When students come to school, they are taught lessons, they take tests and they get homework. But what they don’t know is all the behind-the-scenes work that takes place to teach them.
Much of that starts at the top, and in New York state that is with commissioner of education and the Board of Regents. One of those decision makers visited Valley Stream last week to meet with students and hear concerns from administrators.
Roger Tilles, who is Long Island’s representative on the Board of Regents, stopped by District 13 on May 8. He visited fourth-grade students at the Howell Road School and then third-graders at Wheeler Avenue. Each time, he read a selection of humorous poems.
His poetry selections included “And the Answer is” about the student-teacher relationship, “A Student’s Prayer” and “How to Torture Your Teacher.” He also shared some poems on the perils of recess and excuses for not doing homework.
Tilles, who has been on the Board of Regents for eight years, said he began reading poems to students when his children were growing up and attending Great Neck schools. Now that his kids are grown, Tilles has been able to continue reading in his role as a state education leader.
“That’s my perk as a Regent,” he said. “I think the kids like it, but I like it more.”
Tilles said he has visited about 70 of Long Island’s more than 120 districts. This was Tilles’s first time coming to District 13 though he did pay a similar visit to District 24 three years ago.
He had a little discussion about the recent state assessments with the students and admitted he believed the tests were too hard. Tilles told them they shouldn’t take the results of the tests too seriously, and a bad score doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of a student.
At Howell Road, Tilles got to see the school’s reading garden that opened last year. While visiting Wheeler Avenue, he stopped by a music class and talked about the importance of participating in the band, orchestra or chorus. Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund shared with Tilles that most of District 13’s students do participate in one of those three.
Tilles shared how his family’s interest in music led to the construction of the Tilles Center at LIU Post in Brookville. His father was a developer who decades ago constructed stores and offices on Long Island, then wanted to do a major project to give something back to the community. Music had become a passion for Tilles and his siblings, so they suggested a concert hall.
Robb-Fund said she was glad to welcome Tilles to the district and said he is an advocate for education. She noted that he is often the lone dissenting vote on the Board of Regents when new mandates are imposed.
“It was good for our children to meet someone who has a leadership position in education,” she said. “They were great. He really related beautifully to our students.”