Long Beach schools welcome new year, new faces


As students and faculty were ushered into the first day of school Sept. 5, some changes are in store for the 2018-19 school year, including no traditional homework for elementary school students.

At the elementary level, new approaches to homework will be implemented through an initiative called “WRaP,” which aims to better support student learning. The acronym stands for “Wonder, Read and Play.” Traditional homework will be replaced with nightly reading, along with activities that promote play, according to the Long Beach Public Schools website. District officials said they hope to encourage positive, engaging activities at home.

The homework change will be discussed at the Sept. 27 Board of Education meeting. Students would be encouraged to discuss their books and reading assignments, and write short reflections about their favorite characters. Teachers will also create optional activities for students who want additional practice, and parents are encouraged to engage in activities with their children to support curiosity.

Some classes may create “Wonder Walls” to share student learning, or hold “curiosity conventions” to talk about subjects learned about through inquiry-based activities. The district is partnering with Hofstra University and Scholastic Books to support this new initiative and will evaluate the results.

While students can say goodbye to the Forensics Club, three new clubs will be added to the high school’s list of co-curricular activities, including an Anime Club, a Chess Club and a Mindfulness Club.

Additionally, an uptick in funds will allow for more stipends for club advisers as well as supplies for the drama and musical productions. Students and parents can also expect to see a new culinary arts classroom in the high school, as well as a new storage shed for the Nike program on Lido Boulevard and new first-floor windows at West Elementary School.

Additionally, the district will put a focus on security-related projects, including installing new doors and locks at East Elementary School and the middle and high schools, constructing a new interior cafeteria wall at the high school and building a new security vestibule at the Nike Work-Based Learning Center.

The district is also working with its public relations firm, Syntax, to design a new website to better communicate with students’ families, which is set to debut later this month.

Long Beach Public Schools also welcomed new staff members with a three-day orientation that included presentations, workshops and discussions. It included an introduction to the district’s goals, key learning frameworks, professional tools and policies as well as a bus tour around the community.

The district welcomed new teachers Philip Cabasino, Timothy Cabasino, Ashley Castanio, Christina Causi, Alexandra Clark, Kelsey Dass, Regina Dibono, Brittany Gervase, Marie DiGiovanni, Jennifer Healy, Erin Hutton, Zoe Irwin, Frank Lettieri, Amanda Maggio, Rose Ann Malizia, Conor Manning, Eva Mastrantuono, Stephen McSweeney, Stephanie Mena, Geoffrey Noss, Gina Pulewitz, Jennifer Ragona, Ashley Schecher, Maria Vasquez-Wright and Heather Yaeger.

The district has also made several new administrative appointments. Lorie Beard is the new vice principal of Long Beach Middle School, Amy Dirolf is the principal of West School, Sarah Kugelman is the assistant principal of West School, Evelyn Daza is the coordinator of ENL and student internships, Patrick Kiley-Rendon is the director of technology, Gina Reddock is the Adult Learning Center program manager, Christopher Webel is the coordinator of alternative educational programs, Elizabeth Walsh-Bulger is the vice principal of Long Beach High School and Sharon Weiss is the assistant principal of Lido School.