September 2019 Newsletter

News from the Superintendent …

The first week of teaching and learning is complete, and I’m happy to state that the school year is off to a great start! The incredible start is due to the very productive summer that occurred on the school campus. A door replacement project and upgrades to each school’s public address system were conducted over the summer. Professional development was provided to faculty and staff on CPR and AED use, differentiated instruction, and other topics during late July and early August. New social studies curriculum resources were acquired, and professional development related to the implementation of those resources occurred. The annual Meet the Teacher Night, was held on August 21st, and as usual, the event had a wonderful parent and student turnout. Finally, due to excellent planning by The Nutrition Group, the universal free breakfast program is off to a fantastic start!

As described in the June newsletter, over the summer the district investigated upgrades to each school’s HVAC system and to the district’s running track. At the September meeting of the Board of Education, the district’s Board of Education will vote on proceeding with the projects and utilizing the services of a construction management company. The projected total cost of the projects is approximately $2,000,000.00. The funding for the project will come from the district’s fund balance.

SCSD is a wonderful place to learn, teach, and work! The district is thriving because of a supportive community, engaged Board of Education and exceptional students, parents, and employees. There are many issues related to public education that need resolution by our governor and state legislators. I urge everyone to be the positive voice for public education and to contact your state representative and/or senator to voice your opinion for the brick and mortar school districts of the Commonwealth.

News from the High School Principal …

The first week of classes is now in the books, and our students are settling into their schedules. A large number of students changed their plans over the summer months, and this significantly impacted the smoothness of the first week of school. As a reminder, student requests for a change of schedule cannot be made after the first six days of school. Students must make a decision and commit to it. If students are feeling that they have scheduled too many elective credits, they can drop an elective before school day 23. Dropping before this deadline allows students to avoid a mark on their transcript stating that they withdrew from a class either while passing the course or while failing. Students are absolutely unable to drop an elective once we have reached school day 45. Again, it is our stance that students should focus on seeing through a commitment once they have carefully scheduled their classes. Mrs. Milos is always available for consultation if a change in schedule is being considered.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to set expectations for homework on the homefront. One of the best gifts we can give to our children, and students are to create a routine for their evening that involves a small amount of time dedicated to homework. By no means should our students be spending hours upon hours completing their assigned tasks. Most assignments can be completed in 45 minutes or less. However, this is only possible if the assignments are not saved until the last minute. Adopting the skillset and discipline to schedule time to work on assignments daily will pay dividends in the future.

The week of September 23 has been selected as Homecoming week. The parade and bonfire will take place on the evening of September 27 with the football game and dance to follow the next day. A detailed schedule of events will be posted via the school’s Facebook page. Students will be encouraged to take part in the school’s spirit days that week by dressing for the theme of the day. Our thanks go out to Student Council for putting this week together for our community.

News from the Elementary Principal…..

In this 3rd part series on STEM/Computer Science integration at Susquehanna Community Elementary School, we'll explore the connection between computer science, reading, and math. We'll explore five areas where computer science helps build the skills of today's learners in early education. Those areas are social-emotional learning, patterns, problem-solving, representation, and sequencing.

Play is one of the best ways to develop social and emotional skills which provide the foundation for successful learning and development. With computer science, students are sharing, collaborating, and supporting each other. Through collaboration with peers, we know that teams produce better products than individuals alone. They are also practicing listening skills and learning to respect peer ideas, along with learning to communicate both verbally and visually. All of these skills are global competencies that will be crucial in the 21st century. Also, our teachers will be engaging students in problem-solving activities by asking questions to uncover student thought processes and reasoning skills. Problem-solving is mainly present in children at an early age as they are always trying to figure out the world they live in. This will help cultivate that natural ability to figure out a problem or how something works.

Also, students are learning to recognize patterns building a foundation for developing and using procedures and making inferences about those patterns. Students are also learning that computational languages are represented by numbers, text, and symbols, just like the English language is represented by words that denote sounds and meanings. Finally, determining sequences (1st, 2nd, 3rd) helps develop the skills necessary to apply algorithms that computers will follow to accomplish the task. This base knowledge will begin to be used as they enter 3rd and 4th grade..

Computer science and computational thinking help students develop skills necessary for the world of today and the grounds to learn any skills the world may need from us in the future. It provides a great base of how to learn and allows the teacher to present computer science through the major curriculum subjects of reading and math. This connection will not only provide students with computer science knowledge, but also increase student reading and mathematical skills; as well as developing the global competencies of today: collaboration and communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Start asking questions that stir the creativity in students, because merely asking “how did you do that?” or “what were you thinking when you built that?” can have a substantial effect now and in the future.

News from the Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment….

“Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes.” - Dr. Michael Heggerty

Phonemic awareness is an essential skill for young students to develop as they learn to read and to spell. We recently purchased a phonemic awareness curriculum, Phonemic Awareness: The Skills That They Need To Help Them Succeed! developed by Michael Haggerty, Ed.D. We will implement this program in K4, K5, 1st, and 2nd grades this school year. This program was highly recommended by another school district who also uses our Wonders reading curriculum.

The 2020 edition is a 35-week curriculum of daily phonemic awareness lessons. The lessons are taught through whole group instruction and take about 10 minutes per day. The lessons are quickly paced, fun for the students, and provide explicit modeling. The students will learn necessary skills first, and then, they will build upon those skills to complete more challenging tasks. Success with phonemic awareness can lead to success in reading and spelling. We are excited to help our students achieve that success!