LapaTHON at East Pennsboro Preceeds High School MiniTHON
Susquehanna Twp. Students Help Others in Harrisburg
Welcome to the Susquehanna Township School District’s website. In addition to providing information for our parents and community members, our site contains material that may be of interest to prospective district residents.
Susquehanna Township School District embraces its diversity and benefits from community and business-partner relationships.
Our staff, administration and students embellish our tradition of a strong commitment to high academic expectations, cultural opportunities, athletic excellence, and fiscal responsibility.
When I addressed educators on their first day back-to-school and board members at the August school board meeting, I summarized important goals for the district and for me in the 2013-14 school year that include, but are not limited to, promoting high academic achievement, developing our schools within schools, addressing discipline district-wide and promoting effective communication.
Here are excerpts of my presentation:
It has been a busy summer in our district. A technology infrastructure that takes the district well into the future has been put into place. Landscaping around each building has been improved. Roofing and air conditioning/heat issues at several schools have been addressed, and new chain link fencing at several buildings has installed.
Classrooms have been moved out of the basement at the high school to address long-standing safety concerns. The media studio is in a more visible and central location. The industrial arts classroom is now directly vented, and machinery noise won’t affect other rooms in the building.
Classrooms for School of the Arts and the School of Engineering, Medicine and Health Sciences have been compartmentalized and are now in one wing of the high school. The high school’s administrative offices have been split to each end of the building. Guidance and attendance join several assistant principals in the former STEPS area. And at each building, inventorying to remove broken, outdated, and personal furniture has occurred.
All of this has happened in addition to the annual summer painting, waxing and repairing and for important reasons: safety, order, efficiency, accessibility, productivity and visibility. As professionals, we need to operate in an environment of professionalism.
We’ve done a lot of other things too. The procedure to move students in the hallways and cafeteria at the middle school has been redesigned to increase order. The student school day schedule and office hours have made more consistent. A high school schedule based on semesters rather than marking periods has been achieved where it makes sense to give students more in-depth experiences.
The assistant superintendents and building principals painstakingly wrestled with scheduling in June and July, and they made necessary changes that will better prepare our students for life in the 21st century.
The administrative team reviewed hundreds of resumes and conducted first and final interviews for new paraprofessionals, educators, guidance counselors, psychologists and assistant principals.
Many applicants came with dual certification, previous experience and advanced degrees. Many applicants shared with us that they lost their current jobs because of staff cuts and that there was great fiscal instability in their former districts. Many applicants were seeking their first jobs out of college and are trained in the latest technology, teaching and assessment techniques and Common Core content.
The individuals who were hired said that they were in search of a student-centric experience in a demographically diverse school district. We are proud to add these individuals to our team.
Our summer ended with a bang with the first-ever HANNA Community Carnival. It was a five-day family back-to-school event on the parking lot at the high school. Organized by the high school parent-teacher association, its goal was to raise money for student scholarships. The administrative goal in supporting the event was to encourage separate and seemingly disparate district-related organizations work together to help our students. The HANNA Foundation, alumni, boosters, parent-teacher groups and more all do good things for our students, but the current model of success for school districts is when there is a united front with unified goals.
What about the 2013-14 school year?
The School of the Arts at the high school enters its second year at the high school, and student enrollment has increased. The three strands of study – performing arts, visual arts, and fashion design – continue. New AP courses and university partnerships have been added. Some of last year’s artists-in-residence return, and some exciting and experienced professionals have been added to the roster. This year, students will exhibit and perform for the public several times during the school year as part of their assessment.
The School of Engineering, Medicine, and Health Sciences is new this year. Because of the emphasis placed on a comprehensive STEM approach – science, technology, engineering and math – and on exploration and preparation for 21st century careers, our district is leading the way with this second school within a school for our students.
We have partnered with universities and engineering firms, with physicians and professors, to provide rigorous projects-based course work. Students will spend time in a biofuels laboratory and medical simulation laboratory, for example, and be able to hear guest lecturers, research presentations and engage is small group discussions. Students in the medical strand will be published regularly in medical journals.
These specialized schools are building a bridge between high school and post-secondary education and the real world. These schools build on the passion, interest, and scholarly pursuit of students and are not only meant to stem the tide of charter and cyber schools that take tuition monies out of our district but also to be available for tuition-paying students who are not residing in our district.
A district-wide security and emergency procedures study is underway. We used to prepare for the big snowfall, but we must be now prepared if we need to take action because of, for instance, a chemical spill on Route 81, a problem at Three Mile Island, or a strong tropical storm that causes waterways to flood.
We are reviewing current plans for scenarios including, but not limited to, an evacuation of one school building to another, an evacuation of the entire district and, in reverse, potentially hosting students from another school district or serving as a disaster shelter. We’re coordinating with county and emergency management agencies in a plan and will engage parents and the community in the near future.
Related to curriculum, Restorative Practices enters its second year in our district, and new math curriculum – known as CPM or College Preparatory Math - is being introduced at the middle school. It builds on the Everyday Math curriculum now being taught at lower grades. World languages curriculum discussions and revisions are ongoing, and this year, Spanish is being taught in 4th grade.
With our proactive cyclical review of curriculum, teacher committee work is ready to start related to the science curriculum. Given the increased numbers of students taking and succeeding in AP courses, more courses are being offered. And on the assessment front, we must move the dial forward, continue our diligence with Keystone exams, and be prepared for new state performance profiles.
Our volunteer program continues this year but with a clearer mandate. We have a volunteer coordinator who can respond with eager and sincere volunteer workers for most particular needs in a classroom or building whether for a short-term or a long-term commitment.
We must be sure for the safety and security of our students that volunteers are supervised and that their time spent with students is documented for academic credibility. Volunteers go through a comprehensive screening and orientation, and we want their involvement and educator involvement, to be of value our young people.
Our mission statement says: Susquehanna Twp. School District, serving a diverse community, strives to provide all students varied educational opportunities in a safe environment enabling them to develop into productive, responsible citizens and lifelong learners. Our vision is striving for a superior education for all students.
This is a school district of nearly 3,000 students. About 30 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged. Our minority population represents almost half of our student body. While the boundaries of our township and, therefore, our school district, have remained unchanged for years and years, the data and statistics related to our district has changed. The traditions that once were the bedrock of this district are not enough to respond to the educational realities of this year and the future.
Here’s our reality for the 2013-14 school year: We need to remain student-centered. We must continue to be fiscally responsible. Our classrooms must extol academic rigor. Our students must be ready for world and, if they wish to, gain entrance to the best schools of higher learning in the nation.
The instructional conversation must stress collaboration, flexibility and how teaching practices need to continue to change and evolve. Classroom management is paramount. Discipline is everyone’s responsibility.
Professionalism and a can do, positive attitude will win the day. We are models for our students, parents and community. We are a customer service entity. Students, parents, and township residents are our customers, and we must serve them well. If we don’t serve them well, there’s an independent, charter, cyber or homeschool around the bend.
We are all accountable. From academic rigor to professional demeanor - the way we look and act and the environment and appearance of our schools – there’s objective accountability.
This is my 39th year in education. I’ve enjoyed being a teacher, an elementary principal, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and am soon to enter my fourth year as a superintendent. With a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a doctorate, education is my profession and my passion.
This is probably the most interesting and challenging time to be in education since I started my career. Education now mirrors the same turbulence and change found in the rest of the world, nation, state and even our own personal lives.
We have a strong network of skills and abilities here and that includes our maintenance people, cafeteria workers, administrative assistants, librarians, teachers of the gifted, artists/scientists in residence, paraprofessionals, psychologists, our county partners with alternative education, special education teachers, building principals and assistant principals, technology team, communications office, business and human resources offices, coaches, volunteers, educators in all subject areas, club advisers and more.
Let’s put our heads and hearts together for a solid school year. We know we can make a difference, so let’s do it.
Please feel free to utilize the contact information you find on our website and on our printed district calendar to offer suggestions or have inquiries about our district. We welcome visitors that wish to see us in action at any one of our schools. We simply ask that you contact us first to set up an appointment to visit.
Dr. Susan M. Kegerise
Superintendent of Schools
Goal I: Promote high academic achievement.
Action steps: Seek board approval for evaluative administrative rubric. Evaluate administrators by documenting growth through action plans, based on specific goals and approved rubric. Share administrative evaluations with executive committee of the board, for purposes of salary recommendations. Present, to the board on a bi-monthly basis, a brief analysis of a strategic plan category.
Goal II: Develop Susquehanna Twp. School District School of Medicine, Health Sciences and Engineering and expand Susquehanna Twp. School District School of the Arts for the 2013-14 school year.
Action steps: Expand School of the Arts courses from one-half day periods to full day periods. Increase AP courses in the School of the Arts. Provide seminars for students and parents on a quarterly basis related to the Susquehanna Twp. School District School of Medicine, Health Sciences and Engineering. Develop a promotional video and pamphlet; utilize web space and local media in relation to the School of the Arts and the School of Medicine, Health Sciences and Engineering. Meet with community businesses in order to increase partnerships for both School of the Arts and Medicine, Health Sciences and Engineering schools.
Goal III: Address discipline within all district schools.
Action steps: Provide a minimum of two trainings per year to all building administrators, in relation to adjudication hearing documentation. Meet with parents of elementary and secondary students a minimum of two times a year each, and include discipline as an agenda item. Provide to the board, a monthly summary of all major discipline issues. Communicate major discipline events to the board (and community when appropriate) as soon as possible utilizing email, Board Docs, Connect Ed. or media releases.
Goal IV: (Promote) effective communications.
Action steps: Update website on a consistent basis. Develop a newsletter to be distributed throughout the community a minimum of three times a year. Provide monthly updated information to the township commissioners through attendance at township meetings, phone calls or written information. Work with Communications Director to reconstruct Susquehanna Twp. School District business partnerships. Meet with HANNA Foundation, business partners and alumni in order to promote positive community relations. Present a superintendent’s report at each monthly board meeting.