By Sarah Ng
The Uniondale Board of Education presented a series of curricular upgrades intended to bolster academics and broaden course and extracurricular offerings at its Feb. 14 meeting at Uniondale High School.
The district is taking a “hands on, minds on” approach to education, said Rhonda A. Taylor, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
“We went through a strategic planning last year…The decision was made that we would really focus this year on strategic goal number three,” said Taylor. Goal three centers on providing rigorous instructional programs, opportunities for students to express their voices, and improving assessments to better gauge learning outcomes and student engagement.
Taylor discussed a recent partnership formed with Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, for which graduate journalism students taught newspapering to their counterparts at Uniondale High last fall. Additionally, nearly a half-dozen Uniondale High students, whom district officials refer to as “scholars,” took part last July in the Herbert School’s annual Summer High School Journalism Institute.
District officials also said they hoped to send students to the Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra following the district spelling bee. And a group of Uniondale middle and high school students traveled to Harvard University for its annual debate competition in February.
In the classroom, Taylor said, students are able to “push the thinking of their peers” and “defend their thinking.”
Uniondale has partnered with Molloy College professors to improve students’ writing skills, as student writing needs to be “actionable” and “research-based,” Taylor said.
The district’s course sequence of science classes was realigned with graduation and college in mind. Following the living environment course in eighth grade, students can enroll in physics in the ninth grade, typically taken later in high school, rather than earth science. “The whole idea of physics first is that the students take [Advanced Placement] earlier…so by the 10th grade, we’ll have a higher percent of students who are eligible for the Advanced Regents Diploma” as another distinction for the students, said Arthur Registre, director of science.
Pursuing the physics first option has been “something that separates [students] from the rest” when applying to Ivy League colleges, Registre said. Uniondale officials also said they hope students will take part in vigorous science competitions and learn about science research in the future.
The meeting also acknowledged faculty for their contributions to the education system in honor of Black History Month. Honorees included Lenore Pringle, administrative assistant for business affairs, and Robert Johnson, a teacher’s assistant.
“[During] historical months and celebrations, we think about those whose names are in lights, and we really want to uplift those people in our community who are doing such a great job each and every day, and are really examples to our children and to other staff members in our community,” said Monique Darrisaw-Akil, superintendent of schools, who spoke of faculty members as “local heroes” for helping students to succeed.
“I just want to thank everyone for not only being present, but being supportive of the Uniondale school District,” Johnson said.