Wednesday, July 2, 2025

Welcome to Education Matters

Welcome to Education Matters the official blog of  Dr. Anael Alston, Superintendent of Schools for the Hamilton Central School DistrictIn this area of the website, I discuss a variety of educational matters and concerns and provide information that I hope will be helpful to the Hamilton staff, parents, students, and community members. To suggest topics, please email me at aalston@hamiltoncentral.org

 I look forward to hearing from you!

Anael Alston, Ed.D.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reflection: So Much Done, So Much More To Do



Dear HCS Community,

As I reflected on my last two years as superintendent, I asked myself the question: “Is Hamilton better off today than it was two years ago?”  Please read the list of district-wide accomplishments below and think about how you might respond.  I will offer my insights at the end.

July, 2015 - June, 2017

v Exclusive of the Hamilton Emerald Foundation, and the voluntary gifts from Colgate University, through lobbying, grants, and advocacy we have been awarded $221,320 in funds to support our students. (This is nearly three (3) teachers’ salaries and benefits or 3.16% of the 2016/2017tax levy.) To put this into perspective, a legitimate tax cap of 2% is $140,000 for us.

v The New York State Comptroller’s Office lowered our fiscal stress score from 13.3 to 3.3. Like golf, the lower the score, the better.

v Through creative financing with our BOCES, we are investing nearly $250,000 to upgrade our technology infrastructure.

v We are on the back end of creating a Strategic Plan for HCS. We currently have a Core Team of about 32 parents, teachers and administrators from different parts of our community working together to design a plan that will help guide HCS for up to five (5) years.



v We have dramatically increased teacher and community input by creating committees (technology, curriculum, HISP, Strategic Planning) whereby multiple voices are heard and considered before important decisions are recommended to the Board of Education for action.

v Over the last two years we’ve nearly doubled the number of HCS students taking college classes at Colgate University.

v We have increased the options for HCS students to take dual enrollment college level courses by 100%. An HCS student has the potential to graduate with 30 college credits from the SUNY system.

v We were named by Niche.com as one of the top 100 school districts in New York State.

v Our community partner Colgate University donated 27 much needed Apple computers to better equip our staff to meet the educational needs of our students.

v We have partnered with Columbia University’s Teachers College to become a “project school” and bring world-class professional development to HCS students and teachers. You can imagine that it is much easier to bring the talent in than to send individuals or groups of teachers down to NYC.

The above referenced accomplishments are just a sample of the quality and commitment that the faculty, parents, community partners, staff and leadership team bring to HCS everyday. I am proud of the people that I work with that made these accomplishments happen.  Are we better off?  Somewhat.  There is still more work to do.  My motto is: “Everyone is Important and Everyone Matters.”  Our next challenge is to try to make as many people as possible FEEL that they are important and they matter.  There are few leaders who excel at both accomplishments.  However, this is a noble goal worthy of our best efforts.  If you have thoughts or ideas, I would love to hear them.  Please stop by, call or email me.  Thank you for your time.

Your Partner in Education,

Dr. A


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Letter Regarding Latin 1 at HCS (from Mr. Dowsland)

June 5, 2017

Dear Sixth Grade Parents/Guardians:

I am writing you this letter because there is a concern regarding not running a Latin I course during the 2017-18 school year.  The purpose of this letter is to explain the criteria for placing students into Latin I and to share the implications, including students taking a high school, credit bearing language class in seventh grade.

As outlined in our Middle School Program of Studies (on our website):  

Latin 1 is an accelerated course for seventh grade students.  This is a high school credit bearing course taught at the ninth grade level and is appropriate for students that demonstrate exceptional academic abilities.  Students are recommended by the sixth grade teachers based on maintaining an overall average of 90 or higher, effort, responsibility, independence, self-motivation, and NYS test scores. It is expected that students choosing Latin in 7th grade will commit to three years of the language in order to meet the requirement for a high school Advanced Regents diploma.

Grades for this course will go on the permanent transcript and will eventually be reported to colleges.  As a consequence, we have an obligation to make sure students have demonstrated superior academic performance prior to being admitted into the course.

Based on the above placement criteria, 10 students were recommended. However, only five course requests for Latin I were submitted due to a few students pursuing another language and two students leaving the district, thus leaving us with only five students to enroll in Latin I for the 2017-18 school year. It has been our past practice not to run sections with fewer than 10 students. Knowing the fluid nature of student enrollment, it is very difficult to begin an introductory course of any type with five students.

In addition, it’s important to understand that students will again have the opportunity to enroll in Latin I during the 2018-19 academic year.  

During every scheduling cycle, our goal is to place students into their desired classes. However, due to enrollment constraints, scheduling conflicts, teacher availability and other barriers to master scheduling, this is not always feasible.

I hope this clarifies our process for placing students into Latin I and some of the specifics on why we are not running this course for the 2017-18 school year.


Sincerely,



William Dowsland
Secondary Principal

Sunday, May 21, 2017

HCS Budget and BOE Elections - Thank You for Your Support!





Dear HCS Community:

            It appears that spring has decided to stick around after the long winter and I am thankful!  I am also thankful for your support of the Hamilton School District budget.

            On behalf of the Board of Education, administration, faculty, staff and students of HCS, thank you for your overwhelming support of our school budget.  This year the nearly 85% of the community voted “yes” for the budget to meet ALL of our students’ educational needs.  Yes, everyone matters and everyone is important at HCS and because of your support, we get to show them how much they matter and how important they are by providing a fine, well-rounded education in a safe, caring environment.

            Also, I would like to congratulate incumbent school board member, Dr. Ellen Larson and incoming school board member, Mr. Harold Jarcho for being elected to the Board.  We also owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Terry Monty for serving three years in this voluntary position and to Mr. Travis Ames for running for this position of service to our community.

                                                            Your Partner in Education,


                                               
                                                            Dr. Anael Alston

                                                            Superintendent of Schools

Friday, May 5, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week-A Message from Dr. A to the HCS Faculty

May 5, 2017



Dear Colleagues,

            As you know, next week is Teacher Appreciation Week.  On behalf of the leadership team, we would like to thank you for all that you do throughout the year for
our students by serving you lunch on Tuesday, May 9th in the Secondary Faculty Room from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

This is not “the best of times” to be a public school educator as there seems to be constant attacks on what we do, how we do it, and how best to do it.   Our work is often misunderstood or intentionally mischaracterized by those who claim to love children and value education.  Thankfully, not in this community and not at HCS!

            I know firsthand that some of you give up your lunch time to work with students or “eat on the run” to meet with a colleague or make parent phone calls.  My mother, who turns 75 in June, still teaches a few days a week in New York City and like you, she does what she loves sometimes with an “in spite of mindset.”  I empathize with her as much as I empathize with you.

Again, on behalf of the HCS leadership team, thank you and we invite you to DROP EVERYTHING and come and eat lunch on Super Tuesday, May 9th. 



Dr. A