Dr. Champ's September 2017 Newsletter

Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,

Labor Day for me has always been an exciting marker of new beginnings - a new school year, a new schedule, new clothes, new classes, new friends, and new opportunities to challenge myself. This year is no exception! With the cooler air and shorter days come the sounds of bells, laughter, cheers, music, discourse and learning. Below, please find some exciting updates for the year ahead. As students return to school, they will see our buildings and grounds in top condition. Over the summer, we installed new gymnasium floors at Prospect Hill and Siwanoy as well as two more at the secondary complex. At PMHS, we also replaced the floor in Cafeteria C and are working hard to finish renovating our locker rooms (anticipated opening in December). Additionally, our facilities staff have upgraded floors, ceilings and lighting at various locations throughout the district. We believe these projects will provide our students clean, safe, and inviting learning environments for activities throughout the school day and beyond.

The District's commitment to integrating 21st Century learning technology will also continue in the coming year. We are pleased to continue our one-to-one Chromebook rollout this fall as all students in grades 7-12 will again be issued Google Chromebooks. Our sixth graders will also have access to the devices in their classes and we have provided our elementary teachers with the tools they need to engage students in creative, authentic learning experiences. Our MakerSpaces continue to be a source of excitement at each of our schools. These creative academic areas allow students to explore problem-based learning in a creative, open-ended, self-directed way, which helps build critical thinking and collaboration skills that are so essential. New to all of our MakerSpaces this year are Google virtual reality sets courtesy of the Pelham Education Foundation and we are very thankful for this donation. We look forward to more classes and teachers making use of these spaces as enrichment to the learning already occurring in their classrooms.

We are launching our new Foreign Language in the Elementary School program, also known as FLES. FLES teachers will be working in all four elementary schools to introduce our second and third grade students to spoken Spanish language at an age where they absorb language skills like sponges. This is the first of what we hope to be many years of this specialized program that will expand the global perspective of our students both linguistically and culturally.

Fall is a perfect time for students and parents to get connected or reconnected to our schools! For students, this can come by way of clubs, sports, academic competitions, service opportunities, leadership opportunities, or just reaching out to make and help a new friend. For parents, this can come through becoming involved in the PTA, serving on committees, classroom and grade level activities, and volunteerism in ways that support your school and the district as a whole. In whatever way you can, please get connected. We all benefit from this partnership.

And finally, as we enjoy the many blessings and resources that we have, we are reminded of those that are not starting school with the same comforts - those impacted by natural disasters in Texas, California, Florida, and other places around our country and world. I encourage everyone to do what they can to make a difference for those less fortunate than us in these opening days of the school year. We each have been comforted in our own times of need. As a Pelham community, let's take this opportunity to comfort others with the same comfort we received. My best wishes for a strong start to the best school year yet!

Regards,

Cheryl H. Champ, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools