As September rolls around, school districts on the East End are preparing for yet another academic year, and many have new things in store for both their students and their employees.
The Southampton, Sag Harbor and Sagaponack school districts open their doors on Wednesday, September 3. Tuckahoe begins classes Thursday, September 4, and Bridgehampton starts on Monday, September 8.
Southampton School District is looking to operate business as usual this upcoming school year, with the district focusing on improving Common Core results throughout all of its schools.
The biggest change this year, Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said, is the iPad initiative program. Last year, all students in grades six through 10 were given district iPads to facilitate learning. This year, students from grades six to 12 will receive the devices, while district fifth-graders will have access to tablets in the classroom.
The Tuckahoe School District is looking to give parents more firsthand information this year about what their children are learning, and when.
Over the summer, teachers in the district have been working with administrators to create a series of electronic curriculum maps for each subject and grade level that parents will be able to access online at any time. Typically, Superintendent Chris Dyer said, school districts purchase such maps from the state and force their teaching into the model. This year, the district has opted to create its own map, with guidance from past curriculum maps, to be able to ensure creativity and local projects are included throughout the year, while still hitting the major curriculum points.
The new system, which will be available online through the district website, will allow for parents to log on and see what is being taught in each classroom each week, allowing for a deeper understanding of a child’s school day and learning progress.
The Sag Harbor School District experienced major administrative changes this summer. Superintendent of Schools Katy Graves began her position in July, replacing Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso. The district also saw the resignations of Athletic Director Todd Gullusico and School Business Administrator John O’Keefe, but quickly made new hires to replace them: Don McGovern will take the place of Mr. Gullusico in a newly created position, director of athletics, health, wellness and personnel, and supervisor of physical education. Jennifer Buscemi has taken over as the new business administrator.
“Our focus will be on building excellent communication out to our families and our community through our administration, faculty, staff, class website, school website, emails, phone calls, and our [local] media,” Ms. Graves said.
Ms. Graves said the district will be making its middle school a priority this year. Through team-building, hands-on learning, character education and enhanced communication to parents, the district is looking to enhance Pierson Middle School’s sense of identity. Additionally, International Baccalaureate classes will make their way to the school, so they will be offered as they are at the high school level.
Over the summer, buildings in the district also saw some changes. New floors were installed in the gymnasium at Pierson Middle/High School, as were new bleachers. Both the upper-grade school and the elementary school also received new roofs.
The Bridgehampton School District appointed Eric Bramoff as the new athletic director and head physical education teacher for the school. Mr. Bramoff replaces Mary Anne Jules, who retired earlier this summer after 32 years with the district.
This school year, Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre said students will return to a playground with new equipment, and they can also look forward to the resurfacing of the basketball court, thanks to a donation from Board of Education member Doug DeGroot.
Other construction done at the school includes new entryway doors and a new storage building.
As for new educational opportunities, Dr. Favre said middle school teachers will be able to create more project-based learning opportunities for students. The special education program will also be working on new programs through grant funding from Paddlers for Humanity, a non-profit organization based in East Hampton that raises money and awareness for local and global groups dedicated to bettering children’s lives.
“We remain focused on our Middle States goals of increased achievement, college and career readiness, and improved communication and facilities,” Dr. Favre said. “We are looking forward to a terrific year ahead.”
The Sagaponack School District will welcome a new head teacher to its one-room schoolhouse this year. Aimee Campbell is taking over, replacing Diana McGinniss.
She will have a total of 10 students this year, two of them from families living within the district, the other eight tuitioned from outside the district. District tuition for the 2014-15 school year is $5,500 for returning students, $6,000 for new students.
Ms. Campbell said that in the coming school year the district is planning to implement work stations that intermingle the different grades so that older students can work in a mentoring capacity with their younger classmates, which she thinks will help younger students learn and older students develop leadership skills. There will also be expanded use of technology, like Chromebooks, in the classroom and use of social media sites.
The district is also planning to collaborate with other small districts, like neighboring Wainscott School, for field trips and social events.
Ms. Campbell said that she will also be looking to involve students with local nonprofit organizations.