Recently, Newburgh Enlarged City School District professionals collaborated with professionals from the Newburgh Teachers’ Association, Board of Education and New York State United Teachers Education Learning Trust for the second phase of the
National Education Association/New York State United Teachers Grant.
In 2009, Newburgh Enlarged City School District administrators, teachers, and staff members participated in the first session of the grant-funded New York State United Teachers’ Achievement Gap Initiative designed to create successful learning communities within the schools. During the two-day workshop, presenters worked with teachers, administrators, and other NECSD staff members to emphasize facilitation, data analysis, and skills. Participants discussed the NECSD’s vision, mission and values in addition to building a more efficient professional development plan.
Now, over a year later, a small focus group discussed achievements within the NECSD since the inception of the grant and other areas that can be improved on in the future. Programs that have been initiated which support the objectives of the grant include: data teams, co-teaching, data walks, building literary across content areas, working with students from diverse backgrounds, strategies to engage English Language Learners, and using data to inform instruction in the classrooms.
“We continue to change and grow as part of a collaborative development,” explained Newburgh Teachers’ Association President Patricia Vanduser. Initiatives such as data teams, where small focus groups of teacher and administrators from each respective school within the NECSD focus on the strengths and identify weaknesses in the building, were cited as bringing teachers and administrators to an even playing field. The initiative also allows the voice of the teacher to be heard and for a dialogue to begin. The size of the NECSD was cited as one of the largest obstacles by all participants.
“We look at the needs that you see though the data and then figure out what the next step should be. I think people area ready to create the solution,” explained NECSD Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Daniel H. Shanahan. The goal is to continue to work towards student achievement across the NECSD and make decisions based on the data in the best interest of all students. “Developing opportunities for all stakeholders to come together in the best interest of our students is the right thing to do. Through the continuation of this initiative we will see improvements in shared decision making and collaborative problem solving,” explained Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Ed Forgit.