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.