Dear Putnam Valley Community:
Each year, around this time, we find ourselves reflecting on the school year that is ending while also taking time to plan for the next school year. As most of you know, Dr. Frances Wills is retiring at the end of this school year, and I am privileged to have been named the Superintendent of Schools effective July 1. As we begin this next phase of education in Putnam Valley, I am looking forward to continuing all of the great work that is already happening here in our schools. Dr. Wills’ legacy is certainly visible across all three buildings, and it has been a privilege to work and learn beside her since arriving back in Putnam Valley. As Superintendent of Schools, I hope to be able to expand the work that Dr. Wills has already started within the schools while cultivating the district’s relationship with the community, empowerment of our staff, and engagement of our students.
I grew up in Putnam Valley, and I still remember what it felt like to walk into Putnam Valley Elementary School as a Kindergartner on the first day of school; the feeling of excitement, nervousness, and wonder raced through my body. I remember entering Putnam Valley Middle School for the first time and feeling a little overwhelmed and lost, not sure how to transfer between classes in this new building. I remember the sadness of having to leave Putnam Valley to attend a high school at a neighboring district. I remember how envious I was walking into Putnam Valley High School for the first time as a professional. I remember the struggles of substitute teaching, the excitement of my first professional job as a technology assistant in the High School, and I will forever remember my emotions on 9/11/2001. That day, at Putnam Valley High School, I truly learned what it meant to be an educator, everyone putting aside their own emotions to support the students in front of them. I share this walk down memory lane as I believe it speaks to who I am as an educator and a learner and just a little bit about what this community has meant to me. I hope this also provides some insight into my core values as an educator and explains why I hope to spend many years serving this community as the Superintendent of Schools.
Seventeen years removed from the beginning of my educational career in Putnam Valley, I have served in many educational roles, including a physics teacher, technology director, and a director of curriculum and instruction. Each of these experiences has helped shape who I am as an educator and a leader. I am excited to offer what I have learned throughout my career while embracing all that Putnam Valley already has to offer.
A couple of years ago, we coined the phrase #PVRising and I truly believe that we are a school district on the rise. Putnam Valley has an amazing group of administrators, teachers, and professional staff that are dedicated to the success of all students. As Superintendent of Schools, it will be a priority of mine to ensure that all students are provided a safe and secure learning environment, are socially and emotionally well, have opportunities to be artistically and athletically enriched, and academically challenged.
During a recent Superintendent Conference Day, I challenged everyone in the room to reflect on why they became an educator, why they do what they do on behalf of students every day, and why is what we do in our schools and classrooms so important to the students, families, and the community we serve. Later in the day, our professional staff met in small workgroups to share their personal responses to those “why” questions and ultimately reach a consensus of their top five answers. Each group’s answers were displayed in the auditorium to be viewed by the other workgroups and eventually synthesized into the graphic representation below. The larger the word, the more often it was reported by our workshops.
The next phase of this work is to collect these same core values from our community and, where appropriate, from our students. Please take a moment to complete the survey (linked below) and let us know what you value within our educational institution.
Survey Link: https://forms.gle/N5G12ubiDFJS3S5MA
Thank you again for your support, confidence, and partnership.
Dr. Jeremy Luft