“Superintendent’s Corner” December 16, 2014″

Good afternoon,

Last week was clearly a challenge; however a positive has emerged from the situation with Jose Leon who went temporarily missing at Greenburg Academy. The positive is that Jose was found unharmed and each of the four Academies reviewed their respective dismissal procedures. The principals submitted their updated procedures to Mr. Federice on Friday and we will review them this week. It should be noted that Greenburgh Academy formulated an ad hoc committee on Thursday in which they reviewed the procedure, updated it and immediately implemented it. The results were outstanding and a special thank you to the staff who aided the Yonkers Police Department in locating Jose via Ms. Howell’s effective leadership: Mr. Gualtiere, Mr. Capers, Mr. Coffey, Ms. Effort, Ms. Byrd and Mr. Hislop.

On another positive note, our newly formed District varsity basketball team recorded two upset victories last week in that they defeated Dobbs Ferry and Hastings, our neighboring districts, for the first time in our history!  Our coaches, Mr. Gains, Mr. N. Federice and Mr. Marcelleus, have been incredibly supportive and effective with our student athletes. I am proud of both our coaches and of course our students.

I recommend all staff attend the home opener and cheer on our team. The game will be on Wednesday at Kenneth B. Clark Academy beginning at 4:00.  Our coaches and students would greatly appreciate your support particularly during this holiday season.

The professional half day on Friday from all indications was a success in that it provided an opportunity for departments to share ideas and address curricula issues.

In working with both the social studies and science departments we made progress in identifying issues around curriculum and SLOs. There will be follow up meetings beginning in February and schedules will be available next month.  Each department group needs to email me a summary of their outcomes and those that participated by The Monday in which we return from the holiday.

As you educate our students and prepare them for the holiday be reminded of Fredrick A. Agar’s quote:

“Love never asks how much must I do, but how much can I do.”

For this week I am recommending you watch any of the several Edivation videos that address student engagement. These videos may assist you in creating lessons that will lead to reduction of behavioral issues and increase academies achievement.

For those of you that have not begun to review videos for your professional development, please begin to do so. I am requesting viewing minimally ten minutes of videos per week.  The IPad winners who have viewed the greatest number of minutes of videos per Academy will be announced shortly

Please enjoy the remainder of the week.


Ed Placke

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“Superintendent’s Corner” December 8, 2014″

Good Morning,

Reports from each of the Academies have been extremely positive concerning the professional development provided by Ms. Jacqueline Loiacono this week from the School Improvement Network which also sponsors Edivation. Ms. Loiacono provided professional development to groups of teachers who were interested in improving their effectiveness with the use of the Framework. Thank you to those who availed themselves to this outstanding professional development activity. Ms. Loiacono will return after the first of the year to continue her work with each Academy. Your principal will notify you of the future professional development activities Ms. Loiacono will be conducting  and how you might get involved.

As part of our professional development activities there will be a half day on Friday December 12th dedicated to curriculum development and improving an understanding of our students’ strengths and needs. Students will be dismissed at 11:00 and all sessions begin at noon.

The following is the agenda:

Kaplan Career Academy Staff – Tony DiMarco:  All staff report to Kaplan Career Academy to address the creation of a Response to Intervention plan to improve the behavior management system

ELA:  Greenburgh Academy – Dave Gualtiere:  All ELA teachers and reading teachers will review the beginning of an ELA curriculum developed at Greenburgh Academy and continue this development.

Math: Clark Academy – Jay Posephney:  All math teachers will review recently purchased materials and discuss development of a pre-algebra class for students that do not have the prerequisites for an algebra class. SLOs will also be shared to create common SLOs across Academies.

Social Studies:  Clark Academy – Ed Placke: Review of the recently Regents approved Framework and future curriculum implications.  SLOs will be reviewed to create common SLOs across Academies.

Science: Clark Academy – Ed Placke: Review SLOs to create common SLOs across Academies and determine curricula that needs to be updated. Additionally, determine pretest/posttest or use of historical data for SLOs and determine supplies and materials needed as we go forward.

Art/Music:  Greenburgh Academy – Veronica Howell: Review of SLOs and create common SLOs across Academies and determine curricula that needs updating.  Plan Arts Festival and Jen Herrera will facilitate.

Physical Education:  Greenburgh Academy – Mark Samet: All Physical Education teachers participate in training with the Polar representative regarding use of the heart rate monitor computer system.

Business and Cosmetology: Clark Academy – Jay Posephney: Review SLOs and create common SLOs across Academies. Review curricula and determine needed materials.

Life and Vocational Curriculum: REACH Academy – Donna Pasini: The current REACH curriculum development group plus the Pathways teachers and the self-contained teachers at Greenburgh Academy will participate. The objective is to continue to develop the five course sequence.

REACH Teaching Assistants, Teacher Aides and School Monitors: REACH Academy – School Psychologists and a St. Christopher’s trainer: Review procedures around student safety issues.

School Monitors, Teacher Aides and Teaching Assistants: Greenburgh Academy and Clark Academy – Report to your respective Academy and the clinicians will lead the review of student FBAs and BIPs.  IEPs will also be reviewed. The objective is to become more knowledgeable of the above three documents for all students in your Academy.

Guidance Counselors:  Clark Academy – Tim Capers and Vanessa Clay-Williams: Finalize Guide To Program Planning, job description, and various guidance documents.

All teachers please bring your SLOs to your assigned sessions. Once curriculum in each area is finalized, vendors will be invited to present materials that are consistent with each curriculum.

During the past week, I have once again reviewed the Edivation library of videos to suggest those that may be most appropriate for our Academies. The videos that address student relationships and Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS) are well done and appear appropriate for the student population we are educating. Therefore, I am recommending the video Relationships and Support (3:46) to be reviewed next week.

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“Superintendent’s Corner” November 26, 2014

As Superintendent of the Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District and as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, there is much for which I am thankful. I am thankful for the many staff who report every day to their Academy prepared to provide our student body with an education that equips them with the tools to begin the transition to adulthood.  I am also thankful for our students who each and every day remind us of our priorities and why we chose to be educators, particularly educators of students with significant disabilities. Additionally, I am thankful for the support provided by all of those in the Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District community who have sacrificed to ensure our future sustainability and to further our mission to educate students with disabilities.

As was the message in last week’s “Friday Update”, the District is investing in professional development as a means to improve student outcomes.  As a result , a half day professional conference is scheduled for Friday, December 12th. Students will be released at 11:00 and professional development activities will begin at 12:00 noon. The objective of the half day is to further identify curricula needs of each department across Academies so appropriate materials may be secured. More details will follow regarding the agenda.

As we look forward to the second semester, $100.00 will be allocated for each teacher to ensure needed supplies are available. This allocation does not include textbooks and these will be reviewed and updated shortly.  All orders are to be placed through your respective principals prior to the Christmas vacation. Your principal will provide further clarification once we return from the Thanksgiving holiday.

On behalf of the Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District, I wish you and your family a meaningful and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.

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“Superintendent’s Corner” November 4, 2014

One of the highlights of last week was the Breast Cancer assembly/walk held at Greenburgh Academy. The events of the day represented the commitment of the Greenburgh Academy community to both finding a cure and increasing awareness. It was uplifting to be a part of this wonderful educational event that included the national anthem played by Kindell Gibbs-Brown brilliantly on the guitar. I truly appreciate the efforts made on behalf of this important issue that effects all of us either directly or indirectly.

A number of students from Kenneth B. Clark Academy also showed their commitment to raising awareness and finding a cure for breast cancer by participating in the Breast Cancer Walk at Manhattanville College. The students were joined at the Walk with several of the individuals who voluntarily provide cross training for them on a weekly basis. Overall, it was a terrific day for all who participated. Please see the attached pictures from both events.

An important document was added to the Transition tab on each of the four Academy pages. The document is the ACESS Vocational Rehab Program’s Guide. This is a valuable resource that parents and students should be keenly aware of as they move toward graduation. Please follow the link below to view the document.


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                                                        “Superintendent’s Corner”

                                                                   Sept 24, 2014
Former Baltimore Ravens star running back and New Rochelle High School alumni Ray Rice visited REACH Academy last school year. This visit was one of the highlights for the REACH Academy community. Ray Rice’s talk with the REACH Academy students and staff was motivating. His message was presented in a kind and authentic manner. His life story was inspiring in that he told eloquently of the many challenges he overcame to become an NFL player; a player who significantly contributed to the success of the Baltimore Ravens. These challenges were accented by the violent acts that took the lives of his father and his surrogate father.

He spoke of the many sacrifices his mother made to ensure Ray had the basics we tend to take for granted. Ray’s interaction with the REACH Academy student body was engaging, kind and supportive and uplifted the spirits of some of the students who are living their lives not so different from Ray’s past. Ray’s overall message was the demonstration of family values is the sign of success not necessarily the size of your paycheck. Despite his representative insisting that he conclude his interaction with our students, Rice continued for another hour signing memorabilia he provided for our students along with playing catch and taking pictures. It was a day to remember and had an indelible impact on all in attendance.

Recently, as you know, Ray committed a horrendous act that defies the family values he spoke of the day he visited REACH Academy. The second video that recently surfaced clearly displayed his violation of all and any family values and as a result, his $35 million contract was terminated and he was suspended from the NFL indefinitely. All videos and articles related to Ray were recently removed from the District website.

Our challenge now is how do we discuss Ray’s situation with the REACH Academy student body and overall school district community? First and foremost, clearly the act he committed was absolutely shocking, outrageous and should not be tolerated with consequences. With that being said, what are the next steps if any? Ray is a member of the New Rochelle community and greater Westchester County community and is a much smaller part of the REACH Academy community.

REACH Academy was founded on the concept of second chances. The REACH Academy student body hails from a variety of public and private middle schools and high schools where they were typically unsuccessful. For many students, REACH Academy is their last chance for an education and high school diploma. A second chance for our students usually consists of students recognizing and taking responsibility in part for prior education failures and forgiving staff in their past who may have failed them, accepting support including counseling and demonstrating their commitment to the rigors of an education that prepares them for the “Bridge to Adulthood”.

My hope for Ray is similar to my hope for the REACH Academy student body. Ray has begun to demonstrate responsibility for the violence he inflicted on his now wife, Janay Rice. Full responsibility does not only require saying “I’m sorry” but demands a willingness to change and seek the proper support such as counseling, surrounding himself with a circle of friends that have the family values he once implored REACH Academy community to embrace and continue expanding the Ray Rice Charitable Foundation which in part supports student with disabilities and students that are hospitalized.

My hope for Ray is that his life will change, that he once again is permitted to continue his career, support his family and that one day he revisits the REACH Academy.

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                                                “Superintendent’s Corner”

                                                             June 16, 2014


The end of the 2013-2014 school year is fast approaching. As this is the last Superintendent’s Corner for this school year, it contains a good deal of information regarding activities that took place this month including our upcoming graduation in our four Academies.

We have already administered the New York State Assessments in Mathematics and Language Arts to the 7th and 8th grade students. The New York State Regents examinations and Regents Competency Tests begin Tuesday, June 17th and conclude on Wednesday, June 25th. Please contact your child’s guidance counselor and/or teacher if you need clarification regarding the examination and/or tests your child is scheduled to take.

May and June have been busy months for our Academies. Beginning with the College Employment Fair at Greenburgh Academy on May 28th, the Fair featured over twenty colleges and employers. Students from all four Academies participated and found the Fair to be highly informative and productive. The guidance counselors from the four Academies skillfully coordinated the Fair which will become an annual event for our District students.

The Fair was followed by the Kenneth Clark Academy/REACH Academy Prom that was held on May 29th at Juliano’s in New Rochelle. The prom was well attended by more than 125 students and staff. The evening was a rousing success in that students danced through the night and enjoyed a terrific meal while sharing their many positive experiences with one another as part of the student body. It was a night we will all remember and plans are already underway for all four Academies to participate in the prom next year! Pictures from the prom may be viewed on the District website at http://gncufsd.org/.

Each of the Academies conducted senior class trips. The senior trips were to various amusement parks and students and staff enjoyed the day together. The seniors all agreed that the senior trip was another wonderful way to celebrate their many achievements as students about to graduate.

The District once again offered a cultural experience trip. This year’s trip was to Panama and the students returned last week tired but enthused about their experience. Students from Greenburgh Academy, Clark Academy and Kaplan Career Academy participated. The students learned a great deal about the culture, geography, wildlife and language that makes Panama a perfect destination for a District trip. All of the students agreed that the fundraising for the trip was worthwhile and highly recommend that students participate in future cultural trips. A special thank you to Mr. Atreyo Hislop who coordinated the trip with the assistance of Ms. Barbara Muscat, Ms. Lavonne Evans and Mr. Joseph Raiti.

The first annual District Sports Banquet was held on June 12th at Clark Academy. The Banquet was attended by over 150 students, staff and family members. The participants were treated to a full course meal that was enjoyed by all. Each of the District/Agency student athletes were honored with plaques commemorating their efforts. The following were highlighted by their coaches or Mr. Marc Samet, Intern Athletic Director:

Clark Academy: Flag football, Bowling, Varsity Basketball, Special Act basketball, Softball and Volleyball

Greenburgh Academy: Volleyball, Bowling and Varsity Basketball

Kaplan Career Academy: Flag Football, Special Act Baseball and Softball

Once again congratulations to the student athletes and their coaches for another outstanding season. Please visit the district website for pictures from the banquet (http://gncufsd.org/).

The last and concluding events for the 2013-2014 school year are the four graduation ceremonies to be held at each of the academies. The dates and times are as follows:

REACH Academy: Thursday, June 26th at 1PM

Kaplan Career Academy: Thursday, June 26th at 6PM

Greenburgh Academy: Friday, June 27th at 9:30AM

Kenneth Clark Academy: Friday, June 27th at 11:30AM

In looking back at the 2013-2014 school year, there have been many successes in each of our Academies. Thanks to each of you for the efforts you have extended to have our students succeed and prepare them for the “Bridge to Adulthood”. Once again it is an honor to lead the District and educate your child. Our future continues to be bright.

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                                                      Superintendent’s Corner”

May 14, 2014

Last week, the Board of Regents adopted the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework to provide schools and teachers with information they need to consider modifications to local social studies curriculum for students in grades K-12.   It includes key ideas and concepts for each grade level and incorporates Common Core skills in literacy, writing, speaking and listening, as well as social studies practices.

The five existing standards in Social Studies remain unchanged: (1) history of the United States and New York, (2) world history, (3) geography, (4) economics, and (5) civics, citizenship and government. The Framework also retains the current order of courses, from Kindergarten through grade 12. The Framework integrates information from the existing New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies (1996); the New York State Common Core Learning Standards in English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects; and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Social Studies State Standards from National Council for the Social Studies.

I recommend using the following resources to familiarize yourself with the framework: A short video containing interviews with some of the New York State educators who helped develop the Framework: http://www.engageny.org/resource/new-york-state-k-12-social-studies-framework-video   The Regents Item approved by the Board of   http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/ 2014/April2014/413p12a5.pdf.

The Item includes a detailed list of the groups that have expressed support for the new Framework.   The Framework: http://www.engageny.org/resource/new-york-state-k-12-social-studies-framework

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