For parents and community members who were interested in more extensive information on the three Westchester schools chosen for national Blue Ribbon status, here are some details from the principals of the schools.
From Margaret Longabucco, principal of Rye Neck’s F.E. Bellows Elementary School:
“We were nominated by the New York State Education Department based on fourth-grade English Language Arts and math tests from years 2003-04 to 2007-08,” she said. “The scores had to be in the top 10 percent in New York State each of those five years. No only (general) students, but all the subgroups: racial/ethnic, free and reduced (lunch program), gender, special needs.
“Along with that we submitted a very extension narrative that responded to questions about and a summary of what’s Bellows School all about: our assessment results — how we use them to deliver instruction, communicate to our community, how we share our success with other school districts and colleagues … curriculum and different curricular areas and how we address them specifically … for social studies curriculum we do a lot of hands-on and extended activities with the curriculum … we talked about our institutional methods, professional development and school leadership.”
From Danielle Marrow, principal of Mount Vernon’s Pennington School:
“Our students have excelled in English language arts, math and science. It’s a credit to the community, teachers, parents and students,” she said. “Our students and our teachers work so very hard to achieve and all of the students at our school were made to feel they could do well if they gave it their all and they did, and staff members were willing to go above and beyond. I’m so very proud of all they’ve accomplished.
“We’re a good school because we focus on excellence, covering all the core areas … we revamped our literacy block where the children work on reading, writing, speaking and listening to 120 minutes … the teachers are team-teaching and the reading teachers are pushing into the classroom, pulling (struggling students) out and modeling strategies. … We’re a diverse school … with a dynamic educational approach, and it’s for that reason our students are excelling academically.”
Schools Superintendent W.L. “Tony” Sawyer congratulates Pennington principal Danielle Marrow during a schoolwide celebration of the Blue Ribbon designation held outside the school Friday.
Photo courtesy of Desiree Grand/Mount Vernon City School District
From Theresa Sullivan, principal of Eastchester’s Greenvale School:
“Our district on the whole is in the forefront of technology and our teachers receive weekly training in areas of technology they can apply in their classes. Technology and core subject areas help to motivate students and challenge and make learning much more interesting and fun,” she said. “Take our new math program and the teachers work collaboratively to integrate the math program with the technology. … Technology has played a really impportant role in supporting students. Every classroom has a Smart Board — every room where students would be learning … would have access to it.”
“There’s training and staff development and technical support — you can’t just throw a piece of technology in a classroom and say ‘use it.’ We also have a technology facilitator as well as a technology trainer who works with teachers. … We have inclusion in our classrooms and collaborating teachers (for) additional support, in particular with core subjects like reading and writing. Teachers do collaborative planning … (for students) we tier their activities, used balanced literacy, screen and assess children regularly … to make sure they’re meeting the benchmarks. And there’s a good sense of spirit and wanting to be here.”