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Education

Education

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Innovation Fund an Educational First for Westport Schools

For the first time, the Westport Public Schools have established an Innovation Fund, with $50,000 available for students, faculty and staff, school officials announced today.

The money is earmarked “to energize projects that encourage new ways of thinking and doing that are not constrained and have promise of a positive impact,” the announcement said.

“Innovation and creativity are integral components of the core beliefs of the Westport Public Schools and our community at-large,” said Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer.

“Our goal is to inspire the imagination of our students, faculty, and staff to think out-of-the-box and pursue new ideas that make a difference in the lives of our students and our work. We are eager to foster this important work and learn from it.”

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Teacher of Year: Award Not About Her But People Who Helped Her

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Westport Teacher of the Year Courtney Ruggiero, Bedford Middle School social studies teacher, told the Board of Education tonight that her award “is not about what I have done, but the people who have helped me do it.” She added: “I work with the best teachers, and I am honored to represent them.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/11/17 09:42 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Teacher of Year With Fellow Nominees

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Westport Teacher of the Year Courtney Ruggiero posed tonight with peer nominees at the Board of Education meeting where she was officially introduced. Pictured (l-r) Michael Gordon (BOE chairman), Peter Alfano (Coleytown El and Middle), Tanya Kaplan (Coleytown Middle), Allison Beggs (Coleytown Middle), Cecilie Schachte (Long Lots), Linda McClary (Staples), Heidi Howden (Staples), Lisa Weand (Bedford Middle), Courtney Ruggiero, Bedford Middle,Teacher of the Year, Emily Soler (Greens Farms), Nicole Moeller (Greens Farms), Eric Lawrence (Saugatuck), Karen DeFelice and John Horrigan (Westport Education Association co-presidents) and Superintendent Colleen Palmer. Absent from the ceremony: Lenny Klein (Staples) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Greens Farms Academy Students Return to Classes

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Greens Farms Academy opened its doors today for the school year. This marks the last “first day of school” for Head of School Janet Hartwell (r), who will retire in June. In her opening remarks to the student body, Hartwell announced that this year’s theme will be “empathy.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Welcome Back

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Head of Lower School Aléwa Cooper today welcomes students back to classes at Greens Farms Academy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Home Safely After First Day of School

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Twins Ava and Ethan, 8, are welcomed home today to their Woodside Avenue home by mom, Tricia Lewis, after their first day in third grade class at Kings Highway Elementary School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Gallery: Westport Students Return to School


Scenes from today’s return to classes for the first day of school in Westport. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com and contributed photos

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New Long Lots Principal Welcomes Students

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The new principal of Long Lots Elementary School, Debra Dunn, welcomes students today along with Peter Barcello (l) head custodian, and Ryan Butler, security manager. Dunn, formerly schools superintendent of the York, Maine public schools, had earlier served as an elementary school principal in Massachusetts. She replaces Jeffrey Golubchick, who was removed and placed on administrative leave in February while an interim principal finished out the school year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/31/17 08:45 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

New Coleytown Kindergartner

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Coleytown El Principal Jana Sirowich, starting her eighth year as principal and 10th year at Coleytown, today welcomes new kindergarten student Nevaeh Grant. Sirowich said there are 61 new kindergartners at Coleytown this year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/31/17 08:41 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

A Greens Farms Warm Welcome

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Greens Farms Elementary School Principal Kevin Cazzetta welcomes students back to school today. He is starting his third year at Greens Farms where he was previously assistant principal for six years with two years in between as principal in Simsbury. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Photo Souvenirs

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Parents snap pictures today at Keyeser Road and Imperial Avenue as youngsters board a bus for the first day of school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Early Welcome From Senior Girls

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Staples High School senior girls were out early today to welcome fellow students on the first day of school. Pictured (l-r) Alexa Moro, Dara Kissel, Avery Mendillo, Meghan Johnson. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/31/17 07:10 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, August 28, 2017

Palmer: Enrollment Down Slightly, Preschool to Open at Staples in January

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said tonight Westport schools will open Thursday with slightly fewer students than last year. 

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Colleen Palmer: “Active, vibrant preschool” set. Dave Matlow / WN file photo

She also announced the January opening of the Little Wrecker Preschool at Staples High School as well as the selection of the 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Addressing the year’s first Board of Education meeting, Palmer said kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment stands at 5,528, down 32 students from last fall as expected by demographic projections.

She also broke news that the Little Wreckers Preschool will open at Staples in January. It will be open daily from 7 a.m. “until the last teacher meeting in the afternoon,” Palmer said.

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08/28/17 11:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

BOE Gives Back Unspent $390K to Town

By James Lomuscio

In its first meeting of the 2017-18 academic year, Westport’s Board of Education tonight voted 5 to 1 to give back $390,000 of its unspent funds to the town and to put $327,075 of its unused money into its carryover account.

The return was requested by Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer as “an act of good faith” to the town. She said it would help to build a strong partnership with the town, which had shown the school system support by providing the money at the end of the school year.

Her request was met with some resistance.

“I think we should put it all in the carryover account,” said Mark Mathias, calling the account “a mitigating tool for uncertainty,

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Bedford Middle School Teacher Named 2018 Teacher of Year

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Courtney Ruggiero, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Bedford Middle School, is Westport’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Her selection was made public at a staff convocation earlier today and was announced tonight by Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer at a Board of Education meeting. Ruggiero, 32, has taught at Bedford since 2009. A 2003 graduate of Bates College, she earned a Master’s at Brown University and a sixth year degree at Sacred Heart University. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Malloy Would Reduce, Dramatically Redistribute School Aid in October

Keith M. Phaneuf and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would reduce grants to school districts by 28 percent in October — if no state budget has been adopted —  and would dramatically shift funding away from wealthy and middle-income communities and into poorer ones.

Absent a new two-year budget, the governor’s plan would eliminate Education Cost Sharing funding entirely for 85 school districts [Westport would be cut from $465,334 to zero] and reduce funding somewhat for another 54. Grants to the 30 lowest-performing school systems, also known as Alliance Districts, would remain unchanged.

The governor, who released an updated plan today for running state finances by executive order, also announced he is in the process of restoring $40 million out of $100 million in reductions made since July 1 to private, nonprofit social services.

Malloy affirmed an earlier warning that hundreds of millions of dollars in non-education grants won’t be released this fall unless the General Assembly adopts a new budget for this fiscal year and next.

Click HERE for more of story

08/18/17 06:53 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Staples Scores No. 5 in Newly Released SAT Scores

UPDATE The state Department of Education today released statewide SAT scores and Westport’s Staples High School came in No. 5 behind Darien, Weston, New Canaan, and Wilton.

Just over 40,000 students took the SAT in the school year that just ended – a 96 percent participation rate among high school juniors.

The results showed Staples students scoring an average 616 out of 800 on the English Language Art portion and 609 on the math, both improvements over the previous year when the scores were 598 and 599 respectively.

The state said 92.4 percent of Staples students met or exceeded requirements in English and 78.3 in math to be college ready or start a career. These were also improvements over the previous year when the results were 90.8 and 75.5 respectively.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Staples Delegation in Singapore for Young Leaders Summit

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The Staples High School delegation is in Singapore for the Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit. For the past five years, Westport has been invited to send three juniors who are both high performing students and interested in world affairs with a special interest in Asia. This year’s delegation includes (l-r) English teacher Sammy Ginzberg, students Jessica Xu, Marshall Heiser, and Jackson Delgado, and Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer. They will spend the next week meeting educators and student leaders from all over the world.  Contributed photo

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Students Tell Staples Grads ‘Be Yourself,’ ‘Help Each Other’

By James Lomuscio

The two student speakers at Staples High School 130th commencement exercises today seemed polar opposites when discussing their academic experiences over the past four years. Yet upon closer examination, their themes could not have been more in sync.

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Staples valedictorian Emily Hope Schussheim talked of her love of elephants. She will attend Yale in the fall.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Megan Patricia Hines was first to speak to the 428 graduating seniors in the Staples Field House before an estimated 4,000 parents, relatives and friends. The first class speaker in a Staples graduation ceremony, her slot was an honor innovation by first year Staples Principal James D’Amico.

Megan, who will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall, gave an upbeat and bubbly overview of Staples, despite putting all of her struggles on the table. Megan came right out saying that unlike others, she never took an AP or honors class.

She also spoke about the stress of trying to keep up with high academic expectations around her and the depression that followed during the spring of junior year. 

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Gallery: Staples High School Class of 2017 Graduation


Scenes from today’s Staples High School Class of 2017 graduation ceremony. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Leading the Procession

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Staples High School Music Director Nick Mariconda carried the scepter at today’s Staples graduation ceremony as the senior faculty member.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gallery: Baccalaureate Ceremony for Staples Class of 2017


Scenes from tonight’s baccalaureate ceremony for the Staples High School Class of 2017, Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Cameo Appearance

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Former Staples High School Principal John Dodig had a role in the Class of 2017’s “Car Pool Karaoke” shown at the end of the baccalaureate ceremony tonight.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/21/17 09:33 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Salutatorian: ‘Compete and Live Fully’

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Staples High School salutatorian Christopher Scherban told 2017 classmates tonight that on his move to Westport in the 10th grade he heard from other students of a Staples culture of competition. He said he soon adapted by being an “extremist competitor” but not in the usual way. He learned at Staples, competition does not fracture, “it is the very thing that draws us together,’ he said. “You learn to compete with yourself,” His advice to classmates: “Your time is running out. Stop wasting it fretting about brands and branding, cults and clothing, There is no room for half measures and nor will there ever be. Go out to your colleges and to your universities and live deliberately. Enjoy yourself. Most importantly, compete and live fully.” Christopher will attend Georgia Tech in the fall.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/21/17 09:28 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Full House for Baccalaureate Ceremony

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It was a full house tonight at the Staples High School auditorium for the Class of 2017 baccalaureate ceremony. Graduation takes place at 2 p.m. Thursday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/21/17 09:23 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, June 15, 2017

History Trail Leads to Washington, D.C.

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Five eighth grade students at Bedford Middle School are returning to Westport today after four days in Washington, D.C., where they participated in the finals of the National History Day competition. They advanced to the finals after winning at the Fairfield County and state level. While they did not win at the nationals, they enjoyed a whirlwind experience in the nation’s capital representing Connecticut, including meetings with U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal. Pictured on a visit to the U.S. Senate are (l-r) Anna Hill, Daniel Rosenkranz, Preston Rainey, Konur Nordberg, and Justin Lessing. All are 14 except for Daniel, who is 13. For their entry, they created an exhibit titled “Claudette Colvin: The Forgotten Match that Sparked the Civil Rights Movement.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Board Picks Maine Superintendent to Head Long Lots Elementary

By James Lomuscio

After a five-month search, Westport’s Board of Education tonight hired a Maine schools superintendent to serve as principal of Long Lots Elementary School effective July.1.

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Debra Dunn: from superintendent to principal. Contributed photo

Debra L. Dunn, schools superintendent of the York Public Schools, was hired by a vote of 6 to 0 with 1 abstention, as Michael Gordon, school board chairman, said he had not yet had the opportunity to interview her.

Dunn replaces Principal Jeffrey M. Golubchick, who had been placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” in February and whose contract expires June 30. Michael Cicchetti has since served as interim principal to finish out the school year.

“We feel the nominee we bring forward is the right person at the right time,” said Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer.

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Letter: Thanks From the Superintendent

To the Editor:

Education and the pursuit of learning have been my lifelong profession. Last Friday night, at the Westport Pops Concert, I had an epiphany that dramatized and clarified our educational mission in Westport.

In its aftermath, I am still processing the profound impact that event had on me and on the entire audience.  Beyond the exquisite music performed, the evening sent powerful messages to our students. 

They were told that their music is cherished, their hard work to perfect their talent is honored, and with such distinguished guest host, James Naughton and Lincoln Center’s Andrew Wilk as their guest conductor, they were told that they could be anything they wished to be.  This evening under the stars taught each one of them that the stars are reachable.

Too few students in public education are afforded such extraordinary pathways to success. To everyone who contributed to this extraordinary evening, I extend the gratitude of the Westport Board of Education and our entire district. 

Colleen Palmer
Westport Superintendent of Schools

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Drone View of Staples Pops Concert

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A drone view of tonight’s Levitt Pavilion Staples High School pops concert (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Still frame from Brandon Malin video

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

All Smiles at Graduation

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Greens Farms Academy graduating senior Miles Feuer of Westport celebrates today after receiving his diploma. GFA’s commencement ceremony featured 83 graduates from 15 communities in New York and Connecticut. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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