BOE Meeting Wrap-up: Board Conducts Work Session on Academics in the Pandemic

Alexander Wolff

Dear Pelham Community,

Pelham teachers, administrators and Board of Education members discussed many facets of Academics in the Pandemic during a Work Session led by Dr. Steven Garcia, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel on October 20.

The work session, one of several planned to explore various topics this school year, focused on the evolution of learning during the pandemic and how the District is continuing to adapt to meet the needs of all students as they return to a more normal educational model this school year. 

Topics covered included:

  • The challenges of educating students during the pandemic
  • Teachers’ professional learning and collaboration
  • Identifying and addressing struggling students
  • Supporting special education students
  • Integrating new learning technology into the classroom

Many of the panelists shared that as students return to the classroom following more than a year of virtual/hybrid learning, rebuilding school norms and expectations has been important. Explicit teaching about listening skills, how to study and other areas, such as how to conduct science labs, have been key early in the school year. Teachers also said that they were working to rebuild students’ stamina in areas such as reading, writing, studying and test taking. 

The District has also continued incorporating key initiatives under the Strategic Plan Goal of Authentic Learning, including implementing a new elementary school schedule and incorporating flexible furniture into more classrooms. Several teachers credited the new furniture with helping to better engage students in the classroom.

Prior to the school year, the District used Federal Cares Act funding to hire additional intervention teachers, who have been instrumental in helping teachers address specific content areas where students are struggling. The intervention teachers are available to support students in small group or individualized instruction.  

The discussion also touched on the role that technology played in keeping students engaged during the pandemic. New educational software included Renaissance Learning, DreamBox, Kami, NewsELA, and Reading Plus, among others. These programs were added while the District was on distance learning and the hybrid model and remain available to teachers. During the discussion, several panelists noted that the one positive that emerged from the pandemic is students’ and teachers’ improved technology skills.

The District would like to thank all teachers and administrators who participated in the work session, including:

  • Dr. Maria Thompson, Director of Humanities
  • Dr. Tom Callahan, Director of Math & Science 
  • John Sebalos, Director of Technology 
  • Dr. Lauren Ribeiro, Supervisor of Special Education K-5, CSE & CPSE Chair
  • Greg Lau, Supervisor of Special Education Gr. 6-12 
  • Dr. Trisha Nugent Fitzgerald, Hutchinson School Principal 
  • Jeannine Carr, Prospect Hill Principal 
  • Lynn Sabia, Middle School Principal 
  • Mark Berkowitz, PMHS Principal 
  • Kim Asfendis, Siwanoy Special Education Teacher 
  • Kara Weiss, Prospect Hill Special Education Teacher 
  • Claire Cavalli, Colonial 2nd Grade Teacher 
  • Melody Casagrande, Hutchinson 4th Grade Teacher 
  • Kate Dembowski, Prospect Hill Intervention Teacher 
  • Jeannine Salman, Middle School Social Studies Teacher 
  • Raquel Rodriguez, High School Math Teacher
  • Garrett Johnson, PMHS Science/Special Education Teacher

The Board of Education’s next meeting will be held at 7:30pm on Wednesday, November 3 in the Middle School Library. The next work session is scheduled for Wednesday, November 17 regarding Mental Health during the Pandemic.


The Pelham Public Schools

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