Opinion

The Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education held their monthly business meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 16 in the Oyster Bay High School library.

Dr. Phyllis Harrington began her Superintendent's report by congratulating Roosevelt School Psychologist Ana Landron on earning her PhD. She now completes the "trifecta" of doctorates in the OBEN psychologists' offices as Dr. Cara Riebe at Vernon and Dr. Heywood Barash at the high school already have their degrees.

The floor was turned over to Oyster Bay High School Assistant Principal Taryn Johnson who delivered a report on the Middle School program. The presentation incorporated many teachers who enthusiastically praised the collaborative approach to teaching Oyster Bay Middle School students. Not only do the teachers in the middle level grades work effectively as a team, but they also reach out to the teachers at Vernon and the upper grades of the high school to offer continuity and stability to our students during one of the major transition periods in their lives.

Vernon Teacher Lynn Girifalco explained how she understands that math is another language to her students and words that mean one thing to a math teacher can mean something else to a student and must be considered when teaching. She noted that in math the word 'volume' refers to space while students think of 'volume' as how loud their iPod can get. Oyster Bay High School teacher Mary Evans had the Board members participate in a math game. You could hear the groans of apprehension among the Board as the game was distributed which quickly turned to laughter and smiles as the Board found out much fun it can be to learn in OBEN schools.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O'Hara spoke on the Middle School as part of the big picture which is the Oyster Bay High School program. Dr. O'Hara explained that OBHS is in its third year of bringing "Challenge Day" to Oyster Bay. Oprah Winfrey did a show about Challenge Day after OBHS had already begun the program. Most schools send 20 or 30 students to participate in "Challenge Day" at an outside location in hopes that they will influence their classmates when they return to their own schools. Thanks to the small size of Oyster Bay High School, every student participates in the program.

Dr. O'Hara introduced a new idea that is in the works for this year. Similar to the thinking of Ms. Girifalco, educators must realize that students need to have new concepts brought to life for better understanding. The idea of college can be a mysterious concept for many students. This year a field trip is being planned for the eighth-grade to take students to tour colleges around Philadelphia including Penn State. Dr. O'Hara and his staff believe that getting students started thinking in tangible terms about what it means to attend college in the eighth-grade will benefit them in the whole preparation process and hopefully translate in their academic performance in an effort to achieve their collegiate goals. On December 11, 2008 the Chicago Tribune published and article about a study that found "how students fare in middle school is a leading predictor of their ability to succeed in college." This recently released report comes more than a year after Oyster Bay High School has addressed the same issue. OBEN schools are truly ahead of the curve.

The complete Middle School report is available on the front page of the district web site at www.obenschools.org.

The next Board of Education Business Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 20 at 8 p.m. in the Oyster Bay High School library. All are welcome.


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