January 13, 2023
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
I would like to begin my update by sharing the news that Aaron Crook, our Director of Nursing has accepted the position of Director of Nursing for Apple Rehab in Mystic, Connecticut. Aaron shared the following with his colleagues:
“…this decision was not taken lightly, and it was a very difficult one for me to make. I have never worked with a finer group of professionals than each and every one of you. I am immensely proud of what we accomplished together as public health leaders in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and my biggest goal for our department since day one was to elevate the profession of nursing in the eyes of the RPS community, which I believe we have accomplished together. I love, respect, and admire each one of you. It has been the honor of my life to serve, support, and work alongside you.”
Aaron’s words are a true reflection of who Aaron is as a professional. I have directly observed Aaron’s devotion, commitment, and content expertise, all of which are truly commendable. We wish Aaron the very best, thank him immensely, and will miss him.
On Monday evening, the “Superintendent’s Proposed FY24 Budget” was presented to the Board of Education. You can watch the presentation here (32 minute mark). This is the first step in a process that will culminate in the month of May. Most importantly, the District will hold an all-day virtual budget meeting on Saturday, January 21. On this day, each cost center will discuss their budget and share how their work connects to the work of the mission and vision of the RPS graduate. Two Board of Education Public Hearings are scheduled to receive comments and recommendations regarding the Superintendent's proposed budget- first on Monday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m., before the regular Board meeting, and again on Saturday, February 4 at 10:00 a.m. at ERMS.
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 16, with all schools being closed. We are reminded this day, and every day, of our roles in creating a world where all people are seen, valued, and heard.
Susie Da Silva, Ed.D.
Photo Captions: The dream team of RPS principals, RHS building leaders, and administrators at Monday's BOE meeting. Outgoing Director of Nursing Aaron Crook with Bobby the Bobcat, the Barlow Mountain Elementary mascot.
In this week’s podcast, we welcome Dr. Annie Tucci, RPS’s Grade 6–12 Humanities Supervisor. Dr. Wes DeSantis and Dr. Tucci discussed a very impressive assignment RPS middle school students conducted a few weeks ago, called the Witness Stones Project. They discussed the thought-provoking and complex history in Ridgefield while working in collaboration with the Ridgefield Historical Society. Here is a link to the video discussed in the podcast. Thanks for listening!
Important District Reminders
We are excited to announce that the main RPS website will be getting an update over the weekend. This update will make our main website more modern and easier to navigate. We hope you enjoy the new look!
New! Superintendent's Proposed 2023-24 Budget and BOE Special Meeting
On Monday, Superintendent Dr. Susie Da Silva presented her Superintendent's proposed 2023–24 Budget to the Board of Education and the public. Please mark your calendar for the all-day budget workshop on January 21 and upcoming BOE Public Hearings and meetings providing opportunity to make your voice heard. The Agenda for the January 21, the 2023-24 Budget Book, and the YouTube link to watch remotely either live or recorded are available on the Board of Education webpage.
Photo: Superintendent Dr. Da Silva and BOE Chair TIna Malhotra
Free Lunch for Grades K-8 Ends Today, Friday, January 13
Ridgefield’s allocation to provide free meals for K-8 students will go through January 13, 2023. On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the district will revert to charging for meals. Find more information here.
Virtual Curriculum Presentation, K-12 Math Pathways
On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. the RPS Curriculum team will host a virtual presentation on k-12 Math Pathways. All RPS students receive enriching mathematical experiences through various pathways. While each pathway provides students with slightly different standards upon graduation, all students engage in core mathematical practices. This presentation will focus on these key practices and what a student’s mathematical experience will look like across K-12. Attendees will walk away knowing what these pathways are and how each prepares students for success upon graduation. We will have a separate virtual parent presentation on middle school math placement on February 8. Live and recorded here.
NEW! Internet Safety: A Presentation for Parents and Guardians
The RPS Preschool Program is currently accepting Peer Model applications for the 2023-24 school year. Please go to the website for more information and click on the Peer Model Application to apply. Applications are due by March 1, 2023.
In the Classroom
Third Graders Star in RHS Creative Writing
Last Friday, Patricia Boutilier's RHS Creative Writing students went back to Michelle Flynn's third-grade classroom at Veterans Park Elementary School to share and publish their Children's Literature stories. The Creative Writing class met with Ms. Flynn's class in December to brainstorm ideas for stories. On Friday, they returned with their finished books! Each third grader was the protagonist of a unique story created in collaboration with a high schooler. The photos below show how much fun high schoolers and third graders had reading these stories. RHS hopes to return to other VPES classes next semester.
Grade 5 Dissects Owl Pellet to Look at Food Web
In recent Integrated Studies classes, RPS fifth graders dissected owl pellets to discover what their owls ate. This is part of a Life Science unit that studies the Food Chain and Web. Part of this lesson is to create a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment. The essential question of the lesson is: Where Do Living Organisms Get Their Energy From? Students worked with a partner to investigate the pellet, record results on the lab report sheet and graph, and share results with the class.
Photo: Ridgebury Elementary students study their owl pellet.
Branchville Teams Up with Prospector Theater for DEIB Lessons
Since the 2018-2019 school year, the Branchville Elementary PTA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Committee has been sponsoring school visits and field trips to the Prospector Theater. Each year, Prospects come to school to visit with second graders to present and talk about how our differences are what make us special. In their "What Is A Pencil?" presentation on Tuesday, Prospects taught students how each individual can contribute meaningfully to their community by embracing their talents, regardless of any limitations or disabilities they may have. At the end of February, BES fifth-grade classes will visit the Prospector for a more in-depth presentation along similar themes. Thank you, BES PTA, for supporting this wonderful initiative! Learn more about the Prospector Theater's mission in the December 9 episode of the Ridgefield Tiger Talk podcast.
Photo Caption: The Prospector Theater visits Branchville Elementary. There is a slide that reads, "Adults with disabilities are more than capable of having a job and being successful," and another that reads, "I'm doing what they claimed I never would."
The HeARTS of RPS—Selections from RHS
Thank you to RHS Art Teacher Jane Grassi for sharing student art from Computer Art & Design, The Art Experience at the Alternative School, and 3D Jewelry Design classes.
RHS Musician of the Month—Diana Kovacs
The Ridgefield High School Music Department announced that senior Diana Kovacs is the January Student of the Month. Please read about Diana's talents and contributions in this Hamlet Hub article, written by RHS student Jadyn Castagna.
Beyond the Classroom
Inspired by MLK, Jr., ERMS Dreams
The text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech anchors the East Ridge Middle School cafeteria's "dream board" as a reminder of the power of rhetoric, leadership, and imagination. The Dream Board invites members of the East Ridge community to share a dream they have for the betterment of the world. Dreams are collected in the “Dreamcatcher” positioned in the main office and added to the wall as clouds. "Let there be Peace on Earth & Let it begin with me!" is one of the shared ERMS dreams. See more in the photos below.
Best Buddies Club at SRMS
Ridgefield Best Buddies is in its first full year at Scotts Ridge Middle School. The club's purpose is to foster friendships and promote inclusion and equality. In the club's most recent meeting, students decorated holiday cookies before the winter break. Suffice it to say, both hearts and bellies were full after this fun activity!
More Photos from the Week
Kindergartners Learn About Teens
Time flies! Ridgebury Elementary kindergartners started the new year working on teen numbers. The RES newsletter explains that ten frames help students develop their conceptual understanding, specifically why teen numbers start with a one. With this visual support, they can see that teen numbers have a group of ten and extra ones. This base ten foundation will hold strong as children learn about more complex numbers and math skills.
Cocoa and Cram
The Student Council and National Honors Society hosted Cocoa and Cram for Ridgefield High School freshmen this week. Mid-term exams start on 1/19.