It is hard to believe that the district has had its first snow day and we are racing towards 2019. I remain hopeful that the winter months will not disrupt our school calendar too dramatically, however, considering that our first snow day was on November 15th, I must admit that I am a little nervous about what may be in store for us! Together, we will get through it!
I am pleased to share with all of you that the district has been making progress on the goals that were established with the staff at the beginning of the new school year. We are committed, as a learning community, to ensure that our classroom curriculum in English Language Arts and Mathematics is fully aligned to the Next Generation Learning Standards adopted by the State of New York to replace the Common Core Learning Standards. This transition will ensure that the instruction our students receive prepares them for success while also preparing them for required assessments that they will need to take for the future. More importantly, we have afforded teachers time to work together to examine their practices, looking to ensure that there is a cohesive plan for students as they progress through the grade levels within these disciplines. Ultimately, we want to strengthen our academic program for our students to prepare them for the challenges and rigor that lie ahead both in higher education and the workforce. Our students deserve the highest quality education and we are committed to continue to always improve our practices for the sake of our students! More information regarding the learning standards shift can be found here.
It was a very exciting fall as well. I had many opportunities to cheer on our sports teams, enjoy our drama production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and get to know the exciting events that happen within our extra-curricular clubs and activities. I also have enjoyed being introduced to our many PTAs, Booster Clubs and Parent Volunteer Groups. From guest speakers to movie nights, and direct financial support to our programs, these organizations are pivotal in providing well rounded and meaningful opportunities for all of our students. Teacher advisory groups, such as the Superintendent's Special Education Advisory Committee and Academic Senate, help to provide me with valuable insight on things that are going well and areas in which the district needs to continue to improve. I also have had a chance to meet with many of our elected officials and community leaders. They have all been very open and positive about continuing to partner with the school district to ensure that we are providing our students with a strong community in which to continue to grow.
I hope to continue to keep the lines of communication open. The staff has been working to update outdated information on our website and look for ways to efficiently communicate information from our schools to you. For any of you who use social media, please feel free to follow me on Twitter at @SuptDrKKotes. I use this account to try to highlight student achievements and the great things that I see in the school community throughout the day. Sometimes, it is one more glimpse into your child's day and the great things that are happening! Also, if you have recommendations for things that are not communicated on our website that might be helpful, please reach out to our communications specialist, Alyson Walsh, and she and I will investigate your suggestions with you.
Lastly, I want to share a brief thought on relationships. On opening day, I shared with the staff a video of a educator who has passed away and was from Houston, Texas. Admittedly, although the region and demographic where Dr. Rita Pierson was an educator is vastly different than that of Mount Pleasant, I find her message very powerful. Dr. Pierson challenges all of us to break outside of our own comfort zones, working to build positive connections with our students. This work, at times, can be very challenging. However, the long term benefits of connecting with just one more student has value that cannot be measured. I have challenged our staff, as Dr. Pierson has stated, to, "Build just one more relationship" with our students. I invite you to view Dr. Pierson's message that I shared with the staff entitled Every Kid Deserves a Champion
. Please know how much I value those relationships that I have started with families and the many that are left to be built.
Thank you again to all of you who have helped me in my acclimation to the Mount Pleasant Community. I look forward to getting to know even more of the community and continuing to improve our programs.
Dr. Kurtis M. Kotes
Superintendent of Schools