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Board Recognizes Terrific Kids, Unity Day Mural

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The East Meadow Board of Education recognized the district’s Terrific Kids and the completion of a symbolic Unity Day mural at their meeting on Nov. 18.

“Terrific Kids is a student recognition program that promotes character development, self-esteem and perseverance,” explained Kevin Kamper, a distinguished past president of the East Meadow Kiwanis Club. “The Kiwanis Club, in partnership with the district, is a proud sponsor of the Terrific Kids award.”

W.T. Clarke Middle School Principal Stacy Breslin and Woodland Middle School Principal James Lethbridge then announced the Terrific Kids from their respective schools for the months of September, October and November. Normally, the chosen students would be presented with special certificates by the board, but due to safety restrictions, they were not able to be present.

Following the presentation of the Terrific Kids, Veronica Nicastro, PTA Council president, and Kelly Gelfer, director of music and art, presented the completed Unity Day mural and its significance. More than 8,000 signed paper hearts make up the rainbow mural, representing the entire East Meadow community. Bordering the mural are individually designed paper butterflies, which were created by members of the East Meadow and W.T. Clarke high school art honor societies.  

“Amid the coronavirus pandemic, rainbows began appearing in windows across the country and became a symbol of hope,” Ms. Gelfer said. “The East Meadow rainbow mural we present this evening reminds us that we are united in hope, love and kindness, and we are all in this together.” 

 

McVey Kindness Project

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Students at McVey Elementary School in the East Meadow School District recently participated in the McVey Kindness Project. This schoolwide initiative, spearheaded by librarian Ms. O'Neill and school social workers Mrs. Arnone and Ms. Napolitano, focused on social-emotional learning through the attributes of self-love, forgiveness and pride. Students in kindergarten through third grade discussed and illustrated books with these themes, while students in grades four and five discussed and wrote about the best parts of themselves.

 

NYSED Parent Dashboard

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Dear Parents,

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has developed a Parent Dashboard to increase transparency and make information about school performance and other school-level data easier for parents and the public to access. The Parent Dashboard is part of New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, which emphasizes equity in education for all students and expands measures of school accountability and student success.  This new dashboard will provide parents with information about their child’s school. The Parent Dashboard is now available in addition to the New York State School Report Card on NYSED’s public data site. The Parent Dashboard offers information on all public schools including charter schools.

Links for the district as a whole, as well as each school, are below: 

Library on Wheels

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Elementary schools throughout the East Meadow School District have been safely distributing books to students with a “library on wheels.” Frank Lukasik, the district’s director of literacy and funded programs, along with Jim Mendonis, director of social studies and 21st century learning, and district librarians, devised this plan to ensure students could continue to have access to reading.

Ellen O’Neill, the librarian at George McVey Elementary School, considers this mobile asset to be vitally important. “It was priority number one to get books in the hands of as many of our students as we could,” she said. “It was a sense of normalcy for children returning to school.”

Every morning, Ms. O’Neill curates a collection of books for students in grades K-5. Since students are not currently permitted to visit the library, her mode of delivery is a 70-pound cart, which she pushes around the school to visit each class.

The thoughtful selection of titles for the cart is based on such factors as grade level and interest. There are also favorite authors, series and characters. The cart returns the power of choice to students in their reading, something that is very important to the district.

“Before school closures, students had multiple opportunities to shop for books in our classrooms and school libraries, but the pandemic changed all of that,” Mr. Lukasik said. “Our focus on student choice and helping kids get quality texts remains a priority.”

In the COVID-19 era, an attention to cleanliness and safety was also taken into consideration when planning the distribution of books. Ms. O’Neill “quarantines” books before and after they are checked out by students. Additionally, students are required to wash and sanitize their hands before making their selection, and then must do so again before they return to their desks.

Although curating a specific and safe library cart for multiple classes is a tedious task, Ms. O’Neill recalls how one student’s reaction made it all worth it. “The first child that went up to the cart and took a book off, the smile was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “This little child was hugging the book.”

Another focus of this initiative was equity of materials for students learning from home. Utilizing the Sora K-12 reading app from OverDrive, Ms. O’Neill has her remote students digitally check out the same titles she offers to her in-person students. The students who tune into class virtually are able to read along, forging a vital connection to the classroom and to reading.

“The ‘library on wheels’ is an exciting part of the school day for our kids,” Mr. Lukasik said. “We continue to stress the importance of reading at home, and this provides additional access to books for our families.”

VIDEO: How Great Happens Here

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The East Meadow School District has created an informational series entitled "How Great Happens Here," which examines the various initiatives in the district. Hosted by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Dave Casamento, each episode will feature an expert in different areas, from technology to music and arts. For this first episode in the series, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth A. Card Jr. gives an update on how reopening went and some other pertinent information relating to the district and COVID-19. 

Stay tuned for more episodes and remember, #GreatHappensHere!