Dear Pelham Parents & Community Members,
|The Siwanoy Outdoor Classroom
Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe the first semester is already coming to a close. I, for one, am thankful for the relatively snow-free weather we have had so far (at least during the school week) as it has allowed us to move ahead with exciting projects, like the Siwanoy outdoor classroom, and has minimized my need to engage in the hardest part of my job - deciding whether to delay or close school!
Throughout the fall we have worked hard to review the District’s progress toward achieving the goals of the Strategic Plan over the past five years while simultaneously addressing its remaining action items. The Board of Education has held work sessions on each pillar of the plan, allowing us to take an in-depth look at our District’s progress in recent years. Many thanks are due to the administrators and committee members that have served as crucial resources for this review. It is their hard work, knowledge, and insight that have helped the District grow and set the stage for development of our next Strategic Plan, which will serve as our road map for growth in the coming years. As work on that plan begins, our consultant, Judith Wilson, will facilitate two open forums for the community to share feedback on Jan. 31 from 8:45-9:45 am and 7-8:30 pm in PMHS Library Room 105E. Additionally, we will shortly be sending out surveys that we hope you will complete as we seek to gain a variety of perspectives about our educational system.
Design development of the bond projects approved last May have continue throughout the year. We hope to approve the final construction documents for submission to the State Education Department in March, at which point we will have many more detail to share about the timelines and implementation of the various projects. Please check the Bond page of our newly redesigned website for regular updates.
In our role as educators, we serve as role models and facilitators striving to ensure each generation of students has the tools to create a more just society through civility, service, personal and collective responsibility. This work has only become more important as our society has become increasingly diverse and in many cases, divided.
The National Association of Social Work defines Cultural Proficiency as, “...an ongoing process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, sexes, ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, abilities and other diversity factors ‘in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each’.”
Recently, I was fortunate to be a part of a group of 40 faculty, parents, and students that participated in our District’s first round of Cultural Proficiency training. Over the course of five days throughout the fall and early winter, instructors from Campbell Jones Associates provided the group a baseline introduction to the tools and elements of cultural proficiency. The cohort learned the guiding principles of Cultural Proficiency, its continuum, essential elements, and importantly the barriers to it. These tools will assist us in increasing our cultural competence within classrooms and schools, as we work to shape the culture, processes, procedures, policies, and resources of our organization to preserve and protect the dignity of all the students and families that we serve.
|The first cohort to complete the Cultural Proficiency Training|
We plan to continue this commitment to increasing our Cultural Proficiency through additional training of cohorts in the coming school years, action research projects to examine our curriculum, resources, policies, and practices, and building capacity within the organization to train all staff in these tools over time. It is our hope that these steps will assure that the culture of our schools is one that is truly defined by respect and dignity for all.
Here’s hoping for a few more mild months and much continued inspiration, academic and personal growth within the classrooms and halls of the Pelham Public Schools.
Cheryl Champ, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools