By Tessa Raebeck
In the first brainstorming session of Sag Harbor Board of Education members and administrators led by the district’s new superintendent, Katy Graves, the group had a preliminary discussion on July 16 of goals for the upcoming school year.
With the standard concentration on people, buildings and equipment and programs, Ms. Graves stressed communication, accountability and “the Sag Harbor experience.”
From her observations, she said the district needs to focus on the strengths of Sag Harbor schools and communicating them clearly, measuring and monitoring those strengths and where the district needs support in terms of plant, program and people “to continue Sag Harbor schools’ outstanding trajectory,” and “that every child loves to come to school every day for the love of learning, the experiences in their day and the challenges they are provided.”
At the workshop, Ms. Graves told the administrators that her background in professional development supports brainstorming to get different perspectives. She had them split into small groups, counting off by three like school children, to discuss what they feel are the most significant steps to tackle in the upcoming year. The group then placed their ideas on sticky notes, after which they went around placing stickers on the ones they agreed with.
There were 60 answers as vague as “build an exciting and exceptional experience for students” and varied as “solar wind/alternate energy” and “volleyball at the elementary school.” The group then divided the ideas by people, program and plant and narrowed them down to the most popular responses.
In terms of “people,” later start times, accountability, staff development, adding a staff member to handle communications and adding faculty to teach course offerings in business and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) were the most popular answers.
The most frequent “program” responses called for teaching students coding, implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) program into the middle years, enriching academic opportunities in the summer, adding business, computer science and programming courses, and having all teachers trained in special education.
Solar/wind/alternative energy, comprehensive and ongoing security training, exploring the Stella Maris building, instating healthier meals and adding a functional supervised room for athletic training after school were the most popular ideas for “plant.”
While the board will not be setting finite goals for the school year for some time, the meeting helped administrators and board members connect and articulate their concerns.
“The brainstorming session was just the beginning of the goal setting process,” Theresa Samot, president of the school board, said in an email Tuesday, July 22. “We will be having much more discussion at upcoming board meetings regarding goals.”