“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reflecting on this quote is a great way to start off the New Year. Making New Year resolutions has an added sense of importance this year since it’s not just another new year, it’s the beginning of a new decade.

Resolutions are a tradition in which people resolve to accomplish personal goals or otherwise improve their lives. We at the Hudson City School District set goals each year to continuously improve opportunities and outcomes for our students and we are determined to reach them. We will complete our Vision 2020 goals this June and will set a new group of goals that will move us onward and upward. Resolutions, in a sense.

The District Office and Board of Education have been busy reflecting on the past, reviewing data and making decisions about what our future will look like. Our new goals will be both supportive and challenging in an effort to propel all students onward, academically and socially, across the PK-12 continuum. Our desired result is the advancement of the intellectual, social and emotional development of all students so they are prepared for college, career and citizenship. In partnership with our community, our focus remains fixed on producing well-rounded students who are prepared for the next step beyond high school graduation. We will do this by showing them the occupational opportunities available that will complement their individual interests, talents and skills.

The year 2020 also brings some new faces to our leadership teams. At Hudson Senior High School, alumni Bob LaCasse moved into the Principal position after serving as the Associate Principal for six years. Taking over as Associate Principal is William Wood, who previously taught at HFM BOCES.

At the Junior High School, Principal Derek Reardon was recently joined by Interim Dean of Students, Shawn Briscoe, whom many will know as a Physical Education teacher at the elementary school and the boys varsity basketball coach. Mr. Briscoe will be taking a temporary leave from his PE position to assume the role of the Dean of Students at the JHS until a candidate is hired to permanently fill the Associate Principal position.

At MCS Elementary School, we will be welcoming Amanda Klopott later this month to join Principal Mark Brenneman and Associate Principal Ian MacCormack. Ms. Klopott previously taught at North Colonie Central School District.

The District Office is also changing. Sharifa Carbon, who served as the School Business Administrator (SBA) for four years, has been offered a position in the New Paltz School District, which is closer to her home. While we are sad to bid farewell to Ms. Carbon, we are happy to welcome Jonathan (Jesse) Boehme, current SBA in the Germantown Central School District. He will step in shortly after Ms. Carbon departs in February to lead the budget development for the 2020-21 school year.

We are looking forward to the new opportunities that come along with these shifts in leadership. In addition to leadership changes, we’re adopting a few “resolutions” elsewhere in the district to support social-emotional development and improve our school culture.

One example is the development of a new Code of Conduct that will include additional aspects of restorative practices. The primary goal of restorative practices is to proactively prevent negative behaviors such as bullying or violence. Rather than defaulting to traditional disciplinary action such as detention or suspension, a restorative practices approach encourages students to reflect on their behaviors, work to understand them and positively change them. This does not mean that there will be no detentions or suspensions imposed, as these consequences are necessary at times. However, the approach provides a way for the district to be proactive and teach responsible behaviors.

As we close one year and open a new one, it’s only natural to look back while we plan ahead. Emerson suggests in the opening quote that it is not our past or our future that defines us. Instead, it is our inner character traits–such as respect, responsibility, dedication or kindness–and what we do with them that are the most important. Teaching our students what good character looks like and sounds like is the foundation of all other education.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and prosperous decade!

Dr. Suttmeier's January 2020 column was published in the Register-Star on January 14, 2020