Community Collaborates at Annual Carmel Café

Carmel Central School District welcomed many new faces to the annual Carmel Café, a collaborative community conversation regarding the future of the District. The Café, held in October, has been a staple for the Carmel community for the last six years as part of the school district’s strategic planning process. 

Carmel Cafe attendees

Ideas were flowing as members of the community participated in speed-date style small discussions on select topics. The small group setting was designed to encourage and promote focused conversation among participants, while valuing and honoring the perspectives that each participant brings to the conversation. 

“The Café provided an environment for the community to have candid conversations about how our District is functioning currently, as well as areas where they may see an opportunity for growth,” said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Personnel Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi. “We know that research shows that there is a significant positive correlation between school, family, and community involvement and student success.” 

The groups were provided with four question prompts to respond to: how best to prepare students academically for the world outside of Carmel; annual budget; social-emotional learning; and how best to meet the needs of the District’s student population.  

“This was my first Carmel Café and the response from the community and the willingness to be present for these open conversations was so great to see,” said Superintendent of Schools Mary-Margaret Zehr. “Gaining feedback from our community is vital to ensuring that our District continues to advance in a direction that keeps our students the priority.” 

Feedback from attendees was positive and appreciative of the opportunity to have their ideas heard by the District. Ruiz-Giovinazzi noted that attendee feedback included a list of additional topics that the community would like to see discussed in future gatherings. Community members also expressed wishes to have student voices better represented in future conversations. 

Additional details about the feedback gathered from the community at the Carmel Café and any next steps will be shared by the District with the community in the coming weeks.