Tags Posts tagged with "Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School"

Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School

Miller Place Superintendent Marianne Cartisano presents Mia with an award as Kim Ledda and Debra White look on. Photo by Kevin Redding

Nine-year-old Mia Carvajal may be a new student at Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School, but she’s already making a name for herself in the community. The caring fourth-grader who moved to Miller Place from Queens this year is one of just nine winners in the recent Suffolk County Marathon Essay Contest. Hosted by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), the contest encouraged “the future of the county” to address what they feel is important to society. More than 100 essays from across the county were submitted for review in October. For her hard work, Carvajal was recognized by the Miller Place district’s board of education at a meeting last week.

All students involved in the contest were separated by grades (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) and could choose from three different essay topics: veterans appreciation, living a healthy lifestyle and engaging in community activities. Mia — who won in her grade — wrote passionately about what residents can do to raise money for their community and give to those in need.

“Mia did an excellent, beautiful job,” said Kim Ledda, her fourth-grade teacher. “Her essay was wonderful and we’re just so proud of her.”

Ledda and assistant principal Debra White stood by as Mia accepted a certificate from Superintendent Marianne Cartisano and shook hands with each member of the board. Mia was visibly shy and quiet but smiling radiantly the whole time.

“I was really happy when Mrs. White told me that I won,” she said. When asked by a board member if she likes to write at home, she said that she keeps a journal.

“Mia is clearly committed to being involved in her community, helping to make it a better place to live for all residents.”

—Steve Bellone

Mia’s father Francisco was in attendance and said the family’s very proud of her.

“She’s always been very involved in school, always does her homework, and is extremely school-oriented,” he said.

It’s also clear that Mia is extremely community oriented and possesses a great deal of generosity when it comes to others.

In her essay, she encouraged residents in the community to follow in her family’s footsteps and donate clothes, shoes and toys to churches and centers that help the poor. As Thanksgiving approaches, Mia wrote that it’s important to donate cans of food to provide for others in need. As she put it in her essay: “By providing cans of food you may be saving someone’s life.”

She also recommends setting up a lemonade stand in front of a house as a way to raise money for a good cause.

“Lemonade stands are not just there to give you a refreshing drink,” she wrote.

She even offered a piece of advice to get as many people interested in donating as possible.

“I know that many people don’t like plain lemonade,” she writes, “so I think you should make a whole bunch of flavors so more people will come and enjoy your drink and donate.” Ledda said that at the end of the Suffolk County Marathon that took place in Patchogue Oct. 30, all the essay contest winners — including Mia ­— were invited up on a bandstand stage to be greeted and recognized by representatives from Suffolk County.

“I think that all the recognition she’s gotten from this will be worth more than any monetary gift,” Ledda said. “It’s pretty special to be recognized the way that she has been.”

In an email, Bellone had some words of pride for Mia.

“Mia is clearly committed to being involved in her community, helping to make it a better place to live for all residents,” Bellone said. “Thanks to the 100 or more young residents like Mia who participated in this contest, we can see that the future of Suffolk County is in good hands.”

Max Rutter gets the lightbulb lit inside the new science classroom at Andrew Muller Primary School. File Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

Second-graders in Andrew Muller Primary School’s new science room were beaming with excitement Monday as teachers distributed materials for an experiment — a magnet, paperclip, battery, copper wire, rubber band and lightbulb.

The class was learning about interactions. Debbie Trelfa helped her students name each of the items in front of them and asked them to figure out how to make them interact. One table discovered the magnet attracted the paperclip, and Trelfa told her students there was another interaction they could make.

Andrew Muller Primary School second-grade teacher Debbie Trelfa teaches a new science lesson to her class. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Andrew Muller Primary School second-grade teacher Debbie Trelfa teaches a new science lesson to her class. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

Students told one another to “persevere,” and a few minutes later another table discovered they could get the lightbulb to light up by placing it on the battery.

Miller Place school district’s two elementary schools, Andrew Muller and Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School, adapted an available classroom each to be used as science learning and inquiry labs. Students study topics like weather and plants in an interactive way, as opposed to using textbooks.

“Having been a classroom teacher, I loved teaching science, but it’s very difficult to do in a classroom,” Andrew Muller Primary School Principal Laura Gewurz said. “Experimentation can be time consuming and complicated to set up and break down. Having a room designed for student experimentation and collaboration makes science exciting and accessible, and saves instructional time.”

These two spaces were instituted to prepare for new state science and engineering curriculum changes, which shift the focus of lessons from memorizing information presented by teachers to understanding concepts by investigating them. The updated standards are called Next Generation Science Standards, which use “three-dimensional learning.”

Instead of a teacher asking students a question with one correct answer, for example, students would instead consider an open-ended one by using evidence presented by a teacher or reading. Or, instead of students reading a textbook chapter and answering questions on a worksheet, they would read multiple sources and write reports and posters about the ideas.

“You’re seeing a lot more hands-on experiences, hearing a lot more student talk and witnessing more student collaboration.”

—Laura Gewurz

“New York State is really changing the curriculum for science, which I think is fantastic,” Gewurz said. “It has not been changed since 1996, and not only are our concepts about teaching different, the science is different.”

According to a NYS Education Department document, the proposed science learning standards will be presented to the Board of Regents this winter. It is the last step in a process that began in January 2015, when the board counseled the Education Department to begin drafting new standards. Since then, the draft was updated with results from a public survey and discussed in June 2016.

“As teachers, schools, and educational systems systemically transition to the new science standards and changes to local curriculum and instructional practice, a call for coherent professional development opportunities is vital,” the NYS Education Department said in a statement. “To this end, the Department will continue to collaborate with science education stakeholders across the state and nation to assist in building the awareness and the capacity of teachers and leaders of science.”

Miller Place is “way ahead of the game,” Assistant Superintendent Susan Hodun said, in beginning to implement science curriculum changes before the new state standards are finalized and implemented.

With cooperative learning tables for students to work with and learn from each other, separate storage areas for each grade level and science learning resources displayed, the new science labs further encourage modern teaching methods.

Anna Paesano and Kayla Martins  perform the day’s experiment. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Anna Paesano and Kayla Martins perform the day’s experiment. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

“I think it really works with the new science learning standards that New York State has developed in the sense that students have more access to authentic learning,” Gewurz said. “You’re seeing a lot more hands-on experiences, hearing a lot more student talk and witnessing more student collaboration. I think with the changes to science, it’s all coming together, which is great.”

The science room is also financially smart, she added, because instead of purchasing duplicates of materials for each classroom, the school can instead buy a wider range of materials to create a “much richer room.”

Students spend about an hour per week doing experiments that supplement the time they spend in the classroom learning about science concepts. The teachers and principal at Andrew Muller hope that hands-on experience will help their students as they get older.

“If you’re looking at college and career readiness, how would kids even know if they want to be an engineer unless they’ve had the opportunity to experiment,” Gewurz asked. “I think it’s certainly motivational and I think you will see more boys and girls interested in engineering in this country if you start to do things like this.”