Opening Day Full of Warmth and Insight
Educators entered John Jay Middle School’s auditorium to the smooth sounds of jazz, performed live, by band teacher Jared Henderson on bass and teaching assistant Matt Rocchio on guitar. It was already an Opening Day like no other.
As the energy ramped up on stage—a quartet featuring teacher Jesse Weiss on drums and vocal teacher Carly Spaeth delivered the Beatles’ "Oh! Darling’—it transferred to the audience. By the time social studies teacher Chris Shamkin closed the set with Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama,” teachers were singing along.
“This is a fun way to start, and a tough act to follow,” said Superintendent Andrew Selesnick with a smile.
Stepping into the New Year Together
Opening Day —the day before the first day of classes—is when educators and administrators gather in order to step into the new year together. It's a Katonah-Lewisboro tradition to also celebrate staff anniversaries and welcome new members of the Katonah-Lewisboro Schools’ family.
Dr. Neill Alleva, assistant superintendent of human resources, led the recognition of staff who have been at KLSD for 25 years. New teachers and staff were also recognized. Among them, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Julia Drake.
“I’m excited to be on this journey with you,” Dr. Drake said to the educators. She spoke of her commitment to ensuring that all classrooms and spaces are ones she’d want for her own children, and to working with integrity and treating others with respect.
Educators Thank Staff
Focus on Belonging and Respect
Opening Day is also a time to lay the foundation for the year ahead. In his keynote address, Superintendent Selesnick focused on the importance of creating a community in which each member feels they belong.
He shared the example of retired US Supreme Court Justice David Souter, whose guiding principle was to remember that every decision he made had direct impact on the lives of everyday people—a principle as relevant to the classroom as well as the court.
“Thank you for being here, and for being part of public education,” said Superintendent Selesnick. “We have the opportunity to create the best possible environment for our students. As we model listening, empathy, openness and patience, we create a community of belonging and respect, and our students gain the skills they will need to make a difference in our world.”