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Mount Vernon City School District welcomes back staff at Convocation

Mount Vernon City School District welcomes back staff at Convocation

Unity, togetherness and collaboration were the focus for the 2023-24 school year’s convocation on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. Administrators and Board Trustees attended the ceremony at the Board of Education, and it was broadcast to each school via Zoom, where teachers and building administrators watched it together. 

President Kirwan Speaking

Dr. Beverley Jones, assistant superintendent for Secondary Curriculum and Instruction and School Improvement, was the mistress of ceremonies and introduced the remote speakers on Zoom.  

Board of Education President Lorna Kirwan welcomed everyone and discussed the impact of teachers. She expressed the importance of the back-to-basics approach to teaching that focuses on reading, arithmetic and writing. If everyone comes together, she believes the district can implement these methods to increase test scores and graduation rates. 

“In a couple of days, your classrooms will be coming alive with the community's precious gems, full of curiosity, enthusiasm, sounds of laughter, and the pursuit of knowledge,” said President Kirwan. “You hold the keys to growth, discovery, and empowerment. The impact you have on your students extends far beyond textbooks and lesson plans.” 

Dr. Smith hugging Dr. Doggett

Dr. Jamal Doggett, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum and Instruction and Administration, then introduced Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith, who welcomed staff back to school and motivated them to be the best educators they can be in the upcoming school year. She discussed the district’s plan to go back to basics and explained how that can help teachers and students alike.  

With lesson plans revolving around reading, arithmetic and writing, she believes that the district can help students understand these core concepts and unlock their potential and become lifelong learners. She urged everyone to “get on the bus” with her and dedicate this school year to making an impact on all students.  

Dr. Smith Speaking

“So, how will we make sure that these three pillars stick with our students?” asked Dr. Smith. “We are going to make learning fun. I want demonstrations, I want educational games, and I want you to really get to know your students this year. Find out what makes them smile, find out the things they are most interested in, and try to nourish that as much as you can.” 

She told an anecdote about the way she taught her children to spell their names by singing it as an example of how to make learning fun. She also discussed a special education student she worked with who graduated despite his academic struggles with help from his educators. She ended with “Cause I Ain’t Got a Pencil,” a poem by Joshua T. Dickerson. She asked teachers to provide their students with grace and understanding, as they do not know what adversity each student faces outside of school.  

Noel Campbell, assoc. Superintendent of HR

Noel Campbell, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, introduced the keynote speaker, Patrice Wallace-Moore. Ms. Wallace-Moore is a Mount Vernon High School graduate and a New York licensed clinical social worker. She is the CEO of Arms Acres, Inc, a drug rehab center. She also served as the Mount Vernon Girls Varsity Basketball Coach from 2003 to 2013.  

Ms. Wallace-Moore told her story of growing up in Mount Vernon and the impact her teachers had on her. She noted success stories from Mount Vernon graduates. She also led a standing ovation where she thanked teachers for their service. She credited her teachers with always pushing her to be better and challenging her, specifically a chemistry teacher who challenged her to get a better grade on her Regents exam so that she could pass the class and join the National Honor Society. 

“You don’t understand what that teacher did to ignite a flame that was never put out,” said Ms. Wallace-Moore “Teachers have such a valuable role, and they don't understand necessarily what they’re doing when they’re doing it until they see the results later on in life.” 

Ms. Wallace-Moore speaking while Dr. Smith laughs at a joke she made.

She touched on the theme of togetherness with a story from “Finding Nemo” where the fish must all swim together to reach their goal and urged everyone in the district to do the same and “swim together. 

To end the ceremony, a video was played where each principal and administrator got on a bus as a symbol for the collaboration required to educate students. They then asked teachers and staff members if they too were ready to “get on the bus.” 

Teachers and principals then went to their staff meetings to prepare for the new school year. 

Staff members watching convocation
Ms. Wallace-Moore speaking.
Dr. Smith and Ms. Wallace-Moore Seated.
Trustees Njenga and Saunders
Staff members watching convocation
Dr. Smith and Ms. Wallace-Moore
People standing and clapping
Staff sitting in Board of Education room.
Dr. Doggett Speaking
People getting breakfast.


Two students posing at the camera.

Scholars and community members congregated to the cafeteria of the Mount Vernon High School with resumes in hand for a community career fair on Wednesday, May 16, 2024. Here, individuals were able to explore various job opportunities in the Mount Vernon City School District and Westchester area. 

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Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. K. Veronica Smith:

There have been rumors and social media reports as to further student violence today at Mount Vernon High School after yesterday’s assault. Reports of a female student being stabbed are not true. There was an unrelated minor altercation on a school bus with no serious injuries after school. 

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In the past 10 years, the Mount Vernon City School District has introduced and grown partnerships with a number of organizations, colleges and universities to deliver exceptional academic programming to students. The District has also increased its offering of trade programs during this time, expanding possibilities for all scholars.