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Message from Dr. Fran Wills, Superintendent

November 20, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving-Msg. from Dr. Wills
Tonight Gratitude Festival-No School Wed. 11/22

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

As we look forward to our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to convey special appreciation to our high school musicians for conducting their third annual Gratitude Festival at the Tompkins Corners Cultural Center, tonight at 7:00 pm.  This event has become a highlight of the year for many, as the students are performing from the heart, choosing their own work and often creating compositions for the occasion.  For anyone who teaches or who works in any capacity for a school, the magnet and purpose of our calling exist in the students we serve and their natural exuberance and engagement in learning and expression.

The Gratitude Festival allows the community to experience the wonderful inner life that our youth shares with us during these student directed events. They are rare occasions granting us a window to delight in student energy and creativity, hear their voices and share their camaraderie. The supportive environment and collaboration reflected in the student productions inspire hope for the future, and a sense of optimism. I urge us all to pause for a moment and listen to our students, their songs, their voices, and their music as they seek to connect with each other and with the adults around them, elders who are so eager to hear good news, positive and happy choruses, and count their blessings.

It is instructive to recall that it was President Abraham Lincoln who conceived of a Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday even in the throes of the suffering in 1863 during the Civil War. He wanted the nation to focus on our exceptional gifts, our democracy, our rule of law, our resources, our humanity, all that we are grateful and willing to fight for. The Gratitude Festival provides a lens for joyfulness and contentment in the riches we share in our remarkable students and community.  Thank you to the teachers who make this program possible!

Happy Thanksgiving Wishes to All!

With gratitude,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

November 8, 2017

Veterans Day-Honoring our service men and women is part of Putnam Valley's tradition

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Honoring our service men and women is a part of Putnam Valley's tradition. In fact, this year our senior class dedicated its "color wars" assemblage in the lobby of the High School to the armed services with artistic and creative designs and sculptures, including a hand-made Jeep replica and a number of emblematic pieces related to service.  In particular, the honor wall of former students who have and do serve remains in place with an opportunity to write a letter to one of our students in uniform (see below for link to pictures). It is clear that our students and staff recognize the sacrifices that have been and are being made so that we can enjoy our lives and the continued protection of our Constitution. We have been reminded again and again that freedom has a price and that we must be willing to accept that responsibility. Perhaps it is important to remember that Veterans Day was once Armistice Day, and that November 11th was the 11th month of the 11th day on the 11th hour in 1918 that the peace agreement was signed ending the horror of  WWI, the war that was supposed to "end all wars."  As we know so well,  that is not the way things went, and we have been involved in many wars since. In fact, it may be that the decisions made at the end of WWI, after the Treaty of Versailles when new countries and boundaries were determined arbitrarily, have contributed to future conflicts that exist even today.   This is our reality, and perhaps most chilling, is the knowledge that the nuclear threat that once was the overarching fear when I was in elementary school practicing emergency drills by hiding under my desk, has returned after a period of seeming quiescence. In remembering our veterans, we can take the time to appreciate the precious gifts we have because we have been vigilant. That willingness to protect our values means that our youth continue to serve and die in places like Niger, on the frontiers of the terrorist threat. As educators, we strive together to inspire our students to live up to our shared American values, so that we can continue to preserve the way of life that is worth dying for, as we honor those who serve. "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

~PVES will dismiss at 12:00 tomorrow, Thursday, November 9 for Parent Teacher Conferences~
~All Schools will be closed Friday, November 10~


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

Find photos here or on the Putnam Valley CSD app

November 3, 2017

Facilities Planning Committee Update

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

In the past two weeks, we have held two meetings of our Facilities Planning Committee. As described in an earlier memorandum to the public, the District is conducting a facilities planning process to prepare, in a timely fashion, for capital projects that would be eligible for state aid and would not impact the budget or taxpayer expenditures. We are pleased that so many members of the community have joined the committee. At our last meeting, on Tuesday evening, October 24, more than 25 residents were present to hear a review of facilities projects that were completed in the last two years as well as a presentation from building administrators and our athletic director on initiatives that they believe would improve their facilities, K-12.  The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 9th at 7:00 PM in the High School Library.  The committee will meet again on December 6 and I will continue to share updates throughout this process.   


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

10/4/17 email: Facilities Planning Committee: http://pvcsd.org/superintendent/100417.php

November 2, 2017

High School Start Time Update

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

On Thursday evening, October 26, the High School Later Start Committee met to hear a report from District administrators on the solutions and procedures that will result in the change in the High School start time from 7:10 AM to 7:50 AM.  This start time will coordinate with the Middle School. When the Board provided the affirmation of the new start time last June, the administrators were charged with implementation as of September 2018. On Thursday evening, administrators addressed problems that were raised last year. Please click the link below to review the presentations. They address the following issues: 1) rationale for the change, focusing on the conclusive scientific evidence on the lifelong consequences of insufficient sleep; 2) strategies that will be implemented to ensure student access to athletics and to co-curricular clubs. While there will no longer be early morning clubs at the Middle School, clubs will be held after school in both our Middle and High School. In some instances, students will need to choose between participation in sports teams or clubs, but principals are looking at ways to incorporate club time in their school schedules. 

There will be a need for four additional buses to manage transportation. Runs are projected to be shorter due to the additional students bused at the same time in each neighborhood; for example, with the new routes, the Roaring Brook run could be cut in half. While grades 5-12 will be transported together, we have evidence that the older students have a moderating effect on the Middle School population, and that, due to the new neighborhood runs, the students will be familiar as older brothers and sisters and caregivers. 

As promised, we will have routes and schedules available by January so that parents will be able to become familiar with the new arrangements. We are also available, as always, for conversations and perspectives as we make our High School more conducive to student health needs and, ultimately, impact attendance and achievement. It should be noted that on days when faced with a delayed opening, the later start would provide more room for decision making. 

10/26/17 presentations:

Click here for Adolescent Sleep and School Start Time Research 

Click here for Athletics Schedules


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

October 30, 2017

Important Update

In reference to the Hepatitis A message sent out by the Putnam Valley School District on Friday, October 27, 2017, we have been informed that the test results have indicated that the employee does not have Hepatitis A. Therefore, there is no reason for further concern regarding this issue. We always seek to give important information to the community on matters involving student and workforce safety when they are first presented to us. Above all, we continue to provide a safe and secure environment for our students and staff.


Dr. Frances Wills

October 27, 2017

Important Information

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

We are sending this letter for informational purposes in order to keep our community advised of a situation that has come to our attention.  We have been informed by the Putnam County Department of Health, that an employee of the Putnam Valley Central School District, located at our elementary school, may have Hepatitis A. There has been no confirmation of this diagnosis at this time. Please be advised that the employee does not work for our food service provider.

We are awaiting results of testing which we should receive on Monday, October 30. As advised by the Putnam  County Department of Health, there is no action to be taken; however, we wanted to alert our community that we are working closely with the Department of Health and our school physician to ensure that all proper protocols and procedures are in place in the event a diagnosis of Hepatitis A is confirmed.

Upon learning of the possibility that one of our employees may have Hepatitis A, we immediately contacted our school physician and the Putnam County Department of Health.  We immediately took precautionary measures by sanitizing all areas of contact in the elementary school.  

You can find information about Hepatitis A on the CDC website at:


Once again, we want to emphasize that this letter is informational only, and we do not have confirmation at this time.

We will provide additional information as it becomes available.  


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

October 26, 2017

The District Office has moved. Find us at the Elementary School modular building

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

The District Office has moved to the Elementary School campus! 

You can now find the entire District Office staff and the Pupil Personnel Office staff in the modular building at the back of the Elementary School parking lot. All of the phone extensions have stayed the same. As I shared previously, this move allows for additional classroom space at the High School.

Our daily schedule will continue to include visits to the high school and middle school to ensure continued interactions with students and staff at all schools. As has been our practice, our doors are always open to parents and community members.  

I am very grateful for the patience, adaptability, and professionalism of everyone involved in and impacted by this move.  We must extend a huge thank you to our buildings and grounds staff and our technology department for ensuring this tremendous endeavor was a success. I also want to convey appreciation to the District Office staff for their flexibility and positive spirit during the transition in close quarters. 


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools 

October 18, 2017

PV Reaffirmed its reputation as a community that cares!

Dear Putnam Valley Staff and Community Members:

Last night, our community reaffirmed its reputation as a community that cares!  With five hundred people attending and many others donating funds, our student clubs raised over $4,000 and numerous items for Puerto Rico and neighboring Caribbean islands. The funds will be sent to organizations endorsed by New York State, and the supplies will be transported to the distribution center at Camp Smith. We are so grateful for everyone who participated as guests and as organizers of the dinner and the performances. There are many who must be mentioned here for the energy, enthusiasm and effort they brought to this event that brought the community together on behalf of those who are suffering from the aftermath of natural disasters: disease and injury, lack of medical care, food, water, electricity and the elimination of their economic well-being dependent on a thriving tourist industry. Many of our community members have families in Puerto Rico and on the islands. We have made a statement of support and willingness to help.

We are grateful to everyone who helped, and to all who supported this event.  It is impossible to recognize everyone, but if you lent a hand in this effort, please know you made a difference and it is appreciated!

High School monitors and Make a Difference Club advisors: Dawn Cassone and Karen Cobb; Marissa Tarkington, advisor of the Interact Club; Alexis Thornton, advisor of the World Languages Club and French Honor Society; Brenda Singer and Ademar Nater, advisors of the Spanish Honor Society;  Lisa Penta, advisor of the National Honor Society; Jen Armbruster, Art Club advisor, and the student members of the clubs who organized, set-up and served, including the students who brought the empanadas out to those on the long food line.

Performers and music teachers K-12 including the director, Ryan Odell, who produced the line-up of performers, managed the event and without whom we could not have organized the awe-inspiring concert in the PAC, including Jeanmarie Craane, Maddy Calhoun, Ashley Bennett and Lauren Soprano who consistently offer their musical talents and knit our student groups together; Susi Cummings, who manages our tech and crew students; student performers and teachers from the Middle School and Elementary School, Mary McGowan, Maria Belfont, Katie Odell and Olivia Roth.  Appreciation to the Middle School and Elementary School student chorus, who provided the warmth and loveliness of children's joy.  Dear Hayley Craane's "Tomorrow" and the grace and charm of Madelyn Barti showered the crowd with sweetness.  Many thanks to Ralph Smith, Board of Education Trustee; Chris O'Connor, Assistant Principal of the High School; and Gina Noto, High School Psychologist, whose Bruce Springsteen piece rallied the crowd.  Special awe and admiration to PVHS acapella group, Tempomental and the High School mixed choir, conducted by Chloe Berger on behalf of Dr. Micera (who missed the concert due to the birth of his baby son!).  They inspired us all with "Somewhere" from West Side Story. We cannot forget the Ecuadorean band who brought the "real thing" to Putnam Valley.  Always contributing their musical skills to our schools, are the High School musicians: Casey Dath, Sophia George, Ethan Grosman, Jasper Katzban, Gavon Mitchell, Michael Munson and Aleks Pilmanis. Finally, the behind the scenes work of our hard-working and dedicated stage crew team.  The last minute organization of mics and stage set-up could not be done without them.

Special heartfelt gratitude to Alexis Thornton, a High School teacher of world languages and her family, who did monumental work in organizing the food collection and serving process. Ms. Cassone, Ms. Cobb and Mrs. Thornton anchored this project.

We would like to recognize all of the local businesses (Sansotta's, Nonna's, Izla's, Frankie&Augiez), our Food Service Director, Cara DiMarsico and cook Kathy Coakley of Aramark, and District parents, staff, and retirees who donated food.

Also thank you to Dylan Miyoshi, Hudson Valley Regional Representative, who attended and represented Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Empire State Initiative on behalf of Puerto Rico and the islands.

Lastly, volunteering his skills as MC, cheerleader and generator of heart, Gerry Carlin, shared his humor and PV spirit.

We can't do anything good alone!

Please view pictures here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B5RjhdGA01KVM3RqVzVMUmZvOGs?usp=sharing

Gratitude to all,

Fran Wills

October 4, 2017

Invite to join Facilities Planning Committee-First Meeting 10/12 6PM

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

We need your participation!

As you may be aware, the Putnam Valley School District has established an Educational Facilities Planning Committee to assist the Board of Education in reviewing our current academic and extracurricular spaces, the safety and security of our facilities, and all underlying infrastructure.  The committee will work to ensure that we are effectively supporting our educational and extracurricular initiatives while maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for our entire school community.  The committee will report its findings and potential recommendations to the Board of Education.

Proper planning and implementation result in high quality, high-performing, well designed and maintained school facilities and has a direct and indirect impact on the teaching and learning process. Effective facilities management can contribute to the success of every student.

Our schools represent the hub for the Putnam Valley Community and serve as a catalyst for its future.   From kindergarten through high school, we are investing in our children and community for both today and tomorrow.  This is an opportunity to define what our schools stand for and address the needs of our instructional and support spaces as they correspond to the District's curriculum goals and 21st century delivery of instruction.         

We are inviting community members, parents, teachers, district leaders, professional staff and students to participate in this committee.  We ask that all committee members commit to attending meetings on the following dates:  10/12, 10/24, 11/9, or 12/6.  Meetings will be held in the library of the high school.  First meeting: Thursday, October 12, 6:00-7:00 PM.

The committee will be asked to develop an independent assessment and analysis of short and long-term facility needs of the district.


  • Help to create and support schools as centers of community that offer school-based supports to children to eliminate barriers to success and serve the broader community.
  • Improve facilities management, including maintenance and capital improvement programs.
  • Secure adequate and equitable facilities funding.
  • Assist and advise the Board of Education on facility needs related to the educational program(s).
  • Assist and advise the Board of Education with reference to potential long-term Capital Project recommendations.   

If you are interested in joining the committee, please click here or email JDenike@pvcsd.org.  All members will be appointed to the committee by the Board of Education on October 12.

Thank you,

Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools                                

Initial Meeting Schedule:
Thursday, October 12 - Prior to BOE Meeting - 6:00-7:00 PM
Tuesday, October 24 - 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 9 - 7:00 PM
Wednesday, December 6 - 7:00 PM
Meeting Location: Putnam Valley High School Library

October 3, 2017

Empathy for Las Vegas

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

The natural disasters that have affected millions of our countrymen in the last few months have been a terrifying reminder of Nature's wrath. Without human agency to blame, we bear up and move to do whatever we can to relieve the suffering that results. While we analyze and question decisions and planning that may have led to worsening outcomes, our spirit is focused on helping our neighbors and supporting those who are working to rebuild and find a way back home.

On the other hand, the terrible event that occurred yesterday in Las Vegas was man-made and unfathomable. We are rocked by the feeling that we or our family members can instantly be the victim of an unmoored being who has made a choice to wreck thousands of lives with his weapon of choice.  Thousands of lives are destroyed because those who are killed and injured have families and hopes and dreams that are shattered by this terrible act.

We begin to wonder whether we really know the people around us, those who appear quite normal and who can suddenly become monsters. That is our fear, and that is why in our schools we do whatever we can to provide a safe environment for our students.

In fact, this week we have our District's emergency response team training which we hold at the Firehouse. We coordinate with the Sheriff's Department, First Responders, Ambulance Corps, Fire Department and State Police.  Our SRO, Deputy Ryan McMahon is trained to respond to critical incidents that occur in schools. Our Director of Operations, Pat Bellino manages the video-cameras on site, organizes the safety protocols and establishes training and practice. We have lockdown and lock-out drills as we prepare and protect.  It was clear at the Las Vegas tragedy that the emergency personnel present at the concert, including First Responders, medical personnel and off-duty police acted immediately to attempt to save lives and protect. Our responders are well-trained and systems are in place to react to any and all emergency situations.

I have also tried to make sure that every moment is treated as a precious gift, an opportunity for gratitude. For me, that means saying goodbye to my husband each day with eye contact and a hug if possible. We are getting too used to hearing about these horrible events, and we have to find a way to search our hearts and minds to find out why this behavior seems to occur more frequently and with more destruction than in the past.

We are working hard in schools to try to create a caring environment, to build relationships and help students to understand and manage their emotions so that violence is averted. For example, we have a mediation program at our high school with students who are trained to talk to their peers and help them solve their interpersonal conflicts. We have a strong clinical staff who support our students and review student needs regularly to make sure we are not overlooking a student who needs our help. The Yale RULER program we have introduced this year will focus on helping students identify their emotions and learn to manage and regulate them so that they are successful in school and outside in the wider world.

Finally, I think we all need to pay attention to each other, to those around us, to notice the small things, to celebrate our gifts, to value our interactions so that our colleagues, friends, neighbors, people we meet in our daily commerce, feel respected and cared about.  Everyone needs to feel valued, respected and loved.  Kindness and smiles are contagious. We can never know how one act of connection, of noticing,  can make a difference for multitudes, rippling out to possibly prevent one more unthinkable event.

Coming together as a community to make a difference is a way to demonstrate our empathy and caring for others. Please join our School District relief effort on behalf of Puerto Rico and neighboring Caribbean Islands sponsored by our high school clubs.

Please attend and please donate:

PV Homecoming Football Game on October 7, 2017, and
at the potluck supper and concert on Tuesday, October 17, 2017
6:00 PM Community Supper
7:00 PM Community Concert
Click here for potluck donations


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

From The Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort:
The following items will be accepted for donation: batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, cases of water, feminine hygiene products, AM/FM portable radios. All items must be unopened and in their original packaging. 

French and Spanish Honor Societies

October 2, 2017

PVCSD Benefit Concert for Puerto Rico-October 17-Please join us

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Our students and staff are eager to begin their next service project.   Putnam Valley Central School District will join New York State in the Empire State Relief and Recovery for Puerto Rico. We have begun planning a benefit concert and potluck dinner for Tuesday, October 17, at our high school to collect donations for our friends, relatives and neighbors in devastated Puerto Rico and other affected islands.  Please visit: https://www.ny.gov/empire-state-relief-and-recovery-effort-puerto-rico/empire-state-relief-and-recovery-effort-puerto# and PLEASE JOIN US on:

Tuesday, October 17
Putnam Valley High School
6:00 PM – Pot Luck Dinner
7:00 PM – Concert

Donations will be accepted at the door.  Please see the list below. Monetary donations will also be accepted.  If you can participate by bringing a potluck dish, please click here.  Together, we can make a difference!

Thank you Putnam Valley!


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

From The Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort:
The following items will be accepted for donation: batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, cases of water, feminine hygiene products, AM/FM portable radios. All items must be unopened and in their original packaging. 

~InteractClub ~MakeADifferenceClub ~WorldLanguageClub ~ArtClub ~PVCSDMusicDepartment

September 29, 2017

PVCSD Benefit Concert for Puerto Rico-October 17 - Please join us

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Putnam Valley Central School District's successful fundraising efforts to assist Kolter Elementary School in Houston, Texas have allowed our Make A Difference Club to send $1,050 in gift cards and school supplies.  Ten large boxes of books have also been sent from our Elementary School. 

Our students and staff are eager to begin their next service project.   Our school district will join New York State in the Empire State Relief and Recovery for Puerto Rico. We have begun planning a benefit concert and potluck dinner for Tuesday, October 17, at our high school to collect donations for our friends, relatives and neighbors in devastated Puerto Rico and other affected islands.  Please visit: https://www.ny.gov/empire-state-relief-and-recovery-effort-puerto-rico/empire-state-relief-and-recovery-effort-puerto# and PLEASE JOIN US on:

Tuesday, October 17
Putnam Valley High School
6:00 PM – Pot Luck Dinner
7:00 PM – Concert

Donations will be accepted at the door.  Please see list below. Monetary donations will also be accepted.  If you can participate by bringing a potluck dish, please click here.  Together, we can make a difference!

Thank you Putnam Valley!


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

From The Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort:
The following items will be accepted for donation: batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, baby wipes, cases of water and feminine hygiene products. All items must be unopened and in their original packaging. 

September 11, 2017

September 11 Remembrance/Help for Houston

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

For those of us who were here in New York on September 11, 2001 the memories of that day begin with a perfect fall day of bright sun, blue, blue skies and a cool stillness. After that, our breathing begins to become heavy, and terrible images prevail along with emotions that are personal and profound. Sixteen years later we are seeing a different kind of devastation around us, incalculable losses of lives and livelihoods caused by the mystery of natural phenomena known only hypothetically to our humble scientific understanding of how and why. As we mourn the losses of 2001, of heroes and victims of deliberate terror, we now have a plan to find a way to serve on this day, to give back in some way, to share our heartfelt warmth and gratitude with those less fortunate. After seeing the moving play, Come From Away recently, a musical recounting the way that Gander, Newfoundland welcomed those stranded in planes on 9/11, it seems that the best way we can remember that day is in reaching out to help.

With that desire to assist others in some way, our PVHS Make a Difference Club will be leading a collection drive to help a public school that was battered by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. It seemed fitting that we, who were able to start the school year so happily, would help those who did not. By contacting the Houston Independent School District, we were paired with Kolter Elementary School, a multi-language magnet school devastated by the storm and compelled to move into a facility that had been closed. Much was lost, but looking at the video the principal sent, created by their Physical Education teacher, it is clear that their spirit is intact. Parents and staff are working to get the school going again as quickly as possible for their students. (Link to video)

We would appreciate help from our community and staff in providing funds to assist with much needed classroom supplies. Monetary collections (gift cards) will be forwarded to Houston so that basic classroom supplies can be quickly replaced.  We would like to arrange some way for our elementary classes to communicate with the students at Kolter so that the gifts have meaning and we can all feel the happiness of giving and generosity.

Donations can be sent in to school through your child.  Any amount is appreciated! The impact even $1.00 per family could make carries a message of unity and empathy that transcends the miles between New York and Texas.  Envelopes should be marked Make A Difference – Kolter Elementary School.  In addition, our Make A Difference Club will have a table at Putnam Valley Town Day, Saturday, September 23.  We hope to send whatever we collect in donations by the end of this week and again after Town Day.  

From Kotler Elementary Principal, Julianne Dickinson:

Thank you so very much for reaching out to me!  I am incredibly grateful for any support you are able to give our school.

One of our PTO members wrote this up about what has happened to our school because of Hurricane Harvey, and I wanted to share that information with you. 

On Saturday, August 26, category 4 Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport, Texas, and began an agonizingly slow climb towards Houston. Our area began to see the strong outer bands that night in the form of pounding rain and violent thunder and lightning.  By morning, half of the beautiful homes in our neighborhood were flooded and the water continued to rise higher. Ultimately, our beloved school took on approximately five feet of water in the cafeteria, three feet in each classroom, four feet in our temporary buildings and almost our entire neighborhood was flooded to some degree.

ABC-13's Jeff Ehling shows some of the damage to our school during his on-air boat ride through Meyerland.

As so many of our families begin the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding, we have also been informed that we will be moved temporarily to an elementary school that has been sitting vacant for the past year.  We will be in this campus for a full school year, if not longer, and will do our very best to make this new school our home.  Teachers have lost everything that was in their classroom—years of lesson plans, collecting books and spending their own money on material was all lost in this flood.

Thank you again for reaching out, and showing us support. Seeing as we're all starting over from scratch, we're humbled by any donation.


Thank you Putnam Valley for your generosity.


Dr. Wills
Superintendent of Schools

September 8, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Today I was visiting Ms. Podesta and Ms. Mistretta at the Elementary School. Suddenly there was an emergency call from the cafeteria. We quickly learned that caring, well-trained, alert monitors had spotted a child choking and immediately applied their knowledge and skill.

During a training session at Superintendent's Conference Day on September 7, one week ago, our nurse, Kathy Hill had trained our monitors in the Heimlich maneuver and epi-pen use.

Our monitors learned well and applied their skills to save a student! We are grateful for the training and the application.

Great Job Kristina Ndreu, Kathy Hill and Lucy Gianelli!

Have a wonderful weekend.


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

Pictured: Jeanette Mistretta, Kristina Ndreu, Margaret Podesta

August 16, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

As an educator, parent and concerned citizen, the voices of hate that are heard in our country are deeply disturbing and hurtful.  We are compelled to reflect on how devastating such language has been to other nations and to our own nation in the past.  Indeed, as we prepare for the start of a new school year, we focus on the deepest purpose of education, to open young minds to the power of words and ideas, building a foundation of understanding so that every student feels valued. We reflect on our nation's highest truth-- that all are worthy of respect and dignity.  As our nation has evolved, we are clear that all "are created equal."  Indeed the "pursuit of happiness" is meant to apply to everyone, and there is no happiness when we hate or experience the weapons of hatred that pierce our souls.

Our teachers are challenged to help students understand our roots, our strengths, our failings, and our struggle to overcome those challenges as the beacon of democracy that we strive always to become.  Those who fought and died for our ideals deserve our continuing vigilance to preserve our special place in human history.

For students, we know that when they feel that they are seen as "less than" they learn less, and their educational opportunity is undermined.  

There is no room for hate in our schools.  We must ensure that we are clear about the way we value every student we serve.  We are careful that our speech expresses dignity and humanity.   Vile discourse that denigrates racial or religious or other differences has no place here.  

Many years ago, in the 1940s, the musical South Pacific opened on Broadway. There was an effort to block one of the songs that famously presented the idea of prejudice to the public at large. Even though we had fought a war against Hitler to destroy the Nazis, this song created opposition in parts of the country. It is a song that sent a message about the way racism, hate and fear of others is taught.  "You've got to be taught, before it's too late before you are six or seven or eight; you've got to be carefully taught."  We can also teach our children to value and respect everyone based on their "content of character," and their humanity, regardless of color or creed, And we can teach our children to love. (Some links to help with conversations:)



The focus of our schools this year will be "building relationships" that lead to learning and growth.  I look forward to having the students back in our hallways and I thank you for your continued partnership.


Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools

July 25, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Yesterday evening we were informed of the tragic death of one of our elementary school students, Fatima Martinez, a rising third grader.  Fatima has a two-year-old sister and an older brother who also attends our schools.  Fatima was a sweet and caring child, cherished and beloved by the Putnam Valley Elementary School family.  Our sincerest condolences go out to the Martinez family and to all who knew Fatima.  Her loss will have a deep and lasting impact.

As we process this tragic news, our school psychologists will be available today at the elementary school.  If you or your children are in need of support over the next few days, please don't hesitate to call our Elementary School at (845)528-8092

Attached below is an email from Ms. Podesta, our Elementary School Principal. We have also attached some resources that may provide guidance during this most difficult time. 

Putnam Valley is a supportive community and I know we will come together to support one another and the Martinez family as we remember a beautiful child who brought love and joy to so many.


Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

Attached below: 
Email from Ms. Podesta
Service information
National Assoc. of School Psychologists - Death and Grief/Supporting Children and Youth

*Below is an excerpt from Dr. Michele Borba, who is an internationally renowned consultant and educational psychologist.  It contains tips on talking to young children about death.

Break the news

My first and most important suggestion is that you don't delay telling your children about what has happened: It's much better for the child if you're the one who tells him/her. You don't want them to hear from some other child, a television news report, or the headlines on the front page of the New York Post. You want to be able to convey the facts, however painful, and set the emotional tone. And you want to give your child as much time as possible to process the information, and his/her feelings about it, before he/she returns to school. Difficult conversations like this aren't over in one session; expect to return to the topic as many times as your child needs to come to terms with this sad reality.

Answer questions

I suggest that you begin the conversation by telling your child that you have very sad news you need to talk about. Tell them about what has occurred. Tell him/her their names. Let them know that you feel sad about it.  Tears are okay. Where the conversation goes depends a lot on how old your children are, how well they knew the child who died, and how many questions they have. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions about whether the child suffered. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies. If they ask questions you can't answer, it's okay to tell them you don't know.

Be reassuring

Talking about death is always difficult, but this kind of tragic accident is especially tough because of how egocentric children are: they're likely to focus on whether something like this could happen to them. So it's important to reassure you child about how unusual this kind of event is.

Help them express their feelings

In your conversation (and subsequent ones) you can suggest ways your child might remember his/her friend or classmate: tell stories about things you did together, draw pictures, etc. 

Finally, here are some general guidelines for talking to kids about traumatic events.

1. Take your cues from your child.

Invite him/her to tell you what they have heard about the tragedy, and how they feel. Since many children aren't able to express their emotions through words, other helpful outlets include drawing pictures, or telling stories about their memories of the classmate who died.

2. Be developmentally appropriate.

Don't volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child's questions.  Do your best to answer honestly and clearly.  It's okay if you can't answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.

3. Focus on safety.

A child's primary concern after this kind of tragedy may be whether it could happen to him. You can let him know that such events are very rare, that you place a high priority on safety, and are confident that he and your family are safe.  

4. Be calm. 

It's okay to let your child know if you're sad, but if you talk to your child about a traumatic experience in a highly emotional way, then he will likely absorb your emotion and very little else. If, on the other hand, you remain calm, he/she is likely to grasp what's important: that tragic events can upset our lives, even deeply, but we can learn from bad experiences and work together to grow stronger.

5. Be available.

If your child is upset, just spending time with him/her may make him/her feel safer. Children find great comfort in routines, and doing ordinary things together as a family may be the most effective form of healing.

6. Memorialize the children.

Drawing pictures, planting a tree, sharing stories, or releasing balloons can all be good, positive ways to help provide closure to a child. It's important to assure your child that a person continues to live on in the hearts and minds of others.  And in doing something for others they will not only feel good about themselves but will learn a very healthy way to respond to grief.

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