My name is Philip Cammarata and I am the principal of Persell Middle School. I am beginning my 18th year as principal of Persell and my twenty-first year overall here at Persell.

    If you are new to Persell, you will see that our building is very welcoming. We pride ourselves in building relationships with students and parents. We recognize that strong relationships with families are essential for a child’s success. If you are a returning parent, you already know what a great school Persell is, and that your child will be in great hands by our outstanding teachers and staff.

    I am very excited about this upcoming school year!  

    Our goals this year will be for Persell to become a high performing school by continuing our work around differentiating instruction, improving student attendance, continuing our work around teaching students about social and emotional learning by using Community Building Circles, teaching soft skills, and teaching students how to calm themselves by using meditation during homerooms. 

    In order for Persell to become a high performing school, we need to have high expectations for our staff, our students, and our parents.  To become a high performing school, our teachers must differentiate their instruction. Differentiation is a way of teaching that instead of everyone learning the same thing, the same way, or at the same time, a teacher can quickly assess the students and create different leveled groups depending on where students are and teaching them in a style that meets their needs.  A teacher may give a pre-assessment or a quick assessment during class to determine who knows the information and who doesn’t. Then, based on that information, the teacher will create different groups depending on what each group needs. By incorporating differentiation into each lesson, the teachers give each student exactly what they need to get to higher levels.  

    Next, if we are going to become a high performing school, we need our students here and learning.  Our second goal is to vastly improve our student attendance rates. Last year, we had over 20% of our students chronically absent from school.  That means, 20% of our students missed at least two days of school per month. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of the year, they would miss over a month of school.  To improve this number for the upcoming school year, we are going to be implementing a reward program that gives students privileges or rewards every month if they have perfect or excellent attendance (less than two days absent).  An example would be if a child were only absent one day in September, they would be able to use their phone in the cafeteria, have time in the gym during homeroom, or get a prize from the school store at the end of the month. The goal is to incentivize students to want to come to school because if they are not here, they are not learning.  Students will all be given badges if they have met the goal of one day or fewer absences. Perfect attendance in a month will result in more privileges for them. If your child is truly sick, we want the child to stay home and get better. They will then be eligible the following month to hit the goal of perfect or excellent attendance and earn privileges that month.  Again, missing just two days of school a month is a chronically absent student and our goal this year is to have our chronic absence rate below 10%.     

    Finally, by running Community Building Circles, teaching soft skills, and teaching students how to calm themselves through meditation is another goal for us this year.  Community Building Circles are a way of creating a caring, trusting environment where students feel comfortable talking about anything to a trusted adult. We believe that in these Circles, we have the ability to informally teach students how to deal with bullying, stress, peer pressure, or any issues they are having.  We also believe that many students lack what the industry is calling, soft skills. Some soft skills are how to talk to people, how to become organized, punctual, use effective communication, and to learn to be responsible, just to name a few. Also, many of our students deal with traumatic experiences in their life and then bring this stress into school.  If we teach all students how to calm themselves when they are feeling stressed by teaching them meditation techniques, they have a better chance of performing at high levels. We feel that between Circles, teaching soft skills, and learning how to meditate, this is a proactive way to help students with any issues they are having so they do not become larger issues in the future.

    Finally, I want to let you know that you are welcome to call, email or stop in to see me or our assistant principal, Amanda Sischo, anytime you need anything. We look forward to meeting you and watching your child grow and develop into their full potential in the 2018-2019 school year.