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Andrew Muller Primary School

Miller Place school district officials break ground on the Andrew Muller Primary School gymnasium with representatives of RENU Contracting & Restoration. Photo courtesy MPSD

Miller Place Union Free School District recently celebrated the start of construction of a new gymnasium at Andrew Muller Primary School.

Superintendent of Schools Seth Lipshie joined with members of the district administration, the Board of Education, district architect and representatives of RENU Contracting & Restoration to celebrate the groundbreaking.

“We are thrilled to announce the start of construction of the new gymnasium at Andrew Muller Primary School,” Lipshie said. “Our district has worked diligently to make this possible. This provides an excellent physical education environment for our students. The current shared gymnasium space can now be utilized for a dedicated cafeteria and an area to host school assemblies.”

The site of the new gymnasium will be located to the left of the main entrance with an adjoining hallway. The construction of the primary school gym is part of the district’s bond referendum, approved by voters in October 2021.

For more information about the Miller Place school district, please visit the district’s website at www.millerplace.k12.ny.us. To read more about the happenings in Miller Place schools, visit www.millerplaceinthemedia.com or the district’s Facebook page.

PTO members at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new book vending machines. Photo courtesy MPSD
Seventh grade North Country Road Middle School student Johnny Adler shows off the book he chose from the school’s new book vending machine. Photo courtesy MPSD

The Miller Place School District recently unveiled three new vending machines at its schools, but instead of dispensing candy or snacks, these machines are full of brand-new books.    

The Miller Place Parent Teacher Organization donated the book vending machines to increase literacy and generate excitement around reading. PTO representatives and district officials recently held a commemorative ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming the vending machines to North Country Road Middle School, Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School and Andrew Muller Primary School. 

“Students are already excited about our book vending machines and eager for a chance to use them and get their next favorite book,” said superintendent of schools Seth Lipshie. “Thank you to our PTO for bringing these to our district and putting in place an amazing plan to boost literacy, reward good behavior and get children enthusiastic about reading.” 

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, left, at a commemorative ribbon-cutting ceremony with third-grade student Hazel Kamath and Miller Place PTO representative Dawn McCarthy. Photo courtesy MPSD

Miller Place is one of the first school districts on Long Island to bring book vending machines to its schools. Each book costs one token, which students earn by displaying good behavior and performing acts of kindness. The PTO has committed to continue purchasing books for the vending machines in the future. 

The PTO executive board includes Kristin Hennig, Suzanne Cloke, Jackie Maloney, Monique Caccavale, Sharda Soohkdeo, Gayle Mancini and Dawn McCarthy. Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) presented the district and PTO with proclamations praising their success in supporting literacy districtwide.

For more information about the Miller Place School District, visit the website at www.millerplace.k12.ny.us.

Andrew Muller Primary School held a food drive in which students donated goods and supermarket gift cards. Photo courtesy MPSD

The Miller Place School District lent a helping hand ahead of this Thanksgiving by hosting a series of food drives at various schools. 

Students at Miller Place High School collected 800 canned and packaged goods through a Thanksgiving food drive hosted by the National Honor Society. Students collected canned soup, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, muffin mix, potatoes and grocery gift cards. The food was distributed to families in need throughout the community. Additional items will be donated to local food pantries.

The School Improvement Team Committee at Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School donated Thanksgiving meals to seven families in need throughout the community. Photo courtesy MPSD

At North Country Road Middle School, the student government sponsors a yearlong food drive to stock the North Country Road Middle School food pantry. Each Thanksgiving, the donations are used to create Thanksgiving meal packages that they distribute to families throughout Miller Place and Sound Beach.

Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School’s School Improvement Team (S.I.T.) Committee, run by assistant principal Nicole Farley and fifth grade students, “adopted” seven families in need in the Miller Place and Sound Beach communities. The students brought in items to put together a complete Thanksgiving meal for each family.

Andrew Muller Primary School held a food drive where students donated goods and supermarket gift cards and distributed them to local families in need ahead of the holiday. The school’s hallways were lined with boxes labeled accordingly for students to place their donations. In addition, a local catering business donated fresh turkey for families in need. 

For more information about the Miller Place School District, visit the website at: www.millerplace.k12.ny.us.

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

The Miller Place School District announced this week it will be expanding its educational opportunities for the 2019-20 school year through the district’s newly implemented Parent Paid Pre-K Program. Presented by SCOPE Education Services, the self-supporting program will be offered at Andrew Muller Primary School and follow state pre-kindergarten learning standards with New York State certified teachers and STEAM initiatives.

“The District is thrilled to offer this educational endeavor to our parents and future students,” said Superintendent Marianne Cartisano. “Our program represents an advanced opportunity for the young minds of our community to learn and explore early childhood education. We look forward to meeting our newest students.”

Students who will be four-years-old on or before Dec. 1 are eligible for registration at a fee of $270 per month paid directly to SCOPE. Registration can be found online at www.scopeonline.us. There is a non-refundable annual registration fee of $40 for a family’s first child and $20 for each additional child from the same family. Registration will be available to families outside of the school district, however in-district residents will receive priority placement.

The Pre-K program will take place Monday through Friday with two sessions, one being morning session at 8:45 to 11:45 a.m, and an afternoon session from 12:30 through 3:00 p.m. The District will not provide any transportation services for the Pre-K program, and guardians must provide transportation to and from the school. Families with more than one student registered for the program will receive a 10 percent sibling discount for a second child. Enrollment is limited to 18 Pre-K students per class and will be staffed with a certified teacher and teacher assistant. Meals will not be included in the program although SCOPE will provide appropriate snacks.

SCOPE representatives will facilitate an information meeting April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Andrew Muller Primary School café/gym for all interested parents. Additional questions parents may have regarding the program can be answered at the information session which will take place in the elementary school.

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.”