By Andrea Paldy
To those still traumatized by the time they had to dissect a frog in biology class, something better is on the horizon. And, that something has already arrived in some Three Village classrooms.
At the June 6 board meeting, Kerrin Welch-Pollera, executive director of instructional technology, spoke of the most recent tech upgrades in the district, including the district’s new virtual reality workstations, known as zSpace. She also pointed out that benefits of zSpace, which is up and running at all of the secondary schools, already are evident in Ward Melville’s general labs and anatomy and physiology classes — that’s where the frogs don’t come in.
Pollera explained that students use special glasses and a stylus to manipulate virtual organs and subjects from various angles and distances so that they can “interact directly with the content.” She added that zSpace can be used to teach students various topics, like forces of motion and virtual 3-D sculpting, and enables them to do things they could not do in a regular lab, such as see and dissect a human heart, manipulate DNA, or take apart a car engine.
Additionally, Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, said summer curriculum writing projects will work to further incorporate zSpace into courses.
Pollera, who was recognized during the meeting for receiving the honor of District Administrator Award from the New York Library Association–Section of School Libraries, also spoke about new Chromebooks in elementary classrooms and the installation of interactive, virtual reality workstations at the secondary schools.
As part of the district’s one-to-one device initiative, ninth-grade students at both junior highs received the first wave of Chromebooks in March. After summer break, the notebook computers will be returned to students for use in 10th grade, while next year’s seventh- through ninth-graders will also receive Chromebooks to use at home and at school. Pollera said the district is awaiting approval from the state for its Smart Schools funding, which finances improvements to educational technology, to cover the cost of more Chromebooks, which will be issued to 11th- and 12th-graders.
In other news, the board approved several administrative appointments, including new principals at P.J. Gelinas Junior High and Setauket Elementary School. Corinne Keane, assistant principal at P.J. Gelinas, was named principal of the school, where she has taught or been an administrator for 15 years. She will take over for William Bernhard, who will be the new principal at Ward Melville High School. Current principal Alan Baum will leave his position at Ward Melville to become the district’s executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources.
Setauket Elementary School will welcome Kristin Rimmer, acting principal at the school this year, as its permanent head. Rimmer began teaching in the district in 2004 and was previously assistant principal and preschool liaison at Nassakeag Elementary School.
Also appointed were Nathalie Lilavois for the position of districtwide director of elementary curriculum and Kerri Golini for director of foreign language and English as a new language.