Dear Parents and Guardians:
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2019-20 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 2018-19 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 focusing on achieving our mission: To inspire, prepare and empower our students to lead fulfilled lives as compassionate, productive and engaged citizens.
The 2018-19 school year gave us much to celebrate. For the 2nd consecutive year, 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! And Potsdam Senior High was just named a “Recognition School” by the NYS Education Department for their outstanding student assessment results as well as their phenomenal graduation rates for the 2017-18 school year.
Several individual PCS staff members were also recognized for excellence this year. LOTE teacher Emily Brouwer was recognized by the Potsdam Rotary Club with their Service About Self Award for her outstanding contributions to the Potsdam community. Middle School nurse Jonann Foote was recognized by the New York State Association of School Nurses with the Award for Excellence in School Nursing. High School PE teacher Jill Gaebel received the NYS AHPERD Northern Zone Amazing Person Award. Teacher Assistant Amy Murphy received the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce Pride in Potsdam Award for her work with the Dick Murphy/Dalton Guyette Memorial Scholarship Fund. And middle school science teacher, Dave Vroman was nominated to the New York State Schools to Watch Leadership Team.
In addition, we enjoyed many other accomplishments. We nurtured the well-being of all students by developing and implementing strategies such as the Positivity Project. We continued to monitor and assess the student code of conduct for fairness and consistency. We promoted student choice by offering innovative, diverse, and personalized learning opportunities. This included the implementation of our 1:1 technology initiative, new electives as the high school, 20-Time Projects in High School English classes, a 7th grade Science Fair, Genius Hour at Lawrence Avenue, and continued development of Maker Spaces in all three schools. Under the direction of our Teacher Leaders, our staff collaborated to align curriculum and to share instructional practices through afterschool professional development sessions, classroom visitations, and two Unconferences. We provided robust leadership opportunities that added student voices to district decision-making. We strengthened current and identified new partnerships with our community and continued to focus on engaging families. Finally, we continued to investigate the possibility of shifting secondary school start times to align with recommendations for student well-being. A survey of all stakeholders was conducted in the summer of 2019, and the Board of Education will consider the survey results this fall before making any recommendation for the 2020-2021 school year.
As we look to the year ahead, we will be continuing to focus on the goals outlined above. In addition, we will be adding a few new areas of focus. First, our staff and administrators have been learning about restorative practices, including restorative justice. We believe these practices have the potential to improve school climate, reduce discipline referrals, and increase student attendance by creating a stronger sense of community and a culture of collaborative problem-solving. We will be implementing community-building circles and hope to create a safe space to talk about sensitive topics such as bias and inequity and offering harm circles to help hold students accountable for their actions. We will also be placing a greater emphasis on digital citizenship and data privacy as we know our students need to be skillful consumers of technology. Finally, we will be providing professional development for our staff as we look for innovative ways to engage every family.
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