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BR Middle School Making Excellent PSSA Progress
Pre-K Counts Funding Helps County Children
Jason D. Zawisky Wins Jack Cooke Scholarship

BR Middle School Making Excellent PSSA Progress

Returning staff and students were greeted with very good news this week at Blue Ridge Middle School. Principal Matthew Nebzydoski is proud to announce that the school has demonstrated exceptional growth and proficiency gains at all grade levels. The Middle School produced its highest proficiency numbers ever, with 71% proficient or advanced in Reading and 69% proficient or advanced in Math, well above the state targets of 54% and 45% respectively.

Meeting proficiency targets only tells part of the Blue Ridge story. It is the growth that the school is showing that is really exceptional. Areas of improvement included a 64% increase in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced on the eighth grade writing assessment. Sixth through eighth grade together improved proficiency rates by over 23% in Math and nearly 11.5% in Reading, well above the state average for growth in one year. In fact 47% of all MS students improved one full performance category in either Math or Reading in the past year. Not only did Blue Ridge increase its percentage of students scoring proficient, more than half of all eighth graders scored advanced in Reading and 42% scored advance in Math. In seventh grade, the numbers were almost as strong, 38% scored advanced in Reading and 40% in Math.

“It is important to highlight the progress that Blue Ridge and other Susquehanna County schools are making,” stated Nebzydoski. “County schools are working with high numbers of special education students and many students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds while demonstrating great progress.” Blue Ridge is excited to be making a difference with the group of children that need the most assistance. In Math alone the number of special education students scoring below proficient dropped by nearly 20%. “This is not an accident,” stated the principal. “Teachers are working hard to assist individual students in their areas of need and to boost their areas of strength. Blue Ridge is aware that the work is not complete. Federal law requires 100% proficiency by 2014. Plans are in the works to continue offering more individualized assistance and increased tutoring and remediation after school until all students reach their full potential.”

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Pre-K Counts Funding Helps County Children

More three- and four-year olds in Susquehanna County will take part in high quality, pre-kindergarten programs this year, thanks to a new state-funded initiative called Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts. Proposed by Governor Rendell and approved by state lawmakers, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides grants totaling $75 million to providers across the state, targeting children at risk of school failure. Forest City Regional School District and Treasure House Child Development Center in Montrose received grant funding.

“We are very pleased to provide this early education experience for the children of our community,” said Dr. Robert Vadella, Forest City Regional School District Superintendent. 45 children are now enrolled in the pre-kindergarten program. The school district expanded from providing half-day programs to full-day. The expansion also included hiring an additional teacher and providing space for another classroom.

Treasure House Child Development Center is now able to offer quality pre-k to 17 children beginning September 17. The plan is to provide a full-day curriculum five days a week. “This is a wonderful opportunity for pre-school children in the Montrose area,” said Judith Graziano, President, Northeastern Child Care Services. “They will be much better prepared to enter school, ready for a successful kindergarten learning experience.”

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts requires grantees to provide a qualified teacher and teacher’s aide, small class sizes, a curriculum that is aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning standards, regular assessment of the children’s progress and reporting of the program’s performance. These quality expectations will ensure that the children enrolled have a high quality learning experience. Studies show children who receive a quality educational start before the age of 5 have a greater chance of success later in life.

Susquehanna County CARES (Childcare, Agencies, Resources and Educational Services) is proud to partner with Forest City Regional School District and Treasure House Child Development Center. CARES is an early education community engagement group dedicated to enhancing the quality of early childcare and educational programs in Susquehanna County.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts or other quality early learning initiatives, contact Susquehanna County CARES at (570) 879-8766 or

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Jason D. Zawisky Wins Jack Cooke Scholarship

A group of students of exceptional promise from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) earned a scholarship opportunity at Bucknell University through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Community College Transfer Initiative.

The HACC students receiving summer scholarships to the university in Lewisburg include Jason Zawisky, Uniondale, a 2004 graduate of Susquehanna Community High School.

Jack Kent Cooke was a Canadian-American entrepreneur who became one of the most widely known executives in North American professional sports. He left the bulk of his $825 million estate to establish the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, to help those who are struggling achieve the same success that he enjoyed.

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