Fall Speed Ahead for Rye City Schools
The Rye City School District enters its second year with Dr. Eric Byrne at the helm. Dr. Byrne spent a great deal of time over the past year conducting interviews with community members, parents, faculty, and staff to get to know Rye and its people while building a strategic vision of teaching and learning for the future.
Looking ahead, Dr. Byrne intends to focus on the many opportunities he sees for growth and improvement, including more focus on students “in the middle,” creating more inclusive opportunities for special education students, offering more high-quality, meaningful professional development, thinking differently about how the schools utilize space, and improving scheduling.
The District has a new Board of Education President, Karen Belanger, and Vice President, Jennifer Boyle.
<<Teacher Professional Development>>
Over the summer months, while students are away and at play, many teachers go back into the classroom as students themselves.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Rye Fund for Education, 18 elementary- and secondary-level teachers and three administrators participated in two days of Project Based Learning training with Global Education Consultant Jill Ackers-Clayton in July and August. Through this method, students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Teachers will continue to be trained throughout the school year.
Technology courses taught by the District’s IT specialists attracted teachers from all five schools, while others chose to learn more about the Literacy Workshop Model from the District’s two new Literacy Staff Developers, Tara Bauer and Katie Wears. Ms. Kerri Winderman, formerly a Staff Developer at Milton School, becomes the District-wide elementary Math Staff Developer, and will be supporting teachers’ professional learning and instructional practice in mathematics.
<<Challenge Notions of Success>>
In April, the District partnered 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. In late July, a small group of faculty members and administrators traveled to Boston to undergo training at a Challenge Success leadership seminar. A larger “Leadership Team” from the District will travel to Stanford for several days in September to attend the fall Partner School Conference, where the District’s leadership team will create an action plan for the work ahead.
<<Looking Ahead, School by School>>
Ninth graders at <<Rye High School>> will take a new course this year for half of their physical education credit. The class, developed by RHS Physical Education teachers, consists of four wellness-related units, including yoga and Pilates, nutrition, fitness, and anatomy and physiology.
Among the new language courses are Advanced Communication in Spanish and American Sign Language 3.
The District replaced the bank of bleacher seats in the main gym over the summer – readers may recall they were damaged by understandably excited fans during the Boys’ Varsity Basketball game versus Byram Hills at the end of the regular season.
At <<Rye Middle School>>, all incoming 6th graders will take a new reading workshop course utilizing curriculum resources from Teachers College at Columbia University. Students will learn about characterization, the non-fiction genre, and reading about social issues. The 6th grade English and Social Studies teachers are all receiving professional development at Columbia to support teaching the workshop in late August.
American Sign Language, previously only available to rising 7th graders, is now an elective available to 6th graders.
Project Lead the Way Engineering classes (PLTW) have been in place at Rye High for several years. Now RMS is offering two middle level “Gateway” engineering units for 7th and 8th graders.
Three classrooms were completely renovated, floor to ceiling, and six received new wood grain flooring. Several hallways received a lot of attention over the summer, with all new flooring, ceilings, and lighting. The concrete polishing Newcastle must be consulted in such instances. The school now has two 3D printers and two laptop carts holding 30 Chromebooks for use by the Engineering classes. The school also added several new laptop carts with Chromebooks for general use. The technology was purchased by the District with assistance from the school’s Parent Organization.
<<Midland School>> received two interactive television sets and a new laptop cart with 25 Chromebooks. The 3rd graders will be using brand-new touchscreen Chromebooks this year. Two rooms in the Kindergarten wing received beautiful new flooring.
<<Milton School>> welcomes a new Assistant Principal, Annemarie Piekarski, who comes from Chappaqua. Over the summer, a new, solid surface playground replaced the wood chip playground at the rear of the school and a new bottle filling station was installed on the second floor. Both come courtesy of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. Milton’s gymnasium floor was completely resurfaced: stripped, sanded, re-lined, and buffed to a mirror shine. Third grade students will be using touchscreen Chromebooks this year, courtesy of the District and the PTO.
<<Osborn School>> will pilot two integrated co-teaching (ICT) classrooms in grades two and four. The co-teaching model, widely in use in the High and Middle schools and broadly in elementary schools in New York City and throughout Westchester, consists of classrooms with two teachers and a teaching assistant in each. The District hopes to roll out ICT more broadly next year. Osborn students are looking forward to a new playground coming in early September, courtesy of the school’s PTO. The front sidewalk in the drop-off zone has been completely replaced, and there are beautiful new floors in the nine third-grade wing classrooms, hallway, and teacher’s lounge. Third graders will be using new touch screen Chromebooks this year, courtesy of the District and the PTO.
<<Singapore Math Pilot>>
Based on the recommendation of the District’s Math Committee, the District will be piloting two Singapore Math-based curricula in each of the three elementary schools. The District hopes to decide between the two programs in early 2019, with the new program being rolled out District-wide in the fall of 2019.
<<Special Education Update>>
In June, Dr. Letitia Payne joined the District as Supervisor of Secondary Special Education. She will serve as the main point of contact for the parents of RMS and RHS students with disabilities and will coordinate the activities of teachers and support staff on students’ behalf. In addition, new positions in special education were added to increase capacity in co-teaching for ICT classrooms.