Monti Navigator Tammy Mangus, Superintendent of Schools


Welcome Back, Panthers! I hope that your break was filled with "enough" and that you are ready to jump into 2019 rejuvenated and refreshed.

A big "thank you" to all of our staff members who helped make holiday memories with our kiddos all throughout December.

This month, we will focus on our Life-Ready skill, COMMUNICATION. An individual with goals COMMUNICATES in order to tell others how he or she will behave to bring these goals to fruition. An organization with goals COMMUNICATES about these same behaviors and actions to ensure that all are clear regarding WHY our goals matter and what we will do to GET these goals. Effective organizational COMMUNICATION transforms our Life-Ready skills from a list of positive qualities to emulate into actionable steps that propel us towards goal attainment.

Without effective COMMUNICATION, some may not understand WHY our goals matter and what's at stake if we fail at GETTING our GOALS. If some don't get "it" (the WHY), we won't get "'em" (the GOALS).

Without effective COMMUNICATION, actions, motivations and purpose are left to individual interpretation and prone to emotional, reactionary responses.

Without effective COMMUNICATION, we can not ask the difficult questions and have the courageous conversations that lead to an AWARENESS of where we currently stand.

Without effective COMMUNICATION, we can't articulate our challenges, draw upon our shared experiences, and hear the feedback that enables us to COLLABORATE and push forward as a united, unstoppable force in achieving our goals.

What does effective COMMUNICATION look like?


It is specific and clear.

It is honest and transparent.

It is relevant.

It is a call to action.

We know that effective COMMUNICATION is absolutely critical to success, and we are continuously seeking ways in which we can refine this important skill. Here are just a few ways we are working to improve communication at the District level:

Communicating across cultures: We are expanding our efforts to ensure every family in the district can better understand school-to-home communications. All robocalls will now be recorded using the text-to-speech function, meaning that instead of hearing the voice of an administrator, you will hear a robotic voice. Why? It's the most effective way for families whose English is limited to receive messages in their preferred language. While we may lose the ability to make that personalized administrator-to-home connection through voice, I believe that we will gain so much more by empowering all of our parents to engage more fully with our schools.

This year, we also welcomed Alex Perez to our Registrar's office to act as a translator for our Spanish-speaking families. Mr. Perez has been working tirelessly to translate our most common District forms into Spanish and also acts as a one-to-one translator for families and teachers. You may contact him at 845-794-7700 ext. 78906 or by email to aperez@k12mcsd.net

Additionally, our new website features a translation bar that will enable visitors to easily translate the contents of the website into 12 different languages. While it won't be a 100% percent perfect translation, given the fact that it is an automated translation service, it should be a marked improvement for ALL of our families to quickly and easily receive District information.

Do you know any Monticello families who speak a language other than English? Please COMMUNICATE these new initiatives with them, so that they can take advantage of these new tools.

Transportation communication: We are changing our transportation communication protocol to better accommodate parents who contact the transportation department, as well as to enable our team of dispatchers to focus their efforts on managing active bus routes.

Often, parents have contacted the transportation department for matters falling under the oversight of school administrators, leading to long wait times and frustration as the dispatch team must field these calls while simultaneously trying to keep control over more than 40 bus routes.

Under the protocol set to be launched on Feb. 1, calls to the transportation department will now be answered by an automated attendant, routing the call to the main office of the child's school. If the call concerns a situation that is currently in progress, such as a late bus or a missing student, the caller will be placed directly in touch with the transportation department. If the call concerns a situation that has already taken place, or a complaint, the caller will be routed to the school's administrative team to address his or her concerns.

Superintendent-staff communication:

Are you a staff member with concerns or questions about any district matter? Each month, I hold a Superintendent's Advisory Meeting for all of our staff members to ask questions and hear explanations about district matters. The next one will be held on Jan. 9 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the Monticello High School Library. I encourage ALL staff members to take advantage of this opportunity for two-way communication leading to a better understanding of District matters. Remember, if we don't get "it", we can't get "'em."

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:

December Staff Absentee Rates:

Chase: 4.8%

Cooke: 5.4%

MHS: 4.8%

KLR: 5.9%

RJK: 5.4%

December Student Absentee Rates:

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

Chase: 7%

Cooke: 9.3%

KLR: 9.6%

RJK: 8%

MHS: 10.6%

2018-19 Student Absentee Rates (to date):

Chase: 6.3%

Cooke: 8.3%

KLR: 7.4%

RJK: 6.6%

MHS: 7.6%

2018-19 Staff Absentee Rates (to date):

Chase: 5.2%

Cooke: 3.5%

KLR: 3.9%

RJK: 4.2%

MHS: 3.7%

Why are we placing such an emphasis on student and staff attendance? Quite simply, because it matters -- a lot. Check out this infographic below that contains some alarming statistics concerning the link between student attendance and student achievement.

Now that you have a better understanding on WHY we are so adamant on improving our absentee rate, how can you use these statistics to COMMUNICATE with families why attendance matters?

January Spotlights

Our January Spotlight features Monticello team members who are COMMUNICATORS! These fine folks, as described by their leadership team, know that COMMUNICATION is the fuel that propels us from where we are to where we want to be.

Jennifer Unverzagt

"Jennifer Unverzagt is a fifth-grade teacher at Emma C. Chase Elementary School, and is a hub of communication in the Chase building.

As a Monticello Teacher’s Association building representative, Mrs. Unverzagt regularly facilitates listening sessions with teachers and communicates concerns to administration and district-level MTA officers. Mrs. Unverzagt demonstrates strong listening, speaking, and writing skills within the function of union representative. Mrs. Unverzagt is diplomatic when communicating concerns and Mrs. Unverzagt maintains a focus on developing solutions.

Mrs. Unverzagt was also the co-director of our school play. This year, the fifth-grade presented “The Gingerbread Girl” with support from the Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) organization. As a director, Mrs. Unverzagt instructed and advised students. One can always count on Mrs. Unverzagt to deftly provide feedback in order to motivate students to increase the quality of the performance. In this capacity, Mrs. Unverzagt applied coaching communication skills to mentor students in acting and other functions that supported the show.

Lastly, Mrs. Unverzagt is the president of the Chase Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). As the PTO President Mrs. Unverzagt demonstrates strong collaboration and efficiency in making sure all voices are heard and that progress stays on track.

In the role of mother, teacher, union building representative, grade-5 drama director, and PTO President Mrs. Unverzagt demonstrates excellence in communication by listening and speaking with tact and kindness," - Emma C. Chase Elementary School Leadership Team

Karen Crowfoot

"Karen is our master Special Education Teacher at Chase Elementary. Karen is an excellent teacher who serves our youngest and most challenged learners in Monticello Central School District. Karen sets the bar high for her students and challenges each to strive to be his or her personal best. Every student in Karen’s class has a different learning style and she is able to adapt her lessons in creative ways to highlight the learning strengths of each individual child.

Karen works closely with parents, therapists, and other professionals to meet the needs of students and create a calm yet cheerful environment. Some children in Karen’s class have difficulty properly expressing what they are feeling due to their communication skill level. Karen has solid intuitive skills that sense underlying issues behind a child’s behavior and helps each as situations occur. She creates a nurturing and academically challenging environment. It is very apparent when you walk into her classroom that she communicates with her students effectively and has a genuine love and joy for our children," - Pupil Personnel Services Leadership Team

Amy Ross

"Communication is something we all know about and do but is difficult to do really well. Amy Ross does not have that problem. Amy communicates with multiple stakeholders who are able to have a positive influence on the students she serves and the program she is continually developing. It is not only the words she uses but the intention behind those words that help to move people to work with her and her students. Her intentions are honest, sincere, informed, purposeful, and from the heart.

Amy’s communication network extends between professionals within the building, departments, administrators, buildings, community partnerships, employers, and families. She is a hub of connections that result in her students having incredible opportunities to learn and have meaningful contributions to others in our school, district, and community. We are grateful for Amy’s dedicated effort to communicate effectively for the benefit of so many," - Monticello High School Leadership Team

Patricia Murphy

"Ms. Patricia Murphy exceeds expectations beyond her role as Secretary for the Assistant Principals Office at RJK Middle School. She is a vital member of the RJK Family and is considered to be a respected supportive staff member by faculty, staff, parents, administration, and students. “Ms. Patti” as students refer to her, is empathetic, humble, patient, and loving.

Ms. Murphy prioritizes middle school students’ emotional, physical and social needs as they enter the Assistant Principals Office. The needs of our middle school students are always put first. Every student is respectfully heard, welcomed with open arms, and met with a gracious smile.

Ms. Murphy also has the skill set to quickly determine what district resources are available to immediately support all student needs. Without a doubt, Ms. Murphy fosters student independence and provides wisdom and insights that any teenager can benefit from. Ms. Murphy aims to become a problem solver, works diligently, and supplements healthy relationships among her colleagues," - Robert J. Kaiser Middle School Leadership Team

Ramon Ciprian

"Ray is an effective communicator and leader. He is authentic, visible and a good listener. Three qualities that are so important in not only in keeping us safe, but in building-up and raising our future leaders here at MCSD.

Ray understands the need to always be honest and sincere, present and encouraging by first listening before offering ideas and solutions. Leaders are skilled communicators in countless relationships at the student level, in the community, with staff and members of your own department. Ramon Ciprian is one of those leaders," - Safety and Security Leadership Team

SUNY Sullivan’s Liberty Partnership Program

"Communication is a vital skill that we all need to be successful in school and in life. Effective communication helps us to not only be heard, but also understood. When students are in need of academic support or simply need expectations clarified, no program exemplifies this better than MCSD’s partnership with SUNY Sullivan’s Liberty Partnership Program (LPP). LPP is a New York State Education Department-funded program that provides an after-school, day school and summer program designed to promote college readiness and career development among middle and high school-age students. Communicating and partnering with LPP Director, Ms. Ruta Cole, and her team of professions has made a world of difference in the lives of our students. The Special Programs Administrative Team would like to recognize LPP’s contribution towards a brighter future for the students of the Monticello High School and RJK Middle School. Thank you, LPP!," - MCSD Special Programs Leadership Team

Jill Yannetta and Tim Mangiaracina

Instructional Coach Jill Yannetta and KLR-newbie Staff Developer Tim Mangiaracina teamed up to illustrate again how great things happen when we collaborate and communicate. The pair organized the 21 Day Read Aloud Challenge, creating a series of videos of teachers, support staff and administrators reading their favorite books to encourage students and their families to develop a love of reading for pleasure anywhere, anytime. Through this “challenge”, KLR also had the pleasure of welcoming district leaders and our Board of Education President leader to our classroom to share their favorite story with our kids," - KLR Leadership Team

Model Schools Message

Each month, a member of the Model Schools team shares wisdom from the conference with the Panther team. This month, Cooke Paraprofessional Omnia Elghaly highlights the importance of communication across cultures.


by Omnia Elghaly

Communication in the past

Effective communication requires an open mind, an attitude of a life-long learner, and an understanding of self as a cultural being. The first global concept that we need to understand is "change." The world can change in an instant or it can change slowly, but change is inevitable. There are three stages of change:

Mind-Set Change:

Understanding the concept of a cultural self. Each of us has an internalized pattern of values, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes, which are common to our own group of people. Become aware of your cultural self. How? Become mindful of your patterns of behavior.

Ask yourself…

  • What am I assuming?
  • What values do I reflect?
  • What beliefs do I hold?

Learn that your culture is not the only valid one. There are realities other than your own that are equally as valid as your own.

Skill-Set Change:

The development of cultural communication skills. One skill is the ability to view any particular situation from another person’s perspective- to shift one’s frame of reference so as to empathize.

Once I can empathize, then what? Learn to “style-flex” which is the capability to adapt your communication style to the style of others.

Example: If direct eye contact is considered rude by the person you are talking with, adapt to that person’s style of indirect eye contact.

Why is this important?

We each have special gifts to offer others. By showing respect and adapting to another’s style, you allow for better and deeper communication.

Am I supposed to do all the work?

No! Everyone is involved in mutual adaptation. The result is the creation of something new, and the ability to grow and learn while maintaining your original culture.

Heart-Set Change:

An attitude of mutual respect and caring. Kindness is all hearts’ language.

Classroom 2020 Update

Each month, the District provides a brief update on the status of the Classroom 2020 Capital Improvement Project. Please click the video below for January's update.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 9 - Superintendent Advisory Meeting, 4:15 -5:45 p.m.

Jan. 17 - Board of Education Meeting, RJK Cafeteria, 7 p.m.

Jan. 21 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - No School

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

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