2019 Winter Focus
Over the past year, the Board of Education and a broad group of stakeholders collaborated to produce a new Strategic Plan, which will guide the work of the District over the next five years. The vision of this group, developed through research, discussion and analysis of feedback obtained from our students, staff, and community, is captured in the preamble to the new plan: “The Pelham School Community will develop empowered, adaptable, well-balanced individuals who are equipped to meaningfully contribute to our local, national, and global society.” We believe the interconnectedness of the goals of Cultural Competence, Authentic Learning, and the Whole Child will be the driving force to help us achieve this vision for all students.
This plan is built upon the strong foundation laid by our previous plan. It will serve as a bridge to the future where we extend 21st century learning skills into authentic realms of application and audience; where voice and choice are honored and respected for all in both the culture of our schools and the design of our programs and curricula; where we integrate social-emotional learning and networks of support to develop self-management skills in our students and provide the academic and emotional supports for their success; where students and staff understand the function of culture in our schools and society, and use the tools necessary to build a more inclusive community.
On the pages that follow, please find additional details about each of our Strategic Plan goal areas. We look forward to the continued growth of our students and as always thank you for your support.
Cheryl H. Champ, Ed. D.,
Superintendent of Schools
The Pelham school community, comprising The Board of Education, administrators, teachers, school staff, parents, students and community members, has high expectations and standards for all students.
The Pelham school community challenges and inspires its students to become creative and critical thinkers who make ethical choices, to work both independently and collaboratively to solve problems, to become life-long learners and responsible citizens in a democratic society, and to be prepared for the demands of a highly technological and global community.
The Pelham school community celebrates diversity, fosters a sense of belonging for all children and emphasizes the importance of contributing to the greater community.
The Board of Education, administrators, teachers, school staff, parents, students and community members all share the responsibility for public education in Pelham.
The Pelham school community is dedicated to continuous improvement and is committed to maintaining the flexibility necessary to anticipate and respond to a changing world.
I am thrilled to serve as the President of the Board of Education this year. It is such a privilege to have a front row seat to all of the exciting work in our District, and there is truly a lot going on.
Speaking of exciting, this was certainly an eventful summer at Hutchinson School. After a few noisy months, the rock blasting and removal is complete and the land is ready for construction to begin later this year. We thank all of Hutchinson’s neighboring residents for their patience during this work. Progress is also being made on our other facilities projects. The turf field installation and tennis court replacement at Glover has progressed nicely and we look forward to both being ready this spring. Plans for the Middle, High School and Prospect Hill are in the bidding and review phases, respectively. At the beginning of the summer, thanks to the overwhelming support of our community, the District was able to purchase 314 Pelhamdale Avenue. This property acquisition will allow the District to move several of our District Administrative offices to make room for additional classrooms at PMHS and it has already given the students at Colonial School much needed green space and extra room to play during recess.
As you have read in this edition of the FOCUS, the Board adopted a new Strategic Plan. The energy this new plan has created is already palpable throughout the District. The three goals, Cultural Competence, Authentic Learning, and the Whole Child, create bridges between much of the work of our previous strategic plan and the Pelham we strive to become. At our Board of Education Work Sessions, we have delved into each goal area to learn more about intended outcomes and plans to measure success. If you weren’t able to join us for these sessions, I hope you will watch these highly informative meetings on-line. We look forward to sharing updates about our progress with you throughout this year and in years to come.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the community members who applied to serve on our District and Board committees. It is amazing to see the amount of talent, expertise, and time our community members are willing to share with our schools. We hope you will remain engaged throughout the year, attend a Board of Education meeting or board coffee, or reach out via email.
Jessica B. DeDomenico
Board of Education President
2018-19 Strategic Planning Committee
Board of Education
Dr. Cheryl Champ (Superintendent)
Dr. Steven Garcia (Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Personnel)
Julia Chung (Asst. Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services)
Dr. Thomas Callahan (Director of Math & Science)
Dr. Maria Thompson (Director of Humanities)
John Sebalos (Director of Technology)
Greg Lau (Supervisor of Special Ed. Gr. 6-12)
Tonya Wilson (Principal, Colonial School)
Lynn Sabia (Principal, Pelham Middle School)
Judd Rothstein (Asst. Principal, PMHS)
Faculty & Staff
Kathleen McCarthy Laura Pelin
Emily Tancredi-Brice Agbenyega
Action Plan Committees
Co-Chairs: Lynn Sabia & Mereyeme Gashi
Emily Tancredi-Brice Agbenyega
Co-Chairs: Steve Garcia & Alicia DelMastro
Co-Chairs: Julia Chung, Dena Delfino & Kate Dembowski
The Pelham School Community will develop empowered, adaptable, well-balanced individuals who are equipped to meaningfully contribute to our local, national and global society.
What is Authentic Learning?
According to Professor Audrey C. Rule, “Authentic learning occurs when students participate in an experience that addresses real-world problems and mimics the work of professionals; involves presentation of findings to an audience beyond the classroom; requires open-ended inquiry, thinking skills and metacognition; and allows students to engage in discourse and social learning in a community of learners in which they direct their own learning.”
Over the course of the next 18 months, the District will look for ways to expand authentic learning in all areas. Instruction will be guided by the Pelham Inquiry Cycle (see page 3), a process for learning in which students Question, Design, Apply, Reflect and Communicate as they solve real-world problems. By taking this approach, we will help students to apply and understand the content that they learn every day.
This work will be overseen by the District’s Authentic Learning Committee.
Develop students who are equipped to solve real-world problems, demonstrate skills to audiences beyond the classroom, and engage in civil discourse by exploring new and advancing previous efforts in providing relevant and authentic experiences for all learners
Current Authentic Learning Experiences
Science 21 This curriculum is an phenomena-based and hands-on approach for elementary students.
Make a Change
This 5th grade capstone challenges students to make their school community a better place by solving a problem of their choosing and presenting their solution.
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme
Students are taught content through a global, interdisciplinary lens and make real-world connections to their learning.
Gr. 8 Community Project
Students design and conduct a service project of their choice to improve their community culminating in an expo night where they present their work.
Physics Scrambler Project
In this project-based assessment HS students design, build & test a car with a braking system, putting their knowledge learned throughout the year to the test.
High school students work with mentors to conduct research on specific topics that are of interest to them.
What Comes Next
Gr. 10 Personal Project
The HS continues to roll-out the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in grades 9 & 10. As part of this implementation, we will be designing a capstone project for sophomores.
Expand Internship Opportunities
Building upon the WISE program, the District will seek to increase professional experiences for students.
Teachers College Readers Workshop
Building on the success of the Writers Workshop program, next school year the Readers Workshop approach will be used to promote student choice in K-5 reading instruction and offer more personalized and student-centered instruction.
Economics: Personal Financial Literacy
12th grade students can fulfill their economics graduation requirement through this new course in which they will learn about credit scores, balancing checkbooks, protecting against identity theft, and more.
Explore, study and recommend ways to structure time and space more efficiently and effectively in our schools and classrooms to foster true learning and social-emotional development
As the delivery of content evolves and becomes more student-centered and interactive, so too must our approach to time and space.
The District will work with scheduling experts to investigate and implement schedules that most effectively support our approach to delivering curriculum and instruction to all students. We will also work to structure time within classes to support achievement and growth.
Similarly, the District will incorporate flexible furniture into our common spaces/libraries and classrooms to support our teaching goals. This classroom design effort is already well on its way thanks to our partnership with the Pelham Education Foundation. Flexible classroom spaces help facilitate student-centered learning, collaboration and communication, which are essential elements of Authentic Learning.
Striking the Balance in Education
The Pelham Public Schools are committed to offering a comprehensive approach to education that blends academics and social-emotional development into our curriculum.
The need for this approach was affirmed by the Pelham community last school year through strategic planning surveys completed by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, leading to the inclusion of The Whole Child goal in our Strategic Plan.
This work is predicated on the belief that students who feel physically and emotionally safe and cared for within the learning environment are more actively and cognitively engaged and will be more successful inside the classroom and out. As we define and create a healthy environment in our schools, we will also provide support for all learners so that they may reach their full potential.
Research and identify a clear vision for what constitutes a healthy environment for the Pelham Public Schools
Develop Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) committees to create a shared framework and identify approaches to providing equitable access to academic and social-emotional supports to all students
What is MTSS?
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support is a process that helps teachers and staff identify at-risk students and provide progressive levels of intervention.
The framework identifies three tiers of need. The majority of students, approximately 80%, succeed and progress on track with solid, research-based classroom instruction (Tier 1). Approximately 15% of students (Tier 2) may need more targeted intervention outside of the classroom to help them progress in areas where they are struggling. As many as five percent may require more intensive, individualized interventions (Tier 3).
Standardized and curricular assessment data and teacher observations are key indicators that are used to identify students who are struggling and provide effective supports when necessary. Throughout the intervention process, students’ growth is monitored to determine if more support is necessary or when intervention is no longer necessary.
The District’s MTSS committees are working with Dr. Jim Wright, a leading consultant in this field to establish protocols for identifying students in need and to implement and identify effective interventions across all grade levels.
Building Our Competence
Spearheaded by the District’s Diversity Oversight Committee, the Pelham Public Schools have made strides in recent years recognizing and celebrating the diversity of our students and community.
As we seek to build upon this work, our staff is deepening its understanding of how culture impacts our work and how we can build a more inclusive learning organization.
Culture is the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that distinguish one group from another. By better understanding our own cultural lenses and those of our students, we will work to foster greater connection and adapt our curriculum, policies and practices in ways that support the learning and success of all students.
- Create a greater sense of connection and belonging by increasing student voice and agency within the K-12 System
- Examine curriculum, instruction, resources, and assessments to ensure that they reflect principles, values and lessons of exclusivity and equity
- Increase partnerships with community stakeholders to build greater interconnectedness
- Foster a school culture that is responsive to and inclusive of all students and families by empowering teachers, administrators, staff and students to routinely exercise awareness and understanding of culturally responsive theory and practice
- Aligning recruitment, hiring, and on-boarding practices to build a more diverse and culturally proficient staff that mirrors the diversity of our students and community