Mamaroneck High School is on track to get its new synthetic turf field, or an “all-weather field,” as it is now being called.
At the school board study session on November 3, Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried signed a memorandum of understanding with Fields for Kids, which met the goal of raising $615,000 by November 1.(See: 500 Families Help FFK Meet Goal for Turf Field.)
The funds raised through community donations will be placed in an escrow account until the project is approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). At that time, the school district will formally accept the donation.
After approval by the state, the community monies will be combined with $500,000 approved by voters in 2004 for high school fields work, and $250,000 in state funds pledged by Assemblyman George Latimer in 2006. School Board Vice President Rick Marsico described the field project as “a great example of a public-private partnership.”
Jim Hanley and Kevin Danehy were on hand from Fields for Kids to sign the memo of understanding. Mr. Hanley noted that there will be “lots of kids” and other supporters at the November 17 board meeting for the presentation of a symbolic “big check.” But, he said, the “real celebration will be in September 2010,” when the field opens.
Principals Share Building Goals to Improve Curriculum and Character
The bulk of the evening was devoted to presentations by building principals about the goals each of the six schools have set for the year. These goals are intended to tie into the district goals set at the beginning of the school year, explained Dr. Fried. (See: School Goals Stress Consistency; New Field Plan Advances.) He stressed that the goal presentations were only highlights of the work that is going on in each of the schools.
Elementary School Focus on Curriculum
Central School is looking vertically at curriculum in grades K-5 with a view towards improving areas of weakness. Faculty will examine standardized test data to look for patterns, with a plan to change teaching strategies as appropriate. The focus this year will be on reading.
Mamaroneck Avenue School also will be working on reading. Review of data from the past several years has revealed several areas where student growth is not as strong as desirable, explained Principal Carrie Amon. Faculty will be working to build student reading capacity and stamina. The school is already working to communicate its plans to the community, sharing the goals in a recent parent meeting and explaining specific strategies in written communications that come home with students.
Chatsworth will be looking to articulate science and social studies curriculum across grade levels. Murray will be developing an interdisciplinary curriculum based on American folk traditions, including holidays, to consider the question, “What is an American?”
Assessments and Consistency at the Secondary Schools
At the Hommocks Middle School, Assistant Principal Nora Mazzone is leading a group of faculty who will examine the types of assessments given to students and determine how the data from these assessments are linked to instructional practices. “In the end,” she noted, “it’s really all about more effective teaching.”
Hommocks teachers also will be collecting data and evaluating the extent to which grading practices in a particular department are consistent. The high school also will be looking at how assessments are done, with a year-end goal of presenting a list of recommendations for implementation in the 2010-2011 school year.
Educating the Whole Child
Both Chatsworth and Hommocks will be working on character education. Although it is not so clear how character education initiatives can be assessed, Chatsworth Assistant Principal Shelli Owens reported anecdotal differences on the playground, with students using “rock-paper-scissors” and other strategies to resolve disputes.
Hommocks and the high school will continue to focus on students who are academically at risk. In addition, the high school is exploring the possibility of new programs relating to affective, or emotional, well being. These will likely include programs related to drugs and alcohol.
At its next meeting on November 17, the school board will hear about the PALMS and PATHS programs for Latino students and families.