Written by Dr. Cynthia Paulis Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
In compiling the comments from the Strategic Planning Survey, in addition to our strong core academic program, our community’s investment in and support of activities that develop the whole child and our schools’ commitment to authentic learning experiences, was often noted as something that makes our school district special. As I share some recent events and notices, I realize that many of the activities highlighted in this newsletter are examples of just such types of activities.
Several times this year, I have had the opportunity to write about some wonderful music concerts at our Willets Road and Wheatley schools. It is important to remember that in many cases, the foundation for our students’ artistic success, so well built upon by our secondary staff, is laid in their elementary school years. Recently I had the pleasure of attending both the Fourth Grade Orchestra Concert and the Third Grade Choral Concert. It was quite amazing how well the fourth grade students played when many of them had been studying their stringed instrument for less than a year. The third grade choral concert was uplifting and charming, more than words could say definitely putting a smile on everyone’s faces in the audience. Congratulations to our musical performers and to their skilled and committed teachers, Ms. Rachel May, music-instrumental teacher, and Mr. Ed Lattari, music-vocal teacher.
Some teachers and students at Wheatley have been participating in the locavore movement by tending their own locally grown, organic garden right on our Wheatley grounds. Now they need your help, if you can give it, tending the garden over the summer while staff and students are not regularly here.
On June 3, the Wheatley CSI Challenge Team, under the advisement of Wheatley science teacher Mindie Schwartz, competed against other Long Island schools at the annual CSI Challenge at Stony Brook University. The goal of the competition is to solve a crime scene using a variety of forensic tools such as blood splatter analysis, crime scene photos, thread and hair analysis, forensic analysis and many other techniques. This year the Wheatley team won first place for Best Case Presentation and Best Digital Forensics. Congratulations to Ms. Schwartz and team members Donovan Cheung, Allison Chowdhury, Jonathan Fisher, Morgan Hanel, Dina Hollar, Sharon John, Katie Keller, Samantha LaPera, Rebecca Molinsky, Gabby Pollack, Jordan Pollack, Lavanya Reddy, Michelle Sun, Nicole Tomei and Andrew Zuckerman.
Dr. Feeney and I had the great pleasure of attending this breakfast at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury with Wheatley honorees Jamie Brensilber and Lambert Chu and their parents. Each year, this is a special event where each Nassau County School District’s valedictorian and salutatorian are honored and receive a recognition plaque. As Wheatley does not have a valedictorian or salutatorian, each year we send two honor students selected by our scholarship committee. Congratulations to Jamie, Lambert and their families.
Alana Leahy, Katie Keller and Ankita Kelkar have successfully qualified to participate in the New York State Track and Field Championships. They will represent Wheatley and Nassau County at the championship meet, which will be held this Friday and Saturday in Middletown, New York. Best of luck, to our three Wheatley stars.
Every other year, North Side organizes an extensive and exciting environmental study day in honor of Earth Day, and this year it took place today, Friday, June 7.
The staff divides the students into various groups by grade level. Each group rotates through several different activities throughout the day – all with conservation/earth friendly/recycling themes. There are activities that involve animals, energy sources, plants and plant byproducts. Various outside vendors such as the Long Island Science Museum, Cradle of Aviation, Town of North Hempstead and others come to make presentations and teach workshops. The teachers also present workshops and activities to the students. This event is made possible through our budget and the generous help of our PTO, which provides not only funds but many parent, volunteers to make the day a success for the children. It is one of those events that kids remember for years to come and every child gets to experience at least two “North Side Earth Day” events during their time in North Side.
This was a busy week, indeed, and in addition to the above, I had the opportunity to attend some other very noteworthy events. Congratulations to our many student athletes who were honored at the Spring Sports and Senior Award Program on June 4, which also included the Wheatley Athletic Hall of Fame Induction. Attending the Senior Prom was also a highlight of the week. It looked like all of our seniors were having a wonderful time last evening, celebrating the culmination of their Wheatley years at the Carlyle on the Green.
The East Williston/Roslyn Community Coalition for Drug Free Youth (EWRCC) is a coalition of parents, school officials, religious leaders and other concerned residents and community leaders in the East Williston and Roslyn school communities. Their purpose has been to educate, inform and raise awareness in the East Williston and Roslyn communities to teenage drug and alcohol use and other aspects of at risk behavior among our children. Their goal is to reduce the amount of alcohol and drug use among our children.
The coalition is looking for a few East Williston parents who might be interested in getting involved with the coalition and attending the Executive Planning Board meetings during the 2013-14 school year, in anticipation of potentially taking on an officer role the following year. If you would be interested in getting more involved in EWRCC please let me know and I will share the information with the coalition’s board.
The sixth grade formed an exciting partnership this year with Scribble Press NYC. Each student wrote a memoir based on a personal memory. Then, using the Scribble Press app for the iPad, students typed and illustrated their books using drawing tools, clip art and photographs. This week, the sixth grade classes visited Scribble Press studios in Manhattan where students created covers, dedications and about the author pages for their books. In addition, each student was able to tour the bookmaking facilities and see how books are published. The memoirs are currently being published and will be shipped to us next week. I know parents, teachers, students (and the superintendent) look forward to seeing our student authors’ works in print.
At the June BOE Work Session, I had the opportunity to present and discuss our District Instructional Goals for the coming school year. I have attached the goals here and also directly pasted them into this email for those of you who were not able to attend the Work Session. Note that the goals are organized into broad goal statements, intended to serve our educational direction over several years. Under each broad goal statement, there are “SMART” goals listed. These are the specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time bound goals that we specifically look to accomplish next year. Under Goal Number One, a common framework and language supports unified practice and collaboration among all staff for achieving student learning, you will notice a reference to “Charlotte Danielson’s rubric.” As part of our state mandated Annual Professional Performance Review, each school district had to adopt a rubric or guideline of teaching performance. East Williston adopted Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. For your information, we will be putting this guideline for teaching performance on our website shortly.
The district has a leadership team that meets once a month to articulate curriculum and instruction and other aspects of the district’s schools. This team consists of all central office administrators, district directors, all three building principals, assistant principals and curriculum associates/department chairs in the content areas. Over the past two months this team has been consulting with staff and looking at instructional data and formulating a set of instructional goals for the 2013-14 school year. The goals are organized into eight broad, big picture goals that will most likely remain consistent for the next several years.
Under each of the broad goal categories, ‘SMART goals’ will be listed each year. The SMART goals are specific objectives to be accomplished in a given school year that support each broad goal category. The acronym SMART stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time bound. These SMART goals sometimes include objectives from various content areas as the district focuses on coherence and alignment.
A common framework and language supports unified practice and collaboration among all staff for achieving student learning
• Ensure all staff has familiarity with and understanding of Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching Rubric.
• Revise observation, project and end of year evaluation forms to reflect the language of Danielson’s rubric
• Connect instructional practice and curriculum work to Danielson’s rubric
Ensure strong student readers and writers who meet or exceed expectations of Common Core Standards
• Implement the ‘Fundations’ phonics, handwriting and spelling program consistently in Grades K-2 including consistent implementation of unit assessments
• Analyze 2012-13 NYS ELA results and make any indicated curriculum program changes grades K-8
• Implement Leveled Literacy program with fidelity as a Tier 3 Intervention for Grade K-4
• Explore and adopt additional Tier two and three interventions for Grades 5-9 to be adopted for 2014-15 school year
• Schedule reading interventions for maximum impact, i.e. add support to kindergarten, provide opportunity for implementing middle
school interventions with full fidelity where indicated
• Implement Fountas and Pinnel Literacy Benchmarking Grades K-5
• Explore literacy benchmarking options for grades 6-8 and select one for 14-15 school year implementation
• Develop and implement a research paper project for Grade 10 that will fulfill expected Regents Requirements for such a project
• Define and articulate specific skills in research and writing and define student products in grades 7, 8 and 9 English and Social Studies to support student success with 10th grade research paper
• Adopt a rubric for science labs that aligns with District Common Core writing rubrics.
• Establish a list of academic vocabulary words by grade level, K-12
• Develop and define fifth, sixth and seventh grade ELA reading and writing curriculum
• Ensure common curriculum expectations across grade level in English 8, 9 and 10
• Ensure common curriculum expectations across grade level Social Studies in 8, 9 and 10
Provide students with maximum access to post-secondary opportunities
• Implement new college seminar course in grades 11 and 12
• Provide support and opportunities for students to increase SAT results over 2012-13 performance
• Implement college recommendations suggestions learned from admissions workshop
• Continue to have counseling department develop ongoing relationships with colleges and universities
• Review any program or instructional implications of longitudinal AP data analysis
• Explore option of joining in a multi-district consortium to expand AP course offerings
• Plan for structural changes in AP program to take place in 2014-15 that will allow those students who wish to, the opportunity to take more math and science AP offerings
• Plan for an AP Economics course to be offered beginning 2014-15 school year