New teachers were welcomed to Liberty Central School District on Wednesday, Aug. 30, with a full day of introductions, instruction and icebreaker activities.
The 16 newest Redhawk faculty members met in the High School Media Center where they signed in, got their Chromebooks and were treated to breakfast.
The day began with opening remarks by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan, who also introduced the administrative team. He then outlined the philosophy of having permission to “fail forward,” meaning it is OK to fail at something as long as the failure is accepted and used as a stepping stone for future success.
The teachers learned about the district’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, as well as the annual District Comprehensive Improvement Plan and building level plans, and discussed why they were important. They also received an overview of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process, SchoolTool, the DESSA social/emotional learning screener and other educational digital platforms, Leader in Me, Special Education, English as a New Language and Students in Temporary Housing, as well as technology information such as passwords, security and help desk information. The mentor-mentee program, required for all first-year teachers, offered at Liberty was highlighted during the orientation.
As a way to get to know each other early in the day, teachers paired up and were given 10 minutes to learn more about each other and then introduced their partners to the rest of the group.
The interaction continued throughout the day, especially during the program led by Betsy Conners, a PLC consultant. She addressed issues such as culturally sustaining education, professional learning communities, learning standards, learning targets and essential questions, and offered several group activities to help bring home her messages.
The day concluded with a look at “Overview of The First Days of School” by Harry Wong, which explains why some practices stand the test of time and offers suggestions on how to use them.
The teachers then wrote a letter to themselves, asking them what is their “Why” and where they expect to be at winter break, in respect to their strengths, accomplishments, instructional strategies and more. These letters will be returned to them at the end of the school year, offering them a chance to reflect on their first year at Liberty.
The goal of the new teacher orientation was to increase understanding of the processes and procedures at Liberty, inline with the coherence pillar of the strategic plan.
The Liberty Central School District’s Community Forum on Wednesday, Aug. 30, offered the chance for the public to hear updates on the five-year strategic plan and related plans, learn more about new programs in the district and more.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan welcomed about two dozen community members, offering updates on the plans created to help facilitate Liberty’s improvement and commitment to its mission and vision.
Sullivan highlighted the videos created to promote the four pillars of the strategic plan, Coherence, Curriculum, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Culture, and explained what each pillar means and how they impact the Liberty school community.
Coherence helps ensure all three buildings are moving in the same direction on procedures and instruction. Curriculum alignment across grades and subject matters helps ensure students have a consistent and cohesive learning experience. A strong MTSS model allows each student to get the level of support they need, where they need it. Culture’s pillar is two-fold—it focuses on the culture of Liberty, found in its mission “to empower each student to contribute and thrive in a diverse community by pursuing their potential,” and the cultures of those who make up the Liberty community. More on the strategic plan can be found on the strategic plan page of the website.
Sullivan then updated the audience on last year’s District Comprehensive Improvement Plan, which along with building level plans, support the initiatives in the strategic plan.
All three buildings saw progress toward their goals last year, with Liberty Elementary surpassing its goal of having 58.58% of the students being at watch, at level or above level as reported by STAR Reading and Early Literacy testing.
He also unveiled the three priorities for this year’s DCIP:
- Provide an accessible, culturally responsive, relevant, engaging, vertically and horizontally aligned PK-12 curriculum, that makes connections to our students and community.
- Provide a MTSS (multi-tiered system of supports) for behavior and attendance that cultivates wellness and safety for students, staff and families.
- The district will create a positive, welcoming student centered environment that celebrates diversity and inclusivity to empower students, staff and families.
Curriculum was also a large portion of the presentation. Sullivan outlined several of the programs used, including IntoReading and IntoMath for kindergarten through eighth grades,, Math180 and Reading 180 intervention curriculum, Frogstreet for pre-kindergarten, STEM-focused Woz ED, and the Level Up Village program, which connects students with others across the globe.
The Business Incubator class, a high school elective which began last year, will be put on hold because of staffing changes, but the district’s goal is to bring the class back once a full time business teacher is hired.
Liberty has also been certified to offer the Seal of Civic Readiness at the high school to provide “civic education that empowers all students to make informed decisions for the public good as members of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
The district is also offering Mandarin as a world language class for eighth graders, and as an exploratory class for high school. This was done, in part, because of difficulty in finding Spanish language teachers, Sullivan said.
The Liberty Police Department and Liberty High School’ Liberty Law Enforcement and Discovering Success Program, or LEADS, will also continue this year, giving students who have an interest in entering law enforcement fields after graduation a chance to get an inside look at the career.
ENL Newcomer Program
To help meet the needs of the growing English as a New Language learners, the district has also created an in-house ENL Newcomer Program, where high school students who have limited or no English language skills are given extra support to develop their language skills before moving to mainstream, English-language based classes.
Social and emotional wellness is also a priority for the district. That is why the district will introduce the DESSA Screener by Aperture, a way to check the social and emotional wellness of students to ensure they get the support they need. Gaggle, a tool that monitors the district’s computer network and notifies the administration if and when a child is in emotional distress.
Safety procedures and systems were reviewed, and initiatives such as increased supplies to support the school resource officers and reviewing and changing traffic patterns to make pickup and drop off safer were outlined.
Projects in progress
Two projects in progress were also reviewed — an upcoming capital project proposal and a new logo for the recently renamed Liberty Redhawks. Progress on both have been made over the summer with the goal of each being revealed in the coming weeks and months. Both take time, Sullivan said. The district wants to make sure all financial, safety and curricular needs are met before finalizing the capital project plans, and the mascot committee is “working diligently to create a logo that we all can support and be proud of,” Sullivan said.
The forum was translated by high school TESOL teacher Susana Alvarado.
The first day of school for students is Sept. 7. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.libertyk12.org. Feedback and questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forum’s goal is to inform and update the public about what is happening at the district, inline with the culture and coherence pillars of the strategic plan.