Mr. Thomas Molle
phone:(607)278-5511 Option 1
September 9, 2016
Re: 2016 Welcome Back!
Back to School! What a great time of year for students of all ages. I know I speak for all of us here in the building when I state, “These hallways have been way too quiet!”
The walls are painted; the floors are waxed; rooms have been cleaned top to bottom; and the professionals are ready for the most important component of this District – the students!
As the first few days begin to unfold, I’d like to take this chance to remind you of the importance of communication. At Charlotte Valley, we have been working hard to make sure that all voices can be heard. If you have something on your mind, or you believe you have something to offer, please speak up!
I encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher. Ask them, “How can I get involved?” “In what ways can I help my child with his/her reading?” “What can I do to …” You may contact your child’s teacher, anytime, via email. Please visit our website at www.charlottevalleycs.org. To the left, you will see the heading Quick Links. Under that heading, click on “Staff Directory.” This is where you will find the email address of any/all members of staff, including my email address – firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reach out to me any time! I would love to hear from you!
Over the summer, we decided to take a proactive approach to dealing with the inner workings of the Central Office. In light of many recommendations from the State Education Department, I am happy to announce that the Board of Education, at their August 18th Meeting, appointed Mr. Christopher Weston as Elementary Behavioral Interventions Specialist and Mr. Joseph Ballard as Secondary Dean of Students.
Mr. Weston has been charged with helping elementary students develop positive coping skills as a means to self-regulate. At Charlotte Valley, we know that “dealing out discipline” as a means of correcting a problem isn’t effective. We must understand what happened, why it happened, and then teach our students how to deal differently. Mr. Weston is a certified trainer of Therapeutic Crisis Interventions in Schools (TCIS). He has spent much of his summer training and recertifying our faculty/staff in TCIS and will continue to act as a mentor/role model for many of our elementary students.
Mr. Ballard has been charged with supervising and dealing with student discipline in grades 7-12. Mr. Ballard is currently enrolled at Touro College studying Educational Leadership. Mr. Ballard will deal with the day-to-day occurrences where students sometimes find themselves making poor choices and, as a result, end up being removed from the classroom.
I will work alongside both Mr. Weston and Mr. Ballard closely – especially in the first months. Our goal is not to add more administrative duties or police students. Rather, we wish to educate our youth on how to cope and behave appropriately for and within various settings. Our mission is to start young by teaching our children about Character Education and how to manage stressors that may, unfortunately, result in poor decisions being made. Should you have any questions for either Mr. Weston or Mr. Ballard, please feel free to contact them at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to listen, offer support, and work with you.
Finally, I am excited to see everyone at this year’s annual Open House on Thursday, September 15th. A few changes have been made since the last letter was mailed home about Open House this year. Please note the following –
2016 Open House Schedule
6:00 – 6:10: Opening Statements – Elementary Gym – Mr. Harter
6:10 – 6:45: Elementary Open House
6:50 – 7:10: Community Conversation – Elementary Gym – “The Next 25 Years at CVCS”
7:10 – 8:00: Secondary Open House
8:00 – 8:05: Closing Statements – Elementary Gym
Please take special note of the times above. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me or Mr. Harter, Superintendent, at email@example.com.
On behalf of all of us here at Charlotte Valley, I wish to express my gratitude for your continued support as we diligently work to provide our students with a top-notch education.
February 4, 2016
The only one who likes change is a wet baby.
Change can be a frightening thing. It challenges our modes of thinking and, in many cases, our level of comfort. Change has the potential to bring adverse effects due to a shift from the “norm.” Whenever you go against the adage, that’s just the way it’s always been done, you will be met with apprehension. However, not all change has to be scary. Not all change is a bad thing. In fact, I dare say that change is a good thing. Change comes about when groups of individuals gather, think, and take a stand because something isn’t right.
In the past few months, our State has made a few of these changes. As a result of parents, educators, and various stakeholders in the state of New York gathering, thinking, and taking a stand, The State Education Department has made a significant and much needed change to the 3-8 examinations.
On December 10, 2015, Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force, a group consisting of stakeholders such as education officials, teachers, and parents met to perform a comprehensive review of learning standards, instructional guidance, and curricula, and tests to improve implementation and reduce testing anxiety (click here). They released a final report with 21 recommendations for the State Education Department to take in order to get things back on track.
Of the 21 recommendations, the final recommendation has, perhaps, generated the most buzz. Recommendation 21 reads –
Until the new system is fully phased in, the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, shall only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of individual teachers or students.
The result? To make a very long and, at times, confusing story short, 3-8 ELA and math results will not be used to evaluate overall teacher effectiveness as part of the APPR. In short, teachers will no longer be “judged” based on three days of testing (in some cases six days of testing) in April.
What does this mean? A whole lot. The tests will be used to provide exactly what they were intended to do – provide data on how students are doing. With this data, our professionals can look at their curriculum maps, lesson plans, and outlines to see which areas need tweaking. Our professionals can support students, both as a group and individually, to strengthen areas that are in need of improvement. In past years, it has been less about studying data and more about “opt out campaigns” and teacher test scores.
Now, we have reason to believe that we are finally getting back to the heart of things – the things that really matter…the children. The results of these 3-8 exams are to be “advisory” only. What will we do, here at Charlotte Valley, with our test scores? We’ll be studying them and looking for holes, patterns, trends, gaps, etc. to see what we are doing well and where we need to improve. We have a part-time Data Coordinator on staff, and she has met with, and will continue to meet with, our staff on a regular basis. We will use these exams to strengthen our curriculum – not “punish” professionals. The very thought of “punishing” a professional based on three days of test scores is ludicrous. Trust this – If Mr. Harter or I need to address a situation that warrants a speedy solution or action, we will not use three days of State testing examinations as a weapon.
Still, there is (and will more than likely continue to be) apprehension and a cloud of distrust around the 3-8 exams. Separate from the fact that much time traditionally has been spent on review (as a result of the exams being used for as a much as 40% of a teacher’s overall effectiveness), parents and students didn’t like the stress of the exams. Again, the Common Core Task Force has issued a recommendation and, to the State’s credit, it was heard.
2016 Grades 3-8 ELA and math exams are now untimed. Students can now take as much time as they need to complete the exam. Now, a student’s score will have much more validity as they will be scored on how much they know – not necessarily how much they finished. Further, there has been a decrease in the number of questions, essays, and passages on the ELA exam as well as a decrease in the number of multiple choice questions and constructed response questions on the math exam. Finally, there will now be “greater involvement of educators” (imagine that!) in the test development process. We hope that an increased role educators will now play will result in an exam that is more suitable with regards to actual grade-level appropriateness. Last year, it was reported by the Washington Post that the third-grade exam included a reading passage that has a grade level of 5.9 and an interest level of 9-12th grade. Would a third-grade teacher have caught that and spoken up if they were involved in writing that exam? I know two that would have…
In summary, the State has made a change – a drastic change. I do believe that this change is a good thing. Is all change good? No, not necessarily. Does anyone remember the “New Coca-Cola” back in the 80’s? Exactly. Some things just don’t need to change. When third-grade students have to sit and read too many passages and answer too many questions and not have enough time and are made to feel like they are robots… it’s time for a change.
Change is good. I have never been overly supportive of the State Education Department in the past, because I saw how my students felt and realized the stress it put me and them under by taking these exams, but I now applaud the State for listening to the Task Force. This is the effect when a group of individuals gather, think, and take a stand.
December 28, 2015
It is strange to think that just a few months ago, Mr. Harter, Mr. Hudak, and I were standing out front to welcome our students back to a brand new school year. Fast forward four months – and we’re ready to celebrate a new year! 2016… Time sure does fly!
January 1, 2016 – a time for resolutions. Will you join that gym? Will you cut down on the sugary treats? Will you make a resolution to not make a resolution? Regardless of how the New Year is viewed, remember, it is a new year. Was 2015 kind to you? Good! Let’s make 2016 an even better year! Was 2015 not so friendly? Well, there is no time like the present to make a change. Often times, I find myself reminding my students “You must be an active participant in your own education.” An education does not just come from classroom experience or “seat time.” An education comes from reflecting on what went wrong, what needs to be done to avoid an unwanted result, and how to maintain any positive or wanted results.
If a change is sought, the first question one must ask is what can I do to contribute to this change? Professionally, I’d like to get working on grant writing. Personally, I’d like to read to my children more than 30 minutes each night. However, wanting and doing are two separate things. If I wish to seek change, I have to be willing to act first. I, as I remind my students, must be an active participant in my own education.
At Charlotte Valley, our faculty and staff are dedicated in their endeavors. In the secondary, our Math, Science, History, and English Departments are committed to providing extra help and assistance to all students, especially students who find they are struggling with the material. A letter regarding tutoring was sent out with MP1 Report Cards, but here is a reminder of tutoring that is offered at Charlotte Valley –
Wednesday: Social Studies/Global/History
Friday: Earth Science only
Progress Reports were mailed just before the Holiday Break. If you did not receive a Progress Report for your child, please contact our offices, and we’ll be sure to send home an additional copy. If your child is struggling with a subject, please reach out to the teacher. You can find your child’s teacher’s email address right here on our website! Encourage your child to stay for tutoring! Remember, our Student Handbook, approved by the Board of Education back in August 2015, requires that a student stay for tutoring if he/she is currently failing a core subject.
Happy 2016! Please call us if you ever have a question or concern. We are happy to work for and with our community! Remember, change must first start with us.
November 10, 2015
Service. Gratitude. Commitment. Purpose. What do these things mean?
If you were in attendance today, at Charlotte Valley, you would have seen all four. Today, in the O’Connor Gym, the PreK-6 student body, the entire PreK-6 teaching and support staff, our Music Department, and many of our high school student-leaders put on a program that was breathtakingly beautiful.
Our teachers took the time to teach their classes songs. Our sixth grade memorized the “Preamble.” The Elementary Chorus sang a beautiful rendition of “God Bless the USA.” Our own Mrs. Pitel sang “The Star-Bangled Banner” with a chorus of children backing up her beautiful vocals.
Service? Gratitude? Commitment? Purpose? They were on full display today at Charlotte Valley. This started as a small initiative set forth by Mr. Harter, our Superintendent. His goal was simple: Let’s figure out a way to honor those who served.
And honor those who served they did. The teachers were prepared. The children were focused. The climate was inspiring. In the stands sat over 40 men and women who bravely and honorably served our country. All who served were acknowledged and applauded by our children, by our teachers, and by our community.
Service? Gratitude? Commitment? Purpose? What went on here today at Charlotte Valley is miniscule when compared to what those who have served have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Thank you to the teachers for embracing this initiative. Thank you to the students for giving it 100%. Thank you to the community for all of the support.
Finally, and most importantly, thank you to those that served. Thank you to all of our veterans – in and around our community. We are thankful for your service. We are grateful for your sacrifice(s). We are inspired by your commitment. We are humbled by your purpose.
October 28, 2015
The smell of wood smoke is in the air! It’s time to button up the windows, finalize the stockpile of wood (I know how kids love stacking wood!), and maybe even update your vehicle’s safety supplies – Did you know that the DMV recommends a vehicle is equipped with over 20 different supplies in the case of an emergency?!
While we’re on the topic of safety, it’s important to think about safety in light of every dentist’s favorite holiday – Halloween! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers some great advice on their website with regards to trick-or-treating safety. The AAP suggests that children and their families plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Further, when selecting a costume, it is imperative to read the label to ensure that the clothing or attire is flame resistant. Children should be aware that, should they find themselves in a situation that constitutes an emergency (if they get lost, for example), they can always dial 9-1-1 for help!
Finally, please take note of the following suggestions taken directly from the AAP website.
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
- Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
As school officials, it is our number one priority to keep kids safe. We must keep our students safe in our schools if we wish them to learn anything! Safety first – always. We appreciate the job that you do with your children outside of school. We know you do your best to keep them safe. Hopefully these suggestions will act as reminders of the many things that you and your family are already doing.
As always, if there is ever anything we can do, don’t hesitate to contact us. We, as a district, are here for our community.
October 1, 2015
Getting Involved – A Team Effort
A few weeks ago, I challenged the community and faculty of Charlotte Valley to reach out to each other with notes of positivity. I am in hopes that we can increase the frequency of positive dialogue between our parents and teachers. The old adage communication is key is overstated, yes, but will always ring true. I thank each and every one of you that have participated and stepped up to the challenge. Please continue to do so. Please encourage your neighbors and friends that have children in the school to join.
In terms of communication, what if I told you (as parents) that there is a relatively simple and easy way to help your child get better grades, boost your child’s attendance, increase your child’s self-esteem, lower the risk of your child experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol, and decrease the chances your child will engage in behaviors that may be considered violent? So, what’s the simple way to obtain these results? The answer - Getting involved in your child’s education.
Research at the University of Michigan found that, when a child’s parents are involved in his/her education, the child is more likely to benefit from the positive effects listed above. So, the question now becomes, How do I get involved beyond emailing and checking Eschool? For starters, The National Education Association (NEA) recommends that parents encourage learning at home. Just because a child is not in the classroom does not mean learning cannot take place. On the contrary, regardless of setting, any location can be a classroom! The NEA suggests parents follow simple steps such as turning off the television and providing adequate spacing and lighting for a child to do homework. Further, parents can help their child by working with them to set goals, establish plans, follow routines, and monitor progress of all sorts. Let’s not forget to mention the importance of getting to bed on time, a good night’s sleep, guided television viewing, and a healthy and regular means of communication between you (the parent) and your child’s teacher(s).
We all have so much to do in so little time. We live in a time where we are consistently asked to do more with less. In these times, however, we must not lose sight of what’s really important – our children and their future. Remember, these are the people, the faces, and the generation that will be running the world and making the decisions that will affect us when we are in our “golden years.” We want those decisions to be educated, responsible, researched, and well-thought. If we expect to have “golden years,” we must continuously invest in our youth’s education both in school and out.
September 18, 2015
Week 2 is almost behind us! Time sure does fly. I’d like to extend my gratitude to all that stopped in for the Spaghetti Dinner and Open House this week. On behalf of all of us here at Charlotte Valley, we greatly appreciate your support.
Speaking of support, I’d like to speak about the challenge that I referred to during Open House. I challenge each and every parent to reach out, at least once before Halloween, to their child’s teacher with a positive note. A simple line such as My son came home today and told me about the project you are having the kids work on in class – it sounds great! Thank you for what you do! really shows our teachers that they have the support of parents.
However, I am fully aware that support must be reciprocated. I will institute this same challenge to the entire faculty and staff at the first faculty meeting. I will challenge our teachers to reach out multiple times per week with messages of positivity. I know many of you, as well as much of our staff, do this already, but I believe it’s time we all jump on board and steer this ship in the direction we need it and want it to go.
You can contact any professional in the building by using the same “formula” of email – firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, if you need to email our superintendent, Mr. Harter, his email is email@example.com. Remember, you can also access any email addresses you wish via the “Staff Directory” tab on our school’s homepage!
I look forward to seeing how many of us step up to the challenge. I’ll start… Now, which one of you will I contact first???
Charlotte Valley’s Open House is scheduled for this Thursday, September 17th, with Elementary kicking things off at 6pm. High School’s Open house will begin promptly at 7pm.
Things will be a little different this year; Elementary parents are encouraged to drop their children off at the O’Connor Gym at 5:45pm, where the Student Council will show a movie and hand out popcorn and beverages! Elementary Parents will then meet in the Elementary Gym by 6pm and conclude in the APR by 7:00pm.
Middle school/High school open house will begin at 7:00pm sharp in the Elementary gym. This year, parents will move along to different periods throughout the one hour session attending the classes their child is enrolled in. A list of classes will be provided – relax! All you need to do is show up, and we’ll take care of the rest!
On behalf of all of us here at Charlotte Valley, we look forward to seeing all of you this Thursday, September 17th, at our Open House!
Thank you -
August 7, 2015
Re: A Letter to the Charlotte Valley Community
To begin, I’m honored to serve as Charlotte Valley’s pK-12 Building Principal. Words cannot express how thrilled I am to continue my career, now in the administrative capacity, with the students, faculty, and community of Charlotte Valley.
There are many changes among us. This year alone, we have a complete change in administration. We have a few new faces and some “tenured” faces in new positions. Charlotte Valley’s foundation is strong. We have a history of greatness. We have a history of pride. We have a history of community.
There are countless characteristics that make Charlotte Valley great. Yet, a building will only ever be as great as its people. Charlotte Valley is privileged to have dedicated people maintaining its facilities and offices. Charlotte Valley is fortunate to have a committed teaching staff that always goes above and beyond for its students. Finally, Charlotte Valley is lucky to have such a wonderful group of students walk its hallways. These are the pieces that make our school great. These are the pieces we, as a community of learners, can be proud of.
Speaking of pride, we “do pride” better than anyone! Wildcat Pride is in our blood; it’s a part of who we are. It’s a part of our culture. Whether it is the paw prints in the hallway, the wildcat murals in the classrooms, or parents and fans showing up to sporting events wearing the colors, Wildcat Pride is contagious. Wildcat Pride is not simply contained in and around the school or gym, however. Wildcat Pride can be found in classrooms. Wildcat Pride can be found throughout our community. As a matter fact, Wildcat Pride can be found anywhere members of CVCS show up! Just recently I had a member from another district approach me and comment on how our fans showed up to their home event “decked out in maroon and white and very respectful.” Pride is so much more than simply being passionate. Pride is about being passionate about something and having the common sense to act accordingly, regardless of the circumstances. This is what we do here at CVCS. This is what makes us Wildcats.
If our greatness and pride is the structuring of Charlotte Valley, then our community is the very foundation. We simply cannot exist without our community. It truly does take a community to raise a child. Our students need community support. Our teachers need community support. Our staff needs community support. The administration needs community support. Be active! Be a voice in your district. Please join us at our events! On behalf of all of us here “at the Valley,” I welcome you to our school.
There is so little that we can’t do as long as we have the backing of our community. We have a fantastic support staff. We have impeccable teachers. We have the best students in the world. This September, we
mark a new beginning – a new chapter in Charlotte Valley’s history. I look forward to the continued greatness from all of our people. I look forward to the Wildcat Pride that pulsates throughout our community and into others. Finally, I look forward to making new connections and creating relationships with our community. Together, we will do extraordinary things.