Dear Parents, Faculty, Staff and Community Members,
First let me begin by stating my gratitude and excitement about being the new K-12 Principal in New York Mills. The first few weeks have been a whirlwind of information, observations and experiences. One of the first, most noticeable attributes of the district is the students! They have demonstrated equal amounts of excitement and curiosity. They have been more than welcoming, friendly, polite and most of all eager to learn.
I am aware that there may be some level of uncertainty and anxiety in our students, faculty/staff and parents surrounding the recent transitions in our district. Frankly, I felt very unsettled as well when I learned of Mr. Spost’s departure, as I was looking forward to learning and working along-side a great educator and true champion of student success. Although my time with him was limited, I do feel privileged to have spent that little time learning and absorbing as much information as humanly possible. I am thankful for his guidance and support thus far and wish him well in the next phase of his journey. In the same breath, I am confident that New York Mills will continue its success as a leader and innovator in education. Change and uncertainty are very difficult, especially for a community that has such pride in an institution that is the heart of this community.
With that being said, it’s time to go to work. To paraphrase William Arthur Ward, you can either: complain about change, hope it goes away or get to work and ‘adjust the sails’. The Focus District designation, although very real but systematically flawed, still has given us great insight into our district, affording us the resources to effect some positive change. We will be better at the conclusion of this process but as a district and community we have to agree that we need to prove our excellence with data. The way to accomplish this is through the 3-8 assessments. We have to change the negative connotation associated with the testing so it doesn’t have the “high stakes” implication that has been attached to it. We as educators have to de-emphasize the significance to our students and just encourage them to relax and do their best, as with any challenge that lies ahead. The results of these assessments assist us, as a district, building, grade level and classroom to make knowledgeable decisions about instruction. Furthermore, it does allow for students to practice test taking skills and strategies for the bigger exams to come i.e. Regents Exam, SAT’s, Certification Exams, GRE’s and Board Exams. It’s time to adjust the sails, embrace this opportunity and persevere through this challenge.
I am proud to join the New York Mills family and hope that I can continue its tradition of academic excellence and producing some of the region’s finest students. Again I am thankful of this opportunity and ready to serve this awesome community.
Brent M. Dodge
New York Mills UFSD