© Stephanie carter/SiS
n At the end of every school year,
Poestenkill’s teachers arrange a “moving
up” day at which students get to meet
the teachers from the grade level they’ll
be entering. George Washington’s
students and teachers took part in the
2010 moving up day. Many George
Washington students were excited
about having several sections of each
grade level because it multiplied their
opportunity to meet new friends.
n In late spring, we hosted an open
house for George Washington parents
at Poestenkill. Parents learned about
yearly events at the school and received
a tour from Poestenkill’s transition
team. Although some parents still had
hurt feelings, the open house helped
most of them feel more comfortable.
For instance, they realized that both ele-
mentary schools hosted similar events
and used the same curriculum.
n Poestenkill’s PTA traditionally holds
two summer meetings to reflect on the
most recent school year and focus on
the year to come. We invited all parents
from both schools to attend these gath-
erings. Parents tried to blend the best
ideas from both schools; for example, at
the suggestion of George Washington’s
parents we planned a roller skating
night (a favorite function at George
Washington for decades) in addition
to Poestenkill’s traditional functions.
We planned for some activities to take
place at George Washington (the dis-
trict still owns the building). Parents
liked knowing they could still enter that
school with their children.
n In late August, we had an ice cream
social on Poestenkill’s playground for
all parents and students. It was our first
opportunity to bring everyone in the
two communities together socially and
was a well-attended success. As parents
chatted over ice cream and watched
their kids play together, they began to
feel excited about the move.
By summer’s end, a few disgruntled
We learned how to navigate a school closing.
Together, we have built a new community.
communities together. I also used posts
to show the engaging, welcoming atmosphere at the school. I shared photos
and information about the fun things
that happen in any elementary school
and traditional events at Poestenkill—
such as our annual Harvest Festival.
Easing the Transition
After consolidation was announced in
spring, teachers in both schools kept as
much normalcy for students as possible.
They openly answered kids’ questions—
both George Washington students’
worries about going to a new school and
Poestenkill students’ wonderings about
what it would be like to have 100 new
students arrive. As Poestenkill’s prin-
cipal, I visited GW weekly so students
would get used to seeing me. I read
stories to some classes and stopped by
to say hello to others. Staff from both
schools tried to alleviate fears by cre-
ating events that would help kids and
parents get used to the coming change:
n We gave students from both schools
many opportunities to interact socially,
a great way to focus on the positive
aspects of the change.