Image of Gladys Cruz

District Superintendent Dr. Gladys I. Cruz

by Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
District Superintendent
Questar III

I hope you and your families are enjoying a wonderful summer. Summer is a great time to help children explore their interests and try new things, and to keep them excited about learning and school.

Encourage your children to try something new by asking them to make a checklist, checking with them on their progress, and celebrating their successes. The possibilities are endless – reading a new book, writing a short story, making a collage, looking at the moon or stars, doing science experiments at home, hiking or biking a new trail (try the 750-mile Empire State Trail, which runs through our region), tasting a new healthy vegetable or fruit, helping a family member with a household chore, or learning a new sport, dance, or exercise. This is a fun way to explore, ask questions, and search for answers. Find more ideas at

Summer reading is critical in helping students retain their skills and knowledge. Please help us by encouraging your child to read at home or in the car during long rides. Studies show that children who read at home (or are read to at home) and who use the library do better in school. They are also more likely to continue to use the local library as a resource throughout their lives.

The free, annual Summer Reading at New York Libraries program gives students and their families the opportunity to access the vast resources of the state’s public libraries to support summer reading and learning. The New York State Library also provides a fun, online app called READSquared that helps students and families track their favorite books all year long. Visit for more information.

At the same time, it is important to practice math skills, which are more likely to be lost over the summer. Parents can help by highlighting math in everyday activities. This may include making change when shopping, using fractions while cooking, discussing statistics while watching sports, or calculating time or distance while traveling. There are also numerous online or board games that can help, including Monopoly and Yahtzee. Even block games like Jenga can help students explore spiral concepts and see structural engineering concepts in action. PBS Teachers offers free, interactive math games and resources for kids of all ages at WMHT also offers educational program weekdays. Visit for local listings.

While it is important to continue to focus on reading and math skills, we must also ensure that we continue to support healthy behaviors – staying physically active and eating healthy are important during the summer. Unfortunately, obesity rates among children increased during the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should exercise for at least 60 minutes each day. Make it fun so that they will want to do it and associate positive emotions with fitness activities.

We know that many kids do not get the meals they need. New York’s Summer Food Service program provides free, nutritious summer meals at more than 3,000 sites statewide. Find a site near you: Families in need can also text “food” to 877-877 to find free summer meals for their kids.

NY Project Hope provides emotional support for families. Visit to learn more or call the free, confidential helpline at 1-844-863-9314. New York State also has partnered with Crisis Text Line, an anonymous texting service available 24/7. Text GOT5 to 741741.

We waited a long time for summer to return, so please be sure to have fun and take advantage of the warm weather to get outside as much as possible. Encourage your child to be curious and stay mentally and physically active so they can see the power and value of learning, not just in school but throughout their lives. We look forward to welcoming our students back next month.

This column will be published in the Register Star/Daily Mail newspapers. 

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