Shelter Island Board of Education members recently got a look at federally mandated curriculum changes in both English language arts and math that are being rolled out this year, posing challenges for both teachers and parents.
The national “common core standards for education” that have been adopted by New York State are meant to replace the standards set by each state about what students are expected to learn, explained Superintendent Michael Hynes at the board’s monthly meeting on October 15. It’s meant to create a level playing field for students who will have to compete with one another — not only across state lines but globally for college placements and jobs.
While stressing the importance of the new standards, he said he wanted to proceed at a slow, steady pace to ensure the district is doing things correctly, rather than rushing the process. Toward that end, the district has already purchased new math textbooks and is investigating a new reading series, according to Academic Administrator Jennifer Rylott.
The new literacy program stresses reading both nonfiction and fiction books that are age appropriate and ensuring that students truly understand what they’re reading. They’ll be asked not only to answer questions but to explain their reasoning using the information they’ve gained from reading, Ms. Rylott said. They will also be encouraged to push through frustrations with more complex materials, re-reading as necessary to understand meanings. And students will be doing more writing to hone their skills in that area, she said.
Parents will be encouraged to read to younger children and work with older children to help them improve their reading skills. Parents can also encourage reading by setting an example and reading a lot themselves.
Ms. Rylott said statistics show that children not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma. Other studies show that children who read and develop better vocabularies tend to be better students overall.
“What our students need is both reading and writing,” Dr. Hynes said.
Similarly, the new approach to math is aimed at helping students understand how the concepts they’re being asked to master apply to everyday life, Dr. Hynes said. Students will be learning fewer concepts, but delving more deeply into those they are taught to have a better understanding of them. In early grades, students will learn to add and subtract so they can build on that by third grade with multiplication and division, he said. Mastery of those basics is critical when they tackle algebra and succeeding with algebra is a benchmark for succeeding at college level math, he said.
Parents need to be aware when their children are struggling and failing to grasp basics so they can either support the learning effort themselves or seek more help from teachers, he said.
“I’m not saying skill and drill,” Dr. Hynes said about parents and teachers working with students. Rather he’s seeking greater understanding of basic math facts.
Math is about solving problems and that will be the emphasis, Dr. Hynes said.
Board member Thomas Graffagnino said a couple of constituents had approached him about restarting an adult education program. Residents consider the school a community center and would like to have some programs offered for adults, he said.
Dr. Hynes agreed to check with some neighboring districts about the adult education programs they offer and the costs related to them.
Such programs would be especially popular in winter months, Mr. Graffagnino suggested.
Three of the organizers responsible for bringing collegiate baseball to Shelter Island last summer told the board they expect a new scoreboard will be in place at Fiske Field by Thanksgiving. The remote controlled electronic scoreboard will be available for use by varsity school teams and will be used next summer when the Shelter Island Bucks return to Fiske Field.
The scoreboard was purchased with about $9,000 in contributions, Bucks General Manager Cori Cass said. He was joined at the meeting by Dave Gurney and Mike Dunning, long-time Little League coaches here, who were instrumental in bringing a collegiate team to Shelter Island for the first time last summer.
The men are already scouting players for next summer, anticipating that some of those who played for the Bucks this year will return. And they’re also looking for host families to provide housing for team members who would arrive in late June and wind up their season in late July or early August if they can equal or better their performance in making the playoffs last year.
The Bucks finished first in the Hamptons Collegiate League regular season last summer, only to be knocked out of the playoffs by the fourth-place Riverhead Tomcats.
Mr. Dunning said the scoreboard would have to be stored in the school building in the off-season and that people would have to be trained to use it properly for both the varsity school games and next year’s Bucks season.
The fields were upgraded at no cost to the district to accommodate the Bucks games and a new backstop and improvements to dugouts are planned for 2013, Mr. Cass said. None of the work will be at the expense of the district.
Students in grades 11 and 12 will be going to see Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” at Bay Street Theatre in November while 10th graders got approval for December field trips to the city to see “The Nutcracker” and an opera at Lincoln Center.
The Shelter Island School District has a newly designed website that will be carrying brief biographies of Board of Education and staff members. The new site has been about a year in preparation, Dr. Hynes said, crediting District Clerk Jacki Dunning with doing a lot of the work to make it happen.
District officials tried unsuccessfully to sell it but now the board has declared the district’s old General Motors diesel-powered 200KW generator obsolete and is making plans to dispose of it.
The board approved the following appointments:
• Jennifer Gulluscio to be paid $13,949 retroactive to October 1 for teaching an additional special education class for this school term;
• Michelle Corbett to receive $1,147 for serving as 11th grade advisor;
• Ann Marie Galasso to receive $1,747 as detention supervisor;
• Brian Doelger as ninth grade advisor for $694;
• Roberta Garris as literacy program coordinator for $4,551;
• Sharon Gibbs as Science Fair coordinator for $1,747;
• Jason Green as intramural middle school Running Club advisor for $1,130;
• John Kaasik as play director and producer for $4,551;
• Peter Miedema as Student Council advisor for $2,619;
• Rebecca Mundy as yearbook advisor for $4,551;
• Ian Kanarvogel, Peter Miedema and James Theinert as chaperones for athletic games — $89 for single games and $136 for double-headers. Chaperones who serve as clock keepers receive an extra $10.
• Additional coaches for the school year are Jay Card for varsity boys’ basketball at $4,862; Kimberly Clark for cheerleading at $3,151; Ian Kanarvogel for junior varsity girls basketball at $4,862; Peter Miedema for varsity girls basketball at $5,744; Michael Mundy for varsity boys basketball at $5,744; and Rick Osmer for junior high boys basketball at $2,653.
• Lisa Krekeler as a volunteer coach for the Sailing Club;
• Detention monitors Ann Marie Galasso, Peter Miedema and James Theinert;
• Melanie Mitchell as a substitute cafeteria worker at $10 per hour; and
• Richard Osmer to provide adult, child and infant CPR/AED certification for $30 or $57 per coach or district employee.
The board accepted the resignation retroactive to August 31 of Lynne Colligan as a teachers aide.