Lots Happened at Rye City Schools This Summer and More to Come This Fall
The Rye City School District was busy over the summer. The passage of the capital bond resolution in June paved the way for a period of design, architectural, and engineering plan creation and submission, followed by a period of waiting for State Education Department Architectural Review Board approval over the course of the next year. Looking ahead, Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne and the Board of Education intend to focus on delivering a student-centered instructional program that helps develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, as well as empathy and self-awareness through emphasis on social-emotional learning.
The District’s Board of Education will be led, for the second year, by President Karen Belanger and Vice President Jenn Boyle.
Faculty Professional Development
School’s not entirely out for the summer, especially for many of the District’s faculty. This year, 55 elementary teachers attended a two-day math institute at Milton School to prepare for the new Singapore Math-based curriculum, Math in Focus, which launches districtwide this fall.
In August, 18 elementary and secondary level teachers participated in three days of Project-Based Learning (PBL) training with Global Education Consultant Jill Ackers-Clayton. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. The 18 PBL fellows will continue to be trained in PBL teaching techniques throughout the school year.
Many teachers took advantage of the District’s professional development courses over the summer, including technology courses on Google-applied skills, infusing Chrome into teaching, using active learning stations, designing lessons using Hyperdocs, and promoting STEAM experiences. Other teachers took a two-day workshop on collaboration and co-teaching. K-5 literacy workshops were also offered, including a class on creating and managing classroom libraries and a blended book study of “Understanding Texts and Readers” by literacy expert Jennifer Serravallo.
Curriculum Revision and Review
Curriculum revision took place over the summer for Middle School grade 6 science courses, to be followed by grade 7 and grade 8 over subsequent summers. At the High School, the curricula for Global US History and English Composition I were revised and updated over the summer.
As the High School prepares to roll out a new schedule in fall 2020, the District has been conducting a curriculum review and audit of all classes to ensure incorporation of active learning and performance-based tasks into student course work. This work will continue over the course of the school year.
The District was the recipient of a New York State security technology grant award this past spring, and grant monies are being used to install a new system of security cameras throughout the five School District buildings. In addition, the District is installing a new visitor management system that will require visitors to the five schools to present a government-issued ID prior to entrance. Visitors will receive a temporary badge to wear while on school grounds once they have passed a brief background check (similar systems are in use at many office buildings in Manhattan). Both the cameras and the visitor management system will be in place for the beginning of school in September.
The turf field and track at the High School/Middle School are slated for replacement in June 2020, and the District has been busy getting the plans ready and up to Albany for State Education Department approval. The District hopes to receive fast-track approval for the turf/track, as they replace existing structures and do not have architectural elements.
The District is currently at work creating 20 Design teams spread between the five school buildings. Committees are comprised of faculty, administrators, and students who will work with architects and engineers to design the new educational spaces. Student and faculty bathrooms to be remodeled have been identified at Midland, Osborn, RMS, and RHS, with expected to be completed next summer. Plans for the renovated auditoriums at Midland and Osborn schools are underway and should be ready for submission by December.
New Districtwide Administrators
In July, Julie Heller joined the District as the new Director of K-12 Literacy, responsible for coordinating professional development in literacy and writing instruction districtwide. Dr. Erin Vredenburgh came aboard as District as Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education. Ms. Amy Osooli joins the Special Education Department as Supervisor of Elementary Special Education, a new position. She will serve as the point of contact for parents of elementary school students with disabilities and will coordinate the activities of teachers and support staff on students’ behalf.
Elementary Integrated Co-Teaching Expansion
Integrated co-teaching classrooms will be rolled out more broadly across the District this year. The co-teaching model, widely in use at the Middle and High School and around the country, consists of classrooms with two teachers in each class. The District piloted two ICT classrooms at Osborn last year and is now ready to roll the program out to Midland.
The District is in its second year of partnership with Challenge Success, a project of the Stanford University School of Education that seeks to redefine what success means to students, parents, and communities like Rye. This year, the District will have two Challenge Success teams: one in the Middle School and one in the High School. In September, a small group of faculty members, administrators, and parents will travel to Boston to undergo training at a Challenge Success leadership seminar.
Looking Ahead, School by School
Rye High School
A new Forensic Science class is available to juniors and seniors in addition to the already-existing SUPA (Syracuse University Project Advance) Forensics class. The High School received all new desktop computers this year as part of the District’s five-year technology replacement cycle. Project Lead the Way classrooms also received new laptops, and the Digital Art Lab received new computers. Eight new Chromebook carts, each with 30 Chromebooks, were added to be shared between the Middle and High School.
Rye Middle School
Two new Project Lead the Way semester courses have been added: Implementing Design and Modeling for seventh graders and Automation and Robotics for eighth graders. The Middle School received all new desktop computers this year as part of the District’s five-year technology replacement cycle.
At all three schools this fall, students in grades K-5 will be introduced to Math in Focus, a new Singapore-based curriculum. Teachers have been busy studying the new curriculum and materials over the summer. In addition, all second-grade classrooms received new Acer Spin touchscreen Chromebooks.
The Facilities Department was able to make some drainage improvements to Midland’s North Playground over the summer. A site inspection after several early August downpours showed encouragingly dry results. Midland’s gymnasium floor was completely resurfaced: stripped, sanded, re-lined, and buffed to a mirror shine.
Six new parking spots have been added around the front circle at Milton. The sidewalk along the front of the school has been extended to connect to the crosswalk so pedestrians need not walk in the driveway.
Two new Interactive TVs were installed in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.