PV Schools

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