The following column by Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent of Schools, was published in the Register-Star newspaper on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.
Although there is more work to be done before my retirement in January, this writing marks my final column as superintendent of the Hudson City School District (HCSD). It is written with Bluehawk pride, a sense of accomplishment and a great deal of excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead for this district.
When I first entered this leadership role 10 years ago, I envisioned that together we could make Hudson one of the best small city school districts in the region by combining two overarching imperatives: academic excellence and character development. We truly cannot have one without the other.
My optimism has not wavered. Hudson has what it takes to ensure every student has the opportunity to pursue the future they want to create. In fact, that is exactly what we have done better and better each year.
HCSD has achieved many accomplishments over the past decade. Most noteworthy are that our graduation rate now hovers above 80% rather than below 60% and the achievement gap between our subgroups has narrowed with a remarkable 30% improvement for students with disabilities and a nearly 45% jump for black/African American students. There is still room to improve but this growth should not be overlooked.
Additionally, as of 2016 the HCSD is in good standing after spending 13 years designated by the State Education Department as a district in need of improvement. We did this by setting strategic goals, applying our knowledge and skills, and through sheer determination.
Now, HCSD is looking to continue this progress with our recently released Future Focused goals that were developed to create bright prospects for our students. HCSD has an eye on the future as it works to create an engaging, inclusive and inspiring educational environment with multiple opportunities for our students to Achieve Academic Excellence, Become Future Ready and Commit to Civic Engagement.
Here’s a summary of the ABCs of our new Future Focused goal statements:
- Achieve Academic Excellence – Our schools will foster an engaging, effective learning community through rigorous, inspiring academic programs to ensure the development and success of the whole student.
- Become Future Ready – Our schools will provide all students with opportunities and support to become career focused, college ready and responsible citizens with a sense of purpose.
- Commit to Civic Engagement – Our schools will cultivate a positive culture by providing a safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment that embraces diversity, fosters collaboration and actively engages students in local and global civic activities.
Our district’s mission statement, “The HCSD, in partnership with our community, works to advance the intellectual, social and emotional development of all students to prepare them for college, career and citizenship”, drives our goals and works to build a collective purpose, cultivate a collaborative culture and deepen student learning.
After over 20 years at the HCSD, with 10 spent as its honored superintendent, I leave confident knowing that our district is in a better place than when we began our Destination Graduation to Occupation journey. I have always tried to autograph my work with a sense of pride and integrity, and to the extent that I was able to create anything of value, I want to thank the Board of Education, my colleagues and the community for the roles they played during my tenure.
There are many great school leaders in Hudson who are ready and equipped with the skills needed to keep moving this district forward. There is no doubt that with your help, my successor can take Hudson to the next level. I will always look back with pride as I move ahead with confidence knowing that the HCSD is in good hands and will continue progressing so our students receive the education they need and deserve.
The future of our students is predicated on the Future Focused goals we put in motion this year. If what we as a district have accomplished to date is any indication, and I believe it certainly is, that future looks bright and promising.
It has been my distinct honor to share these District Insights with our community. I hope they have provided you with a better picture of what makes Hudson such a special place to learn and grow. Wishing you all a healthy, prosperous holiday season.