District holds regular meeting to discuss youth surveys, teacher effectiveness
The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education held their regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday Jan. 4 at the district administrative offices.
Among the scheduled presentations for the evening, Main Street School early education teacher Phil Cleary was honored as Teacher of the Year. Assemblyman Al Stirpe attended the meeting to present Cleary with the 2009 NSCSD Teacher of the Year Award.
Cleary has been a teacher in the district for 18 years. Within the award proclamation, Stirpe mentioned Cleary’s success outside of the classroom as he has been a supporter of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and Meals on Wheels.
NSCSD teacher Holly Lee was also recognized for her certification as a Master Teacher from the National board for Professional Teaching Standards.
The board discussed the approval of the North Syracuse Education Association and NSCSD’s participation in New York State United Teachers’ Innovation Fund grant program, along with five other state school districts and four Rhode Island school districts. NYSUT Representative Carolyn Williams presented the program’s parameters during the Monday night meeting.
The project will consists of three core elements, including the development of teaching standards that will define the characteristics of “good teaching,” designing a comprehensive evaluation system that will use multiple measures to gauge teacher effectiveness in meeting teaching standards and establishing a process of differentiated professional development.
A governance structure of peer review and assistance will help make tenure decisions for probationary teachers and identify necessary support for tenured teachers not meeting performance standards.
The North Syracuse planning team will consist of seven representatives named by the NSEA and seven school administrators. An informative meeting with the NSEA and the present administrators was held Dec. 1 and the next meeting will take place Feb. 4 through 6 in Albany.
“In my opinion, this is a tremendous opportunity to improve teaching and student achievement,” said NSCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerome Melvin. “In the past, it has been very difficult to initiate any discussion with NSEA on the se topics, especially peer assistance and review programs.”
Melvin said Sylvia Matousek and John Kuryla should be given much recognition for getting the district involved in the project.
“After the Dec. 1 meeting in Albany, I came back completely energized,” Melvin said. “This project is not the silver bullet, nor a panacea, but it can move us in the right direction.”
Youth Survey Report
Dr. David Morton and Toni Lyn Brauchle discussed the results of the 2008 Youth Survey Report that was reviewed before in September 2009 with Community Connections.
Morton pointed out the “distortion of the results” because only students in grades 8, 10 and 12 were surveyed rather than the general grade 7 through 12 surveys ran in other school districts.
The following information reflects the comparison of NSCSD students’ responses to both county and national school district results:
Higher percentage of family conflict and peer rewards for anti-social behavior; Higher percentage of lifetime usage of alcohol; Higher percentage in the use of any illicit drug.
Higher percentage of lifetime usage of alcohol; Higher percentage of opportunities for pro-social involvement, but also a lower percentage feel the school reward for pro-social involvement.
Lower percentage show a belief in a moral order; a bit higher percentage in the use of any illicit drug; a lower percentage of binge drinking in the heavy use category.
The results also calculated a higher percentage of North Syracuse students have gambled in the last year at all grade levels surveyed and the lottery is the behavior of choice. Morton said he was highly concerned with the moral order issue and how the question was raised.
North Syracuse Junior High School foreign language teacher Sindee Zavalauskas discussed a sabbatical to France she took during the second semester of the 2008-09 school year.
Zavalauskas gave a presentation about cognitive coaching and what she has learned and modified in her teaching career. She described the technique as a “framework that recognizes the strength of meta-cognition and its role in fostering independent learning.”
The foreign language teacher said she views the technique as a way to “help the coaches express his or her thoughts more clearly and use his or her own resources to create, reflect on or resolve a current topic or concern.”
Zavalauskas talked about the Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar and the Advanced Cognitive Coaching Training Seminar that would need to be completed in order to become an agency trainer or training associate properly educated with cognitive coaching skills.
The trainer-to-be would also work with another training associate on leading the two seminars until he or she is prepared to lead the seminar on their own. Zavalauskas said the trainee would also need to submit videotapes or DVDs of coaching conversations with reflections of the cognitive coaching concept rubric.
Zavalauskas’ journey consisted of attending a four-day BOCES seminar in 2004, continued with three days in 2006. Wanting to learn more, she then attended Advanced Cognitive Coaching in the summer of 2006 and decided she wanted to be an associate trainer.
She studied and scripted with national trainer Michael Dolcemoscolo in 2007 and practice taught with Scott Wright and Colleen O’Connor in the summer of 2008. Zavalauskas continued with several work sessions with other associate trainers and co-teaching seminars.