Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton Unified School District"

Bridgehampton Board Has New Leadership

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In a unanimous decision by the Bridgehampton Board of Education, Nicki Hemby was elected board president replacing Elizabeth Kotz. Kotz was elected board president last year, previously serving as vice president and as a member of the budget advisory committee during her four years on the board.

Lillian Tyree-Johnson, who was elected to the school board last year, was unanimously named vice president for the 2010-2011 school year.

“They wanted an opportunity to take the helm and I wish them the best,” said Kotz Wednesday morning.

“I feel very proud of the board in the accomplishments that we have made in the last year,” continued Kotz. “I feel proud that we have gone through the process of accreditation through Middle States, that we respectfully put up bonds and a budget that was overwhelmingly supported by the community, that through an exhaustive search we found a very good new superintendent [Dr. Lois Favre], and a new business administrator. We have created additional advanced placement courses as well. So a lot of positive things have happened in the last year through a lot of hard work.”

“I think for all of us on the board we are taking the view that this is a good opportunity for us to rotate roles and positions out of respect for the hard work we all do,” said Hemby of the change in leadership. “If I sit on the board for six years, and am only board president for one or two, that is okay. We can all gain respect for each other and a greater knowledge of what we are doing on the board which will assist us in ensuring the youth of Bridgehampton has the best opportunities and education they can get and that none of us burn out.”

Hemby said she doesn’t foresee too many challenges in the next year, but rather a school in the midst of exciting changes, with the hiring of Superintendent Favre, who will take Dr. Dianne Youngblood’s position in August, as well as new business administrator Robert Hauser, who attended his first meeting on Tuesday night.

“We have a new superintendent, a new business administrator and I am really looking forward to this transition,” said Tyree-Johnson on Wednesday.

Tyree-Johnson said she expects the biggest challenge will be incorporating new staff into the district, but was optimistic.

“As far as I can see, even in transition, Lois [Favre] has hit the ground running,” she said.

“I think we are in a good place as a board right now,” she continued. “We don’t always agree, but I don’t know we always should. We should all have our own opinions and try and work together towards compromise.”

Tyree-Johnson praised Kotz’s tenure as president, citing her work ethic, but said she felt it was important for different board members to take a leadership role throughout their term on the board.

“I don’t plan on being in this position for years,” she said, adding she expects her close relationship with Hemby will aid the school district in this year of transition.

“We work really well together,” she said.

Kotz remains the senior member on the board, with Hemby a term behind her. Douglas DeGroot, Tyree-Johnson and Ronald White were elected last year to the board, with new board members Jo Ann Comfort and Larry LaPointe joining as official members Tuesday night after winning election this May.

In other Bridgehampton School news, the board decided on Tuesday night to change its regular monthly meeting time after Kotz noted the school calendar presents a number of conflicts with Monday night board of education meetings. Hemby added, for consistency, she would like to see meeting days and times remain the same, whether a board meeting or workshop.

As of August, the board has resolved to host its regular monthly board meeting the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. with the work session scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next board workshop will be held on Wednesday, July 28, and the next regular board meeting on Wednesday, August 11.

At the August meeting, Principal Jack Pryor announced he would present the board with a detailed report on the district’s Regents exam test scores.

During a Bridgehampton School workshop last week, Pryor said he was still compiling data, but that the number of students taking upper level math and science Regents exams has soared in the last year, with 75 percent of students taking the social studies Regents exam in global and United States history receiving a 90 or above.

Pryor said he expects the board will be “very happy” with his presentation next month.

Also at the workshop, the board approved social studies teacher Henry Meyer’s curriculum for a new Advanced Placement United States history course Bridgehampton will debut in the fall.

Jeffrey Neubauer and Patrick Aiello were also hired as special education teachers during the workshop. Both will be paid $61,806 annually in their probationary, three-year contract with Bridgehampton School.

Dr. Dianne Youngblood

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web convo Youngblood1

The Bridgehampton School District Superintendent, set to retire in August after 39 years in education, talks about why she thinks the Bridgehampton School is special, how she has seen the district grow in recent years, and the importance of shared services as community school districts continue to thrive on the East End.

What first drew you to education?

It is really an easy question to answer. Ever since I was a little girl I loved playing with dolls and while all my friends were playing the mommy role, I was always the teacher. So it started early and my parents picked up on that. There is something to be said for parents believing in what your future holds, and my parents did. They said, ‘You are going to be a teacher,’ we just know it. So in a way it was programmed in me early on.

What brought you to Bridgehampton?

I was first introduced to the district in 1985 and was hired as the guidance counselor/director, so I was working those two hats. It was just such an amazing place. There is something different about Bridgehampton from all the other schools in the area. Being born and raised in New York City, my experience in school was they were overcrowded and lacked a lot of resources. Coming here, you saw how you could get to know the kids, and you had almost anything you needed to help them learn. It was just an incredible opportunity.

What was the transition from guidance director to superintendent like?

It was a transition, and a journey. After six years as guidance director, I realized there was a lot I needed to learn before getting into the seat of superintendent, which is what I wanted. I left here, and went to Riverhead School as guidance chair for the lower grades. Then I went to Comsewogue School District were I served as assistant principal. There was something about being a little fish in a big pond, but it was truly a wonderful learning experience. I started my doctoral studies at Comsewogue, trying to understand how systems work, how kids learn. I was curious how some students have such success and how others don’t.

I had always known I wanted to be at Bridgehampton. I just felt I should be here, so I periodically kept my eyes open and after seven years at Comsewogue I saw Bridgehampton was looking for a principal, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that is me.’ At least I hoped, anyway. I was one year away from earning my doctorate and I was fortunate enough to get the job. It really felt like returning home.

The size of the Bridgehampton School has been a source of criticism for some. Why do you think this is, and is it imperative for the school to grow in order to achieve the kinds of successes you believe are important?

I have struggled with that because I was here in the 1980s when that issue first came up for me personally, and I remember feeling so strongly this school needed to remain small. When the issue came up again a few years ago, I just had to step back and reflect again. That is who I am – always wondering to see things in a new light after I have been exposed to more experiences. I heard what some critics said – that we didn’t have as many electives as larger schools, or we didn’t have the same opportunity for social interactions and yet, even stepping back and hearing the critics, knowing what I had experienced in larger school districts, I believed then and I still believe now in the uniqueness of a small community school. I think it should be preserved as long as it is feasibly possible and there probably will come a day where it is not economically feasible; but there is a value to having children come to a community school, the same school their mother went to, their father went to, their uncles and aunts.

With that there is an enormous pressure and challenge for whoever works here as a teacher, administrator or on the board of education. They have to challenge themselves to continue to improve the school. I don’t think any organization has the luxury of remaining at status quo and certainly for us, I think there is an analogy in “The Little Engine That Could.” That is Bridgehampton. We are the little school district and I believe we can bring out the best in our kids and the best in the community … I have been so proud of the teachers I work with and the support staff, because there have been so many who have rallied around that mantra – ‘I think we can,’ ‘yes, we can.’

We are at a point where test scores are up, we have expanded course offerings and our English language learning programming is soaring … We have a Career Academy that has expanded from just one student – and this is the uniqueness of Bridgehampton – who said I want to be a landscape architect. So we said, what can we do and we searched and found out the Ross School had a landscape architectural program, and it worked out. When the Ross School said they didn’t have enrollment to continue the program we said, wait a minute and that is how [landscape design teacher] Judiann [Carmack-Fayyaz] came to us. We went from one student with a personal request to more than 25 students in a program. We have a greenhouse, a shed and community involvement, with community leaders donating time, labor and materials to the cause. To me those are the special factors of being in a small school.

Talk of closing the Bridgehampton School’s high school has been controversial the last few years. What was your stance on that issue, from a professional perspective?

I think it would be the same answer. I really stepped back for a bit to hear what was being said and to try and understand why people wanted it closed and all I had to go on was what was stated publicly, but I still came back to the point that this school works. I have tried to reach out to neighboring school districts so we can broaden what we offer here. Sag Harbor has been wonderful and this goes back to [former superintendent] Kathryn Holden allowing our students to take advanced placement courses at Sag Harbor. That has been magnificent and that relationship has continued under [Superintendent] Dr. John Gratto.

Are shared services the key to keeping community school districts viable?

I think it will be a very important piece. I am happy to tell you, and you are the first, that [incoming Superintendent] Dr. [Lois] Favre and I received an email this morning and it looking like something we have been trying to pull together with [former interim business administrator] Dr. [George] Chesterton has come to fruition. That is to share a senior account clerk typist with the Tuckahoe School District. In addition to the academic piece of shared services, those back office functions can also be shared and it will make a tremendous difference.

What are your plans once you leave this district this August?

I have to tell you, I can’t say I have any plans yet because for me that means something is in place, but I do have a vision and goals that I am hopeful I will be able to piece together. I consider myself a very spiritual person and when I get anxious about the plan, I think, be patient. God will reveal that to me … I am hoping to teach at the college level, and do consultant work particularly focused on education, but more on the policy end – looking at system changes, how systems work. I am also looking for a really good opportunity or venue to volunteer my time and talents. A few ideas have come forward, but again, I think it will all be revealed at the right time.