New school superintendent setting goals

JULIE LANE PHOTO Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

“Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.”

That’s how new Superintendent Christine Finn captured the essence of her plans to move the district forward in meeting educational goals at the Board of Education’s Monday night meeting.

Pledging to present a fiscally responsible budget for the 2018-19 school term, Ms. Finn promised that students graduating from Shelter Island School would be equipped with:
• Critical thinking
• Excellent communication skills
• An ability to work collaboratively
• Demonstrate creativity
• Embrace cultural competency

Ms. Finn outlined specific steps to ensure those abilities are cultivated throughout each child’s experience.

She wants collaboration among teachers to create a vertical alignment so students entering kindergarten will lay the base on which to build their learning year to year.

“We have a wonderful curriculum,” Ms. Finn said. But there is room for growth in some areas, she said. She will spend more time observing teachers in their classrooms and working with them on professional development.

The STEM program — science, technology, engineering and math — will be expanded into the elementary grades.

The use of technology has been a part of the program, but Ms. Finn is hoping to integrate it into more classrooms through continued professional development for teachers on the use of iPads Google Classrooms, and new apps.

She wants to replace the letter grade report cards used at the elementary school level with reports that specifically tell parents where there children are demonstrating strong skills and where they need more assistance.

At the same time, Ms. Finn heard from teachers requesting more emphasis on remedial education to ensure students are getting help they need in earlier grades.

The new superintendent said she doesn’t want to lose sight of wellness and safety programs in the school and has started to implement mindfulness programs, stress management and she’s seeking to expand the Anti-Defamation League program started last year, so the school atmosphere will become more inclusive for all students.

Perhaps one of the most ambitious efforts is to establish a Shelter Island TV station at the school.

Ms. Finn predicted it could get underway within six months.

A full outline of Ms. Finn’s goals appears on the school’s website.

Drivers education
The Board of Education is seeking staff who are either certified or willing to be certified to teach drivers education classes during the school year and the summer. A new teacher, or preferably two or three are needed during the school year.

Funding off-Island trips
District officials are seeking ways to fund popular programs such as a trip to see a Broadway play and other cultural events. The Shelter Island Educational Foundation has been generous in funding a number of school programs not covered by the budget, but it can’t provide grants for every application submitted, teacher Lynne Colligan said.

Board member Elizabeth Melichar suggested the district might try launching a page to solicit contributions. Anyone with ideas how to raise funding for off-Island events should contact Ms. Finn at (631) 749-0302 extension 101, or [email protected]

Senior trip
Seniors are asking the Board of Education to approve a May 31 through June 3 trip to Orlando, Florida, to participate in an educational program.

Before the class gets the approval, board members Linda Eklund and Elizabeth Melichar want information on costs so parents won’t have to pay chaperones’ expenses.