About September: Welcome Back 2015

Dear Middle School Parents and Students,

Welcome to the 2015-16 school year!  In just a week and a half we will be back together learning at the happiest place on earth, Jericho Middle School.  It is with great pleasure that I welcome you as part of our educational family to another school year.  By Thursday of next week, you will receive the number of the room to which you will report on the first day.

I hope everyone enjoyed the summer. My family’s summer was lots of fun, albeit dramatic.  Given my own accident prone youth, it should have come as no surprise to me that my son Nicky broke his elbow and my daughter Olivia tore ligaments in her knee this summer… THESE KIDS, why do they do this to us!! Honestly, I’m starting to get a sense of the stress I visited upon my own parents when I was a kid.  Consequently, we stayed close to home over the vacation and spent time in the pool, which thankfully was abetted by the amazing weather we’ve had (I know, “Don’t jinx it,” there’s some summer left right?) My daughter Juliet will begin Kindergarten in two weeks, my oldest, Patrick, will begin his senior year in high school, and Joseph will start at the high school in Massapequa.  So many exciting transitions for the Gately kids this September.

Found time to read some good books:  The Wright Brothers (David McCullough), one of the best books I’ve read in a while, contains abundant lessons on leadership, learning, and innovation.   I liked it so much that I am currently reading McCullough’s account of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, The Great BridgeI’ve long been enamored of the beauty and history of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Born and raised in Flatbush, I feel a personal connection.  I’m reading a book about the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds (Kevin Powers) which is described as a modern-day All Quiet on the Western Front, a work I struggled mightily to complete when I was in high school, so I’m deriving subtle satisfaction in enjoying this book.  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Atul Gawande) is a thoughtful and challenging look at end-of-life experiences and corresponding medical practice. Sometimes a book finds you at the right time in your life. This book is helping me gain perspective on the experiences of my parents and others who find themselves at this challenging stage in their lives.

Sept 2015

Some recent adventures!

Also read some books to expand my thinking professionally. The Book Whisperer (Donalyn  Miller) transformed the way I think about literacy and the ways we work to create passionate adolescent readers. I enjoyed meeting the author at the International Literacy Association Annual Conference in St. Louis in July. Simplifying Response to Intervention (Michael Mattos) offers a straightforward and, yes, simple version of this important aspect of highly effective schools that work.  The Reason I Jump (Naoki Higashida) is a memoir by a 13-year-old boy with autism that is completely eye-opening and a must read for everyone, certainly anyone who is acquainted with a person with autism.

I read some outstanding young adult books as well.  Echo (Pam Munoz Ryan) is the story of three separate individuals whose interwoven tales of survival are united by a harmonica.  Paper Towns (John Green) is a great coming-of-age narrative by the author of The Fault in Our Stars.  My daughter saw the movie and really liked it.  I’m hoping that will motivate her to read the book as well.  The Orphan Master’s Son (Adam Johnson) was a challenging read that jumped around chronologically and switched narrators often, not always easy to follow when you’re lying next to the pool.  I enjoy reading young adult titles so that I can speak to our middle school students about them; I’m always so pleased to learn that they have already read so many outstanding books. If your child has read books over the summer, encourage them to complete the very brief summaries on our library website and submit them to our amazing librarian Pat Minikel so they can be recognized as Jericho Middle School Literacy Leaders.

I’d love to hear about the books you read this summer. Why not e-mail me or add to the comments on my blog.

So the battery is recharged and I’m looking forward to the new school year.  I’m sure you are too! I hope your summer has been fun and safe.  I’d love to hear your stories; e-mail me your vacation photos.

Our faculty members have been very busy this summer.  Mr. Wiener and I spent a great deal of time putting together classes and the master schedule so that every child has an appropriate educational program tailored to their needs.  Many of the teachers spent the summer participating in professional development, writing curriculum and/or previewing instructional materials for use in our educational program.  It has been a productive summer for our staff.

Mr. Mandracchia, our head custodian, and his staff have been working very hard to ensure that your children will start school in a building which is clean, attractive and which provides an atmosphere conducive for learning. Our clerical staff has also spent a great deal of time attending to the many tasks necessary for a smooth start to the school year.  We are most grateful for all of their efforts.

The Middle School PTSA is an integral partner in our successful school program.  Under the leadership of PTSA President, Christine Kasper, they generously provide support to our educational efforts in innumerable ways.  Please join them this year and support their work. The first meeting of the PTSA is September 17th at 9:00 a.m. in the Middle School Library.  We look forward to seeing you then.

We have placed many items of information for parents and students on our website.  Please go to the middle school website and click on “Resources” → “Parent Resources” → “Important Information” to find the following items:

Chain of Communication with contact phone numbers

Communication and Information Key

NYSED Assessment Schedule

Mission Statement

Attendance Procedures

Supply lists: all grades

Dress Code Policy

Megan’s Law

Information about M.S. Report Card

J.M.S. Safety Bulletin

Parent Information Manual

Student Handbook

Team Teacher Chart

As we enter the 2015-16 school year, the middle school staff and students will continue to examine everything we do with the goal of continually performing to the level of our “personal best”.  Together we will strive to provide a rich educational environment that is inclusive of all learners and committed to meeting each child’s individual needs.  Please accept my invitation to keep in touch.  Call me with any ideas, questions or concerns you may have. My door is always open!


Donald F. Gately, Ed.D.


Jericho Middle School

99 Cedar Swamp Road

About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
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