March 24, 2015
Spring is finally here and my hope is that the snow and ice are only a distant memory. Thank you to the Academy administrators and those staff that contributed to successful open houses in each of the four Academies. If one or more of your child’s teachers were not in attendance during open house you will receive their email address to communicate with them.
One of the many highlights of the open houses was at Greenburgh Academy. They had an art exhibit coordinated by Ms. Jessica Fuentes, art teacher, that featured the artwork of many of our students. The exhibit demonstrated the remarkable skills of our students as well as the outstanding training that Ms. Fuentes has provided.
Another highlight this week was the start of the Greenburgh Academy trip to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Six students are touring Eastern Europe with Mr. Hislop, social worker and Ms. Evans, teaching assistant. The students in conjunction with Mr. Hislop and Ms. Evans fund raised to make this trip a reality. They will be touring museums, castles and historical landmarks as well as become acquainted with the various traditions of these three countries. Thank you to those family members and staff who contributed to this “life changing” experience.
Please follow District news and events by monitoring our website, friending us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter and Instagram.
Superintendent of Schools
March 19th 2015
As you may know by now, our Knights fell to a well deserving Livingston High School team in the Regional playoffs at SUNY/New Paltz last Wednesday evening. The 60-54 lost was disappointing for our student athletes, coaches and the small group of our District community who support them. The disappointment was not in the loss but in the contrast of teams and communities.
For example, they arrived in one large bus that represents team and solidarity; we arrive in two vans that represent fracture and separation. They had a large bus to transport fans; we did not. They had multiple family members to support the team; we had one mother. They had a large number of teachers, administrators and community members to cheer; we had two teachers, four administrators and three community members as well as several Agency staff. They had matching state-of-the-art shoes for basketball only; we, for the most part, had shoes we wear every day. They had varsity jackets; we did not. Each player had matching warm-up gear; we did not. They have played recreational basketball and CYO together; we have not. They have played AAU together for years; we have not. They planned a full post-game dinner together; we had pizza thanks to a donation. They live within a community that embraces them; we do not. They have easy access to outstanding facilities; we do not. They have access to training programs with high level equipment; we do not. They were hugged and praised by their family members at the end of the game; there were no family members, outside of one parent, available to hug and console us. Moreover, they have an athletic budget that supports them; our budget does not support us. There is more, but it is too difficult to go on. This is written from the eyes of our student athletes.
As you can see, it was a challenging night and the primary contrast was a spirit of optimism versus a spirit of hopelessness. The game was a metaphor for this contrast. With all that I have shared, despite the hardships, I know in my heart of hearts that as a District we have great resolve and commitment to our students and their future.
Our task is clear. It is to provide our students with an education that will assist them to overcome the many basics they do not have, including the myriad of injustices they have experienced. As we begin the fourth quarter I encourage you to consider what we may do in each Academy to improve the lives of our students. Please email me your suggested ideas or ideas you have implemented and found successful. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our students.
I am recommending that the Edivation film for this week, And the Child Will Lead, be viewed. It provides insights from students regarding race relationships.
Edward Placke, Ed.D.
March 2, 2015
It has been quite the week for our District varsity basketball team- The Knights. The week began with the top seeded Knights out scoring Biondi H.S. in the semi-finals of the sectional playoffs at the Westchester County Center. On Friday afternoon the Knights faced off with the highly skilled Martin Luther King Jr. H.S. in the sectional finals. The Knights won a hard fought game 52-47 and claimed their second consecutive Section One Class D championship. Please join me in congratulating the students, the coaches and our loyal fans. The Knights now play in the Regionals this Wednesday at SUNY New Paltz. Details will follow.
The District is highly committed to increasing the reading skills of all students in each Academy. To further this goal we are close to identifying an on-line assessment and instructional program. The program we chose will have the capability to ascertain student reading strengths and needs; the program will then provide recommended lessons for teachers that address student needs. The program will also offer lessons students may do independently on most types of devices. Once the decision is made I will include it in a future Superintendent’s Message.
I encourage you to explore this newly designed District website and feel free to friend us on our social media resources that we have. These social media resources provide updates regarding school closings, events and other key announcements. The social media resources are located on the right side of the the website.
Superintendent of Schools
Dr, Edward Placke
February 20, 2015
Dear Parents and Community Members,
Welcome to the Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District (GNC UFSD) website. The purpose of our District website is to keep our community informed of the programs, services, resources and supports provided by GNC UFSD. The GNC UFSD community is vast and diversified. It consists of four Academies that educate students with disabilities in grades 7-12 and ages 12-21. Our community is comprised of students, families, staff, administration, other local public school districts and surrounding villages and cities, which encompass our Academies: Greenburgh Academy (Yonkers), Kaplan Career Academy (Newburgh), Kenneth B. Clark Academy (Dobbs Ferry) and REACH Academy (West Harrison). Parents, students and local school districts have options for students to either commute daily to one of the Academies or opt for a residential placement.
GNC UFSD is proud of our rich tradition of educating students with diverse backgrounds and various disabilities. Our students are provided a comprehensive educational program that is highly individualized. The goal of each student’s educational program is to prepare him or her to successfully cross the “Bridge To Adulthood”. Our educational programs are focused by enhancing the academic, social, vocational, physical and ethical skill sets of our students. Educated by an outstanding staff and administration, we work in concert with families and local community organizations on behalf of students.
During these winter months, our staff and administration continue to focus on curriculum development to meet the challenges of the Common Core Learning Standards and other New York State Education Department Standards. I am particularly excited about the work being done by staff and administration to identify materials that are increasingly more relevant to our student body and commensurate with their instructional levels yet meet the aforementioned educational standards. Additionally, we are exploring new courses and improving current courses that prepare students for the “World of Work” and various careers. Potential courses include but not limited to cosmetology, business, culinary arts, music and art. Several of these courses will be offered this fall and an update will follow.
There are numerous events happening in our Academies this winter including Black History Month celebrations and Open House on March 19 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. I hope to see each of you at the Open Houses as it is an excellent opportunity to become further familiar with your child’s Academy.
As always, our staff and administration are available to help. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. Finally, I encourage you to monitor the newly designed
I wish you the very best as we enthusiastically anticipate the coming of spring.
Dr, Edward Placke
Superintendent of Schools
February 10, 2015
As we continue with our celebration of African Americans this month and throughout the school year, I highly recommend you provide your students with examples of important historical artists from the Harlem Renaissance such as Palmer Hayden, Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence. Their work and many more can be found on the following website:
This week’s Edivation recommendation for professional development is Culturally Relevant Instruction. Based on our diverse student body, this video may be helpful as you continue to build relationships with your students and develop lesson plans.
I am pleased to announce based on staff feedback, Edivation has added a library of videos regarding students with Aspergers. These videos provide insight into the variables associated with Aspergers and successful interventions. To access these videos go to Edivation then click “groups” then “GNC-required videos” and finally go to tasks. If you have a student(s) on the spectrum you will find these videos extremely helpful.
Both the Varsity and Junior Varsity Knights won hard fought games last night at Kenneth B. Clark Academy versus Keio. I was pleased with our student athletes and their ability to compete and their outstanding sportsmanship. Congratulations to both sets of coaches and their teams.
We are in the process of developing additional means to communicate with all staff. As a result, we are now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These social media resources will feature news and events across our four Academies. Please follow the District on each of these social media resources.
Ed Placke, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
January 23, 2015
Good Day, Black History Month begins February 1st and ends February 28th. During the month, each of the Academies are encouraged to plan events based on the national theme of honoring the history and contributions of African Americans. More specifically, the national theme for 2015 is “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture.” Black History Month began in 1926 through the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson a writer and teacher. Originally, it was a weeklong celebration that occurred the second week of February between the birthdays of Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Since 1976, every president has proclaimed February as Black History Month. The challenge for students or groups of students is to submit an essay, a video, a piece of art, an original music composition, photos, etc. that portrays an outstanding individual in black history or an impactful African-American in their life. Our website lists two links on the homepage for Black History Month (MLK Resources and Black History Resources) that are recommended for student use. All student work will be posted on each Academy webpage to be used as a resource for current and future students to remind them of the impact African Americans have made in our country. All student work is to be submitted to teachers no later than February 28th to be reviewed and placed on the District website. In lieu of the Edivation video for next week, I am recommending that you review the two homepage links referenced above. Next month, a series of videos will be placed on Edivation that address students on the spectrum and a variety of key concepts applicable to many of our students across the four Academies. Attached is the Winter Edition of the Parent Newsletter detailing current events of Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District. Please enjoy the weekend.
Ed Placke, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
January 9, 2015
Welcome back to another new year. As we prepare to embark on our mission of educating students with significant behavioral and psychiatric issues, it is a good time to reflect on the implications of our work. All students currently enrolled in high schools throughout the State face numerous challenges that include but not limited to preparation for the workplace, increasing demand for literacy and math skills as reflected in the Common Core Standards, rapidly changing technology and managing the complexity of social relationships. Conquering each of these challenges almost ensures success as an adult. The efforts of our students to respond to the above are at times complicated by their disabilities and social experiences. These two variables historically have been used by many schools as excuses for student failure. This is not the case for Greenburgh North Castle UFSD’s four Academies. As we head into the second semester, how do we adequately prepare our students for the “Bridge to Adulthood”? There are several immediate and future steps we must take to achieve this goal; a goal that has far reaching implications for each and every one of our students. The following are immediate steps all staff and administrators must to take: Increase time on task in each class that includes ensuring students are in class for the entire period Consistent implementation of behavioral expectations Utilize the “7 Keys to Literacy” in all classes Implement the Edivation Framework that reflect “best instructional practices” View the Edivation videos on a weekly basis; there is appropriate content for all staff. Please see my prior recommendations included in my weekly updates Schedule consistent department meetings for the second semester to address Common Core topics and plan for the future (A schedule will be published shortly) In short, the above are driven by students remaining in class responding to thoughtful behavior management and receiving instruction based on best practices that includes an emphasis on literacy in all content areas. The District has invested in professional development to assist you with enhancing instruction that meets your needs via Edivation and “7 Keys to Literacy”. Both resources are available on the District homepage. The future steps to improve our program in each Academy include: Improve technology: It should be noted that within several weeks all classrooms at REACH Academy will have Smart Boards and Google pads will be piloted in designated Academy classrooms second semester. All Academies will be fully wired within the next two months. Plans to further improve access to technology for the 2015-2016 school year are underway Improve instructional materials: Department meetings were held to identify instructional materials that are consistent with the Common Core Standards. Math materials have been ordered and received. Materials for ELA and Social Studies will soon be identified and ordered where appropriate. Science materials will be ordered within the next two weeks. Materials for other subject area classes will be identified during the second semester. Refinement of behavioral management system: Academy administration will identify systems to be utilized and training will be scheduled prior to the 2015-2016 school year Thanks to the unending efforts of many, I am confident our students will be more engaged and motivated to take on the challenges that confront them as they begin the trek of crossing the “Bridge to Adulthood”. Please enjoy the weekend and thank you for all you do for our students.
Edward Placke, Ed.D.