Message from the Superintendent April 10, 2020



A Message from the Spackenkill Superintendent


April 10, 2020

Dear Spackenkill Community,

Mark Villanti

Illustration Of A Gold Star.pngClick here to watch a recorded message from the Superintendent using Screencastify, one of our new remote learning tools.

This week’s SchoolMessenger is a compilation of announcements and news that we have received related to COVID-19. In tough times I always marvel at how most people pull together for the common good. Every day since this crisis began I have been thankful for the opportunity to work with so many great students, families, teachers, support staff, and school leaders. 

We are entering and have entered a new phase in teaching as teachers develop their skills in using remote technologies to assist with instruction. Some teachers have already mastered these tools, while our teachers at K - 2 are on the learning curve. We can anticipate some initial glitches and everyone’s patience is appreciated during this transition time.

Online learning does not look and feel the same as real-time teaching. Some students will adapt very quickly to these methods and others will need further assistance. I for one reached out to our tech integrator today, Marcella Byrne, for some help. 

Teacher schedules have been built with the need and opportunity for personal contact. Some teachers will reserve scheduled office hours and other teachers will be more fluid in terms of availability. Here is the catch. Students and families, you need to help us by reaching out to teachers to discuss any struggles that you are having and we will help you. Please let us know. Some teachers prefer email, while others will be more comfortable with video chat. Both are effective communication methods.

My last comment is about our Caravan of Stars, which is described later in the newsletter. Morale is important and while we will not be “normal” for some time yet, we need to connect with each other, so read on and mark your calendar for April 13th between 3 PM and 4 PM as we Celebrate Spackenkill!

Special Thank You to …

It’s nice to hear that the Valley Christian Church of Hopewell Junction’s food truck has been well received by needy families of Hudson Row and Hudson Harbor. The food truck distributed 60 bags of groceries on its first day alone last week.  The truck is parked at Hudson Row and Hudson Harbor two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday:
Hudson Row, 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM
Hudson Harbor, 12:30 PM to I:30 PM

Reminder: Our School Lunch program continues to provide free breakfast and lunch brown bags every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in front of Todd Middle School from 9 to10 AM. We encourage eligible families to take advantage of this program. Please contact [email protected] for more information. If you have lost a job you may qualify.

State Test Cancellations and Course Requirement Changes

On April 6, Governor Cuomo announced that schools in New York will remain closed until at least April 29. Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa announced that June Regents exams have been canceled.

Please click here for the latest guidance regarding Regents, Graduation, and Course Requirements Changes 

Free Tutoring Service

We recently received an email from Kate West on behalf of Dutchess-Orange Tutoring (DOT) for K-12 in Response to COVID-19. This resource may be of interest to families in upcoming weeks. Incidentally, Ms. West is a freshman at Fordham University and daughter of Nassau kindergarten teacher Julie West!

DOT is a network of local undergrads and high school students in the Orange/Dutchess, New York, area providing free virtual academic assistance to K-12 students in public districts in these counties while school is closed. DOT particularly seeks to help students with parents who do not have the time to supplement their children’s new form of online learning, do not speak English as a first language, or do not otherwise have the ability to help their kids with their coursework. DOT also seeks to help students who typically rely on getting extra help from teachers outside of normal classroom help. Learn more by visiting DOT's website:

New York State of Health

NY State of Health is committed to ensuring access to affordable, quality health insurance for all New Yorkers so they can get the care they need during this state of emergency. Please click here to learn more.

Health Office News 

Even though COVID-19 is foremost in our minds, we still need to attend to our health in other ways, such as tick awareness.  Please click here to read important news from the school health office.

Kudos to Todd Nurse Alyssa Karcz, who is volunteering at the Dutchess County Recovery Center at Dutchess Community College Dormitory.  This recovery center is for people discharged from the hospital and also for patients who do not have COVID-19.  She is also participating in remote monitoring for the Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps, monitoring and tracking COVID-9. 


Parent to Parent of New York State has created a free support service for parents of special needs children that will distribute self-care and stress-management support through text messaging (available in both English and Spanish.) Their goal is to offer parents access to information and reminders that caregivers need to take care of themselves as well! Thank you to Spackenkill High School Psychologist Deirdra Maguire for letting us know about this service. Learn more at their website.
Emergency One Launches Telemedicine

To meet the needs of the Spackenkill community, Emergency One Urgent Care has added Telemedicine to its services. To access the service, go to and press the “Emergency One Telemed” button. Once you’ve completed registration, you will be connected to one of their providers and be able to receive an exam and appropriate discharge papers. They can write a prescription for coronavirus testing as well.

Chalk Art Messages

Thank you to community member Steve Johnson for noticing and sending us photos of this uplifting chalk art in front of Nassau School.

chalk artchalk art
Over at Hagan, Principal John Farrell also had a pleasant surprise on Monday: “I was at Hagan pretty early this morning, and this was already waiting for me,” he writes. “Glad to share it with you all. Thank you, Michele Williams, and all of your secret chalk fairies.”
Click here to watch Principal Farrell’s Hagan chalk video:

Update on Caravan of Stars

Caravan of Stars!As previously mentioned, the district is holding a festive car caravan on Monday, April 13th. Staff will begin lining up in cars at Hagan at 2:30 and then, led by the Town of Poughkeepsie Police and a mini-school bus decorated with Spartan Spirit for the occasion,  follow a route throughout the district provided by Transportation Director Doreen Wright. It’s going to be a lot of fun! 

Please click here for the flyer

Please click here for the caravan route

Please note: In the event of heavy rain on Monday afternoon, we will make a decision to postpone the caravan by 12 noon and let you know via SchoolMessenger. We have done our best to plan a route that visits the majority of streets in the district, but please look carefully at the caravan route. If the caravan does not pass by your house or you are an out-of-district family, please be a part of the celebration by parking in the parking area of your home school. The parade will travel through every district school!

Alternative Process for Issuing Working Papers During COVID-19

School districts in New York State must continue to issue employment certificates to qualified applicants, including during school closures. 

Parents/guardians and minors complete the appropriate application form and email it to the district or school’s Certificating Officer. Fillable PDF versions of the AT-17 Application for Employment Certificate  and AT-22 Application for Employment Permit are now available on NYSED’s Employment of Minors website. These forms allow digital signatures.

The Certificating Officer schedules a video call with the minor and, if required, the parent or guardian. During this video call, the minor presents required documentation as per the Certificating Officers Manual. Certificating Officers may then complete the working card, sign it, and mail it to the minor. The minor should sign the card upon receipt. The requirement that the minor sign the card in the presence of the certificating officer is temporarily waived for the duration of New York’s COVID-19 school closures. Certificating Officers must continue to use approved working cards.

Dollars for Seniors

Please note that even though the District Office is operating on a remote schedule, we are still receiving mail and collecting Dollars for Seniors checks. The success of the Dollars for Seniors drive depends on your generosity. Please make your check payable to Spackenkill 6-12 PTSA. Donations for the Dollars for Seniors 2020 campaign will be collected until April 25, 2020; any donation after that date will be applied to the 2021 campaign. For your convenience a return envelope was enclosed with the original mailing.  Please mail or bring it to Spackenkill District Office (we have a post office box outside the door and mail is collected daily), 15 Croft Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603. Your canceled check will be your receipt. Thank you!

Free Mindful Workouts

New York State is partnering with
Headspace to offer free meditation and mindfulness content for all New Yorkers as a mental health resource for residents coping with the unprecedented public health crisis. Access a collection of science-backed, evidence-based guided meditations, along with at-home mindful workouts, sleep, and children’s content to help address rising stress and anxiety at


Mark Villanti 

Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools



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