Superintendent & Board President Welcome Letters 2020-21
As is tradition at the start of every school year, both Superintendent Dr. Allyn Roche, on behalf of the administration and the district as a whole, and Board President Dr. Kerry Drake, on behalf of the Upper Perkiomen Board of School Directors, wrote letters to welcome every member of our district community to the 2020-21 School Year. You can read those letters in their entirety below.
Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year from Dr. Roche
Dear UPSD Community -
Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year! While we have not yet held a single class for our students, it is clear that this school year will be one to remember.
When we wrapped up last school year in June, many of us could have never guessed what was in store for the Summer of 2020 in terms of planning for the 2020-21 school year and impact of COVID-19 on the instructional model to begin the 2020-21 school year. The unprecedented, unexpected and uncertain nature of this school year means that every member of our community is undoubtedly experiencing some level of anxiety or nervousness about the year ahead. These feelings are completely warranted, and for our families and students, please know that these feelings extend to our faculty, staff and administration. None of us have ever experienced a situation like this before, no matter how many years we’ve spent in education.
What I can tell you is that our dedicated team--teachers, administrators and the rest of our staff--are 100% committed to providing all of our students with a quality education, and we will do everything in our power to support students and their families during this unique learning experience. Each member of our team brings something a little different to the table, and my hope is that as we move through virtual learning, all of our students and families will get to know our teachers and staff in a different way, as virtual learning allows personalities and strengths to shine in a way that might not be possible in a traditional classroom. Over the first part of the school year, we will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in our area and county with the goal of getting our students back in-person as soon as is safely possible.
As I shared in many of my communications at the start of last year, early in my tenure as superintendent, I take very seriously that you have entrusted your children to our care, and I firmly believe that our faculty and staff will give their best, day in and day out, whether we are in a virtual, hybrid or in-person learning model. I vow to do the same as your superintendent.
I truly believe in the power of this community, and I believe that by supporting one another and joining together in the best interest of our students, we can make this school year a positive learning experience, no matter what the next 10 months may hold. We are Upper Perk, and I know that after witnessing the hard work of this past spring and summer, and with eyes on the year ahead, I remain #Proud2BeUPSD.
Let’s make the 2020-21 school year one to remember--not for its challenges, but for the way our district community bands together during a challenging time, with the success and best interest of our students at the core of everything that we do. I wish you a great start to the year, and I hope to see you all back in our school buildings soon, so that we can be together in-person as well as in spirit.
Dr. Allyn J. Roche
Superintendent of Schools
Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year from Dr. Drake
Dear Upper Perkiomen School District Families:
On behalf of the Upper Perkiomen School District Board of Directors, we welcome you to the start of the 2020-21 school year! The School Board, which I have the privilege of representing as President, works hand in hand with the Superintendent to ensure we never lose focus on both short and long term plans to enable our students to succeed and thrive. As public servants, the Board and district employees continually strive to do our best to help our students learn and grow, as generations before us have done for their communities and children.
One of the Board’s main goals is to maximize the educational opportunities and improve outcome for all of our students as they prepare for life after graduation - career, continuing education, or military service. We also do our best to ensure conscientious use of our resources to focus where we can impart the maximum positive influence on district and student outcomes.
This year is very different from past years, due to the unprecedented pandemic currently gripping our nation and the world. We will be starting the year in virtual model up until November 30, at which time we may be able to shift to hybrid in-person or full in-person instruction, depending on the progress the county, state and country has made in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just because we are opening the year in a virtual model does not mean it won’t be an enriching, productive year for all UPSD students and their families. Since March, our Superintendent, Dr. Roche, and his administrative team have been diligently cultivating virtual curriculum and instruction resources, and developing and implementing systems to allow your students to have an educational experience with real-time education that will allow both engaging instruction as well as the development of personal relationships between your students, their teachers, and the rest of the educational staff. The Board of School Directors has also been conscientious in assisting the administration where needed to provide support and additional resources for student devices for virtual learning, as well as additional staffing, for health, safety and environmental challenges associated with ensuring our facilities are safe and clean when we are able to resume in person learning with your children.
In order to provide community oversight and ensure the district can succeed and thrive, the School Board meets publicly multiple times per month to discuss important district topics at different levels of detail. Last year due to the COVID-19 crisis, we began holding virtual meetings, so that the community and families in our district might be able to participate and learn about the programs being implemented to address the pandemic, as well as those programs to address our longer term needs of constantly improving the educational experience, social, emotional and instructional, for our students.
A formal Board meeting is held the second Thursday of each month and is where many action items are enacted and policies or expenditures are approved, including facilities, programs, staffing, and other necessary items. These meetings are where administration and Board committee recommendations are included as agenda items for debate and must be approved by a majority vote from the Board.
Throughout the month, Board committee meetings are also held monthly on the following themes: Curriculum and Instruction, Extra-Curricular Activities, Facilities, Special Education and Pupil Services, Finances, and Policy. Each committee consists of two to three Board members and an administrative liaison. It is in these meetings were deep discussions are held on specific topics, and often include productive dialog with teachers, families and audience members to arrive at the best solutions for our students.
We also hold a meeting with the Board as a whole on the fourth Thursday of the month, which is termed a “workshop.” These are meetings where the entire Board will learn about a specific topic of interest and will also receive high level updates from each of our committees. Occasionally action items are approved in these meetings, but it is the exception rather than the rule.
All Board meetings are recorded. Please see https://www.upsd.org/school-board/agendas-and-minutes for videos and further details on meeting dates and times. We encourage you to attend meetings, visit the Board and district webpages or otherwise become involved in areas in which you have an interest. You can also reach the entire board via a Communication Line, by email list UPSDBOARD@UPSD.ORG, or individually at our district email addresses.
As you can see from this update, there are many significant changes being implemented in our district this year due to the COVID-19 epidemic. However, we do believe that as a district we have done everything possible to ensure that this upcoming year will be as enriching and productive as possible, no matter what the model of instruction may be: virtual, hybrid, or full In-person. We have worked many years as a Board and administrative team to put exceptional teachers, administrators, staff, facilities, and programs in place, and we know we will be able to effectively enable our students to learn and thrive, all while still having fun!
In closing, please join me in giving a warm welcome to our new and returning students, as well as wishing all our teachers, staff, administration, and families a healthy, happy, and productive 2020-21 school year.
Sincerely on behalf of the Upper Perkiomen Board of School Directors,
Dr. Kerry A. Drake
Dr. Kerry A. Drake, President
Mike W. Elliott, Vice President
Melanie R. Cunningham
Stephen L. Cunningham
Dana E. Hipszer
Raeann B. Hofkin
Judith S. Maginnis
Peg L. Pennepacker
Board Meetings and Workshops are advertised on the district website and Town & Country newspaper. Agendas and Minutes are posted on the district website.