Wednesday, June 15, 2016
To the Editor:
The Westport school district has just completed its most impactful year in a generation. Starting July 1, our two important new hires will begin their leadership posts: Dr. Colleen Palmer as superintendent and Mr. James D’Amico as principal of Staples. Both have significant experience as academic leaders and will foster continuous improvement in our already-strong school district.
Connecting with Our Community
Stay tuned for a calendar of upcoming opportunities this summer and fall for members of the community to meet our new superintendent, Dr. Palmer. She is planning a host of informal coffees, meetings, and gatherings at which she would enjoy hearing perspectives on what is cherished most about our district and what are areas that might be explored for further enhancement. We encourage everyone to participate in one of these events and personally welcome our new superintendent.
Starting next year, our schools will be guided by four principles that embody the values we aspire to for our students and ourselves: social and emotional awareness, kindness with sincerity, principled in thought and action, and learning always. Known as the “Guiding Principles,” these are ways of being that will make up the fabric of everything we do in Kindergarten through 12th grade both in and out of the classroom. Having these clearly articulated guiding principles truly sets Westport apart in giving our children proven skills needed to succeed long after they graduate.
New for Next Year
The budget we developed for next year saw the leanest increase in many years - and yet we are making many program improvements. Starting in September, Staples will introduce nine new courses across multiple subject areas. Each elementary school will have a half-time science coach and dedicated laboratory, further enhancing our commitment to that discipline. We also are incorporating new elements of strategic planning that align our budget closely with longer-term goals. We want to thank our administrators who put together a budget that moved us forward academically while remaining fiscally disciplined. We also want to thank our outstanding teachers and staff who meet our mission for Westport’s children each day.
The Saugatuck Elementary School Caring Council today celebrated the school’s bus drivers and bus monitors with lots of gratitude, coffee, donuts and handmade cards. Bus Monitor Joe Castellano is pictured with fifth graders Sophie Spheeris and Janna Moore. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Conributed photo
Monday, June 13, 2016
UPDATE Westport Board of Education members, including chair Michael Gordon (l), and others honored retiring Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon tonight for his 17 years of service in a pre-meeting ceremony. Gordon said he consulted Landon’s son in coming up with a personal gift and learned that his father was interested in cooking. So he presented him with pans, an apron, and cooking lessons. He also received a a plaque at Staples in his honor and a plaque/proclamation from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. Said Landon of his Westport career: “It’s been a great ride.” He thanked board members for always letting “Elliott be Elliott.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Among 28 retiring Westport school employees honored at tonight’s Board of Education meeting were husband and wife teachers Jim and Denise Honeycutt with 39 years service. Jim told the meeeting that he and Denise met in 1980 when he was transferred from Coleytown Junior High to Long Lots Junior High. In 1984, they were both transferred to Staples. “One year later we were married,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, June 09, 2016
James Naughton, two-time Tony Award winner and Weston resident, tonight served as emcee of the Staples High School pops concert at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. The concert featured instrumental and vocal groups from Staples and marked the culmination of the school year and its nationally recognized music program. The Levitt summer season of concerts will begin later this month. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Every space was taken at Westport’s Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts tonight for the inaugural Staples pop concert. Tickets were free but had to be ordered in advance. Organizers said it was a sell out with 1,600 tickets distributed. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
There were 115 Staples High School performers tonight in the inaugural Staples pops concert at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts, according to Thomas A. Scavone, Westport K-12 supervisor of music. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Scenes from tonight’s Staples High School pops concert at the Westport Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. Helen Klisser During and Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Recipients of the Staples Tuition Grants (STG) program tonight posed for a group picture following an awards ceremony at Staples High School. In all, STG awarded $300,000 in grants to 115 students. They ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Former Staples High School Principal John Dodig presented the awards tonight at the annual Staples Tuition Grants awards ceremony. He had a big hug for Jaime Bairaktaris as he presented him with the John M. Dodig Award and the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club/Dick Eldh Scholarship. Jaime, who plans to study nursing, is a WestportNow contributing photographer as well as an Emergency Medical Technician with Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services and an asssistant teacher at Earthplace. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Scenes from tonight’s Staples Tuition Grants ceremony at Staples High School. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Deirdre M. Daly, GFA Class of 1977, was commencement speaker today at the Greens Farms Academy graduation ceremony. She spoke to the graduating class about overcoming obstacles. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
At tonight’s Staples High School Awards Night, senior Vignesh Namasivayam was named winner of the 2016 Key Award, the school’s most prestigious award. He will attend Yale University in the fall. The two other Key Award finalists were seniors Hannah DeBalsi, who will attend Stanford University, and Jordan Adler, who will attend Harvard University. The Staples Key Award is donated by the Kiwanis Club of Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Saugatuck Elementary School Tuesday honored the nation’s war heroes in its fourth annual school-wide Memorial Day assembly. Guest of honor was SES parent, Capt. Carla Hinesley Sevilla (l), of the U.S. Marine Corps. She was a logistics officer for Marine Aircraft Group 39, stationed at Camp Pendleton, California and Ali Al Salem, Kuwait during her tour for Operation Iraqi Freedom. With her are SES Principal Beth Messler (c) and Westport Director of Elementary Education (and former SES principal) Julie Droller, under whose leadership this annual event began. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Monday, May 23, 2016
By James Lomuscio
On a recent afternoon, Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, 76, discussed how much the physical appearance of the Westport Public Schools has changed since he first arrived in 1999.
The Greens Farms School, which had been shuttered and used as studio space for artists in the 1980s, was reclaimed and a three-story wing added during his first year.
The former Nike missile site on North Avenue was reclaimed with the Bedford Middle School opening there in 2004.
The old Bedford Middle School on Riverside Avenue was totally gutted, becoming what is now the Saugatuck Elementary School.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
There was a special treat Friday for some youngsters at Westport’s Coleytown Elementary School. F. Richard Myers (r), a top official with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope project, visited the school where his sister, Annie Roesler (l), teaches kindergarten. He told the students about the scheduled 2018 launch of the telescope, successor to the Hubble Telescope and the largest and most sophisticated space telescope ever conceived. He later lunched with two children from every grade who were chosen based upon essays they wrote. Their questions included specifics about the James Webb Telescope, black holes, age of the sun and earth, and whether life will ever be found in outer space. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Nicole Mathias, a senior at Staples High School, was awarded the first Joyce and Bernie Zimmerman Foundation Music Scholarship at this week’s Staples Choral Concert.
The scholarship is a special gift from the Zimmerman Foundation that is awarded to one male member and/or one female member of the Staples graduating classes of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 who plan to major in music.
Applications were subjected to a rigorous review process that included the evaluation of GPA in music classes; participation in various musical and civic experiences, and completion of an essay, an announcement said.
Nicole, who will attend Penn State majoring in music education, is the daughter of Kim and Mark Mathias. He is a Board of Education member.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Alexandra Jabick,a 2012 Staples High School graduate, has been awarded the Outstanding Senior Woman Award at the Neag School of Education University of Connecticut, Storrs.The award, sponsored by The Woman’s Center, Alumni and University provost, is given each year to one female student from each school. She is pictured with the dean of the NEAG School Richard Schwab. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Family, friends, and colleagues will fete Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, who is scheduled to retire at the end of June.
The event honoring Landon, who has headed the Westport school district since 1999, will take place on Thursday, May 26, at 5 p.m. at the Shorehaven Country Club in Norwalk.
Event planners say the retirement party is set to begin with light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails with the program starting promptly at 6 p.m.
Shorehaven Country Club is a waterfront facility located at 14 Canfield Ave.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Westport’s Saugatuck Elementary School (SES) today held a “walk-a-thon” kickoff ceremony as part of a fundraiser to benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Among those celebrating with students and staff were Melissa Newman (r), daughter of Hole in the Wall Gang Camp founder Paul Newman, as well as Andrea Keefe (2nd r) of the Hole in the Wall Gang organization. Also present was Emily Carr (l), volunteer physician at the camp who was a camper herself and beneficiary of the full-paid tuition. Also pictured are (l-r) Katie Bloom, third grade teacher, Beth Messler, SES principal, and Rae Anne Locke, library/media specialist. Youngsters are Ty Levine, Ali Chodash, Nicole Sternberg, and Sophie Sheeris, all fifth graders and Caring Council Members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Monday, May 16, 2016
By Jacqeline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut has the fourth highest pension costs for its public school teachers in the U.S., a new report released today shows.
The high costs are largely attributed to a failure to save enough to pay for future pension promises, the report from TeacherPensions.org concludes.
The report is a project of Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit funded by The Joyce Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
“Like the proverbial Pac-Man, the rapidly rising costs of teacher retirement and insurance benefits are pushing out money that could be spent on salaries,” the report concludes.
Click here for more of story
The Westport school system is scheduled to conduct screenings of preschool children at risk for learning from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, June 3, at the Coleytown Middle School.
The screenings are under the federal an local Title I eligibility criteria that examines a child’s development in the areas of concepts, language and motor skills, school officials said. The current Title I program is incorporated into the Westport preschool program, Stepping Stones Preschool.
Officials say each screening will take about 45 minutes. To qualify for a screening, the family must be a residents of Westport, and the child must be 3 years old by September.
Those who are interested can contact Carol Haberlin at (203) 341-1712 to set up an appointment, as screenings are by appointment only, school officials said. For further information, contact Gwen Goldman at (203) 341-1764.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Today is the last day of school for seniors at Staples High School. Members of the class of 2016 will be off to their internships around the tri-state area starting Monday. Today is Senior Day, an all-day event that happens every year to celebrate the last day for seniors, complete with games, food, and music. Pictured is the college board in the office of Assistant Principal Karyn Morgan on which each student has written his/her college destination, getting a personalized congratulations from Morgan. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for WestportNow.com
By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jacqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
The Senate voted early today to rebalance Connecticut’s credit card in the face of shrinking tax revenues, canceling or delaying about $1 billion in financing for a wide array of projects and programs.
Outside of this rebalancing process, the bond package for the 2016-17 fiscal year also authorizes $382 million in new borrowing for municipal school construction, down significantly from financing for local schools approved in recent years.
The Senate enacted the measure 34-2. It now heads to the House of Representatives, which is expected to consider the bill Friday.
The cancelations affect capital projects at public colleges and universities, municipal school districts, economic development programs, social services, housing, recreation and the environment, transportation, and numerous state facilities and information technology systems.