Message to the Community April 3, 2020

 

 

A Message from the Spackenkill Superintendent

 

April 3, 2020
Mark VillantiDear Spackenkill Community,

This week I have heard from a few parents about their child’s or teen’s school work load. Your comments have ranged from “it’s about right”  to “it's too much” and “it’s too light.” Thank you for your feedback. I read every email that I receive. We are doing our best to find the right balance between trying to keep our students engaged and learning, knowing that there are varying support levels available in each home.

Our teachers are in the process of mastering new skills and competencies. Overall, I know that we are ahead of the curve because of our longstanding commitment to technology and 1:1 Chromebook program, but it is one thing to provide instruction using Google classroom and another to provide direct instruction online.

I know some of you might be worried about our students' preparation for end-of-year exams and/or Regents exams. The Board of Regents will meet on Monday, and I would not be surprised if they announce that Regents exams will not be given this year. Principals will be announcing school schedules shortly for next week and likely for some time.

Having taught online graduate school classes, I know full well what an online delivery system looks like. I have every confidence that our teachers and administrators will meet this challenge successfully, but it will take a little time. 

Update on Academics

School will be different this fourth quarter. We are likely to move to a pass/fail system, with an emphasis on providing feedback on student work. We’re anticipating relying on current district platforms like Google Classroom and teacher webpages — as well as email and phone communications — while adding other tools like Screencastify, Google Meet, and Edpuzzle.

While this is not a transition of choice, we think that this is also an opportunity for new learning. More and more colleges are offering online courses, so there are advantages in making this switch. We realize that some of you may not have the same level of technology at home, so I strongly urge you to let your principal know if you need help, and we will trouble-shoot any issues. We are committed to every family in the district having equitable learning opportunities.

Principal contact info:

Erik Lynch, Nassau Elementary Principal: spartanstrongnes@sufsdny.org
John Farrell, Hagan Elementary Principal: spartanstronghes@sufsdny.org
Dan Doherty, Todd Middle School Principal: spartanstrongtms@sufsdny.org
Steve Malkischer, Spackenkill High School Principal: spartanstrongshs@sufsdny.org

Social Media

District Principals have created more ways of connecting with students and families. 

Head to Facebook to find and join the Elementary Principals’ Facebook Page: Sparty’s Group of Friends.

Sparty's Friends
Visit Instagram for High School Principal Malkischer’s page: https://www.instagram.com/spackmalk/

New Testing Site Now Open

MidHudson Regional Hospital has opened a drive-through COVID-19 sample collection site, available by appointment only, and residents can call (845) 303-2727 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday. Sample collection for COVID-19 is also available at two other locations in Dutchess: the intermodal center at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill and Pulse-MD in Poughkeepsie.

Childcare

In a previous newsletter, I asked if there is a need for childcare for children of essential medical workers, first responders, and other helping professions who reside in the Spackenkill District. If you work in these professions, please contact Darla Fulmer of the Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam by emailing dfulmer@childcaredutchess.org. Or call (845) 473-4141 and ask for the referral department.

Car Caravan

On Monday, April 13th, beginning at 3 pm, we are going to hold a district-wide Car Caravan. We miss seeing all of our students and families, so we would like to do what some other districts have done and have a “parade” throughout district streets, with teachers, administrators and support staff in vehicles being led by the Town of Poughkeepsie Police. For safety reasons, we ask that you stay in your yards and homes as the caravan passes by. We will be very excited to at least cheer you on during these crazy times. More details are forthcoming. 

Middle School and High School Art Students

We thought it would be uplifting to see how district art students are making a difference in the world. High School Art Teacher Mr. Romani shared videos documenting the National Art Honor Society’s participation in the Memory Project.  
 
Students made portraits for children in need around the world in order to create a positive memory and spread goodwill using art as a vehicle.
 
“Usually, we focus on one country at a time. This year we created portraits for children in three different countries,” writes Mr. Romani. “Please take a moment to watch how the process culminates. Thank you for your support of the arts. I sincerely hope that art in its many forms brings you joy today and every day.” 
 
Malaysia
Malaysiahttps://vimeo.com/402225080/20bc2e30cc
 

 

 

Nigeria
Nigeriahttps://vimeo.com/memoryproject/nigeria2020
 

 

 

Pakistan
Pakistanhttps://vimeo.com/memoryproject/pakistan2020
 

For more on the Memory Project go to
https://www.memoryproject.org/about
 
For more on the National Art Honor Society
https://www.arteducators.org/community/articles/151-national-art-honor-society-chapter-benefits

Middle School Art Teacher Marybeth Romani had her Art Club students participate in the Global Art Exchange, a new initiative of the Memory Project.  Both Spackenkill students and Syrian refugees made art and exchanged it with each other.  The theme this year was Happiness, Friendship, and Peace.

Special Footnote for Students
 
We realize this year is nothing like what you may have expected and for that we are truly sorry. I am especially disappointed for our senior class, the Class of 2020. You may miss out on so many of the special activities that constitute senior year. In 1969 I was a senior in high school (yes, I am kind of old), as many of my classmates prepared to serve in the Vietnam war. Many served and some did not come back. Sadly, hardship is a fact of life, but it is how we handle the disappointments and obstacles that come our way that matters most. 
 
From all indications, you have generally adjusted well. But it is normal to feel lonely and anxious right now. Frankly, I have days and moments like that. Please talk to friends, family, neighbors, and our teachers, counselors, and administrators if this burden feels overwhelming. The simple act of sharing our feelings with others is a big help. Take it from me, I find that very difficult, although I vented last night with my beautiful wife of 47 years.
 
On another note, as a former high school principal, let me put on another hat for those of you (and I think that it’s a small number) who may be “blowing this off” and ignoring the school work that teachers are providing. If you don’t change soon, you may find yourself receiving a “fail” for the fourth quarter. We are all accountable.

We do appreciate parent and student feedback, so if you have any comments or questions, please contact the principals at the addresses above or email me directly (mark.villanti@sufsdny.org). Realistically, we could be out for some time.

Just a reminder that if you are observing a religious holiday Thursday and/or Friday of next week, please let your principal know so we can inform your teachers. 

Sincerely,

Mark Villanti 

Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

 

 

15 Croft Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603; 845-463-7800