Ichabod Crane CSD | September 2021
We are excited to premiere the new format of our Rider Report monthly newsletter! Each month, you'll find an update from Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow, photos or videos from our schools, and a variety of other important information from the district.
It is hard to believe we are just days away from the beginning of another school year. I can’t wait to see our students once again filling our classrooms and hallways. We have all been through a lot over the past 18 months, but as we make our final preparations to return to school, we do so as a united Riders community.
As much as we look forward to another great year of learning, sports, music, drama and dozens of other extracurricular activities, we look forward more so to reconnecting at school. With the overnight pivot to remote learning in March 2020, then spending much of the 2020-2021 school year on a hybrid schedule, having all of our students back in our buildings full time will certainly allow friendships to bloom and the all-important student-teacher relationship to grow more than we could ever expect it to through a computer screen.
Last spring, we surveyed our families on their thoughts and concerns about returning to school in September. Your feedback was crucial as we prepared and planned for the fall. Thank you to all those who provided their input. A large piece of the survey data showed parents were concerned about their students’ social/emotional health and the anxiety around returning fully in-person - circumstances some students may not have experienced since March 2020.
We heard you. This year, we are focused on promoting unity in the Ichabod Crane community. There are several events planned throughout the first few weeks of school to welcome your children back with open arms and ensure they feel comfortable being back at school in a more traditional sense. We look forward to sharing more details and highlights of these activities once our students return. Our staff is planning some fun and exciting things to welcome your children back!
This summer, we were pleased to provide students with summer school and enrichment opportunities, including the Explorers! Program with professional storyteller Tom Lee. You can see photos from the four-week series below. Several of our teachers also participated in a training program going in-depth on how students learn to read, to help us better teach your children this important skill. Read more about the LETRS program, also in this newsletter.
Our capital project work is also ongoing - we’ve included some photos and a short video here as well.
I would like to thank our entire community for their continued support as we work to provide the best education for our students and keep everyone on our campus as safe and healthy as possible. We will achieve great things together - and I am so proud of how we have joined together in the face of one of the greatest challenges we may face in our lifetime.
My hope for us all as we begin the 2021-2022 school year is that not only will we continue to be Rider Strong but that we take on any challenges that come our way together - as one community.
Our Fall Reopening Plan was adopted on August 18. The following principles guided our discussions in planning for the return of our students this year:
- Ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff
- Returning all of our students to the classroom for in-person instruction
- Equity and access for all students within our diverse school population
- Preparation and planning to seamlessly pivot between in person, remove, and hybrid learning environments if needed
Frequently Asked Questions
We also published an FAQ document to provide answers to common questions you may have about the return to school.
When we surveyed parents last spring, we heard several concerns about our HVAC systems and the filtration/ventilation in our buildings. We have conducted a full inventory of our HVAC equipment and its capabilities. The full report also includes information regarding efficiency and recommendations. You can see the report here.
Summer Learning & Enrichment
This summer, we offered several learning opportunities for our students. First, our Elementary Program - Invitations - was expanded for 2021. Students were invited to this program based on academic need, and participated in programming designed to close skill gaps. We had 58 students participate from Kindergarten through Grade 3.
Summer School for our Middle School students included coursework in Math, ELA and World Languages. Students who needed to re-take these courses after the 2020-2021 school year were enrolled by teacher and principal recommendations. 72 students attended and passed 104 out of 106 courses.
At the high school level, students took up to two courses which they did not pass during the regular school year. Available courses included several science courses, English 12, Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Health and various Social Studies options. 58 students participated and passed 78 out of 86 courses taken.
We also offered the Extended School Year program for special education students who qualify under their IEP. This program enrolled 17 students in grades K-8.
This was also the first year of a new enrichment program called Explorers!, and we provided this program in partnership with Tom Lee, who has worked with us for many years at the Primary School. Offerings included a Shakespeare experience for high school students, programs on Chinese Poetry, Painting and Calligraphy and the works of L. Frank Baum for students in grades 3-5, and united on Ramayana the great Indian Epic and Botany and Botanical Art for students in grades 6-8. We had a total of 37 students participate across all grade levels. Next year, we anticipate involving ICC teachers in the program to offer even more opportunities for our students.
Capital Project Update
Work on the district's capital project continued throughout the summer. All three pods at the Middle School are complete, the high school art and science rooms have been upgraded, and there is much more work going on!
You are also invited to join us on Tuesday, September 14 from 5:30 - 6:30 to tour the renovated areas in the Middle School and High School and attend the Board of Education meeting at 7:00 p.m., where Turner Construction and CSArch will provide an update regarding the progress of the project.
Watch a short video of the progress as of the end of July:
ICC Teachers Learn Their LETRS
Primary and elementary teachers at Ichabod Crane will spend the 2021-2022 school year participating in a series of professional development sessions designed to improve the way we teach reading to our youngest students.
Based on the latest brain research explaining how children learn to read, the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) is not a reading program. Rather, it offers teachers an in-depth understanding of how students learn to read, which better informs teachers on the best ways to teach reading.
This summer, 13 early adopters of the training worked with teachers in Hudson CSD, Taconic Hills CSD and Chatham CSD to complete Volume One of the LETRS program which focuses on word recognition. The rest of our Primary School and select teachers in Grades 4 and 5 teachers will complete the training on Superintendent's Conference Days throughout this school year. The program also includes self-paced online work and in-class activities with students between the scheduled training sessions.
“This training is excellent. As a teacher, I am constantly striving to improve my craft and stay current with best practices. I truly believe the information I'm learning through this program will help me, and the other teachers in our district, to more accurately pinpoint where students' language deficits lie, and give us the tools to address those deficits at a much earlier stage. I think our district is making a great investment in bringing this training to our teachers,” said first grade teacher Karen Vecellio.
“Although it was a lot of work it is so beneficial as an educator to have this opportunity for such meaningful PD. I have already started using some of the strategies that I learned from LETRS with some children I was tutoring over the summer. I felt it important that I began the process over the summer to help teachers navigate through it at the Primary School,” said second grade teacher MaryAnn Gorke.
In Spring of 2022, the district is expected to choose a new reading program at the primary school, and the LETRS training will help inform that decision. By developing a deeper understanding of how children learn to read, we can determine the best way to teach children to read. Once those two pieces are in place, our teachers, curriculum leaders, and administrators can select the best reading program to align with those practices.
School districts typically conduct this training with small groups of teachers at a time, slowly expanding the pool of teachers with this training over several years. However, Ichabod Crane is moving full speed ahead, aiming to have all of our grade K-3 teachers and many of our 4th and 5th grade teachers complete the LETRS program by the end of next year.
It is one of the Ichabod Crane Board of Education’s goals to increase mastery and proficiency in all areas, including reading, especially in our younger grades. This work aligns with that goal. LETRS has been endorsed by the International Dyslexia Association, and students whose teachers have completed the program have shown increased proficiency in a number of areas related to literacy as well as improved reading scores.
Discussions are ongoing to continue the training next year, by moving teachers through Volume Two, which consists of four additional units with a focus on language comprehension.
Who Do I Contact For...
We have created a document to help you find the correct person to contact for a variety of concerns that may come up throughout the year, as well as a directory of district staff. You can find this contact guide on our website.