Literacy and Writing Programs in Our Schools

On Monday the Parent’s Council is having Dr. Westervelt present on the literacy and writing programs in Port and how they are being implemented K-12. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about new initiatives at our school, share feedback, and ask any related questions.

The purpose of this presentation will be to share the Process Writing approach that teachers have been implementing in the classrooms. She will provide specifics on the eight stages of this process, as well as share various strategies and creative methods she has witnessed in the classrooms and across the grade levels.

This meeting is being held on Monday December 5th at both 9:00am and at 6:00pm at the Weber Library.  We encourage you to attend this meeting to learn more about literacy and writing initiatives in our district.

In addition, please save the date for our annual Recent Grad’s Panel-  1/5 at 7:30pm in the Schreiber Library. This is a phenomenal event to get insight on our school district directly from those who know it best, our students.

Great News!

In the last several months, the Port Washington School District’s administration and BOE have undertaken two reviews that demonstrate their commitment to supporting the academic and emotional health of all our students.

In a focus on improving curricula offered to advanced learners as well as enriched learning in the classroom, the district hired consultant Dr. Joyce Van Tassel Baska, Professor Emeritus William and Mary and past president of the National Association of Gifted Children, to undertake a comprehensive review of our district’s advanced learning and enrichment opportunities (K-8).

Dr. Van Tassel Baska spent a week in district meeting with groups of stakeholders, observing classes and analyzing curricula, with her report to the BOE expected to arrive in January 2017.  We eagerly anticipate the report and will keep you apprised.

We are pleased that the BOE’s policy committee has also initiated a review of the district’s homework policy, last completed in 1994.

Dr. Kathleen Mooney has directed all of the schools’ Compact Committees, comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, and students (Schreiber High School only), to review and discuss homework policy this school year.

Many districts across the country are reflecting on and subsequently revising homework policies to reflect current research on the design and length of meaningful, challenging homework experiences appropriate to grade level.

We hope that all of our members will engage in reading the recommended research in best practice and in participating in conversation about homework, stress and student well-being.

For your information, Compact Committee meetings are open to the general public; however, observers may not comment at these meetings.  Contact your building principal or Compact Committee reps for the schedule.

Port’s teachers and administrators alike have the best interests of students at heart and rely on your feedback to provide the best possible educational experiences for our children.

Your voice is important to the process.  Please support the development of best practice by communicating with school leaders both when you see positive developments, such as the reviews currently taking place, and when you are disappointed with outcomes.  Together we can create great opportunities for all our school children.

Homework…now what?

Thank you to the large number of attendees who turned out for our meeting on “Homework, Mindfulness, and Reducing Stress” last week. Those of you that were unable to join us can read the meeting notes here.

Because local, state and national conversations are happening in and around homework, the focus of the meeting quickly turned towards understanding and analyzing research on homework “best practice” and to local and national school district homework policies.

As districts near our own, including Jericho Middle School, are beginning to adopt innovative approaches to homework, we are encouraging our administration and board of education to revisit our homework policy last updated in 1994 to incorporate the latest research.

At the meeting many parents, especially those in the upper grades, expressed concern about students overburdened with homework and many seemed reluctant to speak up about their concerns, fearful of potential recourse.

AGATE encourages our members to speak with the classroom teacher or guidance counselor, if you have a student who feels overwhelmingly burdened by homework.  The classroom teacher and school administration will work with parents and students to successfully address the situation.  All of us have the interests of our students at heart.

If you are interested in advocacy for students in regard to homework, become a member of AGATE of PW and join our homework subcommittee.

For more information on this topic, email us:

Save the Date: Meet the Candidates, 10/25

AGATE and SEPTA will be co-hosting a “Meet the Candidates” event on 10/25 at 7:30pm in the Schreiber Cafeteria, where candidates running for State Senate and Assembly will be sharing their thoughts on education reform and what role they hope to play if elected. We are looking for a committee of volunteers to help us organize and run this event. If you are interested please email us here at

Homework, Mindfulness, & Reducing Stress Meeting on 9/29

Homework, Mindfulness, & Reducing Stress
Does your child feel overwhelmed by homework?  Is homework causing stress and overload? Do you wonder if there is an issue with your child’s time management or if the homework is out of alignment with the district’s homework policy? (Click here to view.)  Come find out steps you can take to become more mindful and help reduce stress around homework.

AGATE is hosting Homework, Mindfulness, & Reducing Stress on 9/29/16 9:30-11am at the Weber Library.  Guest speaker Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, College Board Certified Instructor of Teachers of AP English, retired from Manhasset High School: District Specialist in Programs for Gifted Youth, and nationally recognized private consultant for gifted students with learning deficits, will discuss research on the topic of homework appropriateness as well as:

  • When parents should or shouldn’t assist
  • How to determine individual issues vs. inappropriate homework.
  • How to best partner with teachers.

There will also be a Q & A segment.  All parents K-12 are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Welcome Back

We hope the school year has gotten off to a great start for you and your children!

The good news in regards to G&T education and enrichment as a whole is that the district has hired a consultant to look at our current program, evaluate our needs as a district, and make a recommendation as to how best to reconfigure our enrichment program so that more children benefit and needs are met across the spectrum.

This consultant will be conducting focus groups with a cross section of parents in a couple of weeks. If this is something you are interested in participating in, please reach out to your HSA presidents.

So while PEP was downsized for the current school year due to space and budgetary considerations, the administration is well aware that the situation is far from ideal and is actively working to come up with a better solution.

The AGATE board just met and is full of enthusiasm and drive to advocate for kids, our community and district.  As always, we are here and available to listen to any concerns you may have and support you in advocating for an appropriate education for your child(ren). Please feel free to email us anytime at

Mark your calendars and join us at our upcoming meetings, particularly our kick off meeting on 9/29 which will bring mindfulness (and stress reduction) to the topic of homework. We will be arming you with information and resources on how to evaluate whether your child is spending too much time on homework, whether that is an individual or class circumstance, and what steps you can take to support your child and hopefully reduce the level of stress and anxiety as a result of homework.

AGATE Events Calendar, 2016/17

Homework, Mindfulness, & Reducing Stress: How much homework is too much and how to support your child to reduce stress and anxiety around homework
Thursday, 9/29/16 9:30-11am, Weber Library

Meet the Candidates: A panel of candidates running for local and state office will present and discuss their views on educational policy and answer relevant questions.
Tuesday, 10/25/16 7:30-9pm, Location TBD

Septa Hosts: Sensory Processing and Executive Functioning: Strategies for Parents and Teachers
Tuesday, 11/3/16 7:30-9pm, Daly Annex

Parents’ Council Hosts: Literacy K-12, presented by Dr. Westervelt
12/5/16 9:30am, Weber Library

Recent Graduates Panel: Recent Schreiber graduates return to answer your Qs and share their candid thoughts on their high school experience
Thursday, 1/5/17 7:30-9pm, Schreiber Library

Topic TBD
3/14/17 9:30-11am Daly Annex

Meet the Candidates for the PW Board of Education
Tuesday, 5/4/17 7:30-9pm, Weber Library

General Meeting- The year in review and election of AGATE officers for the 2017/18 school year
6/7/17 9:30-11 Weber Library

How does homework correlate to school success?

AGATE applauds the initiatives undertaken by the Compact Committees at Weber and High School to support students by encouraging mindfulness and is appreciative of the most recent Schreiber decision to provide ninth graders with a homework moratorium over the last school vacation, both of which are designed to reduce stress and anxiety, and build a better school environment.

We encourage our members to read the article linked by The Boston Globe reporter Kevin Hartnett, “What We Don’t Get About Homework”that appeared November 11, 2015 as a starting point to learn more about the impact of excessive homework on schools and on student success.

One of several organizations providing guidance to schools and parents to reduce stress and anxiety in our national student population is Challenge Success, a program originating at Stanford University ( that incorporates ways to address academic overload on students.

We urge all members of the school and home community to continue to work together to explore ways to ensure the well being of our student population.

The School Budget Passed

The Budget Passed 

Thank you to everyone who voted “Yes” to support the school budget. The final results were:

  • Yes: 2,401
  • No: 823

Proposition 2 to sell a parcel of land in Sands Point also passed:

  • Yes: 812
  • No: 510

BOE Election Results

Emily Beys and Karen Sloan won 3-year terms on the BOE, while Chris Nadolne was elected to a 1-year term.

  • Emily Beys: 2,032
  • Karen Sloan: 2,022
  • Chris Nadolne: 1,651
  • Dave Sattinger: 1,369