•  October 30, 2018

    Greetings, Tenafly Families,

    I hope this finds you well and enjoying the colors and temperatures of the autumn season.  In our schools, temperatures remain high as students continue to read, research, explore, compute and create.  Thanks, too, to our HSAs for supplementing students’ learning by bringing educational, fun assemblies and activities to our schools designed to inspire creativity and confidence, as well as foster school communities that cultivate kindness and compassion.

    Special thanks are also extended to Englewood Health, the OCAY Coalition, Suzanne Bassett (Assistant to the Superintendent for Special Education), Principal Morrison, Principal Fabbo and all those who attended the district’s presentation of “ANGST.”  This film was shared with faculty/staff on October 22 and with parents/students of grades 6-12 on the evening of October 23rd.  The response was overwhelming . . . over 300 were in attendance to the parent/student event.  The commentary shared by staff, students, and parents alike has been most positive.  Along with enhancing our district resources for students’ mental health and wellness, we are excited to be opening up pathways for conversation and consideration of stress and anxiety in order to help with its prevention and relief through healthy habits.

    A vast portion of evenings in October were spent interviewing candidates for our new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction position.   This process was challenging, as many with experience in the responsibilities associated with this position were in our candidate pool, each offering unique qualities, skills and knowledge.

     I am extremely excited and eager about the candidate selected, recommended to and approved by the Board as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in the Tenafly Public Schools.  Dr. Evelyn Mamman is practiced, professional, polite and PASSIONATE about children, education and leadership.  Her current role places her well within the realm of responsibilities associated with this position.  It is expected that Dr. Mamman’s leadership and curricular contributions will be critical to Tenafly’s continued quest to keep rising in new, innovative and exciting ways. 

    Finally, and with sincere sadness, we address the recent tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where lives were abruptly and inexplicably lost in a horrid event resulting from intolerance, hate and violence.  These 11 lives were lost during the practice of faith in a place of togetherness that was intended to provide peace and tranquility on the Sabbath –  the one day meant to offer quiet and calm amidst the typical noise of the week’s other 6 days.

    As individuals and as a community, let us honor those who lost their lives and to their loved ones who remain in mourning.

    Let us be mindful less of the deficiencies and more of the “wonderful” that is happening in our schools, within the community of Tenafly, and in our own lives. 

    Let us be mindful of the lessons we model to our children, day in and day out, through our actions, our choices, and our responses to others. 

    Let us be mindful of our differences and celebrate our freedom to express our opinions and practice our beliefs without fear and without inhibition, and in ways that do not suggest fear, judgement or intimidation to those whose opinions may conflict with our own.

    The teaching and learning of tolerance, compassion, care and kindness cannot be truly measured in metrics, nor can the education of such behavior be contained to classrooms alone.  As parents, community members, and figures in the presence of children, we must commit ourselves to serving as educators in these significant areas through our daily actions and words. 

    We must model what we intend for our children to practice, knowing that they will more likely take notice when we don’t practice kindness and compassion more so than when we do.  Therefore, we must be conscious to NOT give them the opportunity to catch us doing something unkind, uncaring, or intolerant of others.  

    It is in moments like these that the words of Regina Brett resound most loudly:  “If we all threw our problems in a pile with everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

    Thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh . . . and wishes for a little more light, and a lot less heat, in our world moving forward.

    Shauna C. DeMarco
    Tenafly Public Schools