One of the important responsibilities a principal has is communication with all stakeholders in the development of a shared vision and mission for learning that is aligned with the district mission.
In an effort to fulfill that expectation, it is my goal to communicate on at least a quarterly basis with you through the Goshen High School website so that you are aware of and can share in the development of the overall high school program as it continuously evolves.
As we enter the beginning of this new school year, I am most excited to be starting my first full year at Goshen High School. If you recall, I arrived in January of 2016. Over time, I have had the pleasure to meet with many of you. Often we have met on the occasion of celebrations like our Goshen Greats breakfasts or at awards assemblies or at our wonderful student performances. Sometimes, we have met to address concerns we have and to problem-solve together. While it is still only a matter of seven months since I started, I truly believe that I am blessed to be a part of this school community.
You may also recall, however, that my initial communications with parents as stakeholders regarded some unfortunate and startling rumors of violence at Goshen High School. I am proud of how our entire school community– from students, to teachers, to parents and the Goshen Village Police Department– met those initial challenges we confronted in January.
Those events, however critical they were to my first mission of ensuring school safety, did distract me from sharing with you my fundamental beliefs about our role as educators in a school community. I would like to take this opportunity to share those beliefs with you now.
- I believe all children can learn.
- I believe all children are entitled to a welcoming, safe and caring school environment.
- I believe all children learn best when schools transform themselves into professional learning communities that are focused on student learning.
- I believe all children may have the right to fail but schools have an obligation to make it difficult for them to do so.
Over the summer, with assistance from a number of people including my Assistant Principals, Mrs. Lercara and Mr. Voloshin, we reviewed and streamlined our emergency protocols as recommended by the New York State Education Department. This year, based on new guidelines set forth by the State Education Department, we will conduct a minimum of four lockdown drills. This initiative makes sense– it helps us to determine how best to keep our children and our staff safe. And when children feel safe, they are better able to learn.
Additionally, one of the goals I have set for myself and the faculty this year will be to review our Response to Intervention program to determine if there are additional protocols we can add that will support our students should they struggle academically or behaviorally. I believe that if Goshen High School responds to struggling students with a systemic approach– that includes parent-guardian intervention– that we can assist students better in achieving academic success.
On a related note, Goshen High School will be introducing a new academic guideline for athletic participation. Details will be posted on the Athletics web page shortly. The goal of the team of teacher/coaches who worked on this guideline is best summarized thusly: to support students so that they are able to be and remain engaged in school; to ensure that we hold students accountable and simultaneously support them so that they are academically successful.
Finally, on October 6, our Guidance Department will be hosting Goshen High School’s first College Fair. The counselors have been hard at work recruiting admissions representatives from nearly 100 colleges and universities to participate in this event. Our goal is to present seniors and juniors– and their parents and guardians– with an opportunity to meet with prospective colleges and learn about the academic, extracurricular and residential life experiences and opportunities these schools have to offer in a convenient format. While October 6 is a regular school attendance day, we will administer a modified bell schedule that will provide our juniors and seniors with an opportunity to hear from a panel of admissions officers about how to plan their college selection process. More details will be posted to the Guidance Department webpage on the Goshen High School website.
I believe that you will find that these initiatives– the review of our safety protocols, the review of our Response to Intervention protocols and the revision of our athletic eligibility guidelines– are in line with the educational philosophy I outlined above. The central tenet of that philosophy is that all children can learn. I believe that tenet to be at the heart of each of these initiatives undertaken this summer and this coming school year. Our aim in presenting the Goshen High School College Fair is to better prepare our students and their parents to bridge the transition from secondary to postsecondary educational life.
It is my intention, over the coming weeks and months, to establish regular opportunities for me to dialogue with parents and guardians about the overall program at Goshen Central High School. In the interim, please know that you are welcome to contact me by e-mail, phone or arrange an appointment to meet with me to discuss any concerns or ideas you may have.
Robert McKiernan, Principal