ensure that leadership responsibilities are established and ongoing for continuing our important aspirations for excellence and student success. We have a remarkable leadership team in the district with dedicated and enthusiastic administrators at every level. Collaborating with our teachers and support staff, we are ready for the coming year and beyond. Watch for our second distribution of next year’s bus schedules to accommodate the “Later Start” initiative and details on our K-12 Facilities Improvement Project!
There is one issue that as an educator, whose life is devoted to improving opportunities and well-being of children, I must weigh in on. I am voicing my hopes that the children who have been separated from their families will be returned to them with all due speed and that our beloved nation will never again consider taking young children from their parents causing unknowable life-long pain. Click here for the Board of Education resolution on this matter.
We wish you all a wonderful summer in every way!
Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools