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North Salem Schools: Fresh Paint, Fresh Programs and Fresh Faces

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Students and faculty returning to North Salem schools on Thursday will find freshly painted halls and offices, waxed floors, neatly plucked garden beds, an abundance of SmartBoards, more than 150 new iPads, new LED lighting in the television studio and a remodeled Middle/High School music lab, complete with new computers.

In an email, Superintendent of Schools Ken Freeston mentioned these and other less obvious improvements, such as a new boiler system at the Middle/High School and repaired storm drains and a new geothermal pump at the Pequenakonck Elementary School.

New cross country trails are under construction and should be completed before the huge upcoming track meet in September, he added.

“Student performance continues to be strong,” said Freeston. “We have new courses at the high school, offered in rotation to maximize student opportunities without increasing costs.” They include studios in Media Art and Video Art, and the next level of SUNY French and Spanish courses.

There are some changes in the faculty roster, too. Jessica Braunwart Martin (grade one), Mark Dodge (music), Kimberly Emhardt (grade-six math), and Jamie Irving (physical education), all step in as leave replacements. Leslie Aitken will be teaching Spanish and Cheryl Gravius and Dan Tavino will be teaching fourth-grade. 

Mary Johnson will be starting the year as new principal of the Pequenakonck School, replacing Roberta Reiner who retired in June.

“Much emphasis this year will be on continuing to expand our partnership with the community, building on the highly successful community garden we launched in the spring,” said Freeston.

“We already have deep community engagement in our schools through our Parent-Teacher Organizations, Option mentors and panelists, the Boosters Club, Advocates for the Arts, the new North Salem broadcast studio, and over a dozen community organizations where our students volunteer, just to name a few.”

School district representatives will accept the National First Place Magna Award in October, presented to North Salem for its Problem Solving for Life Program, started about four years ago.

The goal of the program is to emphasize critical and creative thinking. Assistant Superintendent Mike Hibbard, initiator of the program, describes it as “a long-term powerful mission, designed to foster a lifelong habit of continuous learning and questioning.” 

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