SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON THE GREENWICH BOARD OF EDUCATION AND ANY ONE ELSE GOING ALONG WITH BETTY'S BULL CRAP
If you feel it is appropriate, I'd like you to forward this message to the
BOE members and to Peter Tesei. I am home on line or 917 445-7796
Dear Community Leaders,
Please let me take a few minutes to address some of the concerns expressed
by some parents regarding delaying the move to the new building until
April. Certainly Betty has expressed it clearly, but I would like an
opportunity to have you understand my point of view as the building
principal and as a human being.
After the last delay in December, I sat down and really thought of all the
things that I needed to do to ensure a smooth transition to the new
building. As the decision to move came closer and closer, I continued to
have many concerns about moving to the new building without a transition
period for students and staff to become comfortable in this new
environment. As Dr. Cline and I reflected, we realized that there were
many items related to student safety and emotional well being that needed
to be addressed before we could comfortably move the students and staff.
Although it appeared we could move without this transitional time, we
realized that we were very uncomfortable with the idea of moving without
opportunities for the students and staff to familiarize themselves with
the new building before they were to start.
I expressed my concerns to Betty and my PTA Co-president for the first
time the week before last. No one knew how I felt because I hadn't shared
my feelings with anyone except my Assistant Principal. In hindsight I
should have been more forthcoming but I felt a pressure "to get it done,
and "make it happen." So for the first time I expressed to Betty and Dawn,
that I couldn't do it. It was hard to acknowledge and say that I could not
in a weeks time do everything that needed to be done and to do it right. I
had never backed away from a challenge and it was hard to say these words
to people who were dependent on me and respected me. But with tears in my
eyes I was honest for the first time about the gargantuan task ahead of me
and the fact that I felt unable to do a job appropriately. I am a person
that expects to do things exceedingly well and hold the same high
expectations for everyone in my building. I knew I couldn't do this move
and make it happen like a well-oiled machine.
You may recall that before the move to the modular school we had a
transition plan in place which allowed the students and staff to visit the
building before the actual move. The students visited the new building on
two occasions. One with the teachers and once with their parents. Mind
you the modular is one floor in the shape of of T. If you stand at the
T-Intersection, you are able to see every single classroom, every single
child. I developed the procedures before we moved in and shared those
with the staff and parents though a building moving committee comprised of
parents and staff. This was almost a year in the planning. This new
building is twice as big; has 2 floors; approximately 12 stairwells; and
many more rooms. Because we did not have a TCO I was not able to get into
the building to begin the planning and developing process.This is why I
need 5 - 6 weeks lead time to get the children in.
My support of the PreK move in Feb. is based on several factors. First,
we are talking about 4 classes of 16 students each with 4 adults in each
class. At no time are those children ever let out of their classroom
alone. The four classes are situated all in the same first floor
corridor, right next to an exit and so the issue of safety is alleviated.
All their specials would continue to be held in their classrooms (except
for gym) so they do not have to go onto the second floor for any reason.
Lunch will also be served in the classrooms. Dolores Kenny, Deb Cline,
and I have agreed that between us (and with others help) we could provide
administrative supervision to the building so a supervisor would be in
place. We shared this tentative plan with the Supt. Should the punch list
items, and other factors listed by the Superintendent be adequately
addressed, I would feel comfortable with this small group moving into the
As the building principal, it is my duty and obligation to plan for what I
believe is best for the health and safety of the Hamilton Avenue students
and staff. While there are some parents who oppose a delay until April, I
do not believe they understand the enormous task ahead. It requires
careful planning. To compare this to the emergency dispersal of the
students to 6 different site, is unjust. These students were sent to
schools with plans and procedures already in place at the host schools. As
you may recall, I canceled all non-classroom programs and staffed every
room with 2 adults such as the music and art teachers for 2 weeks to
ensure that my students felt comfortable when they had to leave the room
for any reason. And still there were many items that I and the host
principals contended with that we did not share to so as not to upset the
As for the CMT's, these are indeed a factor. The children deserve every
opportunity to do well. I have over 100 students who come to school for
either our morning program or for the afterschool program to get academic
support. They and their parents have worked hard to get to school by 7:15
for the morning programs. To imply that the CMT's are not important is
just wrong. The children and their teachers have worked hard to increase
student achievement in what was one of the poorest performing schools in
town. When we were designated a Vanguard School for our significant
improvement, we were so proud and felt that we were rightfully a part of
the excellent Greenwich Public Schools system.
On a personal note, I have worked hard to create a climate of high
expectations in that building. I still have these and I believe it would
be demoralizing to tell the teachers the hard work they have been
dedicated to for the past 5 years is really not that important. It is
important. These scores reflect our work for our children. While I
understand that the parents may not see the importance of students
performing well on these tests, I am very disappointed that high student
achievement is not as important to them as it should be. We created this
school culture together. I invited the parents to challenge me and the
staff when students did not do well. I asked them to hold me accountable.
I have been accountable to them. But I am also accountable to the
children and to the staff.
As to the allegations of illness, there have been no observable increases
in health issues. This is the winter, with students more confined to
their rooms due to the cold weather, germs will spread more frequently.
The modular school is probably the cleanest in the entire district!
Dawn and Rose and the majority of the Executive Board have been very
supportive of my transition plan once I was honest with them about my
concerns. It has not been easy for them either, and I appreciate their
These are my feelings which led me to make my recommendation to the
Superintendent for her to consider in her making final decision.
And so here I am just wanting to give you my perspective. Thank you .
Dr. Damaris Rau
Hamilton Avenue School
1 Western Junior Highway
Greenwich, CT 06830
THIS LETTER IS FROM THE PRINCIPAL THAT HAS FAILED TO FULLY INFORM HAMILTON AVENUE SCHOOL PARENTS ABOUT MODULAR CLASSROOM LEAKS IN FEBRUARY 2008 AND FEBRUARY 2009.
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