July 20, 2009
It’s hard to believe but this week is almost the half waypoint of our students’ summer vacation. I hope that our students are having a relaxing, fun-filled, and safe vacation so that they’ll be ready for the challenges that await them on their return to school on September 2nd. Although the weather this summer has been somewhat unusual—long periods of showers, cool temperatures and significant morning dew—it’s still an opportunity for students and staff to experience a change of pace and activities. The new Harry Potter movie appears to be a great success and I hope that many of our students have been re-reading the Harry Potter books as well as other appropriate material all summer. I encourage everyone to have our children practice and apply their academic skills to various activities throughout the year long including biology and life sciences as they spend time outdoors; mathematics as they shop, count cars, earn money, or calculate the time it takes them to do chores; social studies and history as you vacation; and all of the other aspects of education that are so closely intertwined with ‘real’ life. Doing these types of activities will keep their skills fresh, show the relevance of education, and prepare students to be life-long learners.
I’m also happy to see students involved in a number of activities in the schools and programs throughout the greater community. I’m glad that so many students become involved in various programs and activities. I believe that the positive interactions between students, staff and other community members that happen outside of the traditional classroom are beneficial to all. This year’s summer MCAS program and digital film camp again highlights the dedication of our staff to student success and their willingness to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of our children. I am also glad to see the skills that staff members bring to these programs and the resources that the district has available to use for such worthwhile activities. As an example, digital video and the ability to film, edit, and produce a video using digital camcorders, laptops, and editing software is really quite an accomplishment—to do this for our students using our own staff as instructors speaks volumes for the time and efforts these staff members have made in their own professional development in preparing them to be able to work with these students. This year’s digital film camp was a true interaction between school and community as the Southern Hilltowns Domestic Violence Task Force helped fund the camp and our students are putting together various public service videos regarding domestic violence for use throughout the community.
I continue to appreciate getting to be a small part of the hiring process occurring in the district as we move to fill positions in the district. I generally get the chance to meet the finalists and chat with them about their role in the educational process, their preparation for being involved in education and their views about the future of public education. I’m pleased to report that we continue to get many very qualified applicants with outstanding qualifications. These applicants have many things in common, the most surprising perhaps being that they’ve all heard positive things about the Gateway District both from people in the district but also from professional staff employed in other school districts. I attribute these positive images to the tremendous work of our staff, to the quality of our students, and to the commitment of our community members and parents to participate in the education of our children. I thank all of the people that make Gateway successful and look forward to continuing to work with everyone to ensure even greater success in the future.