Superintendent Gary Schall
Superintendent Gary Schall

The Superintendent of Schools is charged with the responsibility of establishing regulations and implementing Board policies. Under the Superintendent, the Offices of Business, Curriculum, Community Services and Personnel serve as a resource for the building principals, teachers and support staff to ensure quality education for students of all abilities enrolled in the Lawrence Public Schools.

January 2017

The Lawrence Family Tradition

We mark the New Year by celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Lawrence Public Schools, founded on January 24, 1891. Lawrence pride and tradition have never been stronger and will be most evident at the upcoming festivities. The District's historical research team led by LHS Social Studies Teacher Dr. Frank Zangari (LHS Class of 1997 & Yale ’02), brings passion for history and a deep understanding of the Lawrence tradition. In collaboration with Dr. Stephen Sullivan and assisted by student researchers Jessica Moreno (Class of 2017), Stacy Portillo (2018), Barbara Williams (2017), and Niko Williams (2018), the team has gone through hundreds of articles, photographs, historical artifacts and memorabilia. In addition, over six hours of interviews were completed with more than 80 alumni who represent every decade going as far back as the Class of 1942. The  interviews have been woven into an emotion-packed 45 minute documentary, The History of Lawrence, edited by Nicole Gartner (Class of 2012), who is currently the Social and Digital Editor for ESPN. There will not be a dry eye in the house for its premier!

The History of Lawrence, will also be told through a museum exhibit curated by our extraordinary and highly creative LHS Art Department. Rob Verone, Ilonit Oknin, Janet Gaines, Joanne Delguidice, and Lee Eskin bring their unique talents in wide range mediums to create a totally engaging exhibit that tells the Lawrence story through compelling imagery. Mr. Verone's Imagineers Class actually used wood from our recently replaced bleachers to create museum show-cases that will hold the artifacts and memorabilia. Professional graphic designer Miriam Vainblat (Class of 2012), worked with LHS art students to design display posters of notable alumni including Steve Madden who plans to attend the celebration as well.

Culminating the festivities, Music Department Coordinator Pam Gallopini and LHS Orchestra Director Terry Batts have re-united members of the Lawrence Philharmonic who along with over 100 students in the Philharmonic Chorus will present a good old fashioned Hometown Concert. Over a dozen alumni will be returning to perform and several will be featured as soloists.  Former Music Department and Philharmonic Secretary Maureen Feirman, whose daughters are also Lawrence grads (Lori Class of 1992 & Nikki ‘95) is assisting in the organization of the concert. Phase 1 and Phase 2 of an $850K renovation project of our LHS Auditorium have been completed for the concert with the final phase to be completed immediately after the event, all representing our community's long standing tradition of support. 

The 125th Anniversary Committee has planned a dinner dance. LHS Special Education Teacher and Key Club Advisor Izzy Mayo (Class of 1968), has his student volunteers working the event. Committee members Cathy Santora (Class of 1962), Roseanne Epp (Class of 1977), Gina Loch, Blasia Baum and Victoria Libby Simao and Pam Makaea Libby whose children represent the 4th generation of Libby's to graduate Lawrence, have all volunteered for the last 10 months to plan all the details of this celebration.

Lots has changed since the founding of our school district but one thing has remained constant- the pride, tradition, and spirit of the Lawrence Family! This is reflected by the commitment our staff, students, parents, alumni, and community in preparation of the Anniversary Festivities and on a daily basis in our schools!

Happy Anniversary!

December 2016

Four Walls For Tomorrow

Our race with time is never more evident than in December, having only 17 days of instruction. With calendar alerts, to do lists, lesson plans, and units of study we are forever planning to take advantage of every moment both professionally and personally. Our lesson plans and timelines enable us to reach instructional goals and calculate student outcomes. At the same time we balance our lives with plans and timelines for ourselves and our families. As educators we are great planners with an ability to chart all the steps required for students to reach their goals. We are like fortune tellers or wizards with the power to predict the future for our students. Having 2017 on the horizon we are reminded of goals we set each year for ourselves and the ability to forecast our own futures as well. 

As educators we are life-long learners, trained in the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. Teaching and learning is a complex activity that involves careful preparation and planning objectives and activities on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis. In addition, long-term planning ensures coverage of curriculum across a marking period, semester, and year. Further, effective educators demonstrate high expectations and select strategies to propel learning. Beyond planning and preparation of materials, effective organizing for instruction also involves the development of a conscious orientation toward learning as the central focus. 

Over the years, I have observed that the children of teachers become the best students in school. This is because as educators we plan for our own children at home as we do our children at school. There is a quote:

                                  School is a building with four walls that has tomorrow in it

I will add that the same holds true for the home. 

Wishing you successful planning today for a successful tomorrow! 

November 2016

A Mindful Decision

In this historical and contentious election season there is one thing we can all agree on - this is the most stressful election we’ve ever seen. It makes one wonder if perhaps the election is a manifestation of all the stress surrounding us.  Living in an age of information, the rapid pace of news media is a major contributor to the anxiety and psychological symptoms we experience.  We are bombarded 24/7, on all of our electronic devices with news and polarized opinions.  As a result, we need to find ways to alleviate stress and maintain balance in our lives.

Research has shown that the practice of Mindfulness is strongly correlated with well-being and good health. Since the 1970's, clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people who are experiencing a variety of psychological conditions. Mindfulness practice is employed to bring about reductions in depression, stress, and anxiety. Recent studies demonstrate that mindfulness activities can even reduce physical pain.  It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.

Mindfulness has also been utilized in the workplace to promote creativity and a positive working environment. Google has been at the forefront of the corporate application and worldwide promotion of Mindfulness. In schools nationwide, it is being used to develop the competencies that are part of Social Emotional Learning and Character Education

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other activities. It cultivates the following Social Emotional Competencies:

Self-Management: The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. 

Self-Awareness:  The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

Social Awareness: showing understanding and empathy for others

Responsible Decision Making: making ethical, constructive choices about personal and social behavior.

Taking the first steps towards Mindfulness is simple. When you’re done reading this message, just close your eyes and focus on a few deep breaths without letting random thoughts distract you. When you open your eyes, the stress of the world will still be there, but mindful activity makes us better equipped to process it. 

September 2016

The Simple Stuff

A positive learning environment is established when we greet students walking through our doors. Understanding the importance of this, several years ago we shifted the Middle School student entrance from the side of the building to the magnificent front entranceway of the Broadway Campus. More so than other age group and typical of middle school students who tend to be reserved in their communication with adults, we initially received a reluctant response to our enthusiastic early 7:30A.M. greeting.

As time went on though, things improved. Early morning eyes that would not look up began to make contact with ours. Shrugged shoulders began to lift with the wave of a hand. Even some quiet “hellos” gave crescendo to a level of enthusiasm. 

This year, an apparent miracle occurred. Students met us in the morning, not only with energetic smiles, but they actually began to initiate the conversation with bright-eyes saying, "How's it going Mr. Schall!", and "Have a great day Mr. Perry!"

As a proud Superintendent I said to Mr. Perry, "You see, all it takes is time, patience, and the confidence that eventually students are going to catch on."  To my surprise, Mr. Perry informed me that it was a little more than that. In the Professional Day Assembly held the day before, Mr.  Perry talked with students about the impact of a positive greeting in the professional working world. He also shared how much our daily welcoming morning ritual meant to us personally. He communicated it as a special time for all of us to connect with each other.

Character Education and Social Emotional Learning Programs in Lawrence have reached an extraordinary level that is admired and respected by our entire school community. In our effort to continually improve, we can learn from this simple lesson about the importance of "hello". Students have learned to appreciate the significance of a simple courtesy. It's also a reminder to adults that even simple, seemingly natural things may not necessarily develop over time and must be directly taught and discussed. As adults, we can never take for granted what our children may or may not understand- sometimes we just have to explain the simple stuff.

September 2015

I Learned About Uniforms Through Music

For many years, the Lawrence High School Band performed at football games from the stands. Opting not to wear marching band uniforms, students performed as a pep band instead of marching in parades and half time shows. Back in 1998, having received an invitation to march in a local parade, the students agreed to do so, and for the event choose to wear a traditional blue and gold Lawrence tee shirt, jeans and sneakers- the look seemed cool enough. Yet, to everyone's surprise, a marching band from a neighboring district was also in the parade dressed in full regalia with decorated uniforms, marching shoes, and hats with plumes. Both bands performed at an equal level but the visual contrast was stark and public. At that moment the students understood the impact of a uniform.  

Early the next morning, waiting for me at the school entrance was Dr. David Sussman who was then Board President. He asked how much new marching band uniforms would cost and assured me that the Board would find the funding. Thus began the transformation of our Marching Band, which ultimately led the advancement of our entire music program.

With any institutional or systemic school change students must be empowered and take ownership. Change is not achieved through a reward system. It is not achieved through compliance, consequences, or disciplinary action. Change is achieved through student leadership and intrinsic motivation. 

Back then, the transformation of the marching band was led by four remarkable students. Wilbert Pharr became the first Drum Major of the LHS Marching Band. He went on to receive a full scholarship to Louisiana Tech, eventually became their Drum Major, remained in Louisiana as a relief volunteer after Katrina, and is now a music educator in New Orleans. Marty Wolfe became the first President of the Marching Band, went on to Yale, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and is now a gastroenterologist and professor of Clinical Medicine at NYU Medical. Lee Squitieri became the Marching Band Vice President, received a scholarship to MIT, went on to become a plastic surgeon at one of the nation’s top children's hospitals and recently received a fellowship in Health Policy at UCLA.  Matt Reich became the first Marching Band PR manager, went on to George Washington University and now records and tours internationally with his own band. In their college essays and interviews Wilbert, Marty, Lee, and Matt each described the experience of transformational leadership- how they helped change the culture of an organization.

The Marching Band went on to achieve at levels beyond expectation,  performing in prestigious NYC Parades down 5th Ave, the MTV  Awards at Radio City, and  down Main Street in Disneyworld among the nation's top bands. 

Last year, Lawrence parents overwhelmingly voted 4-1 for students to wear school uniforms. In the first two weeks of school the new uniforms have had a dramatic impact. 

I learned about uniforms through music. If the lessons I learned are correct- ultimately real change is from within. 

September 2015

New School Year

The remaining days of summer have an air of excitement with anticipation of the new school year that awaits us. The opening of school promises to be a turning point with changes to our schools being achieved from the inside-out. New grade configurations, new school uniforms, new Focused Cluster Groupings, new program offerings, new building assignments for many staff, and millions of dollars in building improvements, all of which will serve as a springboard for our success!  

New grade configurations will provide a foundation for advances in team planning, coordination across the grade level, and articulation from grade to grade. Lawrence Elementary School (LES) for Grades 3-5, located with Lawrence Middle School (LMS), will provide an enhanced learning environment with many improved facilities that include science labs now available to our younger students. With PreK-K at Number Four School, and Grades 1-2 now at Number Two School, for the first time each grade is united under what is referred to as the Princeton Plan, all in alignment with the District's mission to serve as a unifying force.  

Based on overwhelming parent support, school uniforms will now be utilized for students in PreK-8. This is expected to enhance school culture by promoting school spirit, pride, teamwork, and a deeper feeling of belonging to our Lawrence Family.  

Having a wide range of well-established academic and extracurricular programs competitive with other top tier districts, we continue to enrich our offerings with a new  3-D Printing Course that begins in September at LHS, Computer Coding at  LMS and LHS, and After School Team Sports and Drama Clubs for LES. Lee Arroaz, our newly appointed Coordinator of Instructional Technology will spearhead Professional Development initiatives that will enhance our ability to utilize the most current resources available. To address the needs of our English Language Learners, a fully implemented Bilingual Program K-12 is ready to begin. In addition, to provide enrichment for our gifted learners while providing remediation for those in need of academic support, Focused Cluster Groupings have been established to narrow the range of achievement in each class so that teachers can more effectively differentiate instruction.  

Changes in our instructional program are complimented by changes in the physical appearance of our buildings. The list of capital improvements is expansive and includes the following:  


Cafeteria Renovation with new air conditioning unit installed 

New Main, Guidance and Central Offices 

Air conditioning unit upgrade in Auditorium 

New Science Research Projects Room 

Renovations to all Science Labs  


New Suite for Art, Technology, Music, Home & Careers 

Renovations to 15 Classrooms 

New Softball Field 

Upgrades to all Fields, Track & Tennis Courts 

New LED Entrance Sign 

New Transportation & Facilities Offices  

From the inside-out, this extraordinary range of change is the direct result of our Lawrence Family working together with a focus on creating the best possible learning environment for our children. We look forward to the new school year and all the wonderful days to come! 

July/August 2015

The Light that Shines in Lawrence

Commencement Speech, June 2015

Tonight we celebrate the completion of a joyous journey on a road filled with achievement and shared experiences. We are part of a tradition that dates back 121 years, to the founding of the Lawrence Public Schools in 1891. We are Lawrence Family, united by this journey together.

In any journey, stepping into the future takes courage as we step out of our comfort zone where we feel most at home. When friends become family, when classmates become brothers and sisters- school becomes that home. When stepping through the classroom door lifts our spirits- our school becomes our home. When victories are celebrated, challenges shared; when futures are shaped by educators who care; when scholastic achievements become the milestones of our lives-school becomes home. Lawrence, where pride, diversity, and tradition flourish. A home like no other, ours is the most diverse on Long Island.   

In a nation and in a world more divisive than ever, the unity of the Lawrence community is a beacon of light for all to see. We stand witness, to a nation disappointed by the lack of progress since the civil rights movement.  We stand witness to a nation saddened by a prevalence of disrespect and injustice. We stand witness to racial and ethnic profiling taking place every day in cities from coast to coast. Yet in Lawrence, diversity did not divide us. It distinguished us. We stand uplifted. Diversity has become our strength and our greatest asset.

Graduates, you have embraced your differences by treating each other with compassion. All measured by the spirit and passion in your hearts and in your souls. Compassion, from the Latin roots meaning to love together. Compassion, an emotion that inspires our desire to help others before tending to our own pressing needs. Compassion, an intellectual process that motivates us to take action based on justice, equality, and sound judgment. In ethical terms, passed down through the ages, the principle of compassion is embodied in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Graduates, each of you have an important purpose in life, a unique, gift or special talent that when used in service to others makes your spirit shine. You are the light that shines in Lawrence. Go forward and light the way for those who have difficulty finding the right path. Go forward, and on your own journey, light the way in pursuit of your hopes and dreams, and may all of your dreams come true. 

June 2015

Through a Child’s Eyes

Look into the eyes of a Lawrence student and you'll see the reflection of achievements made throughout the school year. We can take pride in a school culture that promotes Character Development and emphasizes Social Emotional Learning. As we bring closure to the school year, we appreciate how far our children have come. They have developed competencies that serve as a foundation for success now and in the future. The spirit of our Lawrence Family is a model of professionalism, teamwork, and collegiality that provides the best possible example for children to see.

Sometimes, students will do as we say, but as they observe us daily, will ultimately do as we do.  In Lawrence, we walk the talk - our actions speak louder than words.  The eyes of our children also speak louder than words, and to every staff member they are saying, "THANK YOU!"

May 2015

Our Upward Trajectory

Through a variety of forums that include the School Board, Town Hall, and Parent Meetings, we have heard opinions from parents, community members, administrators, teachers and students.  Our proposed budget is based on these opinions and provides a roadmap reflecting our shared values and collective vision for the future.  We have heard requests to increase academic rigor, and opportunities in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math. We have heard requests to maintain our robust extracurricular and elective programs so that we continue to remain competitive with other top districts. We have heard the community’s support of our Capital Improvement Plan, having an overwhelming 4 to 1 vote approving the recent Referendum. Of course, every day we prioritize school safety and security.

Our District Re-Structuring Plan is in alignment with NYS Guidelines for Curriculum and Instruction, and NYS Assessments.   In September, based on the Princeton Plan, each building will have entire grade levels, facilitating effective grouping practices.  Having a larger cohort enables us to narrow the range of ability levels in each class, making Focused Cluster Groups possible,   so that we can more effectively differentiate instruction for high academic achievers, as well as for our intermediate level learners, and those in need of academic support.  Groupings will be determined by using NYS Exams, teacher recommendations, and a District implemented standardized screening exam. In addition, based on new State Regulations we will be implementing a full Bilingual Program K-12 for our English Language Learners.  To increase STEM opportunities, our LMS Science Labs will be made available for 3rd and 4th Grade Science Enrichment. With an eye on the future, we will be offering Computer Coding as part of Technology at the Middle School and course in 3-D Printing at the High School.

There is a bright outlook for next year’s budget as a result of increases in State Aid, reductions in costs for Retirement Benefits (TRS), as well as anticipated savings and revenue from the leasing of Number Five School.  In June, $8.6 M from the sale of Number Six School will be forthcoming and replenish a robust reserve. Beyond next year, we are happy to report an upward fiscal trajectory into the future!

The Proposed District Budget 2015-16 is $98M with a Proposed Tax Levy of 1.5%. The entire Tax Levy will be put towards our Five Year Capital Improvement Plan, so that in addition to thriving programs, maintenance and upgrades of our facilities are ensured for the future. 

March/April 2015

Opting for Success 

We're all put to the test on a daily basis. Regardless of one's position, title, or role in life, each of us faces challenges and problems that test our judgment, knowledge and ability. Often, this may cause a level of  anxiety, butterflies in our stomach, or stage fright. These feelings may be triggered by a presentation that has to be given, a job interview, or even by socializing at a party. When we are forced out of our comfort zone it is important to control anxiety. Like any learned "habit" it takes practice to control these feelings so that they are re-directed and used as a tool for success. True champions function best under pressure! With testing season upon us, here are a few tips for building confidence and cultivating an attitude of success:  

  • Strive for a relaxed state of concentration
  • When needed, pause for a moment and take a deep breath
  • Keep on task and take one step at a time
  • Review your past performance to improve and learn from experience
  • List what worked, and hold onto these strategies; they are building blocks to success
  • Use strategies to personalize success: visualization, logic, self-reflection, practice and sharing success through team work
  • Avoid those who have not prepared, who express negativity, or who will distract your preparation
  • A program of exercise is said to sharpen the mind
  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Don't face a challenge on an empty stomach
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress
  • Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives, heavy spices, or high sugar content (candy)
  • Stay focused. Don't panic when others are done before you. There's no reward for finishing first
  • Celebrate that you are overcoming obstacles on the road to success
  • In the words of William James, the founder of American Psychology and the first educator to offer a Psychology course in the United States: The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another
  • In the words of Mr. Rogers, another great American educator whom we all trust: In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers

February 2015

View From the Middle

Perspective from the middle is unique. Growing up as the 3rd of five brothers, I've always found myself in the middle of things. Sometimes it's a matter of seeing the forest from the trees or getting over the hump. In the middle of a story, it is where we reach the climax or turning point - thinking about how the story is going to end. Now, in the middle of the school year we are thinking about how we will reach our goals. 

With midterms for students and midyear rubric reviews for staff we assess how far we've come, then modify and adjust, and stay the course to reach our goals. We’ve made sure to stay focused on clearly defined goals so that there is consistency and evidence of achievement at full potential. Everywhere we turn, we see evidence of our Champion's Mindset. We can take pride in how far we've come.

Here's a little mid-year exam on Teach Like a Champion. Now in the middle of the school year, it provides a glimpse at how much we consistently apply to our instructional practice, how far each of us has come, and where we are going.  Hover your mouse but do not click over the topics below to see the answers.








7.  4 M'S 

8.  POST IT 









17.  RATIO


19.  AT BATS








27.  VEGAS


29.  DO NOW   




33.  SLANT  


35.  PROPS

36.  100 PERCENT  













2nd Semester Instructional Days

February: 15 Days

March: 22 Days

April: 15 Days

May: 20 Days

June: 11-17 Days 

January 2015

Heroes Among Us

Stories of heroes are all over the news: First responders and even concerned passersby put themselves in harm’s way to help others, going against every instinct for self-preservation.
Our Lawrence Family lost a hero, Joseph Sanford, Jr., a 17 year member of the Inwood Fire Department who served as Lieutenant, Captain, and most recently as Assistant Chief. He loved being part of the brotherhood in the Volunteer Fire Department community. His daughter, Janisha reflected his leadership throughout her school career and is a highly respected graduate of Lawrence High School. On Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Joseph Sanford, Jr., ultimately departed this life doing what he loved, as a firefighter.
What could explain such heroism?  Heroes believe in actions rather than just words. Heroes are ordinary people who  possess confidence, courage, and valor. Heroes are prepared to risk the ultimate sacrifice to help others.
As educators, our mission is to ensure all learners reach their highest individual potential, and enable all to posess the confidence and abilities to meet life's challenges. As educators, we cultivate confidence in our learners leading some to demanding positions in life, requiring decisiveness and action that ultimately safeguards and protects our community.

Gary Schall, Superintendent

Have a GREAT Day 

Character Education is far more than a means to improving discipline, it is the foundation upon which heroes are made. With this in mind, the new year brings reflection on a hero and a reminder of our responsibility, today as educators,  for cultivating the heroes of tomorrow.

A common practice for the start of a new year is the making of promises and resolutions aimed to improve ourselves.   We all strive to become better at what we do, to reach our own greatness.   As Lawrence welcomes 2015, our resolve remains strong, to continue to enable each and every learner to reach for success.   In his bestselling book Good to Great, Jim Collins says “greatness is not a function of circumstances, it turns out it is largely a matter of conscious choice”.   In Lawrence, we choose to be GREAT.

We choose to be great with a commitment to rigorous standards, data driven instruction and a champion’s mindset. We value and use data in moving each learner from good to great. As the year progresses we will continue to prepare our learners for the assessments of the spring. Our students learning to read in pre-k through 2nd grade will be assessed with the Developmental Reading Assessment. In grades 3-8, students will take state exams in ELA and math, high school students will show their proficiency on Regent exams required for high school graduation. The State Education Department is recommending an increase in the value state tests have on teacher evaluation, what is called State Provided Growth.   Lawrence teachers and leaders exceed the expectations of the state by instilling in themselves a resolve to build greatness by cultivating champions. Lawrence utilizes the international work of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion to make a conscious choice to improve their practices and the outcomes of their learners.

Collins states "What separates people is not absence of difficulties but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life".   As a Lawrence family, we choose to prepare our students for the challenges ahead of them through building social emotional competencies in balance with strong academic foundations enabling all learners to display their greatness. Time and time again we see the greatness of our student body, teachers, staff, and community not just in the classroom, but on the athletic field, the stage, in local and national competitions, and in supporting one another through life’s difficulties.

Lawrence welcomes the promise of greatness ahead, supported by a strong community, committed teachers, leaders, and parents. Our resolution remains to be a GREAT school community and to continue to be champions for one another.  

Dr. Ann Pedersen, Deputy Superintendent

December 2014

Teaching Gratitude

One way to give thanks is to give of oneself. One would think that this comes naturally, yet gratitude is a learned behavior that's a challenge to teach in times of instant gratification. Under the umbrella of Social Emotional Learning and Character Development these competencies are taught in Lawrence:


The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well grounded sense of confidence and optimism. 


The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals. 

Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. 

Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed. 

Responsible Decision Making

The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.
Character development is reflected by students’ interactions with each other and with staff, in and out of the classroom. It is reflected by an overall sense of calm throughout our buildings, during passing, and in the lunch room. It is reflected by the Character Development programs that are an integral part of our school culture.
The best lessons are taught through example – our actions speak louder than our words. Giving of ourselves to nurture students provides reason for their gratitude. Especially at holiday time we can celebrate that our students are learning this aspect of giving thanks.

Gary Schall, Superintendent

Full STEAM Ahead

Lawrence is going full STEAM ahead and the destination is clear, to prepare our learners to be college and career ready. 

The rigorous common core curriculum challenges learners in all grades and calls for both understanding and application of new concepts. Under the guidance of our talented teachers and leaders, the application of new learning is accomplished with an instructional focus on engagement. Engagement puts academic concepts into practice to create meaning for students. 

Lawrence is moving forward with a commitment to engage our learners with the skills needed in the 21st century. The areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the addition of the arts (STEAM) create avenues for all our students to develop creativity and persistence. A longitudinal research study by The National Endowment for the Arts documented 71% of economically disadvantaged students who participated in high schools with a high level of arts programs attended college, compared to 48% of students who had attended schools with low arts programs. It is the combination of academic skills, creativity, and persistence that will yield success in college and career.  

Henry Ford is quoted as saying “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right”. The rigorous standards progress from a first grader who “can understand what I read by asking and answering questions” to a high school ELA student who “can integrate multiple sources of information to make informed decisions and solve problems while evaluating the credibility and accuracy of the source.” You can link to the “I can” statements for each grade here: 

As a Lawrence family of parents, teacher, leaders, and community members, we are all proud, actively engaged participants in supporting our learners as they go full STEAM ahead to a successful future. We know they can and will reach the destination.

Dr. Ann Pedersen, Deputy Superintendent

October/November 2014

Building on Success


After many meetings and lengthy discussions to get input and feedback from a wide-range of stakeholders, a recommendation has been made to the Board of Education to develop a restructuring plan for the District. Based on opinions of our stakeholders, at this point in time our plan is bold, sensible and builds on our success. This success is reflected by:

  • an Instructional Leadership Team that has laser focus on achievement
  • teachers committed to data driven instruction fully aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards
  • scores on the rise and in some areas inching ahead of neighboring districts
  • prestigious awards for student achievements –most recently out of 1000’s nationwide 96 were selected as Siemens Finalists- we have not just one but two finalists from LHS (Lee Blackburn and Arthur Chen)
  • numerous state and national awards English Language Arts, Technology, Psychology, Business, Robotics, Music, Art, and Athletics - just to name a few
  • 17 Advanced Placement Courses- one the most expansive offerings for any HS on LI with Lawrence scoring competitively among the highest performing districts
  • Accelerated Courses in the Middle School that enable students to earn Regents credits before they graduate the 8th grade
  • a wide variety of extracurricular clubs and activities- 44 at LHS, 18 at LMS, and 6 in each elementary
  • the only fully implemented, full day free, Universal Pre-K in Nassau County. It also includes free transportation and for those who have been with us since PRE-K we have a High School graduation rate of 99%

Our mission is to serve as the unifying force at the heart of a cultural mosaic. We celebrate our diversity and embrace those who have come to Lawrence in pursuit of the American Dream. We are Lawrence Family. We are strong. The strength of our bond gets tested and each time we are strengthened even more. 


The process began in July with a question: how to plan for the use of revenue from the sale of Number Six School? It was determined that a full review of districtwide building utilization and building improvements was needed. This review was framed by factors that we can control and others that we cannot control. The NYS Tax Cap forces districts throughout New York to make cuts making limited funding available for capital improvements. In Lawrence, with the Tax Cap and with a record fiscal responsibility we still have one of the highest per pupil expenditures in Nassau County. In part, this is due to declining enrollments that we have seen over the last 15-20 years. We now have 2880 students in the Lawrence Public Schools. Over the years this has led to empty classrooms and underutilized spaces.

At one time there were 1800 students in Lawrence Middle School. Now there are 770. Walking through the Lawrence Middle School today you can find 11 empty classrooms. In addition, we have classrooms used by two or three office staff, or full classrooms designated for administrators. Taking those into account, we have well over 20 available classrooms in the Middle School. Fortunately this is not a problem. A problem is when you do not have enough space, yet it is indefensible to maintain these empty and underutilized spaces while having one of the highest per pupil expenditures.

At the heart of this plan is a structure supported by research and aligned with New York State curriculum, instruction, and evaluation for grades 3-8.  A secondary goal of this plan will be to generate a revenue stream, through the leasing of a building that will provide us with the financial means to ensure our rich array of districtwide programs well into the future. I will be recommending that through this process we seek an agency, organization, or institution that will not only lease a building, but will partner with us to provide an appropriate setting for our students with the greatest needs, who until now have placements that are out-of-district.

We will begin planning for September, 2014 to transition the Lawrence Middle School into a Lower School Grades 3-5 and an Upper School Grades 6-8. Mrs. Beach will be the Principal of the new Lower School and Mr. Perry will be Principal of the new Upper School. Mrs. Lee will remain the Principal of Number Two School for Grades 1-2.

The District is committed to an open planning process that provides all stakeholders with ongoing opportunities for input to ensure that our new structure reflects a shared vision for the future and the highest level of academic achievement.


August/September 2014

Lawrence on the RISE

The New York State’s Regent’s Reform Agenda, a response to “Race to The Top” federal funds is aimed at raising performance of students in the United States to be globally competitive and college and career ready. Lawrence has embraced the changes of the reform agenda. As the rising sun starts a new day, Lawrence’s rise is found in each learner’s progress musically, artistically, athletically, socially and academically.

In last year’s #4 kindergarten class 81% of students were proficient as measured by their Developmental Reading Assessment scores and 91% measured at mastery on the common core GOMath assessment. The academic rise continues with Lawrence First Graders showing average growth in Developmental Reading Assessment scores of 10 reading levels.

This RISE of our learners is evident in our third graders out performing school districts of similar demographics such as Westbury, Long Beach , and other, wealthier less diverse communities such as Oceanside. Lawrence’s 4th grade ELA scores are within 3 percent points of the county average.

The graduation rate for students that start with Lawrence from pre-k on is 99 percent.

Our students are ready! In Lawrence, we prepare all our learners FIRST for the opportunities of a stellar secondary education rich with music, arts and athletics while on their ever upward trajectory to college and career. We do this while addressing the champion mindset and developing the processing skills necessary for students who live under acute and chronic stress of poverty.

We will continue to climb the steep mountain ahead of us in a changed academic environment with rigorous standards and new evaluations. Lawrence will RISE through the committed efforts of instructional leaders and teachers with years of experience working alongside engaged families with capable and successful students.

We are Lawrence, a proud and successful cultural mosaic and nothing will interfere with OUR mission.

Dr. Ann Pedersen, Deputy Superintendent 

July 2014

In Search of New Shores Commencement Speech

Congratulations Lawrence Graduates and Lawrence Family. Tonight we share a tradition that dates back 121 years to the founding of the Lawrence Public Schools in 1893. From the beginning, our school community has reflected strength of family and promise of the American Dream.   In the 1900's, many of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, possessed the courage to journey to the shores of America seeking freedom from religious and political persecution, and seeking relief from a lack of economic opportunity abroad. Lawrence like New York City, was the melting pot for a generation whose sons and daughters lived the American Dream.

Many came much earlier, but not of their own free will, and were forced into labor under the oppression imposed by our very own nation. Yet, centuries later, possessing the courage, heroes like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., made it possible for generations to receive the full measure of rights due every American. More recently, over the last decade, the largest wave of new Americans since the early 1900's, possessing the courage, journeyed through our borders bringing the newest members to our Lawrence Family.

Each of us here tonight can easily trace our roots to the family members who possessed the courage to arrive at America's doorstep. The courage that distinguishes us as Americans - the courage that is our bond. No matter where you've come from, how you got here, or when your family arrived, no matter your race, religion, nationality, family orientation or political views, no matter which part of the Five Towns you live in, no matter your ability, disability or how much money you have - we are Lawrence Family.

We understand that world changes before our eyes. With an open mind we have shifted from a doctrine of assimilation to a deep appreciation of multiculturalism.  Graduates, as a result, your relationships are based, not on tolerance but on a celebration of each other, not by keeping beliefs to yourselves but letting your beliefs be known, not feeling threatened by the intensity of someone's way of life but using it to strengthen your conviction and deepen appreciation of your own. Lawrence Family, holding your beliefs close as others hold on to theirs strengthens each, and as this is shared we are united.

This is captured in the official motto of the United States of America, E Pluribus Unum - from many we are one. It is captured in the official mission statement of the Lawrence Public Schools – the unifying force at the heart of a cultural mosaic. Graduates, you have achieved the mission.

Now moving forward our future is in your hands and will be built on your ability to function in a global economy, understand the world, world culture, and your ability to work with those who are different from you.  Lawrence graduates you are prepared better than most having grown up in a community that is rich in culture.

So, with the courage of those who journeyed to our shores and the strength of those who built our great nation, go journey forward, find your own new shores, fulfill the American Dream and may all of your dreams come true.

June 2014

In an ongoing effort to maximize efficiency in our organization there will be several changes implemented next year. The following staffing chart and information provides a basis for understanding these changes:

Staffing Changes



Number Two School

2 Social Workers

1 Social Worker

1 Psychologist (new position) *

Number Four School

1 Social Worker

CPSE Supervisor (LTA position)

1 Social Worker

CPSE Supervisor (ALA position)

Number Five School

1 Social Worker

1 Social Worker

Middle School

1 Social Worker

Deans (6 periods/day)

1 Social Worker

1 Administrator (new position)**

High School

2 Social Workers

1 Social Worker

1 Assistant Principal (new position)***


District Art Coordinator

LMS Building Level Coordinator (new position)

LHS Building Level Coordinator (new position)

District Art Show Director (new position)

*There are currently two Social Workers at Number Two School. One for building needs and the other to provide support for a Self-Contained Special Education Class. A Psychologist with a background in Behavior Analysis will be replacing the Social Worker in the Self-Contained Special Education Class. The building level Social Worker will remain.

**The Middle School Deans will be replaced by a new administrator.

***The second Social Worker at the High School will be replaced by a new Assistant Principal. The new Assistant Principal will do family outreach that cannot typically be done by Social Workers due to contractual restrictions.


Due to the increase of Common Core Math for the entire 8th Grade, Accelerated Art does not fit into the 8th Grade schedule. Two new art clubs will be established instead. There will be a club for selected advanced students and another for students interested in art enrichment. To provide the maximum amount of activity time these will be Group D Activities with the maximum stipend allocated. 

As a result of final enrollment calculations and course schedules that were completed after the budget was approved, unfortunately there have been further reductions in staff. These are not reductions in programs. Savings resulting from these additional reductions in staff  will be re-allocated for student programs and afterschool activities. 

The following Nassau Herald article provides background on re-structuring and layoffs due to enrollments:

WHAT’S THE RIGHT NUMBER? In the latest “reduction in force,” the term Schall uses, three of the school district’s eight social workers were laid off and a science teacher will retire and not be replaced. Two administrators are expected to be hired and will do what social workers cannot do because of contractual restrictions, according to Schall, calling and meeting student families after school hours. “Social work in schools is not what it used to be five, 10 years ago,” the superintendent said. “We have to meet the needs of the students and their families. You call people now during the day and no one is home.”

During a recent evaluation, Lawrence was cited by the State Education Department for its high number of suspensions, and this needed to be addressed, Schall said. LTA President, Lori Skonberg said that laying off social workers is a mistake because the district’s high poverty rate there are many students who are in need of the services. “Expecting members of the administration to fulfill their administrative duties and fill the role of the excised social workers is unrealistic,” she said. “The children of Lawrence deserve to have social workers that are experts in their field, not school administrators that will attempt to fill the social work void when they can.” Schall believes that administrators can perform multiple responsibilities and pointed to the changes the district has made through the past few years, such as Pam Gallopini serving as Lawrence’s musical coordinator and teaching classes; Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen, who is in charge of curriculum and instruction and is principal of the Number Four School; and Pat Pizzarelli, the assistant superintendent for student and community affairs who is also the athletic director.
Previous Layoffs To help cut into a $3.2 million budget deficit, Lawrence laid off six teachers last year and, in 2012, let go nine Universal Pre-Kindergarten program teachers — all LTA members — and replaced them with graduates from St. Joseph’s College. Universal Pre-K is not state mandated so Lawrence is permitted to out-source the program that was costing the district more than its then $560,000 state grant. The current grant of $589,300 supports the entire program. “We didn’t have to dismantle a needed program and we have a higher level of accountability,” Schall said. “The kids come first.” Skonberg thinks that hiring less experienced teachers in favor of veteran instructors leads to what she called a “revolving door and lack of continuity” for the children. “Who wouldn’t seek employment elsewhere if they could make more money and have better benefits,” she said. Current Pre-K teachers are not members of the LTA. The teachers association is awaiting a decision from the state’s Public Employment Relations Board on their claim that UPK program teachers must be in the union.

Nearly four years ago, Lawrence let go 11 LTA members who were providing special education services to the private schools within the district. The move saved Lawrence $1 million, but once again the district and the LTA were at loggerheads. “This was an issue that the LTA was willing to discuss as part of our ongoing contract negotiations being that it was clearly a contractual issue,” Skonberg said. “The district refused to do so.” Lawrence wanted the 11 teachers to align their work calendar with the private-schools’ calendar. Schall said the “yeshivas are extremely happy” with the current arrangement, which includes certified instructors. “We are most fortunate to be working with an amazing group of service providers,” said Joy Hammer, principal of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway’s Lower School. “They are a dedicated group who truly care about our kids and continue to advocate for their needs.” 

Lawrence's Lowering Enrollment

Year LTA Enrollment Student/Teacher ratio
2009-10 334 3,125 9.4
2010-11 320 3,092 9.7
2011-12 311 3,078 9.9
2012-13 304 2,972 9.8
2013-14 296 2,990 10.1

Sources: Lawrence Teachers Association, Federal Education Budget Project

Beginning With the End

Beginning with the end in mind and backward design are significant pedagogical concepts related to planning and instructional practice. With the end of the school year upon us, the importance of planning with the end in mind is made apparent. So many of our year-end school events and activities reflect all that is possible with a vision, plan, and lots of hard work.

Congratulations to everyone involved in our District Art Show, District Dance Show, STEAM Fair, all of our Honor Society Induction Ceremonies, Culture Fair, ALS Walk, School Concerts, Smithsonian Channel Project, Names Not Numbers Project, and the numerous awards and acknowledgments that have recently been bestowed upon so many of our students for their academic achievements. All of this provides a wonderful springboard into the final weeks of school.

Throughout the year, our work with Common Core Standards, Data Driven Instruction, Social Emotional Learning, and Teach Like a Champion techniques have been made evident through achievements in and out of classroom. As a school system we can take pride in how each of these initiatives has progressed. With final exams and completion of year-end projects we can appreciate the “end” results and the means that brought us to this point.

My favorite part of the day is the beginning, when I get to greet students entering the building for the start of school. Their early morning smiles are an indication that they are happy. Although the end of the school year is exciting for our students, so many do not look forward to being away from school for the summer. This is a result of our caring learning environment and all that faculty and staff provide for our children. Bringing school activities to closure effectively provides students with meaningful memories, and at this time, can even set the stage for their return in September- ending with the beginning in mind.

May 2014

Education Business

With New York State School Budget Voting Day just a month away, our Business Office is focused on the business of education while our educators stay focused on educating children. We treat the District Budget as a living, breathing document that reflects the collective values of the school community and our shared vision for the future. It is a roadmap to the future on a path that places students first.

All public school districts in Nassau County have proposed budgets that stay within the state tax cap – Lawrence has done the same. In light of these state-wide fiscal constraints, Lawrence has a track record of successfully changing the way we do business so that resources are maintained for our instructional programs and extracurricular activities. With a proven history of fiscal responsibility, Lawrence still has one of the highest per pupil expenditures on Long Island.

There are no cuts to programs in our proposed budget. We maintain a rich elective program, a wide range of extra-curricular activities, 17 AP courses, an expanding STEM program, and Music, Art, and Athletic programs that are the envy of Long Island. As Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio are just beginning to expand Universal Pre-k state-wide, Lawrence continues to maintain its long-term commitment to UPK. Based on recent re-structuring, the future of the program is ensured. Our UPK is the only tuition-free, full-day UPK program on Long Island and also includes transportation.

This year, we re-structured the manner in which nurses, psychologists, and social workers are contracted by shifting from BOCES to District providers. As a result, we generated a significant savings, in addition to a revenue stream that will be realized annually. More importantly, by re-structuring we improved the level of service provided to our students. Another change was made in the software platform used in our Business Office. This achieved further savings and streamlined operations. Next month, the District is planning to present all employees with the option of an alternative health care plan with a lower employee contribution. It will be a savings to those who opt-in to the program, as well as a savings to the District. Based on recommendations from the NY State Education Department, we will be restructuring our Social Work Department and Administration to provide a more effective model of student and family support.

Moving forward, we will continue to look for win-win opportunities. The recent sale of Number Six School and the anticipated FEMA reimbursement of Sandy related expenses will provide a significant financial boost to the District.

As our budget serves as a roadmap to the future with a path that puts students first, we are reminded how quickly the future comes upon us.

Number of days to reach our instructional goals

April: 6 Days

May: 21 Days

June: 7-19 Days (varies by level)

Click here to view the Budget Presentation  

April 2014

Testing for College Readiness

David Coleman, the President of the College Board which designs the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, has been recognized on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is described as "the architect" of the Common Core Standards and now is reengineering another mainstay of American education — the SAT Exam — to reflect the Common Core. Last month, David Coleman announced that beginning in 2016, the SAT will emphasize critical thinking, close reading, analysis of nonfiction texts, application of mathematical concepts to real-world problems, and writing arguments that are evidence based.  

As some chose to opt-out of upcoming exams for grades 3-8, this College Board announcement begs a question-would you or could you recommend that a typical high school student opt-out of the SAT? With an answer that is clearly "no", enshrining values of the Common Core in the SAT, an all-American rite of passage, defines a clear path towards college readiness and a context for our upcoming exams.  

SAT Alignment with The Common Core

Relevant words in context: "SAT words" will be words that students will use consistently in college and beyond – not one-time-only vocabulary words. 

Evidence-based reading and writing: Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, such as citing a specific part of a passage. 

Optional essay: The essay will measure students' ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience. 

Narrower math focus: The math section will draw from fewer topics, including: problem solving and data analysis; the heart of algebra; and passport to advanced math. 

Source documents from academic disciplines: The reading section will enable students to analyze a wide range of sources, including literature and literary non-fiction, science, history and social studies.

March 2014

Digital Learning

Lawrence High School Science Teacher Norman Deitch started teaching in 1971 and is the most senior teacher in the District. He is revered by students, respected by colleagues, and as the grandfather of our schools keeps a watchful eye on everything and everyone. Several years ago, Norm told me that he was thinking of retiring, but at just the same time a Smartboard was installed in his classroom. He was so fascinated by it that he decided to stay to be part of the change that was about to occur. Watching Norm maximize the use of the Smartboard serves as a model for life-long learning, open mindedness, and the ability to keep pace with the technological literacy of our students.

The development of Smartboard applications throughout the district is inspiring. Over the past few years, we’ve moved from chalk and dri-erase markers to brightly colored, flexible electronic pen and finger writing systems on white boards. Now our teachers create engaging, digital learning opportunities based on an almost endless resource of hands-on interactive activities. We’ve gone from computer labs, where students work in isolation, to a multi-media, web-based resource that fosters an exceptional and natural collaboration in the classroom. We are in an age where students now gather around the whiteboard for digital story-telling, skill development, diagram activities, electronic word walls, interactive maps and charts, and as seen in Norm’s class - digital lab work and video demonstrations.

As Superintendent, I welcome every opportunity to apply my PowerPoint skills as a means to integrate technologies and multi-media into a variety of presentations. My iPhone has also changed life in and outside of the workplace. As a matter of fact, I wrote this message on my iPhone while in a variety of locations and will be emailing it to you shortly. All of the technology at our fingertips has changed the manner in which we interact and I am so proud to see this reflected in our instructional practices, especially by those of us whose teaching careers started in the days of the chalkboard.

February 2014

After School

Increasing the hours that students spend in school isn't exactly the newest idea for improving outcomes in schools but it may be the best one.  President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and as recently as last week in his State of the State Address, Governor Chris Christie have underscored the importance of more time in school as a critical component of education reform.
The idea of extended learning time has taken on new urgency, due to growing concerns about competing in a global economy in which students in countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and China log considerably longer school days than their American counterparts. There's good evidence that the longer day improves the overall school learning climate, raises attendance, and reduces disciplinary referrals, the mindless use of social media, video games and television that occur when a child is alone at home. It takes the stress off parents who work and cannot be there when a child typically gets home from school.
These are large claims that typically come with a large price tag unless programs are established within our means. This requires a shared vision seen through a fiscal lense, reflective of our mission, and one that ensures that the quality of instruction and not the quantity is paramount. 

After months of planning with parents, administration, central office, teachers, and community members, and the Board of Education, our Afterschool Academic Learning Center, Homework Help Center and Cultural Connections Program for Grades -1-8 was launched on January 29, 2014. With a focus on Common Core Standards for ELA and Math, our teachers are providing academic support afterschool for one hour, three days a week through May, for over 250 students, followed by an hour of homework help or cultural studies provided on alternating days in our schools through the Five Towns Community Center. Without having to use local tax payer dollars, this program is made possible through state and federal grants earmarked for academic remediation and development of community partnerships. In addition, we have received the help and support of parent and community volunteers, local business sponsors, and a grant received from the local JCC. 

In our new Cultural Connections Program students have the opportunity for enrichment in Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew Language and Culture, as well as a Multi-Cultural Class that will reflect all the cultures and nationalities in our community. Our district’s mission to serve as “the heart of a cultural mosaic” is reflected by the spirit of this program, the smiles of the children and the gratitude of the parents. It is a direct result of the hard work, effort, and heartfelt spirit of the staff, our Lawrence Family who put this extraordinary program together.  

I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone that was part of implementing this great initiative!

 January 2014

Questions for the Future

Naturally around this time, one of the most frequently asked questions is: what will the New Year bring? Predictions and quick answers are usually based on a hunch. The paradox is that the answers are determined by the questions. Our future is shaped by asking all the right questions.
Had the right questions not been asked by those who laid the foundation for physics and biology, the fields would never have been developed. In fact, the future is born out of a cluster of questions to which answers are needed or highly desirable. Furthermore, every field or pursuit stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously as the driving force in a process of thinking. To think through or rethink anything, one must ask questions that stimulate thought.  Deep questions drive our thought underneath the surface of things and force us to deal with complexity.
The Common Core deepens our appreciation of the role of questions in teaching content.  It reminds us that thinking begins within the content when questions are generated by both teachers and students- going beyond the question, "Is this going to be on the test?” 

Questions define tasks, express problems and delineate issues. Answers on the other hand, often signal a full stop in thought. Only when an answer generates a further question does thought continue its life as such. Moreover, the quality of the questions students ask determines the quality of the thinking. The following is a framework to use when pondering what to ask:

Questions of purpose force us to define our task.
Questions of information force us to look at our sources of information.
Questions of interpretation force us to examine how we are giving meaning to information.
Questions of assumption force us to examine what we are taking for granted.
Questions of implication force us to follow out where our thinking is going.
Questions of point of view force us to examine our point of view and to consider other relevant points of view.

Questions of relevance force us to discriminate what does and what does not bear on a question.

Questions of accuracy force us to evaluate and test for truth and correctness.
Questions of precision force us to give details and be specific.
Questions of consistency force us to examine our thinking for contradictions.
Questions of logic force us to consider how we are putting the whole of our thought together. 

The following questioning techniques from Teach Like A Champion can be used when pondering ways to ask: 

STRETCH IT: Reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability. This is good for differentiation as well.

EXIT TICKET:Finish a lesson with a sequence of quick questions to “complete” the lesson and check for understanding.

TAKE A STAND: Push students to make choice. “Stand up if you believe…” (group), “Is that right, Jim?” (individual), “Thumbs up/down”, “Applaud if…”

COLD CALL: Call on students regardless of whether they raised their hand. 

CALL & RESPONSE: Ask a question and the whole class calls out the answer in unison.

PEPPER: Use lots of random questions; popsicle sticks with kids names on them; head-to-head challenges where two students compete to see who gets the answer first—then comes a new challenger; sit-down, where class starts standing and you sit as you get a correct answer.

WAIT TIME: Delay after asking a question before taking answers. 

With this said, I hope that in the New Year you find the right questions to all of your answers!

Welcome Back!

November 2013

Table Talk

With arrangements in the works and menus being planned, families and friends look forward to coming together for Thanksgiving. So busy, these days we cherish quality time to sit around the dinner table, share a home cooked meal, catch up with each other, and have some face to face conversation instead of Facetime, email, and texting over take-out. A celebration of so many traditions, it's a break from our busy lifestyles and a reminder of the simple things we used to do naturally- like the art of conversation. A heart to heart discussion between family and friends to express thoughts, feelings, opinions and catch up on current events is always most memorable.

On Tuesday, the fifth of November, the Lawrence Family comes together for a day of professional discourse. A break from our fast paced routine for a moment of reflection, connection, and shaping direction at a critical time in education. It promises to provide an opportunity for lively conversation about Common Core Standards. The more we know about modules, expectations, and assessments the more we will be able to have and express informed, evidence-based opinions.

It is easy to be a critic but it’s a challenge to apply critical thinking to a very complex instructional approach. Skeptics and critics dismiss the new, as critical thinkers navigate the future. Critics consider this is a down turn in education as the critical thinkers recognize potential.

Through good old fashioned conversation about significant new ideas there's an opportunity to facilitate positive change. Ultimately, it does not come from the State Education Department, boards of education, or administration. Change will come by sitting around the table, sharing old traditions and holding true to our beliefs while placing them in context of a new time, so we can carve out those which will eventually become our new traditions. 

Instructional Techniques #6-11, from Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov 



Start class by circling back to what students may have struggled with the day before, or just review to check in.


When writing an objective make it manageable, measurable, made first (guides the activity; activity does not guide objective), most important (focuses on what’s important).


Objective for class should be clear to anyone who walks into your class whether it students, administrators, or you.


The simplest, most direct explanation is usually the best. Group work, multisensory approaches, open inquiry, Socratic seminars, discussions, and lectures are neither good nor bad for a teacher to use except in how they relate to this goal.


Most lesson plans say what a teacher will do in class. When planning, create a second column that illustrates what students should be doing as well.


Plan and control the physical environment to support a specific lesson rather than a fixed classroom setting (use seating arrangements to promote specific interaction). 

Click here for all 49 techniques.

October 2013

With Changing of the Seasons 

Entering October, the autumn leaves signal a familiar change reminiscent of seasons gone by. This is one of those welcome changes in comparison to most changes that are typically not embraced.  It's basic human nature to resist change as it takes us out of our comfort zone and into unfamiliar areas. When we are no longer able to control or prevent change around us we are challenged to change ourselves.

Throughout New York State, the Common Core Standards are forcing change, challenging our pedagogy, and redefining our daily instructional practice.  The new teaching modules on the NYSED EngageNY website articulate the change. As a district we have already begun to embrace the 49 techniques from Teach Like A Champion, to serve as  tools for effectively handling the change and  implementing all that is now required.

As lifelong learners we understand how to synthesize new knowledge and bring it to the level of application. Our challenge is related to the time frame in which it is all given, and the required immediacy of its application in the classroom. At a crossroad such as this, perhaps it's best to take a quote from one of our great minds, Victor Hugo author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables:

"Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots".  


Instructional Techniques #1-5, from Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov


    If a student is unable/unwilling to answer a question, they should be asked the question again after a correct/complete answer is given by another student (or the teacher).
    Set and defend a high standard of correctness.  Don’t “round-up” an almost correct answer.  If you answer with “right” or “perfect” or “good”, make sure the answer is one of those things.  Instead say, “Almost…”, “On the right track…”, etc.
    Reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability.  This is good for differentiation as well.  You can do this by asking how the student got the answer, what evidence they have, etc.
    It’s not just what students say that matters but how they communicate it.  Students must take their knowledge and express it in the language of opportunity.  The complete sentence is the battering ram that knocks down the door to college.  One word answers should be rare unless it is a brainstorming-type activity.
    Don’t apologize for what you teach.  There is no such thing as boring content, unless you allow it to be.  Don’t blame outside entities—administration, tests, government—for “making” you teach something.  A belief that content is boring is a self-fulfilling process.  Don’t say, “Let’s just get through this,” or students will just get through it. 

Click here for all 49 techniques.

September 2013

A New School Year!

Once again we set our compass and embark on another journey into a new school year. To stay the course and keep us on a steady path, our district goals unify the efforts of students, parents, teachers, administrators, board trustees, and community-all grounded in the belief that success is within the reach of every learner. Our challenge is to align instruction with common core standards while implementing instructional practice that addresses a wide range of ability levels and learning styles.   

There is limited time before all this is put to the test; high stakes tests for students, and with APPR, high stakes for teachers and administrators as well. As we plan our instructional calendar, it is important to acknowledge the limitation of the calendar of instructional days:   


16 days


22 days


17 days 


15 days 


19 days


15 days 


21 days  


15 days 


21 days 


7-19 days (varies by levels)  

More than ever before, precise lesson planning is required to meet the new expectations.  The   ever changing learning landscape requires us to implement techniques and strategies that   have been shown through   research to be most effective. From Teach Like a Champion, these techniques are incorporated into our evaluation system and our school culture. Just as a musician practices scales every day, our Lawrence educators incorporate these techniques into daily instructional practice.  

Moving forward our district goals are unchanged. Since they are already in place, there are no new initiatives-we have a strong foundation in place for several significant initiatives requiring ongoing development. As a learning organization, as a school community, and as Lawrence family we are unwavering in our commitment to excellence and to teaching and learning like champions.  In the days and months ahead, we look forward to all of the many achievements from all of our champions!   

I wish everyone a great school year and I look forward to seeing you back at school!

August 2013

This year marks the 123rd year of the Lawrence Union Free School District. We are proud of our rich history and the commitment to excellence that has been reflected by the generations who have made our community what it is today. As an educational system our efforts extend beyond the walls of our schools to serve every family in our diverse community of learners. Our shared vision for the future, focused on children, family, and community has been made evident and gives us the strength to address life's challenges. We live in a time when information is at our fingertips and the pursuit of knowledge is being transformed. Through all of this, our connection to each other is deeper and more important than ever before. Moving forward, we wish you a successful school year filled with the shared joy and fulfillment of life-long learning. 

July 2013

A Great Speech from LHS Graduation 

Tonight we celebrate the great achievements of a great graduating class.  I'm going to get right to the point. Graduates - you are the best students I've ever known.  Tonight I will tell you why this is so, my speech is about being great, and so when I’m done you can say Mr. Schall gave a great speech.  

Theirs is a unique story. Born at the end of the last century they were the first kindergarten class of the new millennium. As a matter of fact, they are actually referred to as the millennial generation.  The following year they began 1st grade on a Thursday. This is remembered because the very next Tuesday, about 15 minutes after they entered class and sat down at their little desks plane number 1 hit the North Tower. I remember visiting their classrooms throughout the day, looking into their eyes and realizing that their journey into the future had suddenly and drastically changed. 

In the decade that followed our nation entered two wars, with another war on the homeland waged on terrorism, we lived through the worst economic crisis since the great depression and to top it off in their senior year- Sandy, Sandy Hook, the Boston Bombing, and the Oklahoma tornadoes one of the many, many natural disasters caused by climate change. Through it all they were bold, brave, courageous, calm, clear headed and determined.  They tightened their bonds as friends to pull through it as family.  

Graduates, “your strength and spirit give promise to the future. You are a great generation on a rendezvous with destiny.” Those very words were spoken by Franklin Roosevelt approximately 90 years ago about the generation that lived through the darkness of the great depression, the horrors of the holocaust, and the storms of World War II.  Like the generation on this stage they too had the strength and spirit to persevere and went on to build America as we've known it to be. At the time America turned to its young to carry the heaviest burden. They were first to be called our greatest generation. 

After graduating from Lawrence High School our very own Village of Cedarhurst Mayor Andrew Parise went off to fight in WWII in one of the deadliest battles ever- the Battle of the Bulge. Shortly after he was shot in the back of both legs, America won the war, and Mayor Parise returned a hero, although he says the real heros were the ones who didn’t make it home.  He dedicated his life to public service and turned Cedarhurst into the great example of Hometown America, the proud hometown of Lawrence High School.  Graduates look into Mayor Parise eyes and you will see the reflection of the great achievements of his great generation.  Mr. Mayor look into the eyes of our Lawrence graduates to see the next great generation and all our future holds. 

It may be historically premature to judge the ultimate greatness of this generation but they've lived in extraordinary times and as a result acquired extraordinary traits that are indisputable and undeniable.  Graduates, this is the why you are the best I've known. This is why over and over again you’ve heard the two words I will be leaving you with-you're beautiful.  

June 2013

Closure of a Higher Order

During this time of the school year we appreciate the fruits of our hard work.  We experience fulfillment from the demonstrated academic growth of our students as we bring closure to the lessons and units of study presented throughout the year.  The concept of closure is used when designing a lesson to wrap-up and help students organize information into a meaningful context.  It's much more than review for a test.  Bringing closure to a lesson and bringing closure to the school year provides an opportunity for children to utilize higher order thinking skills and discover the relevance of their newly acquired knowledge.

Bloom's Taxonomy provides an important framework for developing these higher order thinking skills. A hierarchy of cognitive levels, the taxonomy assists in designing tasks, crafting questions, and providing feedback on student work all designed to promote critical thinking.  These levels begin with basic memory and comprehension, moving to higher cognitive levels of application, analysis and synthesis, to ultimately the highest level of critical thinking which is the ability to form opinions or judgments based on acquired information and knowledge.

Closure based on higher order thinking validates the opinions and the developing thought processes of the learner.    It sets the stage for life-long learning and helps the learner establish a vision for him/herself. We will celebrate our shared accomplishments with ceremonies, awards, and acknowledgments as the closure of today's lessons define the lessons of tomorrow. 

May 2013

To Mother

These days as roles broaden, everyone is responsible for incorporating English Language Arts into daily lessons for our children. Reflecting on how language is learned, we acknowledge the very first word that typically comes out of a child’s mouth - "mama". Obviously, children connect the meaning of "mama" and "mom" to the word "mother", but we could all use a reminder from an old proverb that says, "mother is a verb not just a noun".

Obviously, a child can be mothered by all sorts of people- a biological mother, an adopted mother, a grandmother, aunt, uncle- even a father can mother! Certainly with our ever broadening role, teachers mother in the classroom every day. My Grandma Sophie mothered her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the thousands of children she taught as an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn. She was the reason I became a teacher and I always think of her mothering style as a model for nurturing students. More than half a century later her approach would be labeled as a best practice of Social Emotional Learning.

As a young boy, I had several opportunities to visit Grandma Sophie's class. She showered her students with warmth, heart and compassion equal to that which was bestowed upon her own grandchildren. Similarly, her students adored her as did her grandchildren. To this day, as a father and educator I am inspired by these memories.

Family structure has certainly changed and kids face greater challenges than ever before. On a daily basis, throughout the district our teachers and staff address these challenges by nurturing meaningful relationships in supportive learning environments. We can't do it alone. Parents can't do it alone. Our partnership with parents is more important than ever before. This too, requires nurturing.

The recent Central Council PTA Dinner reflects the dedication of our parents, their critical role, and the extraordinary effort they make in school, at home, and in the community to help all children achieve success. Our PTA mothers and fathers, along with our teachers and staff have much in common. We see tomorrow in a child's eyes, and with our nurturing and our mothering help the child see a better future.

To the mothers to be, the mothers that are, the fathers, aunts, uncles, and guardians who mother our children, and the mothers and grandmothers whose memories inspire us- Happy Mother’s Day!

April 2013

Our Roadmap

With Spring break behind us we enter into the final quarter of the school year, the season for standardized tests and final units of study. This is the time for us to define our vision for the future and adopt the 2013-14 District Budget. As school districts throughout New York State face limitations caused by the 2% Tax Cap Levy, every expenditure must be carefully calculated and fully aligned with our shared values. Through this process the budget becomes a roadmap to our future providing a route that puts kids first and ensures effective programs are maintained and continue to flourish.

Based on these guiding principles our goal is to focus on programs for our advanced as well as our challenged learners. Our rich AP offerings, extensive Academic Support Services (now referred to as Response to Intervention), our wide range of Special Education programs, and enriched after school and extracurricular activities will be supported at levels that relative to a budget that New York State is forcing us to shrink, is proportionally higher than ever before.

We can take comfort in knowing that our AP offerings have not been reduced in over a decade, our AIS programs exceed the state requirement, and our athletics and arts programs are the envy of Long Island. Our Special Education program now includes a full transition/vocational component. We continue to expand offerings that provide appropriate settings within the district to address a wide range of learning disabilities so that our children do not have to go beyond the Lawrence Public Schools to obtain quality services. This is not merely a cost savings measure- it is what's right for kids.

The times in which we live necessitate difficult decisions and hard choices that strategically increase the effectiveness of our school system through re-structuring, re-organiziation, and re-scheduling. There is a perception that this approach is simply a way to disguise cut-backs to make them more acceptable, but this is a limited view that fails to take into account the need for institutions to adapt to changing times. This is best exemplified by the streamlining of our Central Office that has been re-structured for greater accountability, efficiency, compliance with all regulations, and promotion of best practices as related to transportation, special education, and business functions.

In addition to the academic and administrative components of our district, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy we have truly come to understand and appreciate the need for a well maintained infrastructure. Over the past five years, seventeen million dollars from our Capital Reserve Fund from the sale of Number One School was put into upgrading our facilities. As a result, all of our buildings are now handicapped accessible and ADA compliant. Extensive work was done to our track, fields, auditoriums, and science labs. With it all, we saw how quickly our infrastructure could be damaged with over 4.3 million dollars in Sandy related emergency repairs completed thus far. We now begin the second phase of storm repairs with replacement of damaged boilers and pumps to be completed by September.

Although the recent referendum for the sale of Number Six School was rejected, the Board of Education fulfilled its fiduciary obligation by bringing the highest bid forward. As we look at our roadmap to the future, the eventual sale will result in a multi-million dollar reserve for the district. This provides a level of confidence for the future, yet we need to make immediate sacrifices, similar to those experienced by school district throughout the state, to operate within the state mandated budget cap.

There will be several presentations and discussions including our upcoming Board Meeting, Town Hall Meeting, and a variety of public forums to provide every stakeholder with an opportunity to understand the impact of our budget decisions and to offer opinions on how these decisions may be best implemented. Our Lawrence Family has demonstrated great resilience! Our capacity for successfully addressing each and every challenge, while maintaining sharp focus on our children, is a model for any institution. 

March 2013

 Our Return

We are very happy to report that repairs to the high school electrical system are now complete and all classes will return back to the high school and middle school immediately after vacation on April 3rd.

There were many factors considered when determining the date of return. Most important was our goal to minimize disruption of instruction and reduce the stress level of the move. Teachers will pack on Monday, March 25th, the day before vacation and our custodians, movers, and tech crews will have more than a week to ensure a smooth transition. The district has been vigilant in expediting the repair process and preventing delays. Although our hope was to be back sooner - sooner is not necessarily better. With all that we've been through as Lawrence Family, it is important for us to bring our relocation effort to an end with a move that is made as easy and efficient as possible. Waiting for Spring break enables this to be accomplished.

I want to assure everyone that the district will continue to go above and beyond every protocol and inspection required to guarantee our health and safety before we return. Due to concerns that were raised, the district will perform extensive air quality tests. In addition to the company that does our air testing and the testing for most school districts on Long Island, the Lawrence Teachers Association is providing funding for an independent air testing company to run a second test. This level of testing will provide us with added assurance and peace of mind.

Once again, I offer my gratitude to everyone for the outstanding work and tremendous effort put forth during these most extraordinary circumstances. We’ve done much more than prevail. We have triumphed! We can now look forward to a return to our normal classroom settings having demonstrated great resilience and having strengthened the very nature of our interactions.

Wishing you Happy Holidays!

February 2013

Reflecting on the Spirit of Lawrence

At a time when everything is evaluated by an exam, the Lawrence Spirit has been put to the hardest test in the history of our schools. For the record, our spirit is stronger than ever and was made evident by the manner in which all staff rose to the recent challenge. It is best reflected by Lawrence High School Senior Dee Dee Eisenberg's article that appeared as the cover story in the latest edition of the Mental Pabulum. It best captures the Spirit of Lawrence.

Emotions Stirred as LHS Moves to LMS

Absolute shock and incredulity overcame Lawrence High School on Tuesday, January 15th when Mr. Gary Schall announced that the high school would be temporarily closed for at least eight weeks and all students and faculty would report to the middle school on Thursday morning. Due to the disastrous Superstorm Sandy, the high school suffered numerous damages. As the months passed and inspections were taking place, more information on the conditions of the school were acquired. It was discovered that the flooding in the basement of the high school had caused the electrical wires in the school to be corroded by the sea water. What this means is simple—if electrical problems were to occur, it would be a highly dangerous situation that would endanger the school population. Because of these dangers, it was deemed a necessity for students and staff to move out of the building. Many students, parents, and staff were left confused and in disbelief, especially because of the abruptness of this procedure, giving little time for anyone to be prepared for such a drastic change. Parents, students and administration gathered at meetings held in the Lawrence Middle School auditorium to discuss the plans set for the following days.

Walking into the middle school on Thursday morning brought a rush of dormant memories back to mind for many of its former students. As one student explained, “It’s as though I’m seeing the same school, along with all the old memories it holds, from a different perspective now that I’m older.” Students of Lawrence High School, though with occasional mumbles and complaints, have adjusted well to their new setting. Alex Tse stated “At first I wasn’t too happy with the idea, but now I’m used to it.”

The student population has been through so much this year, with Sandy and its aftermath, it seems as though things are only getting more difficult. Although for most of the student body moving back to the middle school is not ideal, many are looking at the more positive side of such an unfortunate event. “Being in the middle school is kind of strange because it is our last year and spending it where we first became teenagers is a little strange…but I have to say it’s an interesting year. Not many seniors can say ‘I spent my senior year in the middle school’. It’s definitely a very memorable year.” Jeffrey Schwartz commented.

Jonathan Rutchik said “It’s okay being in the middle school. I feel that it’s going to be a bit more difficult for the teachers and students but we still have the same schedule; we’re just in a new school, so it’s not as horrible as I thought it would be.” Others, like Sergio Caceres, are thankful that the administration has been sympathetic to the students over these chaotic couple of days. “Senior year has been very unlucky so far with losing senior weekend and moving into the middle school. It feels as though I went back in time to four years ago. But at least cancelling midterms has made it easier for us. It takes away a lot of the stress.”

Jesse Friedlander commended the administration for their efforts as well. “I am impressed with the swiftness and rapidity at which the administration was able to integrate the high school into the middle school. Although we are dealing with hard times this is certainly impressive, although that does not make the situation any better for students or staff. But, regardless, we will all have to pull together and be strong, just as we did after the hurricane to get through this tragic thing. All in all, I think it will strengthen the Lawrence community and I am glad because what does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Teachers, like the students, have had a difficult time settling into the high school’s new home. Nevertheless, all the teachers have done their best to adjust and get through these hardships. Mr. Gofman even joked about the situation. “We’re going to stage a coup d’état and we’re going to make the 5th and 6th graders go to the high school and we’re going to stay here.”

Regardless of our opinions on the move to the middle school, however, it is an obstacle we cannot avoid. We will all have to find a way to cope and overcome this situation, one way or another. Although it will be an arduous task, the high school students and staff will surmount these difficulties set before them, as they have so proficiently done before. As Jodie-Ann Mullings stated “Even though it seems unbearable, I think we just have to make the best of this situation.”

January 2013

New Year News

According to the calendar it's time for New Year resolutions, but we've just about reached the half-way point of our school year and are now well underway towards attainment of our goals.

Last week, we received a letter from Commissioner John King that provided official recognition of our fine work and granted SED approval of our Annual Professional Performance Review. We are now committed to instructional practice based on the newly adopted APPR, Marshall Rubric and Common Core Standards. As we begin 2013, it is time to reflect and act upon the similarities and differences between our traditional instructional approach and newly adopted methodologies. For this purpose, Dr. Pedersen has prepared a concise summary titled Connecting Effective Instruction that serves as a significant starting point.

Over the winter vacation, we had a team of 40 people who worked 24/7 to restore damaged areas at the high school with over a million dollars of repairs to our boilers, electrical system, auditorium, and crawl space. Air quality issues have been fully addressed with a completed restoration of the crawl space that includes final repairs of all steam leaks, removal and replacement of all pipe insulation, removal of all debris, and full sanitizing and containment of ground soil. The area is now in better condition than before the storm! Damaged seats, flooring, and walls in the auditorium have been removed and we are simply awaiting replacement. Building temperatures are now under control with the installment of an additional boiler. As we begin 2013, the Air Quality Control Committee is committed to ensuring that all areas of the high school are in better condition than before the storm.

Security throughout the district is now under full review with many new measures recently put into place. Lock down drills will be scheduled over the next few weeks to ensure our understanding and implementation of all necessary procedures. As we begin 2013, the District Health & Safety Committee takes on a new level of importance and will make recommendations for immediate and long term measures to heighten security.

Entering into the new calendar year we begin to look into the future through a fiscal lens as we prepare our budget for the next school year. Along with every other school district, we face unprecedented financial challenges. The state mandated 2% tax cap and the ever increasing expenses that are built into the budget will necessitate hard decisions. As we begin 2013, we are committed to open discussion as a means of establishing a collective vision for the future. Our next Town Hall Meeting, on January 8th in the LHS Little Theater will be focused on two agenda items- security and budget.

As we celebrate the New Year we recognize the challenges that are ahead, many of which are the result of recent events and others that have developed over time. Let us be resolute in our effort so in years to come our children recognize we were united in achieving all of our goals on their behalf.