Superintendent of Schools



    Dear CUFSD Families,

    Welcome to the 2023-24 school year! On behalf of the CUFSD Board of Education, Administrative Team and UFSD Team of faculty and staff, we hope this letter finds you rejuvenated from summer break and excited to take on new challenges and opportunities this school year. Our District goals for 2023-24 reflect a mindset of continuous improvement and mission to be student-centered, future- focused, and team-driven in all that we do. 

    Promote an environment that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion, where every individual feels safe, valued, respected and empowered to achieve their highest potential.

    First and foremost, we are committed to creating an environment where every individual feels safe, valued, respected and empowered to achieve their highest potential. We believe that embracing our unique backgrounds, perspectives and experiences enriches the fabric of our school community and prepares our students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

    We continue our proactive versus reactive mindset, expanding SEL programs and safety and security protocols throughout the District. Chester Elementary School continues to implement PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Support) as well as the nationally recognized Choose Love program. Our newly added School Culture and Student Behavioral Support Specialist will enhance existing programs while equipping our young learners with the skills to overcome challenges and reach their personal best, both socially and academically.

    Chester Academy will be introducing an advisory model in grades 6-12 this year, where students work in small groups under the guidance of a dedicated staff mentor from sixth grade through their high school graduation. In our first year of implementation, advisory sessions will meet twice a month, focusing on enhancing academic and organizational skills as well as social-emotional learning through the program The 7 Mindsets. Personal growth, social-emotional development and academic achievement are the core values of this initiative. Advisory also offers our students the opportunity to connect to a trusted adult in our school community, providing them with a consistent source of support throughout their journey at Chester Academy.

    Provide innovative, data-supported and engaging learning experiences that foster college and career readiness through highly qualified staff who are student-centered, future-focused and team-driven.

    We are committed to providing innovative, data-supported, and engaging learning experiences. The Chester Elementary School Makerspace continues to thrive with opportunities for students to expand their creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills, which extend to our classrooms as well. Our innovative robotics lab teaches students from Pre-K through grade five applications in coding, programming and precision that connect to all content areas of learning. Green screen technology will continue to support our elementary media applications inclusive of our news team. Our music, arts and physical education programs continue to reflect our goal to provide students with engaging learning experiences that nurture their creativity, foster personal growth and provide a well-rounded education.
    I-Ready assessment extends to the second year of implementation measuring individual student growth in reading and mathematics at the beginning, middle and end of each grade, K-8. We will be implementing student goal setting this year in keeping with the importance of using assessments as a tool to inform and improve student instruction and growth in learning.

    Our core content areas PreK-12 are working to expand programs in support of the NY Next Generation Learning standards while reviewing assessment and data that support individualized learning goals and growth. This year we are extending our academic instructional support classes to include science at the middle and secondary level. Music, physical education, and art continue to provide our students with opportunities to thrive with new courses added this year including Exercise Science 2, Introduction to Acting and Dance 2.

    All content areas PreK-12 will finalize course descriptions in EduPlanet21 as we work to provide parents with accessible information about the academic programs throughout the District.

    CHESTER ACADEMY MAKERSPACE OPENS are thrilled to announce the grand opening of our Chester Academy Makerspace this year! From engineering planning and design to communications, green screen media applications, robotics, arts and literature, the possibilities are endless for student creativity and innovation at Chester!
    Providing career connections to curriculum standards and skills will continue from our Business Partnership initiative last year. Students will continue to forge valuable connections to real-world applications beyond the confines of the classroom. Our Workplace Learning internship program will expand this year for Chester Academy students in addition to our second year partnering with the successful program, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers.

    Through the dedication of our highly qualified staff our goal is to equip our students with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a rapidly evolving and competitive global landscape.

    Expand opportunities for meaningful community engagement, communication and partnerships that support real-world application in learning. the importance of community engagement and partnerships in enriching our students' educational journey, we are committed to expanding avenues for meaningful collaboration with parents and the community. The CUFSD Parent Advisory Panel will continue to provide valuable platforms for discussions and input, impacting positive change for our students. We will also expand offerings in our CUFSD Family Instructional Academy, providing workshops to families on identified topics of interest throughout the year. Our CES PTA, CA PTSA and newly formed District SEPTSA will continue to foster positive connections and opportunities for our families district-wide.

    We are dedicated to enhancing the District website and refining our communication across various social  media platforms. The 2023-24 school year brings the new addition of a district-wide newsletter highlighting  academics, athletics and extracurricular programs both at Chester Elementary School and Chester Academy. 

    School Messenger will continue to be used to inform parents and families of upcoming events and essential information, including emergency closings. Registration for School Messenger is located under the parents tab on our district website Please be sure your updated contact information is on file with your child’s school before registering.

    Ensure the continual improvement and expansion of district facilities promoting safety, security and student opportunity in the most efficient and economical manner possible.

    In the pursuit of excellence, we are dedicated to the continual improvement and expansion of our District facilities. Our top priority is safety and security. We continue to partner with the Town of Chester Police Department, Village of Chester Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and the Orange-Ulster BOCES Health & Safety Risk Management Team. Police presence at each of our buildings continues in addition to our partnership with Atlas Security.

    Investing in our school infrastructure, we aim to create an environment that fosters creativity, exploration, and achievement for our students’ academic and extracurricular experiences. As the school year unfolds, we will be presenting information related to the gift of land from the Town of Chester which could lead to substantial improvements in our athletic facilities for the benefit of both our students and the community.

    Create a fiscally responsible budget that effectively addresses the needs of the district while considering the concerns and input of the community.

    We recognize the importance of fiscal responsibility. Our commitment to creating a fiscally responsible budget is aligned with addressing the needs of the District and ensuring the best possible outcomes for our students. We value the input and concerns of our community members and will actively seek your involvement in shaping our educational initiatives.

    As we begin this new academic year, we extend our gratitude to all of you – students, staff, families, and community members – for your continued support and collaboration. Together, we can build a brighter future for our students and our community. Let's embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, confident in our shared commitment to excellence in education.

    Welcome back, and here's to a remarkable year of learning, growth and achievement!

    Catherine O’Hara
    Superintendent of Schools
    Chester Union Free School District

    Download the letter in English here. 
    Download the letter in Spanish here. 

Contact Info

  • Catherine O'Hara
    Superintendent of Schools

    Lindsay Iannuzzi 
    Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent

    845-469-5052 ext 3401
    Click here to email