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Hastings Welcomes Back its Teachers, Administrators and Staff on Superintendent's Conference Day

Hastings welcomed back its teachers, administrators and staff on Wednesday, August 28, day one of two Superintendent’s Conference Days, to kick-off the 2019-2020 school year. It began with everyone rocking and rolling to the song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” by Fleetwood Mac, performed by the Hastings Music Teachers and student Simon Levine.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Valerie Henning-Piedmonte then addressed the enthusiastic crowd in the high school auditorium saying they were an awesome group and was happy to be a part of the team. She thanked the Board of Education for the opportunity to be here in Hastings.

A number of guests welcomed the group which included . . . . Board of Education President Doug Sundheim, who said he hoped everyone had a wonderful summer and that they were able to spend quality time with their families and friends. On behalf of the Board, he thanked those in attendance for their commitment to education, work on curriculum over the summer, and bringing learning to life and life to learning for the children of Hastings. He thanked the teachers and staff for helping students learn to be civic-minded and preparing them for a global future, one in which technology and social-emotional health and well-being will play a vital role. He stated the Board is committed to supporting the professional development of everyone in the room. And, the Board appreciates all they do - both what the public can see and what they can’t see that is done behind the scenes.

Other speakers included Board of Education Vice President Lauren Berman, who reflected on her first day as a teacher, and the inspirational words an experienced educator gave her that inspired and helped her in getting through her first year. Co-Presidents Barron Lerner and Hillari Freireich of the Hastings Education Foundation reminded teachers and staff about the grants they dispersed last year which totaled more than $80,000. Three specific requests that were funded include a rock climbing wall at Hillside Elementary School; a speaker series focused on the issue of race at Farragut Middle School; and a new media lab and sewing machines at Hastings High School. The PTSA’s Co-President Anne Cunningham proudly announced that they are funding the cost of buses for every grade to go on a field trip this year. They will also support, along with SEPTA, any staff that would like to get extra training that supports all learners. The SEPTA Board representative and Vice President at Farragut Middle School, Rhiannon Platt, announced that they have begun recognizing two graduating students with awards: SEPTA Future Leader Award and the SEPTA Future Teacher Award. Next on the morning’s agenda was the introduction of 18 new teachers/staff members in the district by the Principals and Director of Special Education; and, the recognition of professionals, who have dedicated themselves to educating the children of Hastings for 25 years, with Longevity Awards: Rosanne Cirasella, Hillside Elementary School 

Teacher; Patricia Desouza, Hillside Elementary School Teacher’s Aide, and Christine Geller, Hastings High School Mathematics Teacher. These remarks were followed by welcomes from district administrators, leaders, and the district’s bargaining units.

At the conclusion of the morning and a special activity, Dr. Henning-Piedmonte reminded everyone after Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Melissa Szymanski, District Treasurer Maureen Caraballo, and she herself talked about their lives, that our life stories are important. They are what connect us, they are important to our humanity. She also shared a favorite quote from her high school Latin Teacher, “Timendi causa est nescire.,” which means, “Ignorance is the cause of fear.” She used this as a reminder that what we say to children matters and can stick with them for a lifetime.