Dr. Lorna R. Lewis is just as excited as the kids to get back into the swing of things at Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District. The school will be back in session on Wednesday, Sept. 4, and the superintendent sat down with the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald to answer a few questions about the upcoming academic year.
Q: What are some of the new things happening at the school district this year?
A: First, our theme for the year is that we’re moving mountains. That’s very important to us to have a theme that really drives our work. We are taking on some big issues regarding literacy, for example. We started with a “Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project” in kindergarten through sixth grade. It is our English Language Arts curriculum that we are making sure all our schools are following the same curriculum. All of our teachers are trained so that way the same instruction is going on. We have a very focused program there.
We are also implementing a media literacy in grades six through 12. That’s another one of our mountains. We have a new math program from kindergarten to fourth grade called “Go Math.” We expanded our discovery lab for fifth and sixth grade, as well as a expanded science programs in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Q: What about beyond the curriculum?
A: We are focusing so much on social and emotional issues in the schools, so we hired a mental health interventionist who will be working with us in off-hours. She is available when the kids are off school to better address what is happening around the world as a result of changing society. We know when you are mentally well you can move mountains so we, like many districts, are focusing on that. Also, the physical safety is an important focus. We have security guards on the clock until 10:30 p.m. at night. For all of our buildings, we will require all of our visitors to use the visitor management system until 10:30 p.m. as well. After that, all buildings will be closed knowing that everything is safe.
Q: What about some of the facility changes?
A: We added a few new classrooms in the Old Bethpage Elementary School. We have redone all our windows at the high school at a Stratford Road school and air conditioning in the auditorium. We improved the roofs for a few of the elementary schools. We added boilers, parking lots and new lighting at all of our schools. We also did a makeover of Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, as well as added classrooms within the current blueprint. Lots of work going on.
Q: What are you most excited about when the school year starts?
A: I’m always excited when the kindergarteners walk in. They just bring a new breath of fresh air. But what has been really excited is the news literacy curriculum. We are working with Stony Brook and we’re the first district to do this. We have woven in news literacy in all of our social studies classes. Children will be able to decipher fake news from real news so when they look at sources they will know whether they are authentic or not. We will teach them how to use the Internet and do research wisely. We want kids to be good consumers of news. So that’s exciting.
Q: Any specific events that the community should be looking forward to?
A: We usually have our homecoming in October. We are also going to have famous psychologist Dr. Stephen Dewey. He’ll be addressing our community sometime in either October or November regarding mental health and drug abuse.
Q: Any message to the parents and students before the school year?
A: We’re ready to rock and roll, getting ready to move those mountains. We use the hashtag “#POBProud” because we are very proud of what this school year will bring.