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Jen Lamia
Bill Donohue

Byram Hills School District Announces New Superintendent
January 6, 2017

Byram Hills Superintendent of Schools William Donohue will retire from the District at the end of the school year and Jennifer Lamia, the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, will succeed him, the District announced Friday.

Ms. Lamia, who joined the Byram Hills schools as an English teacher in 1990, will take on the new position on July 1. The man she will replace, Dr. Donohue, is also a long-time Byram Hills educator, having started in the District the same year as Ms. Lamia. He has served as Superintendent since 2012.

“Bill Donohue has been an outstanding Superintendent, and we are grateful for his remarkable vision and contributions to the District,” Board President Brett Summers said, speaking on behalf of the entire Board. He added that Ms. Lamia’s selection as the next school’s chief followed the District’s practice of cultivating administrative leaders from within.

“The process for selecting Dr. Donohue’s successor couldn’t have gone smoother, and was made easier as a result of years of focus on leadership succession,” Mr. Summers said. “The Board was absolutely unanimous in this decision, and recognized Ms. Lamia’s outstanding intellect, demonstrated leadership, and deep commitment to the success and continued improvement of the District.”

The Board is scheduled to vote on the appointment at the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

Ms. Lamia said she is looking forward to taking the Superintendent’s post in the 2,400-student district where she has served almost her entire career in education.

“What I love about this school community is that you can be the Superintendent and still remain connected to the kids,” she said. “The student perspective drives everything that we’re doing, so knowing a significant number of students in the District and watching them enjoy their learning motivates my leadership.”

She said her aim will be to maintain Byram Hills’ stature as a “high-performing, desirable District,” with an extremely talented faculty and staff.

Her appointment was supported enthusiastically by Byram Hills PTSA President Abby Woodworth.

"Jen Lamia is someone both parents and teachers highly respect,” Ms. Woodworth said. “Her history in Byram Hills and her leadership abilities in the education field make her the right choice for Superintendent. I cannot think of anyone better to lead Byram Hills into the future."

Longtime community resident and former Board of Education member Vince Greco considers Ms. Lamia’s appointment to be an “outstanding decision by the Board.”

“I couldn’t be happier,” Mr. Greco said. “The District is in excellent shape, both from a financial and educational perspective. Jen has a great deal of vision and demonstrated leadership, and I’m confident that the District will be in excellent hands.”

Ms. Lamia came to Byram Hills as an English teacher at H.C. Crittenden Middle School after teaching one year in Tuxedo, N.Y. In Byram Hills, she was struck by the “collaborative and forward-thinking approach, and the dedication to kids, first and foremost. There were also opportunities to grow. You can develop in many ways here and you will be supported.”

In 2003, she became chairperson of the English department for grades 6 through 12. Five years later, she became the assistant principal at Byram Hills High School, a position she held until 2010, when she, her husband and their two sons moved temporarily to Brazil.

When the family returned from South America in 2012, Ms. Lamia took the post of Assistant to the Superintendent in Byram Hills, and was later named Assistant Superintendent.

Looking back on her career thus far, she credits Crittenden Principal H. Evan Powderly with being one of the leaders who encouraged her to move into administration. He and another District leader – a former superintendent – suggested in 2002 that she enroll in a master’s program in educational administration at Fordham University. She received the degree from that program in 2005 and is now earning a Doctor of Education degree from Johns Hopkins University.

She also credits Dr. Donohue as being a key mentor.

“Bill is an incredible leader and part of his leadership strength is in cultivating the strengths of the people around him,” she said. “For many years, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with him and to take part in decision making, which is effective preparation for this new position.”

BOE Prepared for New Byram Hills Superintendent

November 19, 2016
Brett Summers, president of Byram Hills Board of Education says, “The Board of Education is proud of the work accomplished by outgoing Superintendent Bill Donohue, and grateful for his 27 years of service to the District, the last five of which have been as an outstanding Superintendent.”

“Fortunately,” he continues, “the Board of Education has focused on succession planning for a number of years in order to protect and promote the strong, coherent leadership we currently enjoy. We are well positioned for the task ahead of us in selecting the next Superintendent. Not only do we have a very talented and dedicated Board, but several of us have been through this process a number of times during our Board service.”

Furthermore, he says in the coming weeks, the Board of Education will share with the community significant events in the process to select the District’s next Superintendent.

“We wish Dr. Donohue every success in the next phase of his career and are confident that his continued leadership through the end of this academic year will help assure a smooth transition to our District’s next Superintendent,” Summers concluded.

Bill Donohue

Dear Byram Hills Community,

November 14, 2016
After 27 years in leadership positions in Byram Hills, it is with mixed emotions that I now inform you that I will be leaving the District at the end of June, 2017. Though I will be officially retiring, I will in fact be taking the position of Head of School at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side – my own neighborhood!

I have been communicating with our Board of Education about my candidacy for the new position throughout the process, and they have been planning accordingly for succession. As a result, the District will be well positioned to seek and appoint a new superintendent. The Board will be announcing their process in due time.

I want to take this opportunity to assure you that the District maintains an enviable position, both educationally and financially. College admissions for the class of 2016 were outstanding, once again. Our progress with developing a 21st Century curriculum is advancing, and with the support of the Byram Hills Education Foundation, the impact of the state’s tax cap has not deterred academic initiatives. Our financial health remains exceptional; Byram Hills has set a different financial course from most of our neighbors, which should continue to work very well for us for years to come.

Most importantly, the strength of our students, families, faculty and staff is a source of great pride for me, and I feel confident that the leadership is in place to sustain excellence in all aspects of the organization. It has been my pleasure to know and work with so many wonderful community and staff members over the years.

Thank you for a very gratifying career in Byram Hills and for the support and cooperation that you always offered me.

Best regards,

Bill Donohue, Superintendent

Assemblyman Buchwald Helps Secure Significant School Aid Increase for Local School Districts, Ending Era of Gap Elimination Adjustment

April 1, 2016
After years of suburban school districts in New York State falling victim to state budget cuts, Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-White Plains) announced that public schools in his State Assembly District will see a substantial increase in state aid for the 2016-17 school year.

“Although we have scored this major victory on behalf of students, parents, educators and taxpayers across the state, I will always be fighting for our local schools,”  said Assemblyman Buchwald.

The increase in state aid was led by the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (also known as the GEA). Of the nearly $1.5 billion in overall additional state education aid in the budget, $434 million has been appropriated for the end of the GEA. In addition to ending the GEA, $627 million has been included in the state budget to boost Foundation Aid, a broad-based level of aid for school districts. In total, there is an additional $8.9 million in new state aid earmarked for public schools based in Buchwald’s Assembly District, which encompasses all or part of nine school districts in central and northern Westchester.
“Since I entered the State Assembly three years ago, I have made it my mission to make sure that our local schools are appropriately funded and that our children can get the education they deserve. With the full restoration of the GEA, school districts can more confidently plan their yearly budgets, thereby ending an era of uncertainty for the education community and taxpayers. I have received thousands of letters solely on this issue, and I am happy to report back to my constituents that we have repealed the GEA. Although we have scored this major victory for students, parents, educators and taxpayers across the state, I will always be fighting on behalf of our local schools," said Buchwald. “
A breakdown of school aid increases within Buchwald’s Assembly District are as follows:
· Bedford Central School District - $754,077, a 13.2 % increase in aid.
· Byram Hills School District - $ 272,189, a 8.3% increase in aid.
· Chappaqua School District -$954,262, a 15.0% increase in aid.
· Harrison School District - $498,032, a 13.3% increase in aid.
· Katonah-Lewisboro School District - $1,112,813, a 17.7% increase in aid.
· North Salem School District - $206,997, a 10.2% increase in aid.
· Ossining School District - $1,150,904, a 7.0% increase in aid.
· Valhalla School District - $140,486, a 3.1 % increase in aid (a $379,000 increase from ending of GEA, less changes in expense-based school aids).
· White Plains School District - $231,119, a 1.1% increase in aid (a $401,000 increase from ending of GEA, plus a $104,000 increase in Foundation Aid, less changes in expense-based school aids).
The above amounts and percentages do not include building aid, which is focused on capital expenditures and fluctuates from year to year. For some districts, additional building aid significantly increases the total aid amounts – for example in Ossining, where total aid including building aid went up $2.9 million, or 16.7%. Jumps in building aid also bring up the Valhalla and White Plains total aid figures.
Buchwald co-sponsored two pieces of legislation in the State Assembly that would have repealed the GEA: Assembly bills A.2271-C and A.5365. Buchwald has also attended various school board meetings and education forums across his Assembly District where he spoke on developments within the legislature on school funding issues.

Bryam Hills Education
Teachers to Tutors
By Gina Curran

Republished February 29, 2016
It’s never too soon for students to begin thinking about which colleges they want to consider. Ideally, they should start focusing on the college process during their freshman year because it will affect their selection of courses and help determine the standardized tests they will need. For instance, ACT or SATs or both? SAT subject tests, and if so, how many? Which SAT subject tests should they take? Parents should seek advice from guidance counselors, college advisors and parents with older children, who recently went through the college application process.

Fortunately, it’s easy to visit the website for each college and to check out its admission requirements. I can't tell you how many students, especially freshmen, I turn away every spring because they waited too long to register for my Bio SAT-prep classes. There are a limited number of qualified tutors and test prep courses in the area, and everything fills up quickly!

HCC Middle School
HCC and High School Students Take ‘Field Trips’ Around the World

November 20, 2015
Looking through cardboard viewers fitted with smartphones, Byram Hills students this week trekked the Great Wall of China, dove the Coral Reef and gazed into Mars’ craters.

The students’ overwhelming reaction? “That’s so cool!”    

Byram Hills High School and the HC Crittenden Middle School were among the schools selected to participate in the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, which offers virtual field trips. To test its new program, Google is bringing schools kits containing tablets, cardboard viewers, and phones that provide 360-degree tours, 3D images, and video with sounds so teachers can try out the new program.

Teachers in both schools led different expeditions tied to their classroom subjects. Language teachers took their students to Venice and Barcelona; social studies teachers visited ancient Roman ruins, Machu Picchu and China; and science teachers travelled to volcanoes, outer space and underwater. Teachers used tablets to conduct the tours, pointing out key sites and explaining them. To take advantage of the panoramic views, students twisted and turned their heads to look around while listening. “You don’t even have to go on vacation, because it’s all right here,” said sixth-grader Chloe Fang.

High school social studies teacher Julianne Wilson said the program had features that made it a useful teaching tool, such as the ability to guide students to important spots in a tour and monitor where they are looking. “My students all loved it; they wanted to see different types of expeditions,” she said. “It was really fun for them.”  Ms. Wilson and other teachers, however, did caution students to take frequent breaks from the viewers to avoid motion sickness.  About 20 classes at both schools participated in the free demonstration.

Teacher Debra Cayea, who chairs the Science Department and organized Monday’s Google visit, said the expeditions seemed to offer teachers a way to give students a more realistic view of a specific site than they would get from photographs.

“In the sciences, you so often wish you could take kids out in the field or underwater or to outer space,” Ms. Cayea said, adding that such trips would provide a good introduction to a new topic, or could be used with Chromebooks so that students could see a site while researching it. “Is this the be-all and end-all? No, but it’s another extension of the classroom that can make learning more meaningful for the students.”