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Welcome to my Blog!

August 21, 2017

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As we begin a new school year, one of my goals is to increase communication with all of the high school families. To that end, I have created this blog.  I will frequently post updates as well as suggestions for how to help your child(ren) experience success in school.  Please know that you, as parents, will hear many things in the community regarding the school.  Should you have any questions, or if something does not sound quite right, please contact me at the school or by e-mail.  I am happy to sit down and discuss any concerns that you might have.  By working together with a common vision of helping your child(ren) experience academic success, we have the best chance of success.

 

 

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Times are Changing…

Those were the days…do you remember corded phones, passing notes in class, and dinner conversations where we actually talked to one another? Maybe I’m dating myself but each day I see more and more that students of today are facing so many more obstacles than I did in high school. These obstacles hinder their ability to communicate with one another. Texting and social media have taken over and the gossip trail that used to take a few days to complete its course can now happen in a millisecond. Items are transmitted in an instant and could be in the hands of hundreds or even thousands of people within a matter of minutes. School can be difficult enough without all of the social pressures. Pressure such as making sure everybody likes your post, keeping a Snapchat streak, responding to requests to send nude pictures or to vape after school or in the restroom. All of these things are working against our children which makes partnering with the school even more important than ever. In the past several weeks, I have had to have many difficult conversations with parents as well as students. The trends of vaping, sexting and making poor choices does not discriminate. All students in all socioeconomic statuses and in all neighborhoods are affected by it. We need to partner together to make sure that students are making good choices and have self-respect. Talking often and keeping the lines of communication open between home and school will help us to be able to get to the root cause of some of these concerns in our society.

The end of the quarter is behind us and we will soon be breaking for the holidays. Please make sure to check in with your child and their social media communication on a regular basis. There are many things that are passed around to students which may contain or have legal ramifications. It is important for you to stay in touch with what your child is texting and what files are located on his or her phone. I have place links to articles involving sexting and vaping and the newest trend, JUULing to provide insight on some popular things happening. We have great students here at Redbank Valley; we just need to continue to guide them toward making the right decisions. Please continue to reach out with any concerns you may have; together we can be a resource for your child.

Sexting: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/2011-sexting.html

Vaping and JUULing:  https://5210.psu.edu/what-parents-need-to-know-vaping-juuling/

New Year, New Outlook

With the first few days of the 2018-19 school year in the books I thought it would be a great time to update you on the great things happening at Redbank Valley High School. This is an exciting year full of change. After my brief stint as Acting Superintendent over the summer, I am now settled comfortably in my principal’s chair.

It is great to see many new faces here at the high school and in the district. Mrs Brittany Nowacki is our new special education director, and she is anxious to work with all of the families of students with IEPs. She is committed to the students in the Redbank Valley, and I’m sure you will be delighted when you meet her. Another new face we see at the high school is our security officer, Mr. Priest. He is monitoring the hallways and the parking lot as well as observing arrival and dismissal times. He is a friendly face and is beginning to get to know our student body well. Also, Mrs. Bonfardine is serving in her new role as Dean of Students. She has already made some great changes and is showing amazing consistency in helping students follow school policies and procedures.  She and I work very closely, and we’ll be making sure that the school is safe for everyone.  Finally, Ms. Jordan Inzana has partnered with Moore Physical Therapy to provide athletic training services to our athletes.

The theme for this school year, as I shared with the students, is school pride.  My goal this year is to showcase all of the great things that we are doing at Redbank Valley High School and encourage community support. We need to take pride in what we have and take ownership in what is ours.  It is very important for students to be involved in activities in the school setting.  Each student is encouraged to get involved.  Whether it be a club or a sport or working as a volunteer, I’ve encouraged students to participate and lift each other up.  The truth of the matter is, we spend the majority of our waking hours with each other in the building as a group of 500 plus individuals. We need to be able to build each other up and have pride in what we do. In focusing on the positive, we can increase positive school culture and decrease some of the negative behaviors that have been evident within the walls of the school.

I am hopeful that this, my fourth year leading the high school, will be the best year yet! As always, if you have any questions or concerns, my door is always open. I look forward to building a positive relationship with each family whose children I have the pleasure of leading.

Reflections from the past 3 years

This week marks three years since I began my role as the high school principal at Redbank Valley. Many things have changed since I arrived 3 years ago, but one thing has remained. The quality of the students here at Redbank Valley is amazing to me.  Prior experience has allowed me to work with many students in many areas across the state and in other states. The students in the New Bethlehem Area are some of the kindest, most courteous and most delightful students with whom I have had the pleasure to work. Thank you so much for allowing me to lead your students through their academic success.

As we wrap up this school year, there are few things I would like for you to keep in mind. Our last day of school is June 1st and students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. In addition, our graduation ceremony is June 1st at 7 p.m. Fifty-seven students will be receiving a diploma this year. These same students were just wrapping up ninth grade when I entered the school. It has been wonderful to see how they have grown physically, socially, and academically over these last three years. I speak for the entire faculty when we say we are very proud of all that they have accomplished.

In order to finish the year strong, I would like to encourage you all to make sure that your students have all of their assignments wrapped up and have the grades to be able to proceed to the next grade level. Guidance counselors are here and available to answer any academic questions you need. I am also able to offer opportunities for you to enroll your child in summer school if needed. It has been a great school year so far; let’s wrap it up!

Looking toward spring..and the future

I realize it has been a while since I have added to this blog. The winter weather, closings, delays, and the semester switch, as well as the hustle and bustle of the high school has kept me quite busy. Now that the second semester is underway, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk to you about planning for the future. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”   Part of the academic initiatives this year are focused on student-centered learning where students are working on projects to solve their own problems. This is being done to increase critical thinking skills and help prepare students for what lies ahead after high school. Students coming in to 7th grade have great ideas about what they want to do once they graduate from high school, yet, this usually changes drastically by the time they enter their senior year. Here at Redbank, we try to offer a variety of courses so that students are able to get a feel for some of the topics and careers that they might want to pursue and have a solid plan before graduation day. In the next few weeks, guidance counselors will be sitting with your students to decide what courses they would like to choose for next year. Many of the elective courses are based on interest at the 9th and 10th grade level.  When students move toward 11th and 12th grades, they begin to choose courses to prepare them for their future. For instance, a student who wants to go into the science field may schedule two science classes and the same could be possible for math or English.  Please remember, however, that there are only eight periods per day. While we wish we could give every student every course that is requested, sometimes this is just not possible. It is vitally important when the guidance counselors meet with your students and they bring home the scheduling form, that you review these courses carefully with your child to make sure that they fit into the plans that you and your child have for the future.  Counselors are available to talk about scheduling throughout the rest of this year as well as over the summer. There will again be days over the summer where schedule changes will be available for students prior to the start of the school year. It is never too early to start discussions with your child regarding their future endeavors. I just want to make sure that we are having these conversations early and that you feel comfortable reaching out to any of the many resources that are available to you at Redbank Valley High School.

On another note and in light of the recent incidences of school shootings in our nation, I wanted to let you know that all of our faculty and staff are trained and have a guide for emergency procedures for safety issues that may occur.  We conduct drills throughout the year so that students are aware of the procedures should we need to follow them.  We strive to keep everyone as safe as possible, and the in-depth training and guide provided last school year has allowed us to take every precaution to ensure safety.  As we send our prayers to the families in Florida, it is hard not to imagine the “what ifs” here in our small town.  I want to encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open and continue to alert us to any concerns that you may hear.  We take every threat seriously and will address in a swift manner.  I appreciate the positive communication and feedback that I have received in the recent weeks.   Thank you for your support of the high school teachers, staff, and administration.  Together, we can make a difference!

Genuine Kindness

Holiday greetings to all of you! At this time, I’m sure many of you are buying that last minute Christmas present, baking the last batch of cookies or wondering what you will do with your kids home for the next several days. This seems to happen to us every year. Christmas is a time for a break and relaxation but somehow we tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of forcing kindness on one another just because that is what is expected at this time of year. As I’ve stated before perhaps even in this blog, my motto, “Have courage and be kind”, is applicable at this time of year.   While many of us are exhibiting “kindness” because society tells us that’s what we should do, I think it’s important for us to examine the kindness that we are displaying to others. I’ve had to take some time to think, am I giving gifts to check off a list or am I giving gifts because I want to show kindness? As I reflect on my gift-giving I often wonder how that is rubbing off on my own children who are going to be 12 years old very soon. Are they seeing kindness as a habit or kindness as a meaningful and genuine action?

Much of what I would like to see in the culture of high school is kindness as a natural occurrence instead of something that is forced. While we are working to practice kindness here, it is the foundation that you set at home that sets the path for kindness.   From Mr. Gold’s class who became Santa to several families in need to the tree in the entryway covered with hats and gloves for those who need them, I think the kind, Christmas spirit at Redbank Valley High School is alive and well.

Along with theses displays of kindness, however, I am getting some reports of students not being so kind to one another. While we can’t force kindness on people, we can combat negative feelings and negative actions with our kind words and gestures. Please instill this thought in your children and help them to understand that kindness will prevail. We need to be diligent about communicating issues when people are being less than kind so that it can be addressed in a swift manner. Like I’ve stated to several parents, I can’t make people be kind, but I can let them see the ramifications of their poor choices in behavior. Let’s resolve in this New Year to increase our communication and spread that kindness while letting others see that when kindness prevails everything goes a little more smoothly.

Merry Christmas!

Time to Dig In

Now that the first 9 weeks of the school year is behind us, we have the opportunity to reset.   Many things are resetting during November.  The fall sports teams are finishing up, and the winter sports are about to set up.  The trees are preparing for the long winter, and students are thinking about how they can maintain or increase their grades in coming quarter.  It is never too late to reset, rethink and rejuvenate.  For many students, it also means that you need to “Dig In!”

I have learned through the years that the first quarter of a school year is, many times, a review of content to get you ready for the content to come.  As the school year progresses, the content will get deeper and the assignments will get a little longer.  Whether you want to maintain the first quarter grade or improve upon it, here are some tips and tricks to success during quarter 2:

  • Make sure homework is done
    • This one may sound easy enough, but I see many students leaving the school with empty hands (except for their phone)
  • Gather Make Up work for missed days of school
    • It is easy to forget to do this, especially if the missed day was a Friday.
    • Utilize a classmate as a resource for notes and help.
  • Talk to the teachers
    • Parents and students both
      • Let the teachers know if there is a concern before a grade is so low that it cannot rebound.
    • Check grades regularly
      • Parents and students should log into MMS weekly to prevent any surprises.
    • Ask for specific feedback
      • If there is something that is not understood, ask for clarification.
    • Utilize the Community Center
      • There is tutoring each Tuesday and Wednesday after school at the community center.
    • Avoid distractions in the evenings if possible.
      • Social media is overtaking some of our students’ lives; limit if you can and encourage blocking unhealthy relationships.

As I write all of these tips, I understand that most of these are easier said than done.  There are only a few short weeks until the snow begins to fly and holiday festivities are in the air.  Make sure to lean on the teachers and administration so that together, we can help your child maintain focus, dig in, reset and experience academic and social success.

Fall is in the air

It is hard to believe that we are almost a quarter of the way through the 2017-18 school year.  However, the cooler weather, pumpkin flavored everything and senior nights for fall sports make this a reality.   As we get closer to the end of the first grading period, I would like to encourage all of you to reach out to teachers as needed for advice or academic support for your child. By now it is my hope that everyone has access to the online gradebook to be able to check your child’s grades on a regular basis. If not, please contact the school and we can make sure that this occurs.

Communication is very important between teachers, students, and parents. We had an opportunity on open house night to hold conferences with parents and these conferences opened up doors of communication to help students achieve their full potential. Should you feel like there is a roadblock to your communication or if there’s something that you would like to have clarified in order to ensure that your child experiences academic success in all areas, please let us know. While, many times, if you’re talking to me it’s about social, emotional, or behavioral issues, I would love to hear about the good things that are happening as well as the things where we can do better academically.

Our goal here Redbank Valley is to make sure that everyone is prepared for success in high school and beyond. Should there be any changes that you feel could be made or any improvements to what we do, I truly value your feedback. You can reach me by e-mail or you can set up a time to meet with me that is convenient for both of us.

The stronger the partnership between the school and home, the stronger the support is for the students. I believe we all share one common goal and that is to educate your children. Please consider partnering with us if you haven’t already to make sure that your child experiences success. Report cards will be sent home with your child the second week in November. Make sure that you are checking grades regularly so that we can work together to have all of the information needed to ensure your child success.

 

 “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” 

Henry Ford