Autumn Renaissance

The changing of the leaves in the autumn months has always been symbolic of a new beginning.    Each leaf becomes a flower in its own right and the thought that there may be an end in sight actually evolves into the beginning of something new.  A regeneration of our environment and the things that surround us.  Like a rebirth.  A Renaissance.

Our school is in the midst of its own rebirth.  New ideas, new projects and a new energy characterizes each new day, each new week and each new month. 

The Primary school has a multitude of hands on opportunities for students on a daily basis.  When I visit classrooms, I see students engaged in assignments that are meant to increase their engagement in active learning.  I see learning with partners and in groups.  I see teamwork and questioning.  Students shuffling around the rooms to gather supplies and ask a question if need be.  Many times, they even stop to explain to me what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.  All skills that will be important to them later in life. 

The Middle School is also implementing new curriculum advances.  One such advance is called Catalyst.  Catalyst builds time for students to work on social issues and areas of daily stresses.  It seeks to educate students about how to best interact with peers as well as with adults.  It teaches life skills, study habits and how to effectively resolve conflicts before they escalate.  Catalyst is an attempt to take education beyond just reading, writing and arithmetic.  It’s an attempt to build better citizens that are more independent and capable of problem-solving their way out of life’s dilemmas.

Additionally, the High School has been working diligently on a signature program of its own.  The objective of Pathways is to create educational plans for students to follow in order to achieve a given objective.  Constructed like a major or minor in college, Pathways provides a recommended program including course options and career planning and development for students to gather experiences in a given area or areas of interest.  This year, Pathways is being required for all members of the Freshmen Class.  Eventually, a culminating activity of Pathways may be a hands-on opportunity before graduation like work-based learning, an internship, a job shadowing or BOCES Career Technical Education.  

And finally, at the district level, we’re working on a unified vision for what our maker spaces will be like after our $10.6 million capital project is complete.  Essentially, how each building will enhance learning with this space and how will that learning relate to the learning that’s going on in the other buildings.  We’re also working to make sure each building has the tools and personnel it needs to maximize student learning and retention.  We will strive to make sure everyone is in school and everyone is learning at a high level.  Our goals are simple:  boost test scores, lower the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate.

In education, we like to begin with the end in mind.  Our new beginning this autumn centers on making the student’s educational experience something that they will treasure for many seasons to come, and we’re making more progress every day.


John Hillis, Superintendent

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