February 2021
From the Superintendent

Dear Pawling:

There are so many moments from this year that I wish everyone could have experienced. Some of these include laughter during a virtual meeting of the Pawling High School Drama Club, the different voices Ms. Turselli used reading The Penguin Finds a Hotdog, a story-in-the-round created by PCSD administrators celebrating the journey we have taken this year for World Read-Aloud Day, a parent of a high school student with disabilities sharing how supportive the district has been this year, and a morning serenade by middle school guitar students.

What a lifetime this year has been! With the steadfast support of the Board of Education volunteers, parents, teachers, students, and the entire Pawling community, we have accomplished so much under unpredictable and always-changing circumstances. We still have a lot of the year left and big plans for all our remaining 2021 school days.

I recommend that all middle and high school students watch the PHS Clubs Commercial (below) put together by the Art and Drama Clubs to see the wide variety of active clubs at the high school and ways to get involved at PHS beyond the classroom.

For Valentine's Day, Pawling Middle asked What Fills Your Heart? or ¿Qué Llena Su Corazón? The photographs of students pursuing their passions, and the strength of their bonds to friends and family, human and otherwise, are heart-warming. We’ve made a collage of photos from 2021 that fill our hearts, including many from a couple of old-fashioned snow days.

Finally, PCSD is hiring. Many of our best employees come from within the community. Since January, we have hired 10 new employees. Please visit our website to see openings on how to join our team.

Stay warm and stay well.

Kim Fontana, Superintendent of Schools

Focus on Learning
What Fills Your Heart? ¿Qué Llena Su Corazón?
Playing in the snow! Our pets! Our families and friends! Babies! Playing outside! Making art! Reading aloud! The first ski race! The Middle School Yearbook Club celebrated Valentine’s Day by asking students what filled their hearts. We’ve expanded that for a district-wide photo album of great moments from 2021.
Microwave Ovens, Doorbells, and Precalculus
How are a microwave oven and a Ring video doorbell related to the study of conjunctions and disjunctions in logic? High school precalculus students explored these connections during a recent activity involving circuits. Similar to the operation of a microwave which requires both the door to be closed and the start button to be pressed, students created a circuit that required two inputs to both be on in order for an LED to light. This was accomplished through the use of an “AND” logic gate (logical conjunction). Then, similar to the operation of a Ring video doorbell, which begins filming either when the doorbell is pressed or when it detects motion, students created a circuit where either of two inputs could be on in order for the LED to light. This was accomplished through the use of an “OR” logic gate (logical disjunction). Finally, students were challenged to interpret how logic statements such as (p V q) ∆ (r ∆ s) would translate to circuitry. Some students even created these more complex circuits.
Social Justice in the Classroom
Birmingham children singing for civil rights in 1963, slam poetry, words from the frontlines of the Black Lives Matter movement--Pawling Middle School students in Hannah Pitman’s fifth and sixth-grade music class and Alyssa Dulin’s seventh-grade English class are engaging with ideas of social justice and how music and other art forms give voice for change.

Ms. Pitman points out that recent photos from her classes look a lot like an English Language Arts or social studies class but emphasizes that her class is accessing literature and history through the lens of music. Her unit on social justice started with the Birmingham Children’s Movement, where Black youth choirs in Alabama sang and marched to demand civil rights. Her students listened to the music of the civil rights movement. They selected a song of choice from this era and conducted their own research based on criteria and resources from Learning for Justice.

Around Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, Pitman’s class discussed his and Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s ideas of peace, nonviolent social change, and brotherhood through freedom and protest songs from the civil rights movement. They read Trombone Shorty, a story of connection through music and leadership that inspires the idea of community through lifelong musicianship. Finally, Pitman’s students considered how music has served to propel, celebrate, and chronicle social change.

Alyssa Dulin’s seventh grade is also exploring issues of social justice by looking at contemporary concerns expressed through art and literature by artists of color, including slam poetry. Ms. Dulin’s students will consider: How can expression lead to catharsis? How do the authors express themselves? What are the issues being addressed? Why should we care?

The seventh graders will keep a journal through the six weeks. They will create their own poetry and art using techniques that they learned. Then, they will tackle a final group project, exploring a social justice theme meaningful to them.

Ms. Dulin designed this unit during curriculum camp this summer. Her plans deepened during conversations with Principal Megan Gleason and a course on Teaching for Equity, which she is taking with 14 district leaders (see side bar) to help understand complex topics of race, poverty, gender, and language in the classroom.

Principal Gleason praised both these units and the teachers’ efforts to bring ideas of Social Justice to the classroom. Ms. Gleason said, “The district’s first goal is to ‘continue to support a safe, welcoming, inclusive climate with a strong emphasis on anti-racism, anti-bias, anti-bullying character education.’ These lessons on social justice are one of many ways we are working to achieve the important goals of equity, compassion, and inclusion.”
What’s Different During Black History Month? 
Pawling Central School District has integrated lessons about Black history within the context of particular units of study across the school year. Therefore, Pawling High School ninth and 10th grade history teacher Simone Shook looks at Black History Month as an opportunity to go more deeply to specifically explore the important contributions of Black Americans. She created this Black History Month Facts of the Day slideshow from a variety of sources. One of the notable Black people the slideshow features is Frederick McKinley Jones, who invented a refrigerated system for trucks, which suddenly opened a global market for fresh produce and opened new frontiers in medicines with important implications for vaccines and the blood supply.

Ms. Shook started off Black History Month by playing the song “Lift Every Voice,” which is the unofficial Black anthem. “First of all it’s a beautiful song, but it also tells my own ‘uncomfortable history.” Shook, a native of Dublin, Ireland, had never heard the song until her first assembly in her first teaching job in an all African-American school in Baltimore, Maryland. “They said now it’s time to sing the anthem,” she says, so Shook was prepared to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but was surprised when the school played, “Lift Every Voice.” Shook tells this story to her students to share how she is also still learning about race and culture. An interesting conversation about the anthem ensued as many students had heard it at sporting events.
Juniors and seniors in Ms. Sharon Pritchard’s classes enjoyed a virtual field trip to the Bardavon Theater to see a powerful performance, Rhapsody in Black. This one-man performance by Leland Gantt (photo right) is a personal narrative of Gantt’s life-long contemplation of his blackness. Ms. Pritchard reported that “the show allowed students to address topics of race, which they may not have considered before.” She said, “follow-up classroom activities included curating scholarly articles that dive deeper into the issues brought up by the actor during his performance.”

Elementary and Middle School students also had daily discussions about different African American figures and their contributions to our society. Under the direction of Alicia Nace, the Middle School Student Council shared an interactive chart of many great resources that students can explore. “The idea,” reports Ms. Nace, “was to have a source for students each day to look up and learn something new to celebrate this month.”

Principal Jennifer Jacobs reports that elementary students are collaboratively creating tiles that depict important Black cultural figures. These tiles will be put together and turned into a banner of important figures. Art teacher Sara Paden’s students are making Black history-inspired art projects.
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Pawling Central School District Food Services is on Facebook. Subscribe to @PawlingCSDFoodService to learn what’s cooking.
World Read Aloud Day Spreads Smiles
Pawling Elementary Reading Specialist Jacqueline Turselli initially worried that back-to- back snow days might interfere with her plans for World Read Aloud Day on February 3. Would students remember to dress up? Would they bring their favorite books? Ms. Turselli marshaled the PTA and teachers’ Google calendars to remind parents and students to come costumed as their favorite character or dressed in cozy pajamas.

Students got the message and arrived in a wide variety of costumes and comfortable clothing. Assistant Principal Michelle Rivas dressed up as Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor to read the justice’s book: ¡Solo pregunta!: Sé Diferente, Sé Valiente, Sé Tú in Spanish (Translated as Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You). Superintendent Kim Fontana read Vice-President Kamala Harris’s children’s book, Superheroes Are Everywhere. Both of these readings were pre-recorded, making them accessible to both remote and in-person learners.

Ms. Turselli dressed up as Mo Willems’ Pigeon and read The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog! A second grader, Mason S., found her at dismissal and said; “I saw your pigeon. I love your voice.” Some students read to each other while others treated their favorite stuffed animals with stories.

Ms. Turselli said, “it was great to have a schoolwide activity to bring the whole building together and be happy.” She reports that she could “really see the smiles behind the masks.”

The international non-profit LitWorld founded World Read Aloud Day in 2010 to celebrate the power of reading aloud to create community, to amplify new stories, and to advocate for literacy as a foundational human right.” World Read Aloud Day has evolved into a global movement of millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all across the world coming together to honor the joy and power of reading and sharing stories, and continue expanding the definition and scope of global literacy.
Terrific Tigers
Join the Club, PHS!
Did the Superbowl LV commercials live up to the hype? Or, were you left feeling bored and disappointed? Or, did you skip the game altogether? Whatever your opinions on football and Superbowl ads, you have to watch this commercial the Art and Drama Clubs put together under the guidance of English Teacher Brian Ostyn to promote the wealth of clubs offered at Pawling High School. The commercial edited by PHS senior Robert Steckler, with senior Anna Seitz as the onscreen cowgirl, reminds students of all the benefits of joining clubs—friends, fun, and engagement!

Student Drama Club leader and member of the Art Club, Lauren Maiola, reports that both clubs have been meeting virtually once a week since the fall. “The Drama Club was a struggle at first because of COVID but we figured out how we could involve everyone.” Now, the senior officers meet with teachers Stacy Dumont and Hannah Pitman before each meeting to flesh out theater games and what they want to do. Maiolo reports the club has been able to incorporate students who would usually be offstage working the lights and costumes. Maiolo says that the Art Club has a different dynamic. She says that one of the fun activities this year was drawing cake for one of the members’ birthdays. Both clubs are a great way for members of all classes to interact and make new friends.

All PHS Club information including meeting times and advisor emails can be found here.
Making Soup from a Stone
The annual Stone Soup Community Fest went on in 2021!

Just as the hungry soldiers in the book The Legend of Stone Soup by Marcia Brown were not deterred from making soup by the villagers’ reticence to contribute, so too Pawling Central School District wasn’t deterred by COVID.

Stone Soup organizer Joan Roberts reports that a virtual Stone Soup Fest meant that district teachers and students had to be workshop leaders and students and parents the only participants because the Google Meets platform was the best way to ensure their internet safety. Mrs. Roberts “heroes” led workshops in cupcake decorating, dance, watercolor painting with Mrs. Paden and Ms. Crystal Waters, and the perennial favorite, Valentine’s Day cards with Mr. Brian Ostyn and Pawling High School Art Club members.

Bilingual PHS students Roberto Sosa, Brian Lopez, and Juan Castillo, recruited by teacher Mark Marmolejo, played an invaluable role in making this night accessible to our Spanish-speaking families. During Ms. Alicia Nace’s cupcake class, the students taught the workshop participants the colors in Spanish so they knew that Baby Yoda’s frosting was verde and the sunflower’s petals were amarillo.

After the workshops, Christ Church Nursery School Director Camille Ludington read The Legend of Stone Soup in English. Mr. Marmolejo did the Spanish translation. As each line was read in English, it was followed by the line read in Spanish. In this way, participants were able to easily follow the story and learn some Spanish words. Mrs. Roberts displayed the illustrations throughout the reading.

While no soup could be made, Mrs. Roberts shared a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup by fourth-grade teacher Diane O’Brien. Director of Food Services Lauren Collica contributed a recipe for a Vegan Zucchini Cashew Soup. Both delicious-sounding recipes and more information about the event can be found here.

Parents and students expressed their gratitude to Mrs. Roberts for keeping this 20-year district tradition alive. Here are some of the thank-yous she received.

“The kids and I are excited. Thank you for hosting this event. We absolutely love it!”
Laurie Richards

“So excited this is still happening this year!!!”
Carly, Madison & Andrew Lynch-McGuire

“This was fantastic! Thanks for organizing.” 
Jennifer Gendron

“Thank you for finding a way to celebrate!!!”
Jessica Wood-Kelley
Digital Backpack
The digital backpack is updated regularly with information from the schools and local community. You can find a link for it under the Parent tab of the homepage. It is also listed on the homepage with the date of the most recent update.
We Are Hiring!
The Pawling Central School District is a great place to work. We have positions open for full-time permanent building substitute teachers and custodial workers. We also have substitute positions open in many other job categories: certified teacher, uncertified teacher, teaching assistant, teacher aide, monitor, bus driver, and food service worker. We also have part-time positions open, such as school monitor. Full-time positions earn excellent benefits. As a team of educators, we never doubt that we are making a difference for our community. PCSD offers walk-throughs and orientations for those thinking about working in schools. Our very best employees are often people who live in our community. Diverse and bilingual candidates are encouraged to apply. See the link below to reach our friendly and helpful Human Resources Team.

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