Superintendent's Column Archive

Maria Suttmeier

Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent


District Insights: End of the year marks a new beginning

I recently had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Hudson High School’s baccalaureate ceremony. As I took to writing my speech, I thought about the significance of graduation, often referred to as “commencement.” To “commence” is to begin. So often we think of summer as an end. We say good-bye to our graduates, students and teachers and we congratulate them on a year well done. All the while, the people that we bid farewell are already busy getting ready for a new beginning. Read more...


District Insights: Celebrating our shared vision

On May 2, the seventh annual Hudson Children’s Book Festival was held at our junior/senior high school campus. This event is the largest children’s book festival in the state, welcoming over 75 authors, hundreds of children and families and 25 organizations for a day of fun, learning and imagination. The gleeful looks on our students’ faces as they met their favorite authors and dove into their storybook worlds left me in awe of the incredible success this event has achieved. It is more than just a festival — it is a celebration of literacy, of books and most importantly, of our children. Read more...


District Insights: Nurturing the whole student, no matter what

In the past several years, the topic of education has become increasingly politicized across the country and our kids know it. When I was asked to present to our Youth Employment Services (YES) program about interview skills several weeks ago, students took a brief divergence from the lesson to ask me some insightful questions about my beliefs. “Do you support the Common Core?” one student asked. She knew that the changes she has seen in her classroom are steeped in national controversy. In short, I told them that I support the educational values contained in the Common Core Learning Standards, but that I believe the state implemented them too hastily. Read more...


District Insights: Marching toward Destination Graduation

For many students and faculty, March can be the toughest month of the school year. Well into the third quarter and past the halfway mark, it seems that there is still so far to go. Dreams of summer occupy students’ thoughts while outside the grass is still frozen over. Classes seem to drag on while testing season is fast approaching. For seniors, the dreaded “senioritis” begins to kick in. Colleges make acceptance decisions before students have even completed all of their graduation requirements. After the holiday and winter recesses and before spring break, it seems as though March intensifies with a full month of school days. Read more...


District Insights: Standing by our teachers

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered disparaging and disappointing words to teachers and proposed harsh reforms that would minimize education to a game of win-or-lose. It is apparent to me as a mother and an educator that the governor’s address runs in direct contradiction to evidence of educational success. It appears that the governor is trying to tear educators down in an effort to raise achievement up. Read more...


District Insights: Meeting our resolution in 2015

I would like to wish a peaceful and joyous new year to the families, staff, students, and community members of the Hudson City School District. As with every new year, the turn of 2015 invites us all to take a close look at who we are, at what we have accomplished, and to reflect on what we could do better. The process of setting a resolution can be both exciting and daunting as we try to set our goals high without exceeding our abilities. We want to be optimistic while remaining realistic. Read more...


District Insights: Thankful for People and Resources

During this season of holiday cheer, I would like to take a moment to recognize all that the Hudson City School District is so privileged to enjoy. We serve a diverse body of good-hearted students, who each in their own way bring so much character and life to our schools. Our faculty and staff always put our students’ well-being at the forefront of every decision they make, and are committed to excellence in everything they do. Our community constantly goes above and beyond to support our students, donating their time and care to ensure that our children receive the best education possible. Read more...


District Insights: Dollars for Scholars Program helps Destination Graduation

With the help and support of our families and friends, the Hudson City School District has made great strides toward Destination Graduation this year. The evidence is shown in our test scores, reading levels, community involvement, event success and in our students’ smiling faces every day. But the education pipeline does not begin and end within the confines of our schools. Our students strive to succeed in high school so that they can continue to learn in the colleges and careers that they choose. With the ever-rising cost of tuition and the economic downturn, it is more important now than ever that we, as a community, join together to make college education a reality for our students. Read more...


Family and community engagement is ever-growing

As we consider what the Hudson City School District has accomplished this year and what we have yet to achieve, I would like us to recognize the importance of community and family involvement in our children's education. Research has shown that these elements are crucial to school success, and this district's experiences have highlighted this fact time and time again. Read more...


District Insights: Starting off positive

Last year, the Hudson City School District adopted “Destination Graduation” as our vision. Two simple words, yet they express a profound reminder of why we do what we do. They proclaim the passion and creativity we are called upon to put into each day for the benefit of the students entrusted to our care. We need a lot of energy to do our jobs, and having a clear vision allows us to focus that energy not just on our individual goals, but on the goals of our community. Read more...


District Insights: On track for Destination Graduation

In September of 2013, we launched the Destination Graduation … Get on Board vision with pride, hope and commitment. We pledged to stand by our students along the UPK- 12 journey to graduation day and beyond. Soon afterward, we adopted sound three-year goals to: 1. Raise the Bar, 2. Close the Gap and 3. Align our Curriculum and Instruction. Attached to these goals are annual targets spanning grades UPK-12 that will move us closer to achieving our goals. We are determined to meet these goals and plan to set new 2014-15 targets over the summer. Read more...


District Insights: A busy, exciting May

Those of us working inside the Hudson City School District join our students and parents in welcoming the month of May with a big sigh of relief that the New York state exams are behind us. Whether or not we agree with the state’s testing procedures, discouraging students from taking the test is not the solution. Read more...


District Insights: State of the budget

The Hudson City School District’s adopted 2014-15 budget is within the calculated tax levy limit of 2.17 percent and for the first time New York state is offering a tax rebate program to its taxpayers. The 2014-2015 New York state budget contains a property tax freeze program in which all taxpayers who are STAR eligible and live within a municipality that abides by the New York state tax levy cap calculation will receive a tax rebate from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Read more...


District Insights: Update on the Promise Neighborhood

The GHPN is a community-wide effort that supports children and families living in the Hudson City School District. The project began in early 2012 when a planning grant was awarded through the U. S. Department of Education. Out of more than 300 applicants, Hudson received one of only 15 awards granted throughout the United States. Read more...


District Insights: New promotion policy at JHS

Amid the commotion and controversy swirling around the implementation of the new Common Core standards and the related testing, seventh and eighth grade students at Hudson Jr. High School are quietly experiencing an engaging, innovative and game-changing approach to grade level promotion. Read more...


District Insights: An alternative place of learning

Happy New Year! The New Year often signifies an attitude of “out with the old, in with the new.” For school districts, the New Year begins in September when the promise of new beginnings kick off with students and staff returning from the summer break. Read more...


District Insights: Youth experience the power of peace

December rings in the holiday season for many cultures around the world, extending greetings of Peace on Earth. Last week’s news about the loss of South Africa’s revered leader, Nelson Mandela, was broadcast just as I began writing this month’s article about a peace program founded on the principles of Mandela and other iconic leaders. Read more...


District Insights: Road to destination paved with SMART goals

Along with welcoming staff and students back to school this September, we rolled out our new mantra: Destination Graduation … Get on Board.

The words can be seen on our board agendas, within our newsletters, in our hallways and can be heard coming from the mouths of board members, administrators, teachers, staff and students.

But, they are just words without a plan for getting to our destination. Read more...


District Insights: This month, school is focusing on bullying

National Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign in the United States founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Center for Bullying Prevention.

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides resources designed to benefit all students in an effort to unite, engage, and educate communities nationwide on ways to address bullying through creative, relevant, and interactive resources. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Read more...


District Insights: The goal — Destination Graduation

Perhaps you had a chance to do some traveling over the summer months. Whether you took a trip out of the country, across the nation or just a day outing to a local lake or resort, before you set out, you first had to know where you were going before you planned on how you would get there. Read more...


District Insights: It will take a city to raise an ALP

Superintendent's message to the Hudson community... Posted August 13, 2013


District Insights: Balancing a budget during an economic storm

Rising costs, declining revenues and a New York state budget crisis have made building a sound spending plan that not only meets the needs of our students, but that also meets the needs and expectations of our taxpayers, more difficult than ever. Read more...


District Insights: How you can help advocate for your school district

Before I begin to speak about the challenges school districts are facing and ask for your help to advocate for the education of our children, I would like to clarify the somewhat misleading information that appeared in this paper last week. The headline read, “HCSD may close JLE School” and the article failed to provide the context and content of the discussion, including the timing and conditions under which this would, if ever, happen. Read more...


District Insights: Focus on the future

According to American author, Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”

Along with many districts across New York state, the Hudson City School District stands as a district in “Focus” status. This state designation is based on a lower than average graduation rate over time. The work to increase the number of students who graduate ready for college and career does not begin in high school but rather in the early years. Therefore, the district has chosen to charge all schools with improving curriculum and instruction to better align our efforts and raise the standard for the pre-K through 12 walk to graduation day. Read more...


District Insights: Some insight into the budget

For the last four years, the Hudson City School District along with all public schools in upstate New York has received less state aid each year. Consequently, the district has had record-breaking layoffs of teachers and staff as well as cuts in programs.

If New York state continues to cut state aid to public schools, the district will be forced to make deeper cuts over the next several years. We cannot depend on our local taxpayers to offset the budget deficit each year. There will come a time when we are no longer able to function with the basic academic integrity needed to provide a well-rounded education to our students. The district has been working diligently on doing the right work to improve the academic and financial status of the district, but there is just so far we can go on the resources we receive from the state. Read more...


District Insights: Spirit of giving shines at HCSD

Besides the Thanksgiving holiday, this month has two scheduled half days of student attendance on Nov. 15 and 21. The first quarter report cards will be distributed during the afternoon of Nov. 15. Parents are invited and strongly encouraged to meet with teachers on the afternoon of the 15th to discuss the progress of their children. When schools and families work together, students prosper. Please contact the main office of the building your child attends to schedule a meeting. The afternoon of Nov. 21 is designed to provide teachers with special training opportunities to help them meet the needs of all students in their classrooms. Read more...


Letter to the Editor, Register-Star

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all who helped to make opening day 2012 so special as Hudson City School District faculty and staff returned to school on September 5th. Read more...


Superintendent Suttmeier's Opening Day Letter

Dear Colleagues,

Summer 2012 is quickly disappearing with the promise of Opening Day 2012 on the horizon! I am honored to lead this district and grateful to have such dedicated staff to work with. I am confident that together, we can move this district in a positive direction. In fact, I know we can!

Read more...


Message from the Superintendent: National Bullying Prevention Month

Parents of children who are bullied at school feel an immediate need to take action that will make the behavior stop. A phone call to school is one of the first steps parents take to seek a resolution that will end the bullying behavior. The prevalence of bullying in our schools and society make it an issue that most families, communities and schools must eventually confront. Schools and communities must find ways to resolve issues, change behavior patterns and increase education and awareness of bullying and bullying prevention strategies.

The Hudson City School District Board of Education adopted a Student Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy prior to the start of the current school year. The New York State mandated policy states that the district is “committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality.” The school district’s administration, faculty and staff seek to partner with parents and community to resolve all incidents of bullying and proactively develop programs that will assist in better understanding the impact of bullying on the target, participants and those who are witness to such acts – the bystanders.  

Parents are encouraged to ask their children questions everyday about school activities and lessons. There is much to be learned by listening to children as they retell their school day experiences and interactions with classmates, teachers and school staff. A daily conversation about school in general will create opportunities for children to tell parents about bullying incidents that they might have otherwise kept to themselves. Parents should immediately contact the building principal to share any information about bullying to begin the process of resolving the issue and ending the bullying behavior. It is important that the parents and administrators act as partners in creating open communication that will assist in understanding and resolving conflicts. Additionally, parents and school staff must work together to help students understand that they are not alone when faced with bullying and will be supported when they share incidents of bullying behaviors with adults.

The Hudson City School District is committed to creating a culture of tolerance and consideration for others. An example of that commitment is “The Bystander Project” that is currently underway at the M.C. Smith Intermediate School. Administration, including the Superintendent of Schools, faculty, staff and students read James Preller’s novel Bystander, a fictional portrayal of authentic, young voices in a middle school environment facing and dealing with issues of bullying. Students have been involved in learning experiences designed to raise their awareness of bullying, explore what bullying is and develop a common vocabulary about bullying to include such words as bystander, or one who witnesses bullying and says or does nothing. In his novel, James Preller cites Martin Luther King, Jr.’s reference to “the appalling silence” when describing the unspoken involvement of the witness during bullying incidents.

The Bystander Project culminates in an exciting collaboration of the Hudson City School District’s Arts and Humanities Fund, the Taconic Community Foundation, the Concrete Temple Theatre and the M.C. Smith Intermediate School students’ presentation of a theatrical adaptation of James Preller’s Bystander performed for the students and community. The Bystander Project’s mission is to promote a culture that does not tolerate bullying and is a part of National Bullying Prevention Month.