Message from Dr. Elizabeth Robison
I’d like to welcome all of our students, teachers, staff, parents and community members to the Pocono Mountain School District for the 2023-23 school year.
One of our district's goals always focuses on maintaining and strengthening our parent communication efforts at our schools and across the entire district. Just as it’s important for district and school officials to keep the lines of communication open with parents, keeping the lines of communication open between parents and their children is important, but no easy feat. For a lot of parents, it’s really hard to get details from their children about the first day of school or any school day. One-word answers like “fine,” “okay,” “alright,” seem more common responses from children than getting anywhere near a detailed explanation about how the school day really went. If this is happening to you, parenting and child development experts recommend taking a new approach to when and how you talk to your children about their school day. This can change the conversation and help children open up about their day.
One common theme among the experts is that students, just like their parents when they get home from a busy work day, may need a little time after the school day ends to decompress. Waiting to ask questions about the day until after children have a snack can really help give them the time they need to relax after a busy day. Also, instead of asking overly broad questions like, “How was your day?” or “How did your day at school go?,” which may cause younger children and teens to draw a blank, it may work better to ask questions that are easier for children of all ages to answer.
According to Scholastic Parents (https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/10-questions-to-ask-your-child-about-his-day-school.html), “The trick is to ask about things that are specific, but still open-ended. Move beyond “fine” and “nothing” by asking your kids to describe their world. It’s also great to start the conversation with an anecdote from your own day. Try one of these conversation-starters:
- "Tell me about the best part of your day.
- "What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
- "Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
- "Tell me about what you read in class.
- “Who did you play with today? What did you play?
- “Do you think math [or any subject] is too easy or too hard?
- “What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
- “What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they’re fair?
- “Who did you sit with at lunch?
- “Can you show me something you learned (or did) today?”
Child development experts stress the importance of parents maintaining meaningful communication with their children at every stage of their life, so children will feel comfortable approaching their parents in times of stress or when they need help. They also emphasize that once a parent initiates a conversation with their children it’s really important that they take the time to listen to what their children are saying and don’t try to rush through the discussion. Children will notice quickly if parents are really interested in what they are saying or are only partially listening to what they are saying.
In addition to keeping the lines of communication open between parents and children, I wanted to provide you with some information that may help alleviate some worries you may have about the school year.
I also wanted to provide you with a school safety update. Members of our District Safety Team, administrative team and other district employees attended several school safety training conferences and workshops during the summer break to remain current on school safety initiatives, programs and recommended procedures. We continued to evaluate and assess our school safety measures and procedures throughout the summer and will continue that process throughout the school year. We made some changes to our school safety procedures for the start of school based on the additional training we attended. While I cannot discuss in detail the specific school safety measures we have in place or the changes we are implementing, I want our parents to know that we take school safety very seriously. It is my expectation that every administrator, teacher, support staff member, and contracted employee in Pocono Mountain School District will remain vigilant every single day throughout the upcoming school year regarding school safety. Our employees should remain fully engaged and committed to closely following all school safety procedures and practices at our schools. We also need students and parents to remain vigilant about school safety. It takes the commitment and awareness of our entire school community to keep our students and schools safe.
As I’ve mentioned many times in my communication with students and parents, you are the district’s eyes and ears in our communities when it comes to school safety. The importance of the role parents and students have in school safety is supported by a report produced by the U.S. Secret Service on “Averting Targeted School Violence – A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Plots Against Schools,” where the Secret Service analyzed 67 averted school attack plots. The report states, “there are almost always intervention points available before a student’s behavior escalates to violence.” The report further states, “Students are best positioned to identify and report concerning behavior displayed by their classmates,” and “The role of parents and families in recognizing concerning behaviors is critical to prevention.”
If you see or hear something that seems like it could be a concern or a threat against one of our schools, a student or one of our employees, please report your concern immediately to our administrators, to the police or through the Safe2Say Something anonymous reporting system, which is available through an App or through the link on the district website.
Finally, I encourage all parents to help their school-aged children find an activity at their school to participate in this school year. Research shows that, “Participating in extracurricular activities has positive effects on students’ success…Adolescents who participate in extracurricular activities demonstrate higher levels of academic achievement, greater character development, greater social development, and a greater sense of the importance of community involvement.” (Department of Education - files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1230758.pdf)
So, please look for flyers, announcements and ParentLink calls regarding sign-up dates for school-based clubs, activities, co-curricular and athletic opportunities.
The relationships and connectedness students form through after-school activities will be invaluable to their social and emotional development and wellbeing throughout their school years in Pocono Mountain.
Let’s work together to make this a great school year for all of our students.
Dr. Elizabeth Robison
Superintendent of Schools
“The Pocono Mountain School District shall post the mutually agreed upon objective performance standards on the District website and shall also annually post the date of the District Superintendent’s annual performance assessment and whether or not the District Superintendent met the agreed upon objective performance standards.”
Below are the agreed upon objective performance standards used as a basis for assessing the performance of Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Robison in the areas of Student Growth and Achievement: Organizational Leadership; District Operations and Financial Management; Communication and Community Relations. This evaluation tool was agreed upon by the Pocono Mountain School District and Dr. Elizabeth Robison.