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District Insights: Big plans for the Vision 2020 goals

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October 15, 2018 11:34 am

We have big plans to help us enhance the quality of education for all Bluehawk students to reach our Vision 2020 goals and beyond.

Now that school is in full swing, I want to share some new initiatives that will be rolled out over the next two years at the Hudson City School District.

We are excited to grow the college- and career-focused opportunities available to our students as we continue to recognize the importance of preparing all Hudson graduates for life after high school.

From pre-kindergarten through high school, we are continually looking for ways to provide our students with solid foundations for achieving academic success, obtaining a job and succeeding in their employment.

This year, we will be exploring a partnership with SUNY Cobleskill to provide new “college-in-the-high school” options. Currently, Hudson students can gain experience with college-level coursework through local institutions such as Bard College and Columbia-Greene Community College.

By forming this additional partnership, our students would no longer be capped at 12 college credits per semester while still attending high school. Additionally, expanding our higher education partnerships would provide students with greater access to different fields of study. We expect to see new course requests coming our way for approval and possible implementation beginning next school year.

It would be unwise to assume that college is the next step for all high school graduates. With this in mind, we are continuing to seek new opportunities for fostering career readiness across all grade levels. Whether a student enters the military, goes to college or directly into the workforce after high school, the ultimate destination for all students is to have a rewarding occupation.

One career-centered initiative is the Questar III BOCES Business & Education Partnership Program, which helps districts develop collaborative opportunities between the local business and education communities.

The program works to offer school districts, students, teachers and administrators a variety of business-related opportunities. Examples include: student tours of local businesses, guest speakers, collaborative projects, and internships for students and teachers. By making more business connections, Hudson students will have more opportunities to develop their interests, connect school curriculum to the needs of employers, and be ready to enter the workforce with confidence.

Academic initiatives to improve programs and curricula are also being implemented throughout the district. This year, we are opening up opportunities for K-8 students to engage in hands-on projects that will immerse them in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM).

Not only does a STEAM framework teach students how to think critically, problem-solve and use creativity, it also prepares students to work in fields that are poised for growth. And, the earlier students are exposed to the STEAM disciplines, the better.

In addition to adding a STEAM curriculum at the elementary and junior high schools, we are investing more heavily in the area of Math specifically.

We need our students to understand and value math as an essential life skill. Therefore, this year’s budget includes additional Math-focused Academic Intervention Services positions in both the elementary and junior high schools.

Lastly, we are starting to lay the foundation for a two-year kindergarten model (2YK) to better support some Hudson children for academic success. Last spring, a team of Bluehawk teachers and administrators visited a school district in Orange County where a 2YK has been in place for six years with great success.

The program targets up to 20 students who are identified as least likely to succeed in the early years of schooling (as indicated by multiple kindergarten readiness screening tools). We want to give our youngest Bluehawks all the support they need to start off on an even and fair playing field. Just because a child is 5 years old does not mean they are ready to begin the journey. The benefit of time along with high supports can make all the difference for success.

These new initiatives are meant to enhance what we already have and value within our school culture. To ensure these initiatives are manageable, we are carefully researching them and taking our time with the implementation. We believe these added ingredients are essential for a holistic approach to prepare each and every student with the knowledge, skills and opportunities they deserve and need as they venture into the world from here.

Maria Suttmeier is Superintendent of the Hudson City School District.