Faculty and staff return for start of 2023-24 school year

Bethlehem Central School District faculty and staff officially began the 2023-24 school year Tuesday as they settled into classrooms and buildings across the district ahead of students who will return to school on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The day included opening remarks from Superintendent Jody Monroe and a warm welcome from Board of Education president Holly Dellenbaugh.

In her morning remarks to hundreds of instructional and support staff, Superintendent Monroe emphasized that a healthy school environment is strengthened when “each of us allows students and colleagues to get to know us a little better.”

“Keep in mind that for students, school connectedness is the belief that adults – not just teachers, but all of the adults they see during the school day — care about their learning and that they also care about them as individuals,”  Monroe told faculty and staff. “Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that young people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors throughout their lives and succeed academically when they feel connected to school.”

Monroe stuck to her own tradition of building school connectedness for employees, too. Each year, Monroe shares a new story from her childhood to help employees get to know her better. This year, she kept the audience laughing by revealing her childhood hero, Wonder Woman, as inspiration for the year ahead.

View a photo album of Staff Opening Day on the district’s Facebook page.

“Our core values of academics, character, community and wellness are actually reflected in her story,” said Monroe. “Though her character was introduced in the 1930s, it’s not hard to imagine Wonder Woman being a champion for students who are at increased risk for feeling alienated or isolated from others.”

Superintendent Monroe said finding ways to support all students is integral to the district’s three goals for the 2023-24 school year. The goals and a series of action steps within the areas of academics, character, community and wellness will be an important foundation for the new year. she said.

The goals include:

  • Cultivating culturally responsive faculty, staff, and administration;
  • Increasing academic rigor and accountability while also maximizing student social-emotional growth and mental & physical health; and
  • Increasing community engagement.

As always, part of the opening presentation was used to introduce new employees to the district and to celebrate employee milestones.

Employee Milestones

25 Years

three people pose for photo, one holds certificate

  • Cheryl Hannigan, Aide to Students with Disabilities at Hamagrael (pictured center, with Board President Holly Dellenbaugh (l) and Superintendent Jody Monroe(r))

30 Years

three people pose for photo

  • Kimberly Irwin, Special Education Teacher at BCMS (pictured center, with Board President Holly Dellenbaugh (l) and Superintendent Jody Monroe(r))

Superintendent Monroe thanked staff members who worked all summer to prepare for the new school year, giving a special shout-out to the Operations and Maintenance team that starts preparing for the new year at the end of June. 

    “The start of a new school year is filled with endless possibilities. We are embarking on a journey similar to the pages of a comic book, where ordinary individuals can transform into extraordinary beings; and the unexpected can happen,” said Monroe. “In each of you, the unique abilities you bring to your profession every day can have a profound impact in our classrooms, on our school buses, in our hallways and cafeterias.

    “My work this year is to make sure you feel supported so you can help our students thrive,” said Monroe.

    District administrators hosted a cookout at the high school for instructional and support staff from across the district. Superintendent Monroe, Deputy Superintendent Dr. David Hurst and other members of the administrative team shared grill duties, cooking hundreds of burgers (veggie and beef) and hot dogs for the crowd.

    Thank you to our Food Services team for its help in making the kick-off barbeque possible.