Assistant Superintendents for Instruction from school districts countywide, along with Rockland BOCES administrators, toured South Orangetown Middle School on April 20 as part of the group’s monthly meeting. A team of SOMS leaders–Principal Karen Tesik, Assistant Principal Chad Corey, Student Support Lead Daniel Sullivan, Guidance Counselor Patricia Iannucci, Library Media Specialist Kimberlee Landgraff, Challenge Lab teacher Andrew McIntosh, and Grade 8 Special Education teachers Christa-Ann Loughran and Mike Ryan–delivered a detailed presentation covering the school motto, educational philosophy, academic program and supports, as well as its experience with the National Schools to Watch process. Schools to Watch is an initiative of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform which identifies schools that have established internal structures and processes to support educational excellence and purpose-driven decision-making. SOMS is currently in the re-designation process.

Following the presentation, the ASI group split up to visit a seventh-grade ELA class who were working on a unit called, Social Issues Book Club (A Teachers College Reading Unit of Study), a seventh-grade science class working in the Star Lab learning about the different surfaces and temperatures of planets, a sixth-grade class for English Language Learners programming Sphero robots in the Challenge Lab/Makerspace, and eighth-grade students creating Google Earth video tours in Spanish for a class project.

This was a great opportunity to showcase how outstanding leadership and innovative instruction can create a school culture that strives to engage each student in every class, every day. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen in other Rockland districts and we are proud to share what the team of colleagues at SOMS has accomplished for their students on a local, state and national level.

Visitors were impressed with the amount of student choice embedded into our middle school curriculum, the level of student engagement across all disciplines and student access to 3D printing, robotics, Z-Space and a digital planetarium. They also remarked favorably on the clear systems in place, including the teaming model, to support students using a strengths-based approach.

The SOMS team kicked off the visit with an overview of the school's philosophy and programming.

The SOMS team kicked off the visit with an overview of the school’s philosophy and programming.

SOMS Principal Karen Tesik demos technology with local ASIs

SOMS Principal Karen Tesik demos technology for visiting Assistant Superintendents of Instruction in the school’s Makerspace on April 20.

The Rockland ASI group also visited the StarLab and observed a seventh-grade science class at work inside

The Rockland ASI group also visited the StarLab and observed a seventh-grade science class at work inside.

Rockland Assistant Superintendents for Instruction also visited a sixth-grade ELL class programming Sphero robots in the SOMS Makerspace on April 20.

Rockland Assistant Superintendents for Instruction also visited a sixth-grade ELL class programming Sphero robots in the SOMS Makerspace on April 20.

Rockland Assistant Superintendents for Instruction observed an eighth-grade Spanish class at SOMS on April 20

The last stop? An eighth-grade Spanish class in the Makerspace creating video community tours–in Spanish–with Google Earth.