Posted September 5, 2012
New year brings new challenges, but the goal of
educating and growing students never wavers.
The sights and sounds are all too familiar.
The yellow school bus taking a few spins around
Custodians polishing the floors.
Bulletin boards being put together.
The first day of school is upon us.
As students and staff prepare to enter their
respective buildings on Thursday, a sense of optimism and excitement
fills the district.
Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Skeals meets with
teachers at a student learning objectives meeting on
Sept. 4 and outlines some of the new challenges that
they will be facing.
“It's a brand new start and a chance to start
fresh,” Superintendent D. Joseph Corr said reflecting on what the
first day of school means to him. “I think our mindset going in to
this year is to have the audacity of optimism. We can always do
better. Our students are and will always be the focus. As a
district, we work to help them unlock their potential by seeing them
learn subject content, acquire new skills, and so importantly,
Education is at a pivotal point in history. New
state mandates, including the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS),
Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), Response to
Intervention and the Dignity for All Students Act, have changed the
focus of how education is delivered to students.
“We need to focus on making the mandates
meaningful,” Superintendent D. Joseph Corr said in his Opening Day
remarks to teachers. “We need to take control and remember why we
are here. We need to get back to the district we want to be. We are
not minimizing the stress of the mandates. Yet, they don’t shackle
The CCLS are designed to provide a consistent,
clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so that
teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The
Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they help teachers
figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so
that the teachers can build the best lessons and environments for
their classrooms. The Standards also help students and parents by
setting clear and realistic goals for success.
District administrators and faculty have been
working diligently since the beginning of last year to align its
curriculum with the CCLS in mathematics and ELA. Beginning in the
spring of 2013, the NYS 3-8 ELA and Math tests will reflect the
mandated curriculum changes with a new design that is aligned with
the rigor of Common Core expectations.
“Kathy Skeals (Assistant Superintendent for
Curriculum and Instruction), along with the help of the job-embedded
coaches, have done a masterful job to create a curriculum that is
on-going, reflective and is committed to improving student
learning,” Corr said.
The Annual Professional Performance Review Plan
(APPR) is the process by which New York state teachers and
principals are evaluated on a yearly basis. The New York State
Education Department requires that each public-school around the
state document, and have a plan in place for reviewing the merits of
each educator in the public school system.
Another mandate that you’ll be hearing a lot
about is the Dignity for All Students Act. The Act seeks to provide
the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a
safe and supportive environment free from discrimination,
intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property,
a school bus and/or at a school function.
“We have created a document that focuses on
providing students with a safe learning environment, appreciates
diversity, honors differences, but does not tolerate bullying,
harassment or discrimination,” Corr said.
With the emergence of these new mandates, the
world of education is changing rapidly. But, as Corr reminded his
faculty on Tuesday morning, there is more to educating a child then
what is mandated by the state.
“Let this be the year that we make meaning of
these mandates,” he said. “Let’s take control of the conversation
and break down the barriers of isolation for the good of ourselves
and our students. This is the year we dare to be audaciously