Preparing students for jobs 20 years out

Warwick Valley School administration: ‘Focus’ is the key to shaping education, preparing students to succeed in 21st century

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By Abby Wolf

— When Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were asked to distill the key to their success down to one word, it was: Focus.

In his comments to the Board of Education at the Nov. 20 regular meeting, Warwick Valley Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach used that anecdote to highlight the district’s approach to fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals.

The district’s mission is: “To provide all students with the necessary skills to thrive in the 21st Century as learners, workers, and citizens.” The superintendent described the various course offerings, updated instructional methods and renovated facilities in the Warwick Valley School District that he maintains will achieve those ends.

Leach said that the district’s focus is on “new ways of thinking,” versus a historic emphasis on learning how to do a particular job because the jobs in the next 10, 20 or 30 years likely have not yet been created. “We don’t (necessarily) know where the jobs of the future are coming from,” Leach said.

Far better, the superintendent continued, that students are prepared with a well-rounded curriculum containing the so-called STEAM courses – science, technology, engineering, arts/humanities and math – with emphases on “real-world problem-solving,” “inquiry-based” collaborative learning, led by teachers who have the updated skills necessary to help their students meet the challenges of this century.

The district is developing units of instruction based on “real-world problems that need to be solved.”

Toward that end, Leach said that Warwick Valley teachers should be: self-navigated professional learners; “social contractors,” i.e., are well versed in the constructive use of social media; innovative designers; globally connected citizens; and – above all – advocates for learners and learning.

“We’re fortunate to have teachers who understand the importance of honing their craft.”

STEAM coursesLeach listed the following courses available in the school district:

At the high school

• AP computer science

• Introduction to engineering design

• Principles of engineering

• Computer engineering and architecture

• Principles of biomedical science

• Human body systems

• Medical interventions

• Agriculture courses

• Science Research

At the Middle School

• Automation and robotics

• Computer science for innovators

• Green architecture

• Design and modeling

• DaVinci program (to come)

At the elementary level

• Instructional technology facilitator

• Engineering design

• Engineering in elementary school

• LEGO League (the first in the county)

• Outdoor classroom

Among the equipment that will help students achieve their educational goals:

• Redesigned spaces – particularly the Tech room – in the middle school.

• Laser equipment in the high school.

• 3D printers in all the district’s schools.

• A new video production facility in the high school.

Leach also pointed out the district’s focus on sustainability and green initiatives, such as its solar array at Sanfordville, as well as the high school and Park Avenue Elementary both being recognized as Green Ribbon schools in 2018.

Other BusinessDistrict approves student trips

The BOE gave its blessing to the following students for upcoming field trips:

• High school biology students, to go to SUNY New Paltz biology department on Jan. 3, 2019, to do hands-on biotech experiments.

• High school students to attend the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in Burnt Hills on Jan. 26, 2019.

• Middle school Wire Choir to travel to Denver, Colorado, on April 13-18, 2019.

• High school senior class trip to various historical sites in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25-27, 2019.

Student board member Madeleine Wadeson updated the school board on the latest high school goings-on:

• Greenwood Lake students toured the high school on Nov. 5.

• Robotics club members recently went to Park Avenue Elementary to teach their younger counterparts about coding – at an age-appropriate level.

• Both the recent food drive and blood drive on Nov. 9 were a “tremendous” success.


Regular meeting: Dec. 10, 7 p.m., at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center.

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