PV Schools

Dear Putnam Valley Community: 

Thank you to parents, students, community members and staff who attended last evening’s screening of Most Likely to Succeed. While the setting of the movie was primarily High Tech High in San Diego, the focus on the student experience was a powerful reminder of how our schools vary in how they deliver education and how much independence they offer to students as part of the learning process.

The film portrays the historical context for the organization of schools and the traditional patterns and structures of courses and pedagogy that continue to prevail, even as the context has changed. With the technology and employment opportunities radically and rapidly changing, we continue to see schools wrestling with the best ways to prepare students  for their future. In Putnam Valley, we are not seeking to abandon the educational foundations and content that deepens our knowledge and ability to read, think critically, reason, articulate ideas in writing or speech, and to communicate our ideas effectively. We are, however, looking at strategies that engage students more authentically in their learning process and, therefore, in applying what we know to collaborate with others,  solve problems, create and make decisions that matter.

We can bring purpose to school as a community where we feel a sense of belonging and where we find meaning in our work, individually and with teams.  We value the visual and performing arts and athletics as models for student exhibits and agency. It is that aspect of agency, of students’ opportunity to make decisions, believe in their ability to produce, create, and make something important happen that we seek to expand. We also value empathy and caring for others, demonstrated in service and in our respectful daily interactions where we embrace the differences and uniqueness of each student as an individual to be recognized and “realized.”  

The last scene of the movie moves all who watch as the young man, who after working tirelessly on a project that he has envisioned, does not complete it in time for the public exhibition. He feels disappointment that he has let his team down, as the complex and almost breathtaking machine that they have created to display the rise and fall of civilizations lacks his contribution. 

However, with the support and guidance of his teacher, he continues to work on his project throughout the summer, and finally, he completes it and, amazingly, places his creation with gears moving inexorably and synchronously with the enormous structure built by the class that was waiting to be finished. There were tears of joy and of lasting confidence that indeed, “I can,” through persistence and resilience fulfill my vision. 



Dr. Frances Wills 

Superintendent of Schools