In just a few short days, our schools will once again be filled with students and staff, eager to learn and teach, unified in our Ichabod Crane community.
We are so excited to welcome back our existing Riders – and to once again say “Hello and we’re so happy you are here!” to the new students and staffers who have already become part of the ICC family!
A new school year is always energizing, and the administrative team and staff across all departments have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure that our students have access to what they need to be successful in our classrooms and beyond, all while feeling safe and supported.
It truly takes a village.
Many of our students were also hard at work over the last few months. Those who needed extra support across all grades attended our traditional summer school program. We also held our second year of our enrichment program, the Explorers!, which included programming in storytelling, robotics, Chinese calligraphy, horticulture and more!
Last year, as many of you know, we started a district-wide theme of Unity to promote the importance of togetherness and shared experiences across K-12. Over the course of the year, we had chosen character traits that we celebrated each month, like Gratitude and Respect. Our shared character traits provided a deep connection between our staff and students, really bringing to life our overarching theme of Unity.
I hope you will all share my enthusiasm as we enter our second year of celebrating Unity. In September, the character trait is acceptance. The administrators at the Middle and High Schools will be working with the student liaisons to determine a new theme for each quarter. Stay tuned for more updates about what our students come up with to continue our mission of continuously unifying our Rider community!
For me, acceptance means fully embracing each other, and recognizing and promoting the beauty of diversity and inclusion. It means finding the good in every person and every situation. Acceptance leads to compassion, kindness, and empathy, and so much more. It opens our eyes to all that the Rider community, and the world, has to offer.
What does acceptance mean to you?
While sharing a common theme may seem simplistic, if we all fully embrace the idea of connecting with one another through shared ideals, the sense of belonging and positive relationships it can help to foster becomes invaluable. This year, we will also continue to emphasize social-emotional learning in tandem with academic achievement through expanded staffing, resources and professional development.
Additionally, I want to assure you that maintaining school safety remains a top priority. In July, we started to work with the experienced consultants from Needham Risk Management, a firm with more than 20 years of experience in school safety.
On Sept. 8, we will host a community safety forum, where our new consultants will give an overview of the SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education) law, summarize the collaborative work they have done district-wide over the last few months, and discuss where we will go from here. The forum is at 6:30 p.m. in the High School auditorium.
We couldn’t be prouder and more excited to announce that the Capital Project is complete! Some of the major projects, which were approved by district residents in 2018, include the Middle School gymnasium, the High School Science Wing and brand new bleachers on the multi-purpose field. Check out this video that summarizes all that was accomplished during this multiphase project.
On Sept. 16, we are inviting you all to a showcase to celebrate these amazing improvements and additions to our district. The showcase will kick-off with a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m., followed by student-led tours in the Middle and High Schools.
The showcase is on the same day as the PTA Welcome-Back Picnic at the Primary School, as well as several athletic competitions, including:
JV Boys Soccer at 4:30 p.m.,
Varsity Boys Soccer at 7 p.m., under the lights, and
Modified Girls Volleyball at 4:30 p.m.
There are just so many ways you can come out to show your Rider Pride! Go blue and white!
With all the excitement, we also wanted to assure you that we are continuously staying proactive when it comes to the COVID-19 virus. We recently received an updated guidance from the state, which we have used to update our protocols.
As always, our priority is keeping our students and staff as healthy and safe as possible. This has included keeping mental health as another top priority district-wide, given the sad and tragic events that have happened, and continue to occur, across our country and world. In our digital and highly-connected world, we are acutely aware students and staff are exposed to more and more of what’s going on in their communities and beyond.
My hope for all of you is that you get to enjoy your last few days of summer vacation, and are excited for the year ahead of us, which I know will be marked by so many accomplishments, life milestones, and exceptional learning and instruction throughout the district.
But in life, there are always tough times and challenges. My hope is that no matter what we are going through, we will continue to be Rider Strong, unified as one community.
Also in this issue …
Summer Learning and Enrichment
Lunch Program Update
ICC Teachers Return Ready to Learn
Our Continued Focus on Mental Health
Welcoming New Staff!
COVID-19 Update and Resources
As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with New York State Education Department (NYSED) and (NYDOH) Department of Health have released an updated guidance in mid-August providing added flexibility for schools.
The CDC issued the Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning. Shortly thereafter, a joint memo was released from NYSED and NYDOH, which encouraged school districts to utilize the CDC guidance as a resource for COVID-19 mitigating strategies.
As a result, we have updated our Operating Plan for 2022-23 to reflect the latest guidance.
The current CDC and State guidance requires a person who is positive for COVID-19 to follow the CDC’s isolation period of 5-days from date of onset of symptoms or date of last exposure if non-symptomatic and mask for days 6-10 upon return to school.
All other items within the CDC and State guidance documents are recommendations, and we encourage everyone to adhere to them in order to help keep our buildings a safe learning environment for all. We will continue existing COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including cleaning and disinfection, and increased ventilation in classrooms. Students and staff are also strongly encouraged to continue to practice healthy hygiene and to stay home when sick.
Summer Learning and Enrichment
This summer, we offered several learning opportunities for our students across all grades. It was our largest summer program ever!
We welcomed back renowned storyteller Tom Lee to our second year of our enrichment program, the Explorers!, which had an enrollment just under 100. Tom, who has worked with staff at the Primary School for years, is a frequent guest artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and has brought storytelling programs to thousands of students in grades K-12. We just feel so fortunate to have him as part of the Rider community.
We also added many programs taught by our own ICC teachers. Students practiced coding with Dash the robot, and worked collaboratively to solve problems and open locks in our Escape Camp. Others put their green thumbs to the test and spent time in our Middle School garden, and learned what can be done with the fruits of their labor. Students were also taught how to play the ukulele and to create Chinese calligraphy. The older students started to prepare for life once they graduate – taking time to prepare for college, and learning about online college planning programs.
These are just a few examples of the activities that the dozens of students participated in during this summer’s Enrichment Program. We were just so excited to see so many of our students take advantage of these diverse offerings, and cannot wait to add to the fun and learning next summer!
Additionally, we offered the more typical summer school programming for our K-12 students. First, our Elementary Program – Invitations – was once again expanded. Students were invited to this program based on academic need, and participated in programming designed to close skill gaps. We had 116 students participate from Kindergarten through Grade 3.
At the Middle and High Schools, students were able to re-take courses they didn’t pass during the previous year. Enrollment included 59 Middle School students and 50 High School students.
We also offered the Extended School Year program for special education students who qualify under their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This program enrolled 34 students. An additional 41 students attended our English Language Learners (ELL) summer program.
New School Safety Consultant
The district started partnering with Needham Risk Management as a consultant this summer. The district had worked closely with the Questar III BOCES Safety Consultants for many years. However, following the retirement of our designated health and safety specialist, we decided to bring on Needham to provide a fresh look at our preparedness.
With more than 20 years of experience in the school safety and security field, they have provided a new set of eyes and perspectives on our protocols and plans – as the safety of our students and staff remains and always will be one of our highest priorities.
Needham consultants have worked side-by-side with our administrators to review our individual building safety plans and the district-wide plan, which was adopted at the Aug. 16 school board meeting.
This new partnership with Needham has allowed us to greatly expand our professional development around safety with not only our staff but also our substitutes. The additional training opportunities focused on playground safety, CPR, first aid and more.
We are excited about the Sept. 8 safety forum hosted by Needham consultants, where they will provide an overview of the work they have done and answer questions from the public. If you have a question, it must be submitted beforehand by Sept. 5, using this Google form.
Food Services Update
Meals will be served to all students in the cafeterias in each building.
During the last two school years, the USDA ensured that all schools were able to offer meals free of charge to all students. However, this universal reimbursement expired on June 30, 2022. Therefore, for the 2022-23 school year, unless your family applies and is approved for free or reduced meals, there will be a charge for meals.
Filling out the form may benefit your student and school in ways beyond the lunch program. The number of applications that are returned and approved can affect how much funding our schools get to help students meet academic benchmarks, including grant funding for materials like books and computers.
For more information, please visit our Food Services section on our website.
ICC Teachers Return Ready to Learn!
Teachers district-wide returned to work on Aug. 30 for three full-days of professional development sessions centered on mental health and the district’s continued mission to bolster the way we teach reading to our youngest students.
Teachers and staff spent invaluable time planning with their building leaders, planning for this upcoming school year, including taking deep dives into our existing curriculums, and thoroughly reviewing any changes that will be implemented.
The Capital Area Area School Development Association (CASDA) will provide Middle and High School staffers with presentations and workshops focusing on student mental health and engagement.
They will emphasize how to build community district-wide, to best support our children’s mental health, to identify potential mental health needs, and how to connect children and families with area resources and treatment.
At the Primary School, teachers and staff continued to focus on the newly adopted K-3 reading curriculum, Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA), which is a comprehensive program for teaching reading, writing, listening, and speaking while also building students’ vocabulary and knowledge across essential domains in literature, world and American history, and the sciences. Teachers and staff will spend an entire day training on the curriculum.
The staff will spend the last day of professional development concentrating on the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Based on the latest brain research explaining how children learn to read, LETRS offers teachers an in-depth understanding of how students learn to read, which better informs teachers on the best ways to teach reading.
Special area department staff also received professional development geared to their areas, which includes art, music, library and physical education.
Our teachers and staff are more than ready for your students to return to the ICC campus!
Supporting the Whole Student
Mental and emotional health has long been a priority in the Ichabod Crane Central School District and continues to be as we enter the 2022-23 school year.
Using grant funds to support this ongoing initiative, the district has hired another school psychologist this year. The year before, we hired a full-time licensed clinical social worker. Additionally, we continue to partner with the Columbia County Department of Mental Health, who has provided a social worker onsite one day weekly. Counselors will be going directly into classrooms to introduce themselves, and we continue to finetune our social and emotional learning curriculum to use with the students.
We also are continuing our practice of mindfulness in the classrooms, which we have done for years. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. It teaches our students to be aware of their emotions and how to process feelings in proactive and non-judgmental manners.
At ICC, mindfulness includes:
Focusing on the present moment.
Being highly aware of present sensations, thoughts and feelings.
Paying attention with flexibility, openness and curiosity.
An awareness process, not a thinking process.
In the classroom, mindfulness helps students calm their minds and bodies, increase focus and attention, increase their ability to learn, learn how to manage emotions, learn a life-long coping skill, and so much more.
Welcome New Staff!
ICC is proud to welcome all the new staff! Check out some of the new Rider staffers in the picture above.
We’ve filled several positions across our district and we are looking forward to getting to know everyone. We know you will help us do amazing things for our students! See a list of all of our new staff on our website. Stay tuned for spotlights on our new staff throughout the year.
We also still have 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.
WELCOME BACK EVERYONE!!!