Superintendent of Schools
At Mid-Year, a Look Back and a Look Ahead
Allison Brown, Superintendent of Schools
As we approach the mid-point of the school year, I am very pleased to report that we are making excellent progress on a range of important goals we set for ourselves for the year. Apart from wondering how the year could be flying by so quickly, I have also been reflecting on the many ways we prepare our students for success.
One thing seems clear: we are never standing still in our efforts to improve what we do, and Roslyn is continually refining and expanding its instructional programs. Individual students learn and excel in different ways, and our educational approach has always been to provide as many opportunities as possible so that every student can find his or her own path to success. From the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) initiative, which now begins with integrated lessons for our youngest students at the Heights School, to a new career exploration program and new international exchange and service opportunities for students at Roslyn High School, we constantly seek ways to enrich students academically while widening their horizons beyond the four walls of the classroom. This is the fourth year of the Project Lead the Way engineering program, which is now reaching students K-12. We’ve introduced computer coding at all levels, and new video production and AP computer science courses at the high school. A committee of administrators, teachers and parents recently updated our secondary grading policy to de-emphasize the importance of individual, state tests as a measure of student performance.
We are focused not only on students’ academic achievement but also on their social and emotional well-being. To that end, we have introduced many programs at all levels over many years to ensure that our students have a balanced view of themselves and their relation to others. This year, Roslyn High School held its fourth Challenge Day for the freshman class. This means that all four current high school classes have participated in this nationally recognized program that aims to build a positive and inclusive school climate in which everyone feels respected and appreciated. In another important initiative to keep our students safe and healthy, we have invited the noted neuroscientist Dr. Stephen L. Dewey to return to the middle school and high school repeatedly to deliver his very powerful message about substance abuse to students for audiences of parents, as well.
We are always on the lookout for new ways to apply technology, not only in the classroom but also in the way we operate the district for better efficiency and the convenience of parents and residents. We are well on our way to completing the installation of new interactive white boards in classrooms throughout our elementary schools, which will provide greater access to online resources and learning tools for teachers and students. Also, Progress Memoranda for elementary students are being distributed electronically through the Parent Portal for the first time this year. All elementary and secondary school reports are now fully digital. And at the beginning of the year we rolled out our new district website, which we hope users will agree is a more user-friendly resource and easier to navigate than our old site.
Some of the most visible changes around the district can be seen in our capital projects, which are already having a positive impact in our schools. Extensive interior renovations were completed in East Hills School just before the first day of school in September, and exterior work on a new parking area, adjacent to the playing fields that were revitalized last summer, is being completed this month. Less extensive but no less important work was completed at Roslyn Middle School in the summer, as well. A new bus maintenance building, a new gym at Roslyn High School, and a new multi-purpose room at Harbor Hill School are going up at this very moment and will continue through the winter months. In the summer of 2017, Harbor Hill and the high school will experience large-scale interior renovations, as well. Bids on renovations for the Heights School are pending this winter. A frequently updated slideshow on the district website provides updates on all of these projects. There is good news on the financial side, too, as the district issued its first bonds for the capital program earlier this fall at much lower interest rates than originally forecast at the time of the bond vote in 2014. This will further reduce the impact on taxpayers for many years to come.
Technology and capital improvements combine to support a never-ending initiative: making our schools safer. We have completed a comprehensive program to install security cameras throughout the district, and are developing protocols for 24/7 monitoring of school property. In addition, more secure entrances are part of the renovation plans for all of our buildings. Each school has also just completed a series of very successful drills. The old-fashioned fire drill is no longer sufficient: we now must prepare for lock-downs, lock-outs and other potential scenarios. For example, each of the three elementary schools conducted an evacuation drill this fall, in which the entire staff and student body were moved to another location. You can rest assured that security is a very high priority for me personally, and that I intend to keep it in the forefront of everything we do as a staff. To that end, a safety and security specialist from Nassau BOCES is visiting our district one day per week throughout this school year, a partnership that is helping us to update our security plans and review our procedures once again.
When I took the helm of the school district last summer, I said that I was very grateful for the trust the community has placed in me as Superintendent of Schools. In the intervening months, my gratitude has grown even deeper: for a highly professional and devoted faculty and staff, for a very supportive and helpful Board of Education, for a community whose faith in public education is unwavering, and, most of all, for students who come to school every day so eager to learn. I am surrounded by colleagues who work every day to ensure that what is best for our students is always the main focus of all of our decisions. Everything meaningful that we accomplish, we accomplish together.
I hope our parents and other family members have enjoyed the Winter Concerts and other recent musical and dramatic presentations as much as I have. I wish everyone in the Roslyn school community very best wishes for a happy holiday season and look forward to working with you towards a very successful new year.
Contact the Superintendent of Schools:
Mail: Roslyn Public Schools
Roslyn, NY 11576