The Monti Navigator Tammy Mangus, Superintendent of Schools

March: Tenacity

Last month, we discussed the difference between action-oriented responsibility and results-oriented responsibility. Action-oriented responsibility assumes that following a prescribed list of actions will eventually lead to the attainment of a goal. For example, an education professional with an action-oriented sense of responsibility will methodically create lesson plans, assign homework and grade assessments with the assumption that following these steps will lead to their students progressing towards the next grade. In this mindset, the professional fulfills his or her responsibility by performing these actions.

Education professionals who have a results-oriented sense of responsibility are only concerned with results. These folks are laser-focused on their goal of student progress. They know that success isn't measured in the amount of homework assigned, or lessons planned, or evaluations given. It only matters that their plan has the intended effect. Students and staff who are lucky to be led by these professionals WILL succeed -- because these leaders make sure that every single action they take helps move the needle closer to the goal.

TENACITY is the skill that transforms the action-oriented leader into the results-oriented leader. It's the willingness to throw away the plan, if the plan isn't moving you towards your goals. We have been building up all year towards this skill that enables us to power forward.

Compare our journey to a runner's.

A runner first SETS the goal of running a 5K in 25 minutes.

After he SETS the goal, he must first become AWARE of where he currently stands, so that he can chart a course between where he is now and where he would like to be. Perhaps he plans to increase his distance by 2% every week, and his speed by 10% every other week.

Once he knows where his starting point is, he can then begin to GET the goal. This is where he begins to put the plan into action.

He continues to stay AWARE of his progress as he moves towards the goals. He COLLABORATES with other athletes and professionals such as trainers and doctors, to hear feedback and receive insight on his plan of action, and COMMUNICATES his goals out to his family and friends so that they can hold him accountable and cheer him on along the way.

He knows that his RESPONSIBILITY lies in running the marathon in 25 minutes; not in completing X number of workouts. The RESULTS matter, NOT the actions. If he does every workout as planned, and doesn't manage to run the marathon in 25 minutes, he has failed at meeting his goal.

TENACITY is the ability to find solutions in the face of challenges. Perhaps our runner notices that he is not making progress, or his progress is coming in far below where he expects it to be. An action-oriented runner will continue to plod forward on the original plan and hope for the best. A TENACIOUS and RESPONSIBLE runner, will step back, honestly assess the situation and make a new plan. Perhaps he needs to add some strength training so that his muscles can propel him forward more quickly. Perhaps he needs to address his diet to ensure he is consuming nutrients that deliver powerful bursts of energy. The TENACIOUS and RESPONSIBLE runner knows that it's this ability to notice when something is not working, step back and assess and then forge a new path forward is the fuel that will power him towards success.

If we are to meet our goals of an 87% graduation rate by 2020, and 65% of our students on level, we must have the TENACITY to find pathways for each and every one of our students to thrive and grow.

Board Policy Updates

The following policies have been updated over the past two months. Please be sure to review the updated policies on the Monticello website.


Policy 5420 - Student Health Services: Policy amended to conform to state regulations regarding health screenings and a clarification regarding homeless students.

Policy 1400 - Public Complaints: Clarifies Title I complaint procedure.

Policy 5525 - Student Personal Expression - Adds language and procedure that brings the policy in closer alignment with the Dignity Act. Also clarifies that parts of the policy applies to the distribution of materials, whereas other parts apply to student demonstrations and protests.

Policy 2330 - Executive Sessions: Updated to address language surrounding the motion to go into executive session and the disclosure of matters discussed in executive session.

Policy 2160 - School District Officer and Employee Code of Ethics: Adds text that emphasizes the issue of disclosure of matters discussed in executive session.

Policy 2382 - Broadcasting and Taping of Board Meetings: Updated to reflect recent changes in the Open Meetings Law.

Attendance matters! We need to be HERE if we expect our students to learn and our students need to be here if they are to learn. We've SET our GOALS: we strive for less than 5 absences, which equates to less than a 3% absentee rate, and we continue to work towards GETTING our GOALS, in part, by staying AWARE of where we currently stand:

February Staff Absentee Rates:

MHS: 3.1

RJK: 3.9

Cooke: 3.7%

KLR: 3.7%

Chase: 3%

A big CONGRATULATIONS to the Chase staff for meeting their attendance goal! My office will be in touch soon to make arrangements for a bagel breakfast celebration!

February Student Absentee Rates:

Remember, that five absences roughly equates to less than a 3% absentee rate. Where are we now?

MHS: 12.7%

RJK: 9.3%

Cooke: 10.2%

KLR: 10.9%

Chase: 9.3%

We all know that the winter weather is upon us and with it comes all sorts of ailments. Although our absentee rates do slightly increase during this time of year, it is critical that we are all staying aware of how these seasonal increases impact our year-to-date totals so that we can do everything in our power to ensure we meet our goal of less than 5% absentee rate. Remember, if our students are not HERE, they can't LEARN.

Student Year-to-Date Absentee Rates

MHS: 9.7%

RJK: 7.5%

Cooke: 9.1%

KLR: 8.6%

Chase: 7.7%

Staff Year-to-Date Absentee Rates:

MHS: 3.6%

RJK: 4.37%


KLR: 4.97%

Chase: 5.07%

March Spotlights

Debbie Heins, RJK

"Debbie Heins is our Student Attendance Officer who works to support our attendance goals. She greets students in the iHelp Cafe upon arrival while surveying who is in on time and who is not. She exhibits tenacity by going the extra mile to do home visits to work with parents to support their child getting to school. When necessary she will provide alarm clocks to help our students get up and to school in a timely manner and if necessary, pick students up at home to get them into school. She provides information and updates to PINS diversion workers and families to hold students accountable for their actions and decisions. She works with state data right down to the individual student to create pathways for students to come to school in order to have success. Students and families show trust and gratitude for her tenacious efforts!" - RJK Leadership Team

Safe Homes of Orange County, Special Programs

"The Monticello Central School District’s Special Programs Department began discussions with Safe Homes community educator, Mr. Haney, in the fall of 2018. The discussions surrounded the possibility of a new educational partnership between the two organizations.

It was the hope and dream of Safe Homes to join forces with Monticello to help address the social and emotional wellness of our students. However, no great idea or dream comes to fruition without obstacles. Safe Homes had to overcome hurdles to be granted access to the precious lives of the children who are entrusted into our care each day. There was paperwork that had to be drafted, signed, and approved. There were many questions that had to be answered and phone calls that had to be made. There were weeks of planning that led to the partnership Monticello is now enjoying with Safe Homes.

Mr. Haney is just beginning to deliver a social and emotionally-based curriculum designed to reach our fifth-grade students. Topics to be addressed include: healthy and unhealthy behaviors, understanding emotions, bullying, and resolving conflict for young adolescents. February is also teen dating awareness month so Safe Homes has also been coming in to discuss tips and tools for building healthy relationships with our secondary students during lunch periods. All of this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the tenacity of Safe Homes’ Community Educator, Mr. Haney. He had a dream and through his tenacity and perseverance, Monticello and Safe Homes are now partners who’ve joined together for the sole benefit of the students of the Monticello Central School District," - Special Programs Leadership Team

Ed Gold, MHS

"Tenacity can be demonstrated in many ways. Ultimately, it is that ceaseless effort to endure failure and challenges to accomplish bigger goals. This describes Ed Gold, English Teacher, at Monticello High School.

Ed is tenacious in his pursuit of evolving his professional practice to increase student achievement in his classroom. He regularly attends professional development sessions, reads books, and engages in professional discourse to explore more effective ways to help his students succeed. Ed is willing to try new things, and fail forward, in an effort to ensure every student not only succeeds, but reaches their full potential.

It is not just about Ed’s effort to try new things, it is also his tenacious pursuit to follow up with students and their parents/guardians to communicate expectations and encouragement. Ed is an endless fountain of encouragement and belief in students. He holds his students accountable for high expectations of performance to ensure they are developing, and demonstrating, the skills they need to be Life Ready. When students fall short he is encouraging and unwavering in his belief that the student can overcome whatever deficit or barrier they face to meet expectations.

Ed is relentless in his pursuit to improvise, adapt, and overcome adversity to create opportunities for students to succeed. His tenacity is courageous while his demeanor remains humble and caring. Ed is perfect for the March Spotlight on tenacity," - MHS Leadership Team

Douglas Massell, Cooke

"Douglas Massell is the embodiment of tenacity. He is a 1:1 aide for a visually impaired student at George L. Cooke Elementary School. As a sighted person, Mr. Massell did not have experience with Braille. He has sought out, and spent, a great deal of time mastering the Braille machine. He is able to create written documents for his student which allows his student the best opportunity to improve their reading skills.

Mr. Massell also works for the Empire Program in the morning where he greets all of the students with his positive energy. He is the driving force behind the staff being stationed for the student drop-off process in the morning. Mr. Massell has spent many hours assisting in the betterment of the students in his care. He engages with the students in conversation and in the support of instruction. When Mr. Massell is able, he instinctively, actively, and tenaciously, seeks out the students in the class who may need extra support and works with them.

Often one will hear Mr. Massell sharing words of praise and encouragement with any of the students or staff, in the Cooke School. Tenacity is one of many wonderful strengths that Mr. Massell brings to the George L. Cooke Elementary School every day" - George L. Cooke Leadership Team

Sue Poli, Chase

"Here at Emma C. Chase Elementary School, Sue Poli is our school nurse. Between immunization regulations, new requirements for physicals, day-to-day student illness, and periodic injuries, it is likely that Mrs. Poli reaches out to more student homes than any other entity in our building.

Each year, checking student immunization records and ensuring follow-through with families is a monumental task. Mrs. Poli even monitors immunization dates to ensure that timelines for multiple dose vaccinations are followed appropriately.

Physicals are now required for Pre-K, K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11th grade. These changes have added to the overall number of students that need physicals in elementary school. Mrs. Poli contacts the family of each student that needs a physical and requests proof that the examination took place, or that an appointment is pending, or ultimately, makes arrangements for the district physician to conduct the physical. This year Mrs. Poli has worked such that a few months ago over 90 students still required physicals; now there are only 10. This is a major quality control measure for the health of our students and monetarily a large savings for our district.

In these examples and more, Mrs. Poli demonstrates that she is tenacious in executing the functions and tasks associated with being a school nurse," - Emma C. Chase Elementary School Leadership Team

Classroom 2020 Update

Model Schools Message

Linda Oehler-Marx, Ph.D.

Tenacity comes from Latin, and originally meant “tending to hold fast.” The word has since developed many variations on the meaning, from having mental and moral strength to resist opposition or hardship, to figurative stick-to-it-ness and retaining knowledge easily.

However we define it, it is important to hold fast to tenacity in school – for students, teachers, administrators, and the communities in which our schools reside.

In a nationwide survey in 2016 of high school dropouts, 69% said that school had not motivated or inspired them to work hard. We also know that students’ engagement in learning DECREASES the longer they are in school. That means that kids are much more motivated to learn when they are in the early grades than when they are in high school.

What prevents kids from being motivated to learn? How do they lose that tenacity? Is it something about them or is it something about school? What does this mean for all our stakeholders?

We know that what and how we teach is important in helping kids remain tenacious in their engagement for learning. However, it is a focus on students’ non-cognitive factors that have the greatest potential to increase tenacity for learning. What do we mean by non-cognitive factors? They may include students’ beliefs about themselves, their feelings about school, or their habits of self-control. The non-cognitive factor concerned with helping students remain motivated to learn can be called academic tenacity. According to Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor who has done much research on developing mindsets for success, academic tenacity includes the skills that allow students to:

• Look beyond short-term concerns to longer-term or higher-order goals

• Withstand challenges and setbacks to persevere toward these goals

What does academic tenacity look like? Students believe they belong in school. They see the value of school. These two statements alone have tremendous implications for teachers, administrators and our community as a whole. We need to create more inclusive, equitable spaces of learning for all our students. We also need to actually demonstrate the relevance of what we ask them to learn in school. “Why do we need to learn this?” And “When will I ever use this?” are questions that could strike fear in a teacher’s heart or they can be seen as an opportunity. These questions are opportunities to demonstrate the relevance of the kind of learning we want our students engage in daily.

People who have academic tenacity also view effort positively, seek challenging tasks outside of their comfort zones, are not derailed by difficulty, see setback and failure as opportunities to learn and growth, and remain engaged over the long haul.

Carol Dweck has engaged in over thirty years of research, looking at why some students have academic tenacity and find success and others are thrown off by frustration and failure. For her, it comes down to mindset about their own abilities. A person may believe that their intelligence is a fixed quality that they either have or don’t have (a fixed mindset) or that intelligence can be increased with effort and learning (a growth mindset). People with fixed mindsets are worried about proving their intelligence, not improving it. People with growth mindsets see an identical challenge or failure as an opportunity to learn.

The most exciting thing to come out of Carol Dweck’s research is that mindset is not fixed and people can learn to be more growth oriented. Focusing on effort and learning, as opposed to performance, is key. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about performance-oriented goals, but that we don’t focus on avoiding failure, rather on seeing performance as a tool to help us measure the mastery of our learning goals.

We know as educators that one of the best tools in our toolkit is modeling. If we want our students to develop academic tenacity, we need to embrace the key characteristics in how we address all opportunities to learn and grow. Failure is an opportunity and we won’t be derailed. We look to get out of comfort zone every day, and know that we are in it for the long haul.

The Ph.D. is listed after my name in the byline because I’m proud of how it represents my tenacity. It took me ten years to earn my PhD at the University of Albany, while working full-time, raising two children, battling cancer, getting a CAS in School Administration at SUNY New Paltz, and running quite a few triathlons. I could not have completed it without the ongoing support of my husband, because tenacity comes from supportive, cooperative effort.

Upcoming Events:

March 5: Rachel's Challenge Chain Reaction Community Event, Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium at MHS, 6 p.m.

March 7: Board of Education Meeting, RJK Library, 7:30 p.m.

March 8: MHS Dance Showcase, Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium at MHS, 7 p.m.

March 9: SNOWDATE - MHS Dance Showcase, Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium at MHS, 7 p.m.

March 10: Daylight Saving Time Begins

March 28: Board of Education Meeting, RJK Cafeteria, 7:30 p.m.

March 29 and 30: Monticello High School Presents Little Shop of Horrors, Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium at MHS, 7:30 p.m.

March 31: Monticello High School Presents Little Shop of Horrors, Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium at MHS, 2 p.m.

What's your favorite summer reading book?

Help us help our community find a new summer reading favorite. Tell us - what's YOUR favorite book to read over the summer? We might include your suggestion in an upcoming Panther Post article. Email the title of your favorite book, its author and its recommended reading range (pre-school, school-aged, young adult or adult) to cbonfante@k12mcsd.net by March 15

One question: many answers: Why does Monticello rock?

Why does Monticello rock? Tell us! Our students and staff accomplish amazing things every day. Share your moments of success by sharing them on Twitter with the hashtag #MonticelloRocks Or, email your answer, with a photo, to communications@k12mcsd.net

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