It’s been no summer vacation for the Oceanside School District, as educators worked on enhancing the curriculum, updating technology, providing additional training for teachers and upgrading buildings and grounds.
During the school board’s Aug. 24 meeting, Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington detailed what the district accomplished in a presentation entitled, “How we spent our summer break.”
“I know that many think that the summer is a time for nothing but going to the beach and having a vacation,” Harrington said. “However, I can assure you all, we managed to do that, but despite that, there is a tremendous amount that happens in the two short months of the summer.”
The district focused on enhancing curriculum so that students are equipped with the most up-to-date education possible, the superintendent said.
“We do a lot of curriculum writing over the summer,” Harrington said. “The board and community supports that with our budget process, but we think our teachers are our best experts when it comes to curriculum, and they volunteered to participate in a variety of different activities. And it’s always so exciting to see them at work in this labor of love.”
Some of the updates to curriculum included the K-12 math scope and sequence, grades three-to-six social studies program, development and revisions to the college introduction to real estate, algebra 2 and government & economics mentoring courses at the high school.
Teachers were also busy during the summer by participating in various training programs.
“There was a tremendous amount of professional development over the summer, which means teachers and administrators get to participate in learning over the summer,” Harrington said. “We were thrilled by the number of teachers who participated because it’s not, of course, mandated.”
Some professional development programs that teachers took part in included the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS): Phonemic Awareness, Phonics & Fluency and Orton-Gillingham Training.
According to the New York State Education Department, the MTSS is a framework for both academic and behavioral instruction based on the belief that all students can learn and all school professionals are responsive to the academic and behavioral needs of all students. The program relies on data to steer instructional decisions and ensures that each student receives the support necessary to be successful.
According to the Orton-Gillingham Academy (OGA), its training is a multisensory, structured and diagnostic way to teach literacy when children have difficulty with reading, writing and spelling, such as those with dyslexia.
Harrington said that the training offered this year filled a critical need.
“We did a tremendous amount of Orton-Gillingham training,” Harrington said. “We lost some staff members who were OG-trained, and it was really important that we get new people on board.”
Improvements were also made to the district’s buildings and grounds, which should enhance the overall learning experience for students, district officials said.
“We are thrilled that the new playgrounds at school 8 and 9E will be completed before school begins,” Harrington said. “We renovated existing classrooms at the middle school and created a mental health wing there, and all that work was done by our own staff.”
Harrington said exciting things are also happening at the high school.
“We will be having a ribbon-cutting for the wellness center,” the superintendent said. “That work came as a grant from Sen. Kaminsky’s office and we’re excited to say it’s finalized. We have finished our phase two and three of the science labs and I’m super excited that we are going to have ready for our first soccer game, which is Sept. 6, and our first football game, which is Sept. 9, our brand new state-of-the art scoreboard. Then we also have two new, smaller scoreboards, one for softball and one for baseball. Those also came from a grant from Sen. Kaminsky at no cost to our taxpayers.”
Additionally, the school district’s technology has been upgraded, the superintendent said.
“We now have two large screens on the side, which gives the board the opportunity to see the presentations from their seat,” Harrington said. “We are also going to continue to show the presentations on the center screens as well, but the equipment we have for that is quite outdated, so we’re in the process of seeing if we can update that.”
Some of the new technology will make meetings more accessible to the public, administrators said.
“We’ve also improved our live stream abilities,” Harrington said. “You may notice now that there are three cameras up on the back walls. These now allow us to do the live streaming in a more seamless and efficient fashion.