Summertime, and the District was Busy

On July 1, the Rye City School District welcomed Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne, who comes to Rye from Chappaqua, where he was Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the past six years. Dr. Byrne presented his “entry plan” at the June 27 Board of Education meeting and has spent the summer meeting with District staff, community leaders, and parents, touring the school buildings, and generally getting to know Rye and its people.

The Technology Department has been hard at work preparing to launch the new version of www.ryeschools.org. Parents and community members should find the new site far easier to navigate. The website is now ADA-compliant. Look for a new, free app coming from the Technology Department in the fall.

The District has hired Fielding Nair International, a leading firm in education planning and architectural design, to evaluate facilities, make recommendations for more efficient and effective use of space, and develop plans for potential expansion if and when necessary, based on future enrollment. Fielding Nair experts spent a great deal of time in the District’s buildings over the summer and are planning to host some public “town hall” style meetings to garner feedback about how the District’s schools are used by students and the Rye community-at-large.

The Literacy Initiative, now in its fourth year, extends from reading to writing. Over the summer, elementary teachers worked with Shelly Klein, the District’s Literacy Consultant, and Sherri Goffman, the District’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, to develop new grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons that will be woven throughout the elementary writing curriculum. In addition, teachers developed writing benchmark assessments for each unit of writing.

In July, the District sent a cohort of elementary, middle and high school teachers for a three-day training session in the Writing Revolution method of instruction. More teachers will attend training sessions in the fall.

During the last week of June, the District hosted the second annual Rye Summer Literacy Institute at Milton School, orchestrated by Osborn School Assistant Principal Tory Walley and Sherri Goffman. Eighty-five teachers and administrators from four school districts attended workshops and hands-on training led by Shelly Klein and other facilitators. Attendees enjoyed keynote speeches by three Rye authors: Annabel Monaghan, a Rye Record columnist and author of two young adult novels and a collection of essays, “Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look Big?”; Sam Weinman, author of “Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains” and digital editor for Golf Digest; and graphic artist Anne Mottola, author of “What Grows in the Garden?”

Rye High School has joined the College Advantage program with St. John’s University. As a result, students enrolled in some Rye High courses will earn college credit from St. John’s, which may be eligible for credit at the eventual college of their choice.

The curriculum for Spanish V Advanced and Advanced Honors has been revised to meet the higher skill level of students who have taken Spanish beginning in elementary school. A new class, American Sign Language 2, is available for students who have completed ASL 1, and will allow students to fulfill the two-year sequence in a foreign language that colleges typically require.

Two new laptop carts, each containing 25 Chromebooks, have arrived, courtesy of the Parent Organization, and are destined for the Math and Social Studies departments.

Rye Middle School is adding a new World War II humanities unit for eighth graders, which combines instruction from the Social Studies and English departments. The interdisciplinary course is designed to promote critical thinking and close reading, while allowing students to create their own text on a specific topic and theme related to World War II. Also new this year is a Digital Art and Animation elective for eighth graders. Students will use iPads and apps to build digital animation projects.

A new sixth-grade elective, Keys, Pens and Brushes, examines different forms of written communication, from brushwork to cursive, calligraphy and keyboarding, and looks at ancient written languages such as hieroglyphics and cuneiform.

The RMS Multipurpose Room and hallway received a lot of attention over the summer with all-new flooring, ceiling, and lighting. A number of technological improvements were made, including new speakers, a new projector and screen and an additional Wi-Fi access point for more wireless coverage. A portion of the Media Center has been converted into a quiet working area specifically for Middle School students. The school’s Faculty Room has been refreshed with new flooring and walls; the room’s design and furniture come courtesy of the school’s Parent Organization. Two new laptop carts, containing 25 Chromebooks each, are ready for classroom use thanks to the PO.

Midland School’s former computer lab has been transformed into an active learning space. New flooring, upgraded wiring, and furniture on wheels allow teachers to configure the room for different types of learning. Teachers begin training in active learning teaching methods in September. The south playground was re-seeded over the summer and is ready for fun and games. Twenty-five new Chromebooks and two carts are ready for fourth and fifth grader’s use.

When Milton School students return, they’ll find a brand new outdoor blacktop area in which to enjoy recess games, and a new patio that will function as an outdoor classroom. Twenty-five new Chromebooks and two carts were added for fourth and fifth grade use.

Osborn School’s computer lab will be transitioned into an active learning space with 25 Lenovo ThinkPads replacing traditional desktop computers. Twenty-five new Chromebooks and two carts are in place for fourth and fifth graders to use.

Over the summer, a group of elementary teachers completed the revision of the District’s health curriculum for grades K-5. The curriculum is now aligned to New York State standards, and the changes will be reflected in this year’s elementary health classes.