October Message from Superintendent

October 27, 2017
Greetings to Pine-Richland Students, Parents & Community,
We have reached the end of the first nine weeks. At this time, teachers are finalizing grades and also preparing for the parent conferences next week. We believe that scheduling almost two days for face-to-face meetings is a critical part of pursuing our mission. It allows the opportunity to focus on one child at a time and review achievement and growth. In addition, the conferences allow a brief discussion of student engagement in the school and classroom along with the attributes of learning that are so important. Thank you in advance - to staff and parents - for engaging in this process.Rainbow
This picture was taken earlier this week. It serves as a perfect introduction to the celebration of two staff accomplishments at Eden Hall. Mr. Steve Smith, Eden Hall Principal, recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he was recognized as the 2017 National Distinguished Principal for Pennsylvania. This is a tremendous honor for Mr. Smith, his family, the Eden Hall community, and the entire Pine-Richland School District. In addition, Eden Hall Upper Elementary School Teacher Mary Anne Sanders was named 2017 Girls on the Run Western PA Coach of the Year. She was recognized for her impact as a positive role model for students. As we read in the annual report each summer, students and staff at all levels and buildings are earning recognition for various accomplishments.

The fall sports season is transitioning into the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs. It has been a remarkable year for each and every male and female team. Please check out the PRSD athletics website and consider attending an upcoming game.If you prefer theatre, the Pine-Richland High School Thespians will perform "Alice in Wonderland," and the high school theater students will perform a "Christmas Carol." Both productions take place in November. 
In the next month, we have two School Board Committee meetings scheduled to discuss various strategic topics. Tentative agenda items include:
  • Joint Finance / Buildings & Grounds Committee - November 13th at 6:00 p.m. - Capital Funding Plan; Project Updates; and Print/Copy Services. 
  • Academic Achievement Committee - November 20th at 6:00 p.m. - An overview of the annual Academic Achievement and Growth Report will be presented. It contains an analysis of standardized test results, such as the PSSAs, Keystone Exams, SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement. Growth measures will also be reviewed.

The Academic Achievement and Growth report gives us the opportunity to evaluate academic results. In a slight modification of language, I am asking our staff “How do we focus on academic learning for every student every day?” From the school perspective, there is a balance between the individual teachers and the academic system.  The individual teachers and para-educators provide the knowledge, skill, and passion. The academic system can be understood through the three pictures in this image and further described by the words on the left and examples on the right.

Academic System

Finally, I will briefly introduce the topic of school start times via this update. Specifically, the start times for older adolescents has been the subject of research for many years. Via this link, you can access the overview presentation recently discussed at a Student Services Committee meeting. There are embedded links to research articles about this topic. I would recommend the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement and the Phi Delta Kappan article. For now, we are at the beginning stages of analyzing the feasibility of potential options. The first option is a “shift all times back” approach. We will review specific logistical details and implications. When this first concept is ready for review and comment, we will create a forum for input. This forum will also include an overview of the rationale for studying this topic.

Thank you again for your support and engagement in the Pine-Richland School District. We look forward to seeing you at the many activities and events.

Brian Miller