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Superintendent’s Message”
May 17, 2016

Dr. Edward Placke

It is hard to believe that the May flowers are just around the corner and the end of another school year is in sight. I am pleased to report on the five initiatives

The first initiative is to expand technology in each of our classrooms across the four Academies. As was initially reported, technology plays an important role in delivering curriculum to our students. Each classroom in all Academies now has either an “ActivBoard” or “SmartBoard”. This technology enables teachers to download educational films, pictures, charts/graphs, articles etc. I have observed in a large number of classes and teachers are becoming more comfortable with this technology and will increase their use to meet the needs of your child. By August, the connectivity at each Academy will be significantly increased to facilitate better use of the technologies.

The second initiative is to improve our ability to assess your child’s needs and strengths in reading and mathematics. Each of the Academies are now using i-Ready, an online assessment tool, to assess your child. The information gained from i-Ready has been increasingly helpful in not only identifying your child’s strengths and needs in reading and mathematics but enabling teachers to better plan instruction. 

The third initiative is to upgrade the District curriculum in each Academy. As was described in the fall edition, “Boardworks” an online curriculum aligned with the Common Core is available for most classes. Teachers are beginning to use this online resource as either the primary curriculum or as a supplement. An online library will soon be available in each Academy.

The fourth initiative is to improve the communication between the Academies and families. The following have been achieved to address this matter:

  • Creation of a Parent Teacher Organization at REACH Academy
  • Redesign of the District website which will be launched in June
  • The phone notification system has been upgraded
  • The two “Open Houses” took place

The fifth and final initiative is to better prepare your child for the “world of work” and earn the Career Development and Occupational Skills (CDOS) Credential. Students may earn the CDOS by volunteering, coursework, internships, job shadowing and employment. As was described in the Fall Newsletter, the Andrus on Hudson Transition Program located at the Andrus Nursing Home in Hastings is now in full operation. Students from Kenneth Clark Academy, REACH Academy and Greenburgh Academy are actively enrolled in a number of internships and also receive academic instruction. The Andrus Nursing Home administration and staff have supported and embraced our students. To date, District students have volunteered over 3,000 hours at the Andrus Nursing Home. Our students are making a difference in the lives of a number of senior citizens.

A great deal of progress has been made in the implementation of the CDOS curriculum. Mr. Pizzutello, principal at REACH Academy and his staff are leading this effort. This key activity, which features five classes, has been implemented at REACH Academy and Kenneth. B. Clark Academy. Greenburgh Academy and Kaplan Career Academy will implement this curriculum in the fall.

I am pleased to report the combined Hastings-on-Hudson High School District and Greenburgh North Castle UFSD varsity football team was a success this fall. Students from both school districts worked well together and six of our students significantly contributed to the team. It is anticipated at least ten District students will participate this fall. Once the schedule is available I will forward you a copy so you can come out and support the team!

The “Knights”, our District varsity basketball team, had its most successful season in history by participating in the New York State championship in Glen Falls, New York. The “Knights” were one of twenty teams to compete for a championship and finished 3rd/4th in the State at the Class D level. The team outperformed all expectations and look forward to another productive season this winter. It truly was a magical season that will be etched in our memories forever. A special thank you to coaches Gaines, Federice, Fava and Marcellus for a job well done.

The District girls’ volleyball team, coached by Ms. Muscat, participated in Section 1 competition and made progress on and off the court. This group of young women have an immense amount of potential and I look forward to a promising season next fall.

The Kenneth Clark Academy Bowling team enjoyed another terrific season. The students learned a great deal about both bowling and life skills. Ms. Buttinelli and Ms. Pinto once again provided the team with not only skill instruction but continual encouragement and guidance. The Greenburgh Academy bowling team will begin its season this month and an update will be provided in the summer edition.

Facilities – As has been reported in prior editions of the Parent Newsletter, Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District was awarded approximately $1.4 million dollars by the state to renovate Kenneth B. Clark Academy. After several years, construction has begun. The drainage issue by the gymnasium has been corrected and the final step is the installation of an awning over the entrance which will be completed this summer. The gutters will also be replaced. The air conditioning/heating units are gradually being installed and completion of this part of the project is estimated to be July. The final part of the project is to cover the existing external walls of the Academy to protect it from the elements. This should be completed by the fall. Progress has been slow but I am optimistic now that construction is underway the project will be completed by the fall.

Board of Education – I am pleased to report that the Board of Education will be appointing two new members at the April 27th meeting. The new members are Ms. Francis Lightsy, who is a former teacher and administrator at the Mount Vernon City School District and Dr. George Cancro, also a retired teacher and administrator from Pleasantville Central School District. Both Ms. Lightsy and Dr. Cancro are highly accomplished educators and strong advocates for students with disabilities. I look forward to working with both new board members to ensure our students receive an education that enables them to successfully cross over the “Bridge to Adulthood”.


Ed Placke, Ed.D.

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District Description

The Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District (GNC UFSD) is an approved New York State public school district. GNC UFSD is comprised of four alternative junior/high schools educating students in grades 7-12 and ages 12-21. The following are the schools and their locations: Greenburgh Academy (Yonkers), Kenneth B. Clark Academy (Dobbs Ferry), Kaplan Career Academy (New Windsor) and REACH Academy (West Harrison).

GNC UFSD educates students who have found little success in their school districts, BOCES and/or private schools. The focus of each Academy is to provide a highly individualized education that prepares students for the next best opportunity; may it be return to their home school district or graduation from one of the Academies, including transition to college, career and technical school, the military, supportive employment and/or competitive employment. 

REACH Academy provides state-of-the-art education to students on the spectrum, as well as students who are dually diagnosed. Whereas Greenburgh Academy, Kaplan Career Academy and Kenneth B. Clark Academy educate students who have learning and behavioral challenges. All four Academies offer IEP based related services that include speech, counseling, occupational therapy and specialized reading support. Additionally, interscholastic athletics, intramural athletics and clubs are offered in each Academy. 

Greenburgh Academy only enrolls students who commute daily whereas the other three Academies enroll students who commute and/or board. St. Christopher’s Inc. provides the residential programming for each of the three aforementioned Academies.  The education program for each student is well integrated with the residential program. For more information regarding St. Christopher's, Inc. and the residential program please see their website (

GNC UFSD has documented an 80% graduation rate over the past four years with over 40% of our graduates attending college.  The key to our students' success has been an integrative approach to education that emphasizes academics, social skills, ethics and careers.  As of the 2015-16 school year the four Academies will place a greater focus on Career Development and Occupational Skills (CDOS). The following career areas are being considered and expanded: culinary arts, cosmetology, business, driver's education, art and music. For referral information please contact Dr. Robin Levine at 914-798-7200 ext.2232 regarding day placement and for residential placement please contact either Jill Bergner, Director of Intake, at 914-693-3030 ext. 2037 or Karen Safris, Supervisor of Intake, at 914-949-0665 ext. 2301.





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