Gina Faust, principal of Harbor Hill and Melissa Krieger, principal of the East Hills School, gave a presentation at last Thursday night’s Roslyn Board of Education meeting, showing the ways the three elementary schools are working to establish their annual goals. The presentation focused on three key areas, character education and social emotional learning, consistency of high academic standards across the elementary schools and technology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) experiences for school aged children.
“We are proactive about character education and social emotional development so that we can maintain standards of excellence in a safe and positive school environment,” said Krieger.
She said that programs are in place in the schools to support character education such as the Peaceful School Bus Meetings and the Bucket Filling Program. The Book of the Month program is also widely used and has been a mainstay at the elementary school level.
“We use our Book of the Month program to build community and establish relationship skills, build empathy and re-direct leadership skills in positive channels,” Krieger added.
As of this year, a school psychologist has joined the faculty at East Hills and Harbor Hill.
“The psychologist in this position is able to work with small groups of students in a proactive manner, present parent workshops and assist students on the playground and in the cafeteria with issues that arise so that they are dealt with on the spot and in context so that when recess is over, students return to class with the issues resolved and behind them,” Krieger said.
The two principals said that they have aligned instruction to rigorous standards in ways that are meaningful to students and motivating to them as well. Units of study in literacy and mathematics are designed to be built upon previous units across a school year.
“For example the Teachers College Reading Writing Project has designed K-5 learning progressions that teachers can use to assess learning and plan for instruction,” said Faust. “Teachers across the elementary schools have become more diagnostic about assessments, looking closely at students’ responses and aligning them to the learning progressions as well as the New York State rubrics. Feedback and student reflection makes the learning meaningful to students as they become more proficient and independent in their responses.”
In the area of technology and STEM, the principals described some of the ways the elementary schools been implementing iPad and robotic technology at each school.
“The district wide iPad initiative coupled with the newest Epson interactive white boards have brought new and exciting advances in instructional technology at the elementary level,” said Krieger.
She said that students use ipads to research and explore content area learning across the curriculum and that the ipads help to differentiate instruction, match text to readers and allow students to explore topics of interest. Students are also using the Probot, a programmable floor robot as they learn about coding.
Project Lead the Way’s Launch Program is one of the most innovative programs at the elementary level according to both Krieger and Faust.
“One of the most exciting conversations we have had recently is about Project Lead the Way’s Launch Program for the elementary school,” said Krieger. “This program is taught in a project activity based format that is engaging and exciting for students. Students are empowered to be problem solvers, to innovate, to think critically and creatively in a collaborative manner.”