A Q&A with Emily Hersh
Emily Hersh, Ph. D., is the Superintendent of the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale UFSD, a role she assumed in June. In her 26 years at the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School, she has served as a teaching assistant, teacher, assistant to the principal, and, most recently, principal. She also served as assistant principal at Peekskill High School. Dr. Hirsh received her doctorate in education from Manhattanville College.
What are you most looking forward to this school year?
I am looking forward to building upon the strong foundation that has been established during the past several years at Mt. Pleasant Blythedale. There are well established systems and frameworks, special relationships and connections, and a community that always has a focus on what’s best for students. We have highly, qualified, dually certified teachers that are dedicated and professional. We work closely with the therapists, doctors, and all BCH staff to meet the needs of all students and support the rehabilitation process. I look forward to working with the MPB faculty and BCH staff to continue to foster this great work and ensure success for all students.
What's the most inspiring part of your job?
Our students. They are truly an example of what it means to be persistent, courageous, and resilient. I am honored to be able to serve them and their families to ensure that their education continues during their rehabilitation and then provided with an appropriate transition as they re-enter or return to their communities when ready.
What would people be most surprised to learn about the school?
Mt. Pleasant Blythedale is a public school that educates children as their bodies heal. We offer a meaningful engaging curriculum that is congruent with New York State grade level standards. Instruction is differentiated to meet the needs of all students. Similar to community public schools, we have fun engaging activities that help to bring the curriculum alive! We have a parent organization: SEPTA, great teachers, and amazing technology. You can get an idea of our program from our website.
What are the most important issues affecting the school this year, for which you'll be advocating?
Funding is a significant challenge. We are a special act school that is funded through a mechanism that is expense driven and affected by our fluctuating enrollment. We need a system that recognizes and reimburses us for public expenses like typical community schools. I will be working with my colleagues in the other 9 special act districts in NYS to advocate for equitable funding for students with special needs in Special Act Public Districts. In addition, MPB will embark on some significant changes this year: specifically we have embraced a new principal and appointed a new Superintendent- me! Thankfully, with a dedicated, qualified faculty that has embraced this change, I am confident that together we will continue to facilitate our great work!
Mt. Pleasant Blythedale UFSD (MPB) is a public, special act school district, chartered since 1971 to serve the highly specialized needs of the patients of Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Children in grades K through 12, who require intensive rehabilitation and medical care, attend school either as inpatients or through Blythedale’s Day Hospital Program.
About Blythedale Children’s Hospital
As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, not only through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, but also through teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district.
For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit www.blythedale.org.