Dear Pelham, I hope that this finds you all well and settling into the normal, yet very busy routines
that new school years always afford to all of us. Across the District, we are formalizing our plans that will allow us to engage in the important work of educating your children. Maintaining our focus on our strategic plan, we will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda as it relates to the four pillars and the action steps associated with achieving them this year: Integrating the principles and content of 21st Century learning, Providing all students with coordinated networks of support, Fostering wellness and meeting the social-emotional needs of our student body, and Committing to strong professional development for our entire administration, faculty, and staff.
There are series of 42 action steps associated with the pillars of the plan that allow us to move our work forward, learn, grow, and collaborate with your children, their teachers, and our principals to improve teaching and learning at every level of the Pelham Public Schools. I will write in greater detail as the year progresses, but a few highlights of things that we will be working on this year include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Integration of MakerSpaces at all six schools
- Implementation of the International Baccalaureate- Middle Years Programme in grades 9 and 10 at Pelham Memorial High School
- Pelham Middle School's authorization as an official IB-World School
- Making a final recommendation in determining the viability of World Language implementation at the elementary level
- Development of an articulated and spiraled wellness strand, specifically in the area of mindfulness
- Creation of a system whereby every student in Pelham has a known trusted adult upon whom they can rely
- Expand our use of performance-based assessment so that students can demonstrate what they know and are able to do through real-world experiences
As you can see, we have much work to do and are interested in your help. If you would like to learn more about and/or join a District or Committee of the Board of Education, please read the description of the work of each committee and fill out the form, both on our homepage
under Good to Know. All forms need to be returned to my office no later than October 7, 2016. I hope that you can join us!
Safety and Security Work
New York State now requires that school districts conduct 12 emergency drills. Four must be lockdown drills and the remaining eight are evacuation (fire) drills. Please note that eight drills must be completed by December 31, 2016. In Pelham, we also include one staging drill, one lockout/all-call drill, and one shelter-in-place drill. By practicing these drills, we believe that our students and staff will be better prepared in the event that we have an emergent situation. We work in close collaboration with the police and fire departments in both villages so that our responses are coordinated for the safety and security of our students and staff. Your child's classroom teacher(s) and principals will be working to prepare your children for these drills. They will use calm, direct, and reassuring language so that children are made to feel safe.
Lockdown drills will begin this week, and you will receive specific instructions and information from your respective building principal(s). Please note that only the first lockdown drill will be announced. The remaining will be unannounced in order to provide us with the best opportunities to test and practice our protocols. During an announced or unannounced lockdown drill, I will immediately send a text message to parents noting that the drill is underway and that there isn't cause for alarm. I will send a second text when the drill has been successfully concluded.
It is important that you know that teachers and students are given very specific instructions that they should not be texting, emailing, or communicating with anyone in any way, but most especially with their phones. Also, teachers must have their students' undivided attention so that instructions and directions intended to keep everyone safe are assured. Further, the main office phones and emails to the impacted school will not be answered during these drills.
Important to know:
- When the exterior blue lights are illuminated, please do not approach the building. Anyone in the building will be required to stay for the length of the drill.
- I do ask that you refrain from contacting your children during any sort of emergency situation (drill or real event).
I am committed to the safety of our students and staff and will always communicate with parents and community members as often and as practically as I can. I do this through email, text, and social media. If you haven't yet done so, please sign up for text messaging through the main office of your child's school, like us on Facebook
and/or follow me on Twitter at @PeterGiarrizzo.
It is such a pleasure to have your children back in school with us. We are excited about our goals this year, and look forward to each student in Pelham deriving the greatest benefits from the work that we have set out to do. I hope to see you soon!
With warmest regards,
Peter Giarrizzo, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools