main content starts here

Staff Opening Day 2020-21

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on September 1, 2020

two teacher wearing masks

Bethlehem Central School District teachers and many staff members officially began the 2020-21 school year Tuesday as they became reacquainted with the classrooms and buildings they left behind in March when schools were closed due to COVID-19.

Preparing for the return of students both in-person and online, teachers settled into classrooms that have been transformed to maximize social distancing, followed new well-marked pathways in the halls and reestablished connections with their colleagues that have been mostly confined to the now-familiar window grids of Zoom meetings.

While the annual first-day breakfast was postponed, the day included the traditional opening remarks from the superintendent and the Board of Education president. This year, however, the Opening Day message was live-streamed and delivered directly to staff. Staff also took part in online faculty meetings, annual union meetings and were offered technology training to assist in the delivery of remote instruction. Students in grades K through six are slated to attend school every day in 2020-21 while students in grades 7-12 will receive in-person instruction every other day and remote instruction every other day from home.

The district is also providing full remote instruction to students who have requested it. For younger students in grades K-5, this instruction will be provided by a dedicated group of teachers. Thirteen teachers, and an administrator, have been assigned to the district’s K-5 Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), serving more than 270 students. Older students in grades 6-12 who have chosen full remote learning will do so from home with daily instruction from their grade-level subject teachers, in combination with pre-recorded video lessons and self-guided instruction. Districtwide, 13% of BC students have chosen remote learning; 87% are expected to return for in-person instruction.

In her opening remarks, Superintendent Jody Monroe reassured staff that the 2020-21 reopening plan is built around health and safety. She outlined the most important shared responsibilities for staff in maintaining a safe environment: social distancing, the use of face masks and increased hand hygiene and cleaning practices.

She also sought to reassure teachers and support personnel of their proven abilities to deal with uncertainty and the challenges of the pandemic and highlighted the contributions they have made to the community since the pandemic began. 

“I am so grateful for just how much our faculty and staff have contributed to the BC community over the last several months,” said Monroe.

“In an amazing display of tenacity, innovation and hard work, you were able to pivot, to move like trained dancers, maintaining your balance while gravity tugged at you, pulling you in different directions,” she added. “With no advance warning, you entered a brave new world of Google Meets, Zoom rooms, mute, unmute, and more. It was grace under pressure and if you were sweating it out, it didn’t show.”

Superintendent Monroe also used her opening day remarks to announce that the district will be focusing on the work of its Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in 2020-21. The district, she said, will be making changes to English Language Arts and social studies curricula as they relate to Black history and the literature and writings of people of color.

“We will be continuing the work of our Equity Committee to help our schools be culturally responsive and proficient, improving the school climate for everyone,” said Monroe. “Both the English and Social Studies departments will be updating curriculum to better reflect the world we live in and to honor our students’ identities — as varied, rich and unique as they are. For faculty and staff, you will have access to resources and reading materials, curated by your colleagues, that can aid in difficult conversations regarding race and civil unrest.”

Monroe said she would be enlisting the help of all faculty and staff in addressing several difficult topics with students including gender discrimination and sexual harassment.  She said she has instructed the district’s Health & Physical Education and Counseling Departments to work together to embed lessons on harassment and consent for students in the early grades.

“We must work together to support our students — and one another — particularly those individuals who may be feeling alone, threatened or who might be marginalized. These are members of our BC community who we need to get to know better to ensure everyone feels that they are seen, heard and understood,” said Monroe.

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

Employee Milestones

Celebrating 35 years of service…

  • Donna Asprion – School Bus Driver, Transportation

    Celebrating 30 years of service…

    • Brian Carl – School Bus Driver, Transportation
    • Regina Marsh – Counseling Secretary, BCMS
    • Frederick Powers – Supervisor, Health & Physical Education
    • Robin Sarnacki – Special Education Teacher, SESS
    • Janice Siniski – Aide to Students with Disabilities, BCMS

    Celebrating 25 years of service…

    • Andrew Baker – Supervisor, English Language Arts
    • Nancy Davis – Elementary Teacher, Elsmere
    • Joanne Honeywell – Guidance Counselor, Glenmont
    • Kyle Meyer – Elementary Teacher, Hamagrael
    • Kevin Smith – Custodial Worker, BCHS
    • Jennifer Steil – Elementary RTI Teacher, Slingerlands

      Welcome New Employees

      • Gina Buswell – Speech Therapist, BCMS
      • Stephanie Cook – Social Studies Teacher, BCHS
      • Emily Corcione-Partak – Help Desk Technician, Districtwide
      • Emma Cremo – First Grade Teacher, Eagle
      • Evan Denning – Social Studies Teacher, BCHS
      • Lisa Dennison – Social Studies Teacher, BCMS
      • Danilyn Foreman – Elementary Teacher, Slingerlands
      • Sarah Genovese – Science Teacher, BCMS
      • Olga Grigoryeva – Noon Aide, Elsmere
      • Timothy Jeffreys – English Teacher, BCHS
      • Thomas Kearney – Science Teacher, BCMS
      • Sarah Laster – Virtual Learning, BCHS
      • Amy Krawiecki – Noon Aide, Glenmont
      • Lisa Maloney – Special Education Teacher, SESS
      • Melina Mitchell – RTI Reading Teacher, Slingerlands
      • Dorothea Osborn – Art Teacher, Elsmere/BCMS
      • Hannah Parker – Fourth Grade Teacher, Slingerlands
      • Mayur Patel – Social Studies Teacher, BCHS
      • Michael Rankin – Fourth Grade Teacher, Slingerlands
      • Kristen Reinhardt – Second Grade Teacher, Slingerlands
      • Laura Rosa – CSE Chair, BCHS
      • Lillierose Ruby-Eck – Music Teacher, Eagle/Glenmont/Hamagrael
      • Lauren Snider – Art Teacher, Slingerlands/Eagle
      • Katherine Suhr – Kindergarten Teacher, Elsmere
      • Al Vincent Watkins – Art Teacher, BCMS
      • Nicole Zacchio – Occupational Therapist, SESS
      • Katherine Zyniecki – Third Grade Teacher, Slingerlands

      Board of Education President Holly Dellenbaugh wrapped up the presentation with an enthusiastic show of support for instructional and support staff as they prepare for the new year.

      “We all know that this school year is going to bring unforeseen, unpredictable challenges but I strongly believe that if anybody can do this, we can,” said Dellenbaugh. “You have shown that you have the creativity, flexibility, dedication and patience that we need to meet the challenges that we face.

      “Things might not look or feel normal, but know that our students are excited to come back whether in person or online. They are eager to see teachers, staff, to reconnect with their friends and classmates and to rebuild their school community,” she said. “Each of you plays an integral part in making this happen. Thank you for the care you show them every day and for all you do to help them succeed.”