Seaford school district's LIFT program takes center stage at ASCD Conference


Educators from across the country and the world learned about the Seaford School District’s unique LIFT program at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. on March 23.

Superintendent Adele Pecora, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Instructional Support Sheena Jacob, Executive Director for Instructional Technology and STEAM Debbie Langone and LIFT teacher Leah Kukla presented on the program, which was launched in the 2022-23 school year. The elementary program merges library, innovation, fitness and technology.

During their presentation of “We Have LIFT Off” to a standing-room only crowd, Seaford’s educators discussed the trailblazing approach to education that offers students an enriching learning experience. LIFT replaced the traditional library special with a class that integrates various disciplines including STEAM and social and emotional health.

Jacob said that Seaford submitted a proposal to showcase the LIFT program at ASCD’s annual conference, and it was accepted. Their presentation connected to the conference theme, “Uniting Minds, Igniting Progress.”

“We were showcasing a program but we also talked about a philosophy that we’re embedding in our school culture,” Jacob said. “It puts Seaford on the map and promotes the excellence of this program at a national level. It was a very prideful moment.”

Jacob described LIFT as a “grassroots program” that aligns with Seaford’s mission of promoting innovation. She explained that LIFT was developed with extensive input from central and building administrators, as well as teachers, and with support from the Board of Education.

Pecora said that Seaford educators have attended several ASCD conferences in recent years, including workshops conducted by Habits of Mind founder Bena Kallick, as well as the author of Innovator's Mindset George Couros.

“The international organization provides educators with access to professional development focused on promoting highly effective learning systems,” she said.

“The knowledge that we have gained through these experiences has supported the curriculum advancement of the Seaford School District. We were honored to be selected to present, ‘We Have LIFT Off!’ at the ASCD Conference in Washington, D,C. Being able to share our LIFT Program and Seaford Scholar Profile with educators in an international setting was an opportunity to reciprocate and share our best practices.”

The presentation highlighted how to create an innovative program that reimagines the use of existing school facilities, as LIFT is taught in the Harbor and Manor libraries. Jacob explained that it shows how curriculum can be redesigned to support a vision. LIFT is derived from the Innovator’s Mindset and fosters the pillars of the Seaford Scholars profile.

LIFT is led by the team of Kukla, Dan Maricondo and Jennifer Rosenberg. Previously the Harbor Elementary School librarian, Rosenberg now handles instruction on library media skills and Project Lead the Way units at both elementary schools. When she is at one school, Kukla and Maricondo are at the other. They focus on health and fitness, as well as STEAM challenges and robotics.

Kukla explained that the fitness activities are designed to give students tools to help regulate their emotions and improve their mental health. Cup-stacking challenges foster communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork. Students also participate in community-focused projects that benefit the school, their classmates and teachers.

“The program in its entirety covers so much,” she said. “I have not seen a program that incorporates so many components. It is a great opportunity for children to be exposed to different thinking skills.”

She enjoyed speaking about LIFT and said the response from other educators was very positive, with several coming up after the presentation to ask questions. The Seaford team provided all of the participants with a brochure on the program as well as their contact information for anyone who wants to learn more. Kukla said that any school can adapt LIFT to meet its own specific needs.

“It’s a good reminder that, as educators, we need to be innovators, as well,” she said. “We need to be creative and flexible in our approach to providing education to children.”