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Superintendent Jeff Simons speaking at 2021-22 Opening Day

Superintendent Jeff Simons welcomes faculty and staff to the 2021-22 school year.

Teachers and staff returned to the East Greenbush Central School District on Tuesday morning for the first Superintendent’s Conference Day and the start of a new school year. Most staff watched a live stream of Opening Day presentations, which were hosted in the Columbia High School auditorium, from their classrooms and offices around the district.

During the welcome address, Superintendent Jeff Simons offered four themes of success for the year ahead:
  • Engagement of Students – all students need to be in our classrooms every day
  • Importance of Humor and Laughter – focus on bringing joy and laughter into our schools
  • Attitude of Gratitude – we should be grateful for the important jobs we hold and that we get to serve children and families
  • Espirit de corps – work together as one team in service to the community

The first day of school for students is scheduled for Thursday, September 9. Mr. Simons noted students may face challenges as some return to full time in-person learning for the first time since February 2020.

“We need our kids in class ready to learn, interacting with their peers and with us,” Mr. Simons said. “And we need all hands on deck to transition the students successfully.”

Dr. Stephen Birchak, who is a professor emeritus of counseling at The College of Saint Rose, an author and motivational speaker, served as the keynote speaker and delivered a positive message amidst the resurgence of COVID-19.

Using humor and an uplifting tone, Doc Bird, as he’s known, discussed the importance of civility, conscience and collaboration.

“Look at the world at large,” Doc Bird said. “And while none of us in here singlehandedly can change the bigger world, I guarantee you one thing, you can change the world that you carry around with you every day. I can change my world every single day. I can affect people who are standing in line with me, I can affect people in my neighborhood, I can affect everyone who I cross paths with every day.”

After the keynote address, staff watched presentations about district policies, school safety, emergency procedures and information regarding data security and Education Law 2-d.

Teachers and staff will be attending meetings, setting up classrooms and participating in professional development through next week.

“Last spring we were all very hopeful that our lives with covid were clearly behind us,” Mr. Simons said. “But it’s not the situation, unfortunately. And we will deal with it with the certainty of knowing that our children we serve are worth it. They are worth it. And the people with whom we work are second to none, first rate in every way. I wish everyone a successful, accomplished and joyful school year.”

To learn more about the East Greenbush Central School District opening plan, visit