While technology has advanced far beyond communicating through the United States Postal Service, students at the Bridgehampton School learned this week the importance of connecting to students elsewhere through a traditional tool – the pen pal.
And then they Skyped.
During a Bridgehampton School Board meeting on Monday, June 14, teacher Jeff Hand presented the board with a presentation of this latest writing exercise with the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, an exercise that used traditional and more advanced forms of communications to interact with the fourth grade class at PS 100 in the Bronx. Hand was able to set up the program through Bridgehampton School librarian David Holmes, whose daughter is a teacher at PS 100.
Hand said students began by writing conventional pen pal letters to each other, and on Monday, June 14 spent 25 minutes on Skype, a software application that allows people to communicate with each other through a video teleconference.
“It was amazing,” said Hand. “And a great success. There was lots of communication and lots of questions.”
Hand said students from both schools discussed the differences in their school and home environment, from class sizes to geography, with Bridgehampton students quizzing their Bronx counterparts about their class uniforms.
“I am hoping in the future, the Bridgehampton School can take this program nationally and maybe internationally,” said Hand. “We can communicate and collaborate with other schools around the world.”
In other news, after Bridgehampton residents voted to allow the school to seek reimbursement from the State of New York’s Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) aid program to the tune of $45,505 for code compliance issues in the Bridgehampton School, board members began to discuss how they will use those funds, likely to provide handicap accessibility in two of the district’s bathrooms.
School architect Paul Rogers sent the board a memo stating he believes the money would be best spent expanding two bathrooms to become handicap accessible, including one in the current school nurse’s office.
Superintendent Dr. Dianne Youngblood said that conversion would affect the size of the school nurse’s office, which she currently shares with the district’s athletic director Mary Anne Jules. Dr. Youngblood, nurse Elizabeth Alves and Jules said they would prefer not to share an office anymore, and that Rogers said they could convert part of a third grade classroom into Jules’ new office.
Board member Nicki Hemby wondered why Jules’ could not be placed in a vacant office off the girls’ locker room instead.
“It would be a shame to ruin a perfectly good classroom when there are offices available,” she said.
As the Bridgehampton School waits with bated breath for the arrival of its greenhouse, this week, board member Doug DeGroot offered the school the equivalent of a $4,000 to $5,000 donation to provide professional equipment, labor and materials including concrete for the greenhouse construction. Resident and builder Terry Hochstedler has also donated his professional services, including labor and a forklift to aid in the greenhouse construction.
Lastly, the board approved the tenure recommendation for Spanish language teacher Nancy Bagshaw and Science teacher Natalia Nichols. Board members are also expected to see a final list of candidates to fill a handful of teaching positions within the district in executive session at their next workshop meeting, which will be held on June 30 at 6 p.m.