Read Dr. Tornatore’s opening day speech here

Liberty Pride. We have heard this phrase, but what does it really mean? To me, Liberty Pride is doing everything that our team can possibly do to ensure that every child in our school district will have a meaningful and successful education.

When I arrived at Liberty last year I was welcomed with open arms by a compassionate and hardworking team. No matter who I have interacted with, everyone has the same goal-to make our district better for our students.

I was also pleased that our graduation rate of 81 percent had been achieved last year. This did not just happen arbitrarily. It was due to the time and effort that you put in at Liberty (shown by the fact that our parking lots were full well before the school day began and after the school day ended.)

I listened intently to everyone’s ideas, concerns and wishes for Liberty to continually improve with a clear focus. I spoke to students who shared that they wanted the opportunity to have a coding program and I enjoyed visiting the classes where our students were obtaining knowledge from our faculty.

This summer was an extremely busy one. Members of our team worked hard to update various curricula, which we will continue to do to align and strengthen our educational program under the State’s Next Generation Standards and Framework. We have revitalized our PBIS program. I am especially excited that LHS now has a work based learning opportunity for our students.

I want to thank all of the people involved in the creation of our K-8 Makerspace program at LES and LMS. The great thing about a Makerspace is that our students will have the opportunity to problem solve, break things down, to rebuild or build items as well. This student centered approach and project based learning is key as our students are in an age where jobs are requiring these types of skills when they graduate.

We have three Makerspace rooms: one at LES and two at LMS. The K-4 program will focus on the building blocks of coding, the 5-6 program will focus on robotics and expanding on what the students are learning at LES, the 7-8 program will focus on using the skills taught in the younger grades to create more innovative and three dimensional objects, like the new signs that are on display at LMS.

Dr. Tornatore, Superintendent, stands at podium at LHS auditorium.

Liberty is one of the few schools in the state to offer this curriculum to our students. It’s our intention to expand this program to LHS so that we will have a K-12 Makerspace/ STREAM program and curriculum. Few districts in the country have a K-12 program.  Research shows that the culture of a Makerspace has a direct impact on student learning. Makerspace participation can positively impact a broad range of students, including English Language Learners. This type of program encourages greater exploration, positive risk-taking, and collaboration for a wider range of students. Students frequently use skills learned in Makerspaces to improve other aspects of the school and local community, such as student government activities, classroom maintenance and sports facilities. It also provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary lessons and projects.

All of these opportunities come under the umbrella of our three frameworks that will guide Liberty to further enhance our students’ educational experience. Our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are opportunities for our faculty to meet during the school day to provide the conversations that will enhance instruction. Our team will be able to analyze data through Right Path and School Tool in order to provide additional mechanisms for supporting our students’ academic experience. I also encourage our faculty to visit colleagues’ classrooms in order to share all of the wonderful things that you do with your students.

The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) will focus on the behavioral supports that we can provide in redirecting our students who may decide to make poor choices. Behavior is learned, it is not something that we are born with. Unfortunately, many of our students come to school with traumatic experiences, or experience poverty which have a tremendous impact on their school day.

By providing PBIS, for example, we have a tool that we will utilize to support our students in making the best choices for their success in school. Expanding on the concept of a Makerspace and using technology to enhance instruction, we turn to our third framework, the SAMR model. This acronym stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. We are all at different levels of comfort with technology since most of us are digital immigrants and not digital natives. That’s ok. The support from SAMR will help guide all of us regarding a greater ease of comfort with technology and how to transform the classroom experience for our students.

We are fortunate to have new SmartBoards, document cameras and new computers in every classroom. Our iPads have been reimaged for our students to have a fresh experience with these devices. We are now living through a phigital time-where there is no distinction between the physical and digital worlds. They are now one. We will be providing the professional development this year to support these three frameworks as we strive to improve instruction, improve student behavior, and the further integration of transformative technology in our classes.

Lastly, I wanted to state that the District Office is committed to supporting our schools in order to ensure that every child in our school district will have a meaningful and successful education. I would love to see a 100 percent graduation rate one day at Liberty. With your help, we can make that happen.  We are continuing the tradition of Liberty Pride Fridays where I encourage everyone to wear something red on Fridays, staff and students. Please remember #LibertyPrideNY when you are utilizing social media outlets such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.