The following column by Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent of Schools, will be published in the Register-Star newspaper on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
All of us at the Hudson City School District are grateful for the opportunity to unite students and staff in person this year as safely as we can. It literally takes all of us working together to keep everyone socially, emotionally and physically safe while learning.
November is a month used to nationally appreciate education, particularly the important roles of parents, educators, clerical staff, bus drivers, food services, principals and school psychologists. It is only fitting that November is also a time to give thanks.
National School Psychology Week (Nov. 9-13) gives us an opportunity to highlight school psychologists, particularly how they are working to support the social and emotional needs of students during the pandemic. HCSD is fortunate to have amazing school psychologists at each of our schools who support our students and help them grow in innumerable ways. In addition to their typical responsibilities (such as chairing subcommittee special education meetings, conducting evaluations and assessments, and providing interventions to at-risk students), our school psychologists are conducting thorough outreach to parents and students to assist with engagement in the educational experience. They provide direct support as well as referrals to community-based organizations to help meet the social emotional needs of our students. Additionally, they provide resources to support the social emotional well-being of faculty and staff as well as that of their students.
American Education Week (Nov. 16-20) highlights and celebrates various essential positions in public education that help to ensure every student receives a quality education. We know how integral all members of our Bluehawk staff are, especially when faced with unprecedented challenges. Teachers, guidance counselors, principals, aides and substitute teachers are the first to come to mind. Office staff support education by fielding questions and making copies of instructional materials. Bus drivers make sure students safely arrive at school on time. Food service workers ensure students have breakfast and lunch every day to fuel learning. All school positions are crucial to our students’ education.
National Parent Involvement Day is on November 19 this year. We were disappointed that fall Open Houses were canceled due to current conditions. We always enjoy welcoming parents into our schools each September. We will be conducting virtual parent-teacher conferences for grades 6-12 on Thursday, November 19 (PK-5 is scheduled for Thursday, December 10). However, parent involvement goes beyond report card conferences.
Project Appleseed is one organization that provides ways for parents to get more involved in their children’s education. Parents are children’s first teachers and their roles are vital to a student’s success in school. Despite these challenging times, we are humbled by the strong connection that has been forged with our Bluehawk families who are either supporting their children’s learning remotely or juggling the hybrid model of in-person and remote learning.
As a district that receives Title I federal funds, the HCSD is mandated by federal law to have a parent and family engagement policy and to jointly develop a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff and students will share the responsibility for improved student achievement. The compact must also include the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve the standards set by New York State.
We acknowledge that there may come a time when we need to pivot to remote instruction due to current public health issues. Nonetheless, it is reassuring to know that we are all working together to stay healthy and in person as much and as long as possible. Thank you to all our educational partners, including our wonderful students who practice safe behaviors every day!
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!