SVHS Green and Gold

Dr. Cohen's Newsletter to the SVHS Community

July 5, 2020 Edition

Welcome to Principal Intern, Scott Smith

On July 1st, Mr. Scott Smith, joined our staff as a principal intern. Many of you will remember Mr. Smith who was previously with us as an English Teacher, Staff Development Teacher, and English Department Resource Teacher.

Principal interns are experienced administrators who are selected to begin a year of preparation for the principalship. Principal interns perform many of the duties of an assistant principal while simultaneously shadowing the principal and preparing for their future role as a school system leader. An additional component of the training program includes a brief six-week takeover period, typically following winter break, where the principal intern takes full responsibility for the school while I will leave on a short term assignment at another school.

The opportunity to serve as a trainer is a professional opportunity I am pleased to accept and believe that our school and community will provide an excellent environment to prepare a future principal. Because we are growing in size next year, Mr. Smith is filling a new administrator position for the school. In the coming weeks, more information about Mr. Smith, principal intern, will be shared along with an opportunity for Mr. Smith to meet the staff, students, and community. Thank you for your continued support and collaboration.


Dr. Cohen

Listen! Learn! Act!

In my Open Letter to the community last month following the murder of George Floyd, I shared my dissatisfaction with the status quo and committed our students, our staff, and our community to the following:

  • We Will Listen: Over the next few months, we will collaborate to build a unified group of diverse parents, teachers, and students that understands the challenges and benefits of a diverse school.

  • We Will Learn: That group will be asked to create specific parent, teacher, and student experiences they believe must occur to encourage an environment in which racial and ethnic issues are discussed openly and productively.

  • We Will Act: As a part of our measured school improvement initiatives, we will engage our community in these learning experiences; we will reflect together; and we will create personal and group action steps that address racial and ethnic barriers to student achievement at our school.

First Steps:

Dozens of staff members are spending the first few weeks of summer reading and reflecting. Additionally, they are coming together virtually to discuss what they have learned and to brainstorm ways to apply that learning to our work with students and each other. Additionally, as a part of our annual "Leadership Week" for school administrators and staff leaders, we are engaging in a series of Book Studies that compel us to reflect not only on our personal mindset, but also the role we play as educational leaders in influencing others.

In case you are interested, here are the books we are using as we begin to Listen and Learn.

1. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism— and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

2. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris

In a work that Lisa Delpit calls “imperative reading,” Monique W. Morris (Black Stats, Too Beautiful for Words) chronicles the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged—by teachers, administrators, and the justice system—and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. Called “compelling” and “thought-provoking” by Kirkus Reviews, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the rising movement to challenge the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures.

White Fragility: Why its so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

Equity Matters Dialogue

In addition to these activities, our administrative team is joining other school and system leaders in an "Equity Matters Dialogue." Equity Matters Dialogues are a space for engagement on race and culture. The dialogue will not only be an opportunity to reflect on current events in society but more importantly, what this thinking means for our personal and professional practice.

In the coming months:

We are still working on a more comprehensive engagement plan designed to involve students, staff, and the broader Seneca Valley community in this work. I have heard from so many of you already, asking how you can answer our call to action. Thank you for your commitment to our school and community. There is a lot more work to come.

Be well and stay safe.

Dr. Cohen

MCPS Summer Food Service Program Will Provide Free Meals

Beginning July 6, 2020, MCPS will provide breakfast and lunch meals to all Montgomery County children and all MCPS students (regardless of age) at more than 60 MCPS sites across the county and 30 community-based programs. Meals will be provided at MCPS sites from 10 a.m.–noon at school sites and from 9–10 a.m. at bus distribution sites. No identification will be required for students/families picking up meals at the MCPS school, mobile or bus distribution sites. Meals will be provided four days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information and the full list of sites, click here.

MCPL Summer Reading Program Open to All MCPS Students

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) invites all students to participate in this year’s summer reading program, which will run through August 31, 2020. This year’s theme is “Imagine Your Story.” The program offers children and teens a chance to fill their summer with great books and fun activities. Students will have an opportunity to earn badges and prizes and enjoy fun raffles. For more information and to register your child, visit the MCPL website.

Available Technology for Students and Staff

Students who received Chromebooks and MiFi devices at the start of remote learning will be able to keep those devices through the summer for their continued teaching and learning opportunities. Students who are participating in summer programs and still need a device or a mobile hotspot, or need to replace a device that is not working can go to 45 W. Gude Dr. in Rockville, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Please note that as MCPS looks to the 2020–2021 school year, we are planning to move to the use of a single platform (myMCPS Classroom) for learning, based on feedback from students, parents, teachers and principals. Details about that plan will be shared in the coming weeks.

Wellness Resources

The safety and wellness of our students remains a top priority. Below are resources to support the physical, social and psychological well-being of our community. If you believe your child is in crisis, please contact the Montgomery County Crisis Center at 240-777-4000. Students can also reach out to their counselor and school psychologist to set up a confidential appointment.

Waymaking Video Series

Mindful Moments Video Series
Tips on Addressing Student Grief
Tips for Preventing Youth Suicide

Having trouble with your Distance Learning Technology?

As a reminder, you can pick up or exchange Chromebooks and MiFi devices at 45 West Gude Drive from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. every weekday. Families should wear masks and bring their child’s student ID number with them. For the technical needs of any student or parent during remote learning, please call 240-740-7022

Having trouble with myMCPS Classroom?

Community Resources

Below is information regarding food/grocery access beyond the MCPS school meal sites:

Food Assistance Resource Map: The Montgomery County Food Council created an interactive map of food assistance providers and benefits application assistance sites in Montgomery County. It is searchable by location, food assistance type, accessibility and many other special features. This resource can give principals and families a quick view of local resources in their area. The information indicates where, when and how to access the resources. **We would caution parents and staff supporting parents to pay particular attention to how one qualifies to access food as some sites state requirements.

Weekend Bag Program: MCPS, Manna Food Center, and Women Who Care Ministries are distributing weekend backpacks with groceries to the families of MCPS students each Friday. The location of distribution sites and times are listed at the bottom of the webpage.













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