Dear Parkland Community,
Welcome back to school! Nurturing and retaining the right people at every level of our organization is critical to our success. Parkland’s strength lies in the collective talents of a well-trained and dedicated staff. To that end, we will continue to focus on the theme “Academics, Arts, and Athletics - Educating the Whole Child” as we start the 2019-20 school year. Our leadership team believes that this theme has become synonymous with Parkland School District and describes best the values that our community desires in the delivery of a Parkland education.
Among the most gratifying experiences we can have in education involves our daily interactions with students. I continuously reinforce with our staff this thought from Steven Covey, “Students do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Building relationships with children opens the door for improved student achievement. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the key we utilize to unlock the door, allowing our students access to learning. SEL is an educational process for learning life skills. Many aspects of SEL are contained in our educational programming, such as: Character Education, Mindfulness, Bullying Prevention, Drug/Alcohol Prevention, and Positive Behavior Supports. SEL is a process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, which allows them to set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. That is why, on opening day, I challenged each staff member to establish and maintain at least one new positive relationship with a student each day this school year.
In thinking back over my 36 years of working in education, I shared that retired PHS teacher Bob Steckel, Sr. was a person who exhibited care and concern for children in his role as a teacher and coach. I witnessed him work magic, building relationships with children, and I have seen his work through my experience as a high school student, a teacher, a coach, a principal, an assistant superintendent and superintendent. It was a pleasure to honor him in front of our full faculty on August 27th. Bob intrinsically understood how a social and emotional focus would allow students to be actively engaged in their learning. And, after hearing from community leaders via video about their most memorable teachers, I discussed how little had to do with content and much had to do with building relationships. We went on to recognize Parkland educators who best employ characteristics focused upon building and maintaining positive relationships with students and/ or staff in each of our schools.
The commended staff members are listed here and I thank them for their dedication to children:
Cetronia Elementary School – Jessica Brans, Julian Taibi
Parkway Manor Elementary School – Meghan Thomas, Kelly Richenaker
Fogelsville Elementary School – Daniel Ryan, Liz Blose
Schnecksville Elementary School – Sarah Marsh, Joanne Marshalek
Ironton Elementary School – Tiffany Houser, Matt DeFazio
Jaindl Elementary School – Sara Bartos, Lauren Meeker
Kernsville Elementary School – Adrienne Kashner, Deb Newhard
Kratzer Elementary School – Nicole Jones, Tara Kuder.
Orefield Middle School – Danielle Condly, Thomas Bryant, Christie Schlaner
Springhouse Middle School – Jim Haines, Kerin Steigerwalt, Sara Yazujian-Wehr
Parkland High School – Frank Lane, Dave Martin, Jen Smith, Eric Roberts
If you’ve driven down Schantz Road lately, you may have seen that Veterans Memorial Elementary School is fully erect and starting to look just about finished from the outside. We are pleased with its progress and it is our goal to announce new sending area boundaries at the end of October. And, in my eyes, it can’t open soon enough. Our southern elementary schools are crowded and some grade levels are closed, forcing the displacement of families from their community elementary schools. We understand that this causes stress and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we excitedly await the opening of a new elementary school in Upper Macungie Township. All families who will be affected by the new boundaries when the school opens next fall will receive a letter by November. Karen Dopera, previous Principal at Schnecksville, has been appointed the Veterans Memorial Principal and is already spending lots of time at Fred J. Jaindl and Fogelsville Schools with the goal of getting to know many families. We will have much more to report on with regards to the new elementary school in the December edition of the Parkland Newsletter.
I wish you all a wonderful BACK TO SCHOOL season.
Richard T. Sniscak, Superintendent of Schools