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Roxbury Board of Education Wrap-Up from October 16th

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The Roxbury Board of Education held its October Board of Education meeting on Monday, October 16th in the Lincoln/Roosevelt Auditorium.

Staff members and the public had a chance to hear two presentations at the beginning of the meeting. The first, presented by four Roxbury High School teachers, Shari Kaine, Maria Rispoli, Deb Burleigh, and Elizabeth Heddy. outlined Roxbury High School’s Pathways initiative.

Pathways afford students opportunities to explore pre-professional training and experiences through current curriculum choices while enrolled in high school. Pathways is a new option, not a requirement. It provides Roxbury High School students a structured choice in their educational journey.

Burleigh shared, “Pathways is an exciting opportunity for our students to showcase their talents and explore subject areas with specialized focus so they can be career ready. Several of our students who we have been working with in the communication field have earned internships their very first year in college or have had paid opportunities while in high school building websites, editing, or filming. Our goal is to have students explore the interests now so they can be more prepared in the future.”

Students will receive recognition for completing a specific and dedicated program that is aligned and rigorous while participating in community-based internships or senior options that are professionally relevant.

Kaine presented sample pathways and schedules in STEM, communications, and law enforcement based on current curriculum and extra-curricular offerings.

The STEM pathway would be geared towards those students interested in being an electrical technician, nuclear technician, statistical analyst, graphic designer, software developer, or IT computer support. The law enforcement pathway would be for someone looking to go into law, public safety, corrections or securities. The communications path would include possible futures as videographers, producers, public relation specialists, editors, bloggers, social media managers, journalists, and event planners.

Scheduling for these pathways would be inclusive of the existing graduation requirements necessary at Roxbury. Students would need to take a certain amount of classes to complete these programs. In considering their options, they would follow the recommendations developed for their program and choose accordingly from a menu of classes, currently in development.

Similar to college schedules, students would have pre-requisite classes that would need to be completed each year with varied elective options to choose from to fill in their schedule based on the selected pathway. Senior options and extra-curricular connections would also be aligned within each pathway.

The district is hopeful that Pathways would be rolled out by next year with presentations beginning at the middle school level or during the freshman seminar.

The evening’s second presentation was a bit more somber as it focused on the district’s Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying program. The district’s program was covered by Maryann Gibbs, the district HIB coordinator and Human Resources Director. Her team includes the HIB specialists in each school, who are Jennifer Kenny at the high school, Geri Esposito at the middle school, Stefanie DelRusso at Lincoln/Roosevelt, Gail LaCosta at Franklin, Ashley Cicchino at Jefferson, Gina LaCapra at Kennedy, and Erik Swanson at Nixon.

Gibbs shared, “Bullying is a significant problem that occurs in virtually every school and must be taken seriously. Students and staff must feel school is a safe and secure environment. Monitoring HIB is a shared responsibility to provide that safe haven in order for our students to maximize their learning potential.”

Bullying is described as one-sided, causing harm that involves humiliating, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted language disguised as jokes, is meant to diminish the sense of self-worth of the target, is sinister in motive, and continues even when the target becomes distressed or objects to it. Bullying comes in many forms, physical, verbal, non-verbal, relational/exclusionary, and more recently cyber-bullying. This can lead to increased absenteeism, lowered academic achievement, incidents of severe violence in schools, and suicide.

The anti-bullying bill of rights defines HIB as any gesture, any written, verbal, or physical act or any electronic communication whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents. In order to be considered HIB, the act or conduct must be reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory disability.

Gibbs explained, “We are bound by the law when we know of HIB behavior that occurred off school grounds. When that behavior has substantially disrupted or interfered with the orderly operation of our school or the rights of other students.”

“Any board member, school employee, contracted service provider, pupil, parent, or volunteer who has witnessed or has reliable information that a pupil has been subject to HIB must be reported,” stressed Gibbs. All reports can be made directly to the school principal.

Roxbury continues its dedicated approach to curb bullying by educating students and staff to support a safe learning environment.

In the coming weeks, Roxbury staff will receive suicide prevention training by building in addition to their annual Global Compliance Network module on the subject. “I think it is prudent, now more than ever, to take a proactive stance in protecting our students,” shared Gibbs.

Enlightening and teaching the students of Roxbury is also crucial to help stop bullying and create positive, caring citizens. Throughout the month of October, in particular, students in all grades participate in various activities to promote anti-violence, anti-drug, and anti-bullying.

“The RHS Teaching Young Children Class and the EMS Peer Leaders go to all of the district schools, eat lunch with the students, help the students sign the Anti-Bullying Banner, and help to promote kindness and compassion throughout the district,” said Jennifer Kenny, RHS Anti-Bullying Specialist and Student Assistance Counselor (SAC).

“High school and middle school students will also see a presentation on October 19th by Tim Shoemaker that covers substance abuse prevention. That same evening, there will be a district-wide parent program entitled High-Ding in Plain Sight”

At the elementary level, there are school-wide programs such as thankful thoughts, culture and climate councils, United WE Stand, food and toy drive collections, etc.

Jefferson Elementary Schools is promoting their new school wide motto of “Jefferson School ROCKS”, a student initiative that allows students to create their own “respect looks like…” rock to be hung throughout the school. In the spring, students will paint pocks to spread kindness for their new Kindness Rocks Project Garden.

In addition to these presentations, the Board approved numerous resolutions under Finance, Education, Policies, and Personnel.

Highlights from each section are:

  • Finance – The Board approved 75 travel requests for staff to participate in continuing education workshops and programs in the coming months along with contracts with Sage Educational Enterprises for additional counseling services at Lincoln/Roosevelt and Centenary University for use of their pool. Two acceptances for proposals were received for security vestibules at the elementary schools and the Nixon School roofing project. The Board also accepted a donation of a Rifton Activity Chair designed to provide adaptable seating and support for people with disabilities and a BASF grant of $5,000 for the “Seeds of Sustainability” proposal submitted by Denise Glenn at Roxbury High School. These monies will be used to foster students’ interest in the sciences by supporting RHS’s aeroponic garden project.
  • Education – The Board approved the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) Report for September 12th through October 2nd.  In addition, approval was given for 26 educational field trips and three overnight trips for students and two senior option and independent study projects at Roxbury High School.
  • Policies – The Board approved ten policies and regulations having to do with services of nonpublic school students, long-range facilities planning, educational adequacy of capital projects, site selection and acquisition, school closing, disposition of property, and disposal of land, personal property, and federal property. The Board also approved to abolish Regulation 7300.01, disposal of instructional property.
  • Personnel – The Board accepted the resignations of seven individuals and wished them the best. The Board approved and welcomed numerous appointments for staff along with transfers, leave replacements, stipends for staff development, athletic and extracurricular appointments, substitutes, and salary adjustments.

To view all the resolutions from Monday night’s meeting along with past approved minutes, please visit https://www.roxbury.org/domain/43.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, November 20, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lincoln/Roosevelt Auditorium. This meeting is open to the public.

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