Superintendent’s Ram Gram

October 2022

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District Welcomes Back Students

Port Chester students returned to school with a renewed sense of excitement for the new 2022-2023 school year. Greeted by their teachers and administrators, they reunited with friends, met new teachers, organized their school supplies, learned about their schedules and engaged in different educational activities. The smiles and enthusiasm for a new start are contagious. Every year, all educators feel the excitement that our students bring when they enter their schools.
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Kindergarten Ice Cream Social Before Start of School

Incoming kindergartners enjoyed a frozen summer treat while meeting new friends and classmates during the annual Kindergarten Ice Cream Social. Accompanied by their families, the students were warmly greeted by their teachers before participating in educational activities. The event, held for John F. Kennedy Elementary School, King Street School, Park Avenue School and Thomas A. Edison School, was designed to help the students make a smooth transition into their new schools before the official start of the school year.

A Message From Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aurelia Henriquez

One of my favorite quotes about community engagement is by Margaret Wheatley: “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” One of the many things that makes Port Chester so incredible, is how much we care about our students and each other. In addition to our commitment to continuous improvement, we are also committed to strengthening our community engagement.

This year, there will be plenty of opportunities to engage, connect and strengthen that home-school relationship. We are a whole child, whole school, whole community district! We are looking forward to supporting our Community Schools coordinators and bolstering opportunities for the community to engage with us. We are working on a Community Engagement Plan and look forward to inviting the community to take part in conversation. In the end, all that we do is for our students. Let’s come together!

Curriculum Update From Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Colleen Carroll

Our elementary teachers are off to a strong start as we begin the first year of our implementation plan for the American Reading Company Core Program in grades K-2, as well as select classrooms in grades 3-5. We are deeply involved in professional learning and collaboration as a staff and are excited about the wealth of materials and resources this program offers, including an online portal of materials, trainings and a data dashboard, as well as extensive classroom libraries of books for our students to enjoy. We are thrilled that our elementary students are experiencing the joy of reading and writing in a rigorous program that meets the needs of all our learners.

Our K-8 students now have access to a robust suite of supplemental learning software through Imagine Learning. Programs include Imagine Math, Language and Literacy, and MyPath and support students at their individual learning levels in reading and math. Our middle school students can also engage with Robotify, an exciting new coding program. Teachers are receiving training on the program this fall to incorporate the software into the instructional day in exciting ways. Students will have access to this software at home as well.

A Message From Executive Director of Human Resources Ivan Tolentino

I have been an educator in New York for the past 22 years, 11 of which were spent as principal of Edison School. Port Chester is a special community with untapped potential opportunities for its staff members and students. Over the next several weeks and months, I, along with my colleagues at our central office, will be developing new systems, procedures, and resources in the human resources department that will help our school community achieve its motto of “Success for Every Student.” We hope to provide our employees, and employee candidates, with a wealth of information regarding working conditions and employee benefits as it pertains to their employment with the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District.

For our students, the human resources office hopes to use innovative ideas and programming to create stronger partnerships with our local colleges and the business community that will lead to exciting opportunities for students to learn about and engage in careers to which they may otherwise not have had access.

For the business community, I plan to reach out to our local businesses in the coming months to speak with them and learn about the human resource needs of these businesses, what skills they are looking for in potential employees and how our school district may better prepare our students for entering the work force upon graduating from Port Chester High School or an institution of higher learning. In addition, I would like to explore how a potential partnership may be of mutual interest to these organizations and ours, which employs over 700 people. I look forward to working collaboratively and helping forge partnerships across our community.

A Message From Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mitchell Combs

We are delighted once again to be using federal American Rescue Plan funding to offer after-school programming for all students in each of our elementary schools. ASPIRES/ASPIRA (After School Program Initiative for Recovery, Enrichment and Support /Actividades y Suportes, Programas de Inspiración, Recuperación y Ayuda) is once again offering a variety of enrichment activities and time for students to be supervised to complete their homework assignments. Port Chester Council for the Arts is the lead organization again this year and kicked off its program on Sept. 19. A plan for students in grades 6 and 7 is in the works with the Carver Center and planned to start in mid-October. My work with the PCCFTA and with Carver has been negotiating and finalizing contracts for the operation of their programs.

Honors for PCHS Student

Port Chester High School senior Ben Reyes has been selected to perform with the 2022 New York State School Music Association’s All-State Symphony Orchestra at the Rochester Convention Center in Rochester, New York, from Dec. 1-4. Selected through a highly competitive audition, Reyes is among approximately 900 of New York’s finest high school musicians. More than 6,500 students from across the state auditioned for the music festival at various solo and ensemble festivals this past spring.

Kindergartners Study Algorithms

John F. Kennedy Elementary School kindergartners learned about the importance of algorithms during a lesson in technology and enrichment teacher Courtney Waldmann’s class.

To introduce the complex concept to the school’s youngest learners, Waldmann compared it to algorithms that students use every day, including washing their hands, brushing their teeth and walking to school. During the lesson, she encouraged the students to verbally describe the steps they use to brush their teeth and discuss how to give specific details, such as “put toothpaste on brush and squeeze paste.” Then, the students were provided with cards containing instructions for each step and used their critical skills to reorder the steps and glue them in the correct order. At the end of class, the students gathered on the rug to review what they learned.

Students Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

Students and staff at John F. Kennedy Elementary School honored their heritage during a schoolwide celebration on Sept. 23. The day began with a virtual morning announcement led by two fourth graders, who were dressed in garb representing Mexico. Then, Principal Judy Diaz engaged the entire student body and staff in a virtual read loud of Jonah Winter’s “A Judge Grows in the Bronx.”

Board of Education Goals 2022-2023

Goal 1 – Increase Student Outcomes Through Multiple Pathways and A Data-Informed Culture

  • Utilize data, research, experience and collaboration to inform instruction and strategic planning.
  • Openly share data, discussions and goals to improve academic rigor and performance pre-K-12.
  • Create a culture of student agency, where all students are exposed to multiple college and career opportunities.

Goal 2 – Improve Communication and Increase Community Engagement

  • Utilize multiple platforms and outlets to broadcast important information while publicly celebrating and highlighting our students’, staff and district’s accomplishments.
  • Collaborate and be inclusive more often to allow for meaningful discourse with key stakeholders to increase community engagement.
  • Include opportunity for student voice.

Goal 3 – Foster A Sense of Empathy, Community Connectedness and Pride in Ram Nation

  • Ensure that students, families and district staff engage in meaningful and authentic interactions with a focus on mindfulness and mental health supports.
  • Forge and sustain community partnerships to expand opportunities for students.
  • Create districtwide opportunities for students and families to celebrate Port Chester Pride and a sense of “Ramily.”

Goal 4 – Engage in Strategic Planning for Fiscal Responsibilities and Facilities

  • Collaborate for strategic planning to safeguard fiscal stability.
  • Take a proactive approach to improve and maintain safe schools and well-maintained facilities and grounds that our community can be proud of.
  • Review of facilities, budget and operations for long-term planning purposes.

Board of Education Meeting

Thursday, Oct. 20th, 7pm

113 Bowman Avenue

Rye Brook, NY