Each year, the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District welcomes incoming teachers during a two-day orientation filled with professional development and engaging activities to learn about the school community.
Beyond the typical training and business formalities, there’s a special emphasis on showing the newest staff what makes the local area unique, including taking a bus ride through town and participating in a question-and-answer panel with students.
During the bus ride, staff stop by each school and get a look at the many areas that make Northport-East Northport distinctive, from Main Street to its parks. This activity not only helps teachers become acquainted with the area but helps them become familiarized with what their students experience on a day-to-day basis outside of school.
“Our hope is that while enjoying the bus ride around town, teachers can get a sense of not only where students go to school but where they live, where they hang out with friends, what they do on the weekends — essentially their life outside of school,” said Dana Boshnack, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. “While every student’s environment is unique to them, it can be beneficial for new staff to get an idea of students’ surroundings and use that knowledge to build connections at the start of the school year.”
Later in the day, students from Northport High School joined the group for a Q&A panel. Teachers were encouraged to ask questions about the culture, what students enjoy most, how they can have the greatest impact on their students and more.
When asked about a favorite memory or experience with a teacher, senior Leah Ferrara shared that as an elementary student she was struggling with a particular essay, but the teacher took the time to call her mom and say she was proud of her for trying her best.
“I think that’s really important, to focus on the positives,” said Ferrara.
Another incoming teacher asked the students how they know when a teacher cares about them. In response, several students emphasized that teachers should get to know them as individuals and ask them not only about classwork but about their personal interests and feelings as well.
Senior Nolan Keegel shared that it’s “all about respect,” and that placing an emphasis on learning who a student is outside of the classroom is just as important as teaching them the material.
Former ENL student and senior Hannah Cho shared that when she remembers one of her favorite teachers, she thinks about how kind and thoughtful that individual was. “She doesn’t just care about how you’re doing in the classroom,” Cho noted. “She cares how you’re doing at home.”
Discussion continued as students shared ways that teachers can make an impact on their students and be successful in their first year in Northport-East Northport.
Teachers will begin the new year during Superintendent’s Conference Day on Sept. 1, with the first day of school for students on Sept. 6.