Celebrating School Year Successes

Celebrating School Year Successes
Posted on 12/23/2020

Dear School Community,

Hindsight in 2020 is so, well, 20/20. It’s easy to second-guess in a year marked by uncertainty and constant change.

But when I look back at Kenilworth’s school year so far, I am extremely proud of our preparation and perseverance. We’ve accomplished everything as a team, starting with committees of staff members, community volunteers, and parents to develop a comprehensive reopening plan.

We knew we’d inevitably encounter hurdles during the course of the school year, but we also knew we didn’t want to just “get through it.” We decided to treat the situation as an opportunity for true learning and growth and explore how far our creativity could take us.  Our can-do approach even inspired a theme: #KenilworthReady. We’ve returned to that slogan since September to remind our community that nothing will keep us from educating our kids!

(Kindergarten students practicing morning mindfulness with Care Plus clinician, Kelly McGuire)

We’re still in the thick of this situation, so it can be difficult to have a long-range perspective. But as we approach Winter Recess, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the last three-plus months and how far we’ve come during a school year that started as a great unknown.

Students set the tone

Our kids have shown flexibility and fortitude beyond their years as they adjusted to new schedules, virtual learning and safety protocols. Quite frankly, they’ve set an example for us adults as we try to keep up with it all.

While we’ve always known how great our students are, our community had the chance to learn about our students through initiatives such as the Start with Hello program from Sandy Hook Promise and the Be Nice Company, a charitable clothing line run by the Practical Arts students at Brearley High School and their teacher Jacob Ulasevich.

Students are also looking out for one another. The peer advisors at Brearley High School and their teacher Nicole Warchol, counselor Megan Harrison, and counseling intern Danielle Marzano created a virtual wellness space with information on fun and healthy outlets such as yoga and cooking. The page also includes mental-health resources. (Click on the picture below to access the page.)

Parents are our partners

Parents have taken on many extra responsibilities this year, from building kids’ mask-wearing tolerance to becoming experts in Google Classroom. Many have embraced the chance to learn more about our district’s online educational programs by taking virtual Parent University classes. Teachers have noted especially strong connections with parents this year as two-way communication has become even more crucial. We appreciate everything our parents are doing to support students’ learning and to keep their families safe and healthy.

Teachers doubled down

Our new technology facilitator, Jamie Rifkowitz, has helped teachers adapt to the wide range of online tools they now need to do their jobs. Our Supervisor of Technology, Joe Rodriguez, and his team helped deploy nearly one thousand new Chromebooks as part of our growing fleet of technology devices and focus on future-ready teaching and learning.

Teachers also adjusted to countless new protocols that affected the way they interacted with students. But they stayed upbeat and got creative, looking for ways to deliver effective instruction and social support for their students.

We’re on the grid

A new page on our website features teachers sharing stories about how they’ve found inspiration and positivity this year. Support came from the Kenilworth community and, in the words of middle school teacher, Lorrae Schau, the positive energies of teacher colleagues, administrators, and students helps to power Brearley’s “energy grid.”

Our leadership team also accelerated its efforts. Our leaders new to their positions, including Brearley Principal Jeremy Davies and Harding Principal Ron Bubnowski, have shared regular updates about instruction, new building procedures, and moments to celebrate. And our Director of Student Personnel Services Dawn Cuccolo and her team have helped anchor instruction with Social and Emotional Learning practices and added resources.

We all have a lot to be proud of this school year. We’ve created a culture of communication, increased our strategic use of technology, and stepped up our existing focus on well-being. All those measures will continue to unite us as a district – both inside and outside our buildings.

I remain humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to lead our school district and look forward to the second half of our school year together.

May you enjoy a Winter Recess filled with joy and rejuvenation! Stay healthy & well.


Kyle C. Arlington

Superintendent of Schools

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