Dear Parents and Guardians:
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2018-19 school year. All of us here at Potsdam Central are looking forward to serving you and your children in the year ahead. We believe that partnerships with our families and community are essential to our success, and we sincerely hope you are eager to work with us to provide a world-class education for all students.
Last spring, the District Strategic Planning Team met for a full day to review the accomplishments from the 2017-18 school year; review our district data and update our three-year targets, when warranted; and to establish our goals for the school year ahead. All of our efforts are focused on realizing our mission: To inspire, prepare and empower our students to lead fulfilled lives as compassionate, productive and engaged citizens.
The 2017-18 school year gave us much to celebrate. First, A.A. Kingston Middle School was redesignated as a “School to Watch.” AAK was first designated in 2009 and was then re-designated in 2012, 2015, and again this year. Through the Schools to Watch initiative, the National Forum identifies schools across the United States that have made significant strides towards meeting the Forum’s criteria for high performance. Forum members believe that three things are true of high-performing middle-grades schools: They are academically excellent — these schools challenge all students to use their minds well. They are developmentally responsive — these schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence. They are socially equitable — these schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports. There are only two schools north of Albany with this designation, and Potsdam Central School District is proud to be a leader in this regard.
In 2018, Lawrence Avenue Elementary School was also recognized for "Beating the Odds and Building Opportunities” . This was presented to our school by Better Outcomes Research for boosting the achievement of Economically Disadvantaged students. Lawrence Ave. has been identified as one of the top 21% of eligible public schools in NYS!
Several individuals in our school district have also recently been recognized for excellence. School psychologist Sarah Baker was awarded the Chapter School Psychologist of the Year honor. Each year the New York State Association of School Psychologists provides an award to one school psychologist from each chapter in the state. Chapter A, which encompasses Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties, selected Sarah from all of the school psychologists in our region. High school math teacher, Josh Brosell, was named a New York State Master Teacher. Middle school social studies teacher, Jara Filiatrault, received a NYS Excellence in Teaching award. Elementary principal Jennifer Gray was recognized as one of the “20 Under 40 Northern New York’s Emerging Leaders” by Northern New York Business Magazine. High school physical education teacher, Joe Stark, was honored with the NYS AHPERD Coaches Section Amazing Person Award. He was also awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Potsdam Elks Club. And middle school physical education teacher, Janelle Wingerter, received the NYS AHPERD Northern Zone Amazing Person Award.
In addition, we enjoyed many other accomplishments. We implemented strategies, including The Positivity Project, that nurture the social and emotional development of all students. We worked hard to implement a fair, consistent, developmentally-appropriate student code of conduct. Under the direction of our Teacher Leaders, our staff collaborated to align curriculum and to share instructional practices through afterschool professional development session and classroom visitations. Finally, we continued to investigate school start time options, hoping to find a way to shift the start time of our secondary schools to later in the morning in order to align with recommendations for student well-being.
As we look to the head, we will be continuing to focus on the goals outlined above. In addition, we will be adding a few new areas of focus. First, the Strategic Planning Team identified this goal: “Promote student choice by offering innovative, diverse, and personalized learning inside and outside the classroom.” Each grade level and academic department will be setting a goal for the year that supports this vision. Our elementary and middle school teachers will be implementing and refining Writer’s Workshop, Reader’s Workshop, MakerSpace, Genius Hour, Project Based Learning and more. At the high school, students will have the opportunity to engage in some exciting new electives including Computer Science and Digital Graphic Design, and we are exploring more ways to personalize learning including online platforms and distance learning.
Secondly, we established this goal: “Provide robust leadership opportunities that add students’ voices to district decision-making.” We believe our students have a lot to offer, and we are going to be intentional about bringing them to the table. As an example, last spring five middle and high school students joined the District Strategic Planning Team. We hope to empower our team captains and club and class officers by providing them with training in leadership skills. We also hope to include more students on our committees and also give them more responsibility for planning school events.
Finally, we will focus our efforts on increasing family engagement, strengthening current, and identifying new partnerships with our community. We will make communication a priority and have plans to strengthen our shared decision-making processes across the district so that parents and community voices are included.
Best wishes for a happy and successful school year. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at (315) 265-2000 x733 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superintendent of Schools