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Message from Dr. Fran Wills, Superintendent

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 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.

THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COMMITTEE:        

  • 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

Sincerely,

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~TempoMental~MakeADifferenceClub~WorldLanguageClub
~ArtClub~PVCSDMusicDepartment~
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!

Sincerely,

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!

Sincerely,

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.

http://www.houstonisd.org/kolter

Thank you Putnam Valley for your generosity.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

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:)

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-young-children-social-justice-jinnie-spiegler

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-charlottesville-talking-to-kids-20170812-htmlstory.html

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

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.

File attachments:
MP-PVES-FMartinez.doc
FatimaMartinez.doc
Grief2.pdf


July 7, 2017

Dear Community Members:

In September, the District office will be moving to a leased modular unit on the elementary school campus. I urge you to view the special Board meeting held on June 20, where the rationale and discussion of the move took place.  Please click here to view the meeting.  

While the need for facilities planning was discussed during our budget process this spring as we reviewed the developing need for more space at the high school, it recently became obvious that the limitations of the high school room utilization were more severe than expected and we would not have adequate space for classes planned for the fall. In scheduling students for their requests to take more language classes, science offerings, and BOCES programs and the need for more special education and academic support, it was clear that the classroom spaces occupied by the District's administration offices would have to be relinquished. After investigating a number of options for relocating our offices, the most economical approach for the District, with the least impact on our other school classroom facilities, was to lease a modular unit to be placed at the elementary school campus.  This location allows us to take advantage of existing connections to utilities, including water, sewer, HVAC. The lease cost will be $5,000 per month.  

The decision to move was not made lightly. However, programming, staffing and student course selection resulted in the need for three additional classrooms and the office space within the high school does meet the needs of students and staff for instructional purposes as developed in the original high school plan.  While there is a new modified block schedule planned for the fall, reverting to our prior schedule would have the same impact. 

Certainly, the district office personnel will miss the informal and regular connections to high school students, teachers and administrators, but this allows for the opportunity to become more visible at the elementary 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 and we will continue to be actively involved in school and community events.  Our District staff has pulled together to make the change while flying the plane," preparing for our audit, and fulfilling the requirements of summer preparation for the new year.

At this point, the priority must be the continued access to educational opportunities for our high school students and the proper instructional use of space for that purpose. Thus, our efforts will be focused on moving out of the high school, keeping student needs "first and foremost."  Please note, Pupil Personnel Services (Special Education/New Student Registration) has been temporarily relocated to the Elementary School.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


June 2, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

On Thursday afternoon,Putnam Valley's middle and high school teachers played their best for the Make a Difference Club leading a Food Drive for the Make a Difference Club. In fact, the club earned another $1,000 award from Altice( Formerly Cablevision) for the charity work the club has performed this year. Please join me in saluting the volunteer work of our students and their remarkable advisor, Linda Cefaloni, who is retiring this year. I am attaching an email from Mrs. Cefaloni to her colleagues.  It is an example of the partnerships that make Putnam Valley so special  
Enjoy a beautiful weekend.
 
Sincerely,
Fran Wills
Superintendent of Schools
 
Dear MS and HS Staff Charity Champions,
 
I want to thank all of you for your heartfelt participation in our Volleyball fundraiser, "Volley for the Valley", yesterday. It was great fun for a wonderful cause and a tie score means we all gave our best effort as Champions for Charity!
I was very proud to stand with you as Altice, USA  presented the $1000 check to our Putnam Valley Community Food Pantry on behalf of all three schools in the Putnam Valley School District. Today was one more memory we created together with our students and each other.  
 
My email signature has a quote from Mother Theresa.
"What you can do, I cannot. What I can do you cannot, but together we can do something beautiful....".  Truly, yesterday was proof that each of us has different talents, and working together, relying on each, and trusting in the power of kindness, so much can be achieved.  Thank you for Making a Difference yesterday for the Putnam Valley Food Pantry, for me over the years, and for modeling the spirit of volunteerism for our students.
 
My best regards, 
Linda 

 
Check the Putnam Valley High School Facebook page or our Putnam Valley CSD App for pictures.  


May 25, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

Last evening the Science Research program hosted a festival of science projects and student recognition. There were at least 100 parents and students present to applaud the accomplishments of the graduating seniors in the program and the work presented by sophomores and juniors. In addition, students from the STEM class taught by Mr. Fiore, presented their innovative and unique projects. The conversations with students were lively and meaningful, giving students an opportunity to share their research as they prepare for competitions and future presentations. There was a sense of joy in the learning process and in the community that has been developed among students in the program. The more advanced students mentor their younger peers fostering a supportive experience for participants. Please join me in recognizing Mr. Zupan for his enthusiastic embrace of the Science Research program and the opportunities for growth afforded the students who participate.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools 


May 23, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Learning about the attack at a Manchester, England, pop concert yesterday was particularly painful and terrible as innocent, happy young girls and their families were the targets and the victims. The impact of this terror is devastating to decent people everywhere, of every ethnicity and culture, intensifying a climate of fear. With that fear, emerge hurtful and hateful emotions that tend to blindly erase our humanity. Here in Putnam Valley, the clergy in our area of every denomination are sponsoring a special moment of unity at the Islamic Center, planting a tree of peace on Wednesday evening, seeking a singular unifying purpose in our quest for human dignity for all.

It is difficult to temper our emotional responses in the light of random violence, seeking to navigate a way to advocate for justice, without the ugly consequences of more violence and hate, yet that is what we hope to teach our children. In our schools, we teach the value of reason and mediated conflict, of self-control and effective redress of grievance.  Even in the arena of sports, when excitement is palpable, we are asked to examine our emotional responses to be sure we are setting an example. In this context of reflection on our own behavior, we look to our Memorial Day tribute to those who gave their lives on behalf of the freedom we so value, the peace we seek. For those who dedicated their lives so that our democracy can thrive, we can do our part to create a more peaceful, safe place for our children and our families.

Putnam Valley is a remarkable community, representing a broad diversity of thought and a fierce reverence for American values and beliefs. I know that together we can work through many differences while grounding our dialogue in the way of life we hold dear, the freedoms that have always drawn so many to us, and served to guide those who fought to preserve what we have created in this beloved land.   

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


May 17, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

As you know, Arch4Kids, a team of architects who teach and guide students in our region, has been working with different classes throughout our District.  As part of their work with our high school geometry classes, the students worked on another "real-world" challenge and designed a recreation facility for the town. Scaling the design from architectural blueprints, constructing it from recycled materials and developing a site plan layout, was as an authentic assessment that captivated the imagination and enthusiasm of every student involved. 

Please take a few minutes and compete the survey below so our students can continue their project by collating, analyzing and reporting the results to the Putnam Valley Parks and Recreation Department. Tomorrow, Thursday, May 18, a student exhibit will be available for viewing in the main hallway of the high school, just prior to the Board of Education meeting at 7:00 PM.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

The Town of Putnam Valley is proposing to build a Recreation Center in the Town Park. Students at Putnam Valley High School are conducting a survey to determine what activities and programs the residents would like to see offered.  Please give us your feedback and thank you in advance for your time and participation.  Your opinion is very much appreciated. Please complete a separate survey for each member of your household and respond by June 1, 2017.  Click here for SURVEY

SURVEY LINK


May 5, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Staff and Community Members: 

On Monday, when I visited the elementary school, first grade teacher Mrs. Hernandez, expressed her joy at receiving mural paint through a Putnam Valley Education Foundation grant. They plan to update and decorate the walls of the first grade wing with a nature theme. Each year, the PVEF provides opportunities to staff members to apply for grants to enrich their classrooms and schools. This year's grants were approved Tuesday evening at the Board of Education meeting and have already contributed to excitement in our schools. As an example, our recent fourth grade reenactment at the elementary school, now an annual occurrence, comes alive through Revolutionary War costumes and 18th century drums enhanced the music performed by our high school students. The history club at the high school traveled to Boston on a beautiful March day. STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) equipment will be purchased for the technology program at the elementary school, as well as alternative seating to increase student focus and participation. This year, almost $18,000 was provided to support these and other teacher initiatives. (Please see the full list attached below)

We are very grateful for the efforts of the PVEF to enhance our school programs and inspire our teachers. Thank you to all who support the Education Foundation. This is a wonderful way to give teachers an opportunity to do more for their students! 

Please mark your calendars for the Foundation's upcoming event on Friday, June 2. (pvefny.org)

Sincerely,   
Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools 

File attachments:

GrantsFunded2017.docx


April 30, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

I would like to invite you to our next "Superintendent's Listening Hour", which will be held Tuesday night, May 2. We will meet in our High School library at 6:00 pm, just prior to the Board of Education meeting, which begins at 7:00 pm. I look forward to introducing you to our new Director of Learning and Educational Opportunities, Dr. Jeremy Luft and to Ms. Nicole Mangiere, our new Middle School Assistant Principal, who are both looking forward to getting to know our families. They will be joining PVCSD effective July 1.  

While the agenda is open to allow for dialogue and input, we will focus our conversation on ELA. The goal of the Listening Houris to share diverse perspectives on school issues and to consider our opportunities and challenges.  I look forward to having conversations about this topic and others.  Please consider joining us. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Fran Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 28, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Last weekend there was a strong presence across the nation of science teachers and scientists to make the case for the critical role that science plays in our nation's progress, and our planet's present and future viability. Earth Day called attention to our environment and our responsibility as stewards for our children. What will be our legacy; what role do we play as educators in shaping the world our children inherit?

At Putnam Valley, science is alive and well, a vibrant and thriving component of our curriculum and way of thinking. The evidence was very striking at our inspiring National Honor Society Ceremony last week. We heard from our senior members of the NHS as they described their future plans. Many of those students claim science programs as their majors in the fine colleges they will be attending. Majors included environmental science, bio-medical studies, chemical engineering, and other related fields. Indeed, our science research students have been competing favorably in regional competitions and are proud of their research papers and studies that are establishing their credentials for the next step in their future. In a White Plains Science and Technology fair just this past weekend, Science Research students Walter Wacaser, Jasper Katzban, and Ryan Usai were recognized for their achievements. Let's also recognize the science fair at the elementary school and the Pollinator project and environmental initiatives at the middle school.

Clearly, our dedicated science teachers are inspiring student scientists. That means that they are teaching students to inquire using the scientific method that requires a hypothesis and evidenced based conclusions. Supporting the teachers at the high school is our Library-Media Specialist, Marifran DeMaine. National Library week was celebrated during our break; however, Ms. DeMaine is a constant in the students' lives at the high school, urging them on in their research, finding sites and articles and generating enthusiasm for their scholarship. (Most recently, Ms. DeMaine has displayed flags in the windows of the library with the names of colleges that our students will attend.) At our elementary school, library aide, Ms. Broas assists the students in the science fair, along with our high school students who mentor the fourth graders. Ms. Broas works with teachers in the maker space as well to support our enthusiastic students.

Doing our part to improve our environment, the Putnam Valley School District will enter into an Energy Performance Contract to reduce our carbon footprint, bringing solar installations to our high school/middle school campus, transforming all lighting to LED, and expanding the geo-thermal project to our elementary school. Currently, the high school and middle school use no oil due to the extensive geo-thermal initiative at the campus. In addition, a curriculum is planned to involve students K-12 in the science of the new energy projects. The monetary savings are significant as well, $384,000 per year district-wide, with an additional $600,000 over 25 years if the community approves the incentive during the budget vote.

Commitment to science has a positive economic, social, and human health impact. Our students are well prepared to participate in the community of science.

Enjoy this beautiful weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 28, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

The movie, Screenagers was thought provoking and vividly displayed the impact of "screen addictions" on teen learning and behavior. The young people in the documentary shared their own concerns about "screen addictions" and were genuinely grateful for the limits their parents set on screen time. It is clear that many children, and even adults, are struggling to find the right balance in a digital world.

Please see the attached information to assist with ongoing conversations. We need to continue to work together to provide the support and structure that will help our children with these challenges.

We can learn together and encourage each other in this quest. Thank you to our PTA, PTSA and clinical staff for bringing this movie to our students and families.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

File attachments:
Screenagers Parent Guide
Parenting Apps


April 28, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

I would like to invite you to our next "Superintendent's Listening Hour", which will be held Tuesday night, May 2. We will meet in our High School library at 6:00 pm, just prior to the Board of Education meeting, which begins at 7:00 pm. I look forward to introducing you to our new Director of Learning and Educational Opportunities, Dr. Jeremy Luft and to Ms. Nicole Mangiere, our new Middle School Assistant Principal, who are both looking forward to getting to know our families. They will be joining PVCSD effective July 1.  

While the agenda is open to allow for dialogue and input, we will focus our conversation on ELA. The goal of the Listening Hour is to share diverse perspectives on school issues and to consider our opportunities and challenges.  I look forward to having conversations about this topic and others.  Please consider joining us. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Fran Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 24, 2017

Dear Parents, Staff and Community Members:

Please mark your calendar this week for Screenagers-Growing Up In The Digital Age! On Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM in our High School Performing Arts Center, with the sponsorship of the PTA and PTSA, we will be showing a movie that vividly displays the impact of "screen addictions" on teen learning and behavior. In fact, there is great concern that unchecked screen use can seriously affect cognitive executive functioning and emotional well being of young people. In our schools, we have daily encounters with students who are misusing social media or have been hurt by words and memes produced by others. How do we provide the kind of support and structure that will help our children with this challenge and reality of today's world? How can we develop productive and civil digital citizens? We can learn together and encourage each other in this quest.

The movie is recommended for adults and children 10 and over. Some of our high school students will have the opportunity to see the movie on Tuesday morning and our middle school students will see the movie on Wednesday morning. Please do come to this event. Children are welcome to attend the evening screening. A conversation following the movie will be facilitated by Travis McCarty, Assistant Principal of the Middle School, and Chris O'Connor, Assistant Principal of the High School.

screenagersmovie.com
movie trailer: https://vimeo.com/145826333

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 21, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

Yesterday,  I attended our regional superintendents' meeting and learned about a Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why," that has caused great consternation and concern among mental  health professionals and educators due to its approach to the topic of teen suicide, its graphic imagery and emotional sensationalism. The series has become a "phenomenon" for middle school students who are watching without parental guidance or knowledge. These young people are particularly susceptible to the displays that are found in the series. Trailers can be found on Youtube, but more important, I think, is the information provided by the National Association of School Psychologists and save.org attached to this email. If your child is watching this series, I hope that these materials will support you with helpful conversations about what the film portrays. There is a fine line between communication and exploitation. Whether that line is crossed with this production is unclear; what is certain is that as parents we want to be sure that our children's exposure to this material will not have irrevocable consequences. We know that there have been several teen suicides recently in our region; we want to  do everything in our power to prevent and intervene. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

NASP - National Association of School Psychologists: Guidance for Families and Educators

Save.orgTalking Points

Community resources: http://pvcsd.org/community/index.php


April 19, 2017

Dear K-12 Staff and Community Members:

Earlier this year, we addressed concerns revealed in a social media posting by high school students that referenced April 20 and April 21, and I wanted to share an update. As indicated in a recent letter by the high school principal, Ms.Intrieri, the District has arranged for additional security on the middle/high school campus for both of these dates.  We have also requested additional presence by the State Police at our elementary school campus. The District has developed a staff protocol for all schools to address any written symbols, including swastikas that may be discovered by anyone in the school. That protocol involves preserving, photographing and School Resource Officer reporting, prior to removal and the start of an investigation by administration. We are noting that our protocol has been effective as late yesterday a small pencil drawing of a swastika on a bathroom paper dispenser in a high school stall was reported by a staff member for the appropriate implementation of our protocol by administration and proper redress of student violation of our code of conduct.

Next week, on April 24, United States Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked with renewed commitment to remember the 6 million Jews who were killed and to take heed of any signs that diminish the dignity of every person in our community. No student should have to view a hate symbol that denies his or her humanity. That experience interferes with the educational opportunity and the emotional well being of students. 

We intend to be explicit about our goals for student health and safety. Our administrators and staff are committed to this principle.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 18, 2017

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

The Putnam Valley Board of Education will hold a special business meeting, tonight, Tuesday, April 18, beginning at 7PM in the High School cafeteria. The purpose of this meeting is to approve the BOCES 2016-2017 budget and to vote on the BOCES Board of Education candidates. 

The Board will also acknowledge the 2016-17 retirees of the district - 16 staff members: Richard Blatz, Sharon Blatz, Billy Bracken, Bruce Brothers, Karen Brothers, LInda Cefaloni, Larry Gibbs, Judy Grogan, Edward Hallisey, Marilyn Higgins, Rose Johnson, Debbie Lindert, Linda Rappaport, Evelyn Reyes, Joan Szilva, Kathleen Tanner.  In addition, it is anticipated that the Board will confer tenure on the following staff members: Gina Noto and Katie Odell

Please join us to celebrate these staff members. 

Meetings are open to the public and are also available LIVE via our www.pvcsd.org website. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools


April 8, 2017

Dear Staff and Community Members:

Last evening many of us were inspired by our student bridge projects at the middle school. Our seventh graders displayed their remarkably diverse and aesthetically interesting solutions to the Pudding Street/Taconic State Parkway overpass design. Guided by a team of professional architects and their teachers, Ms. Conlin and Ms. Van Develde, students learned to design and build to scale and to work in teams on this real-world problem. They expressed their excitement about what they had learned about application of mathematics and the value of teams. It was also exciting to have representatives of the Department of Transportation, the Town Supervisor, Mr. Oliverio and Highway Superintendent, Larry Cobb viewing our student projects. Thanks to the initiative of our teachers working together to make this happen for our students, they were able to experience the meaning of civic engagement as well as academic accomplishment.  

With hopes that spring will be in full bloom during the coming break, I wish all a lovely respite. For all who celebrate holidays this coming week, may they be joyful and bring peace to your lives.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools  


April 7, 2017

Dear Community Members:

After screening 10 candidates and asking 6 candidates to come back for a second round of interviews, the interview committee has recommended Nicole Mangiere as the next Putnam Valley Middle School Assistant Principal. It is expected that the Board of Education will appoint Ms. Mangiere as Assistant Principal at their next meeting, Tuesday, April 18.

Ms. Mangiere comes to us from the KIPP Academy in New York City and has experience teaching grades 5, 6 and 8. In addition, she has served as a Curriculum Specialist and School Director at a Teach for America summer school site. She also taught third and fourth grade at PS110X. As the Director of Leadership Development at KIPP, Ms. Mangiere has coordinated school initiatives and ensured that grade level leaders collaborate to provide a continuum of programming that is developmentally appropriate for students. She has coordinated guided reading professional development and collaborated with consultants to coach guided reading teachers. Ms. Mangiere is a strategic and visionary leader with rich knowledge of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and scheduling.

A graduate of Cornell University, Ms. Mangiere earned a degree in Communications with a minor in Education. While at Cornell, she was inspired to become a teacher and joined Teach for America. She earned her masters in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education. Those that work closely with Ms. Mangiere describe her as extremely organized, energetic, supportive, and ambitious. She brings a systematic approach and perspective when planning and is always looking for ways to improve educational opportunities for children. Ms. Mangiere will be a wonderful addition to our community and will help to oversee programs while working collaboratively with administration, teachers and community members.

We look forward to welcoming Ms. Mangiere to the PVCSD community effective, July 1, 2017.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools


April 4, 2017

Dear Community Members:

Following an in-depth hiring process, including the diligence of an 18 member interview committee representing all stakeholders, I want to inform the community that I am recommending that Dr. Jeremy Luft be appointed by the Board of Education to the position of Director of Learning and Innovative Educational Opportunities on Thursday, April 6. The committee screened 13 candidates and conducted lengthy interviews of 3 finalists. The process ended with an interview with the Board of Education.

Dr. Luft's background includes teaching of high school physics for four years in North Rockland, Director of Technology at the Ossining School District for seven years, and most recently, Director of Instruction at the Hastings School District. At Hastings he was collaborating with staff to build an ELA curriculum beginning at the elementary school, observed and supervised teachers, and supported K-12 staff. Dr. Luft has his B.S. in Physics from SUNY Albany and did semiconductor research on thin film technology and microchips. He has his Masters from Pace, and most recently, his Ed.D. from Manhattanville. He has been the recipient of a number of awards, including New York State Outstanding Technology Leader and Pioneer Award for Outstanding District Technology. In addition, Dr. Luft has presented at numerous conferences and is both a Google Certified Administrator and an INTEL Master Trainer. Attributes that were used to describe Dr. Luft's strengths include how well he connects and builds positive relationships with staff, parents and students, solves problems and innovates, follows-up, champions and completes initiatives, listens and supports accountability, asks about what is needed and coaches to improve and grow. From an administrator: "When he is passionate about something, he makes a point to move it forward." From an elementary principal, "He is always available. Exceptional as technology director and much more. Jeremy will strive to understand the issues, and bring people together to solve them." From a Superintendent of Schools, "He has the respect of the entire staff." He "connects easily with everyone." With the dual strengths in technology and curriculum, Dr. Luft completes a circle for Putnam Valley in building on our foundation of technology advancement as well as our quest for academic excellence and student success.

We look forward to Dr. Luft joining the Putnam Valley School District community officially on July 1. Dr. Luft will be joining me for our upcoming “Superintendent’s Listening Hour” on May 2, (6PM-PVHS Library) where we will focus our conversation on ELA. Please join us.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools

 

 
Putnam Valley Central School District, 146 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley, NY 10579
Phone (845) 528-8143, Fax (845) 528-8386