Monday, May 4, 2015

Thank a teacher (or teachers!)

This week, May 4-8, is National Teacher Appreciation Week. As a community and as a nation, we celebrate educators this week. Growing up, I looked forward to going to school every day, and was fortunate to have many good teachers who inspired me.

Education has gone through dramatic changes during the past several years and our teachers have risen to the challenges. I am incredibly proud of the work I see taking place every day in our pre-K through 12th grade classrooms. The commitment of our teachers often reaches above and beyond the classroom as many of our educators serve as coaches, mentors and class advisors. My administrative team and I recognize there is no harder working and dedicated group of professionals than our Watervliet teachers, and I am grateful to lead a team of educators who do everything possible to inspire, challenge and educate every student, every day.

Speaking of extraordinary educators, our district – especially the elementary school – is extremely proud of grade 3 teacher Jennifer Hoefer who recently received an invitation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to participate in a one week educational summit (all expenses paid!) in Seattle, Washington this summer. Mrs. Hoefer is the first teacher in the state (outside New York City) to receive this opportunity! Congratulations!

Top 10 students

I also want to recognize our exceptional students. The high school recently named the Top 10 scholars of the Class of 2015! Congratulations to valedictorian Rachel Grigg and salutatorian Mary Jo DeStefano, as well as Alison Jones, Justyn McHarg, Nicholas Jones, Syeda Kaneez Fatima, Elizabeth Jones, Bridget Hogan, Victor Dobrovlskiy and Rebecca Jones who round out the Top 10. Setting this group apart from any of our previous Top 10 is the fact that 40 percent of this year’s top students are siblings. Having quadruplets in any graduating class is special enough, but it’s even more unique because all four made it to the Top 10. Congratulations to the Joneses: Ali, Becky, Beth and Nick.

In addition, Beth Jones recently signed her letter of intent to play softball for The College of Saint Rose for the next four years. The three-sport athlete and Top 10 student plans to study education and one day become a teacher and coach.

Facilities generating rentals

While on the subject of athletics, our track and field, gymnasium and refurbished auditorium have been generating revenues for the district. In the past few months, our district has collected more than $15,000 in facility rental fees. The installation of the field and auditorium renovations was approved by district residents in December 2011, as part of a capital project that was paid for with state building aid and Qualified School Construction Bonds at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Possible extended day program

In other news, our school district has applied for a multi-year grant through the Belle Jar Foundation that would extend the school day by one hour per day, Monday through Thursday for Watervliet’s grade 9 students. My administrative team and I believe that with an extended program, we can provide the help many of our students need to successfully transition to high school and prepare for the academic demands of college and competitive job market. During the extended program, ninth-graders will have an opportunity to strengthen their English and math skills and build 21st century learning skills including time management, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving and more. Our grant application is currently under review. Stay tuned, we should hear in the next several weeks if our application is successful.

Finally, this week please remember to thank a teacher past or present. It will make their day!

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