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Update from Clarence CSD May 3, 2024

Update from Clarence CSD May 3, 2024

Dear Clarence School Family,

As schools across the country prepare to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), I'm reminded that "the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers." It's no accident that Clarence has been a "destination district" for years, and the days ahead give us all an opportunity to thank the educators who shape the academic lives of our students. Your words mean a lot, and I was hoping you might consider dropping your child’s teacher an affirming email, call, text, card, or social media post at some point next week. Our educators are, quite simply, the best in the business, and we are so fortunate that they have made Clarence their professional homes.

Math and ELA Supports Build a Solid Academic Foundation for Kids

Some of you may be familiar with “The Law of the Skyscraper.” Essentially, it means that when builders begin construction on skyscrapers, they don’t start by building up. Instead, they begin by digging down and creating a solid foundation upon which to build. By focusing on the excavation of soil, sand, bedrock, and clay, they are better able to reach incredible heights.

The same principle applies when it comes to school. For students to excel, it’s critical that they have a solid foundation of academic skills upon which to build. With concerns about learning gaps accelerated by the pandemic, we made a significant investment in how we support students at the elementary level. By adding additional staff members in the areas of reading and math, we have been able to give kids the focused, personalized assistance they need when they are struggling.

Because it’s important to “measure what matters,” you may be wondering: Is the investment paying dividends? Well, after reviewing two-years of screening data from all students in grades K-5, I’m pleased to share that we have seen significant gains in the number of students performing at or above grade level in both reading and math. The best part? In addition to overall performance increases of 10-15%, we have seen consistent double-digit jumps across all sub-groups (e.g. Students with Disabilities, English Language Learners, Economically Disadvantaged Students, etc.). This is really good news, and evidence that the changes our school community made are leading to improved outcomes for kids. 

Volunteer Recognition Dinner

This past Wednesday, we held our annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner to thank the organizations committed to enriching the educational experiences here in Clarence. Whether they are focused on fundraising or advocacy, organizing events, or expressing appreciation, the individuals being recognized embody what is possible when parents and educators work in partnership with one another.

In particular, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Siobhan Comeau on receiving the Jean Ellen Mayer Community Service Award. The honor is given each spring to a volunteer who recognizes the importance of service, and no one works harder than Siobhan to ensure our kids have world-class opportunities in Clarence. From her volunteer work at Ledgeview, to her current role as the High School PTO President, Siobhan consistently goes above and beyond to make our community a special place to live, work, learn, and play.

Mock Trial Team Heading to Regionals

The High School Mock Trial Team is on fire—and it’s not just because they are defending alleged arsonists! (My apologies for the poor attempt at legal levity. I promise to present a more compelling case in the future.)

Jurist jokes aside, for the first time since 2018, Mr. Ron DiNicolantonio and the High School Mock Trial Team are headed to the regional competition in Buffalo. The Mock Trial program encourages critical thinking, public speaking, and teamwork, and this year our Red Devils have been given a case involving an alleged arson for insurance scheme. Our Mock Trial team has put a ton of time into preparing for the event, and we wish them the best as they compete for an opportunity to appear at the State-level competition in Albany.

Mrs. Marissa DeVoe Receives “General Music Educator of the Year Award”

Please join me in congratulating Mrs. Marissa DeVoe on receiving the “General Music Educator of the Year Award” from Buffalo State University. A member of our Harris Hill faculty, Marissa is a teacher who fosters a true love of music for all her students. Whether she is teaching a music lesson, conducting a choral rehearsal, or directing a school musical, Marissa is positive, thoughtful, and fun. We are lucky to have Marissa working with our students, and we would ask that you offer her your congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. 

Finally, kudos to Mrs. Jackie Fleming and our High School National Honor Society on a successful “Walk for Kids” this past weekend. The group raised more than $4,000 for Kids Escaping Drugs, and their donation will go a long way toward combatting the disease of addiction among young people.

Wishing you a relaxing weekend, Red Devils.

Matt Frahm
Superintendent of Schools