Schools preparing to open next week

B y Jaime Thomas

There’s no question as to what will be at the core of the upcoming school year.

New Common Core standards are already the center of learning in all three of Granville’s schools. But the district has even more going on than that.

Camille Harrelson, new junior/senior high school principal and former director of special education, said she is looking forward to a good year.

“You can feel the excitement in the air. I’m really excited; I’m fortunate to be here,” she said. As the custodians ready the school physically for the students and secretaries make logistical preparations, Harrelson said administrative staff has been busy organizing a number of initiatives.

New this year is a work-based learning program for high school special education students, which ties in with Common Core standards. In conjunction with local businesses, teachers and teaching assistants who have been trained as job coaches will go out two to three periods a day and do soft skill job coaching with the students.

“They’re teaching them how to do a job and how to do it correctly,” Harrelson said, naming such work as stacking shelves or mucking horse stalls.

“The hope is by building relationships and by doing this when students are done here they can become productive members of the community,” she said.

The seventh and eighth grade students, meanwhile, will have access to diagnostic tools for those who did poorly on the ELA and math exams. Harrelson said the tools will identify students’ strengths and skill deficits and then hone teaching to focus on improving the deficits. The teachers will be able to measure growth and will attend monthly meetings to discuss it.

If students do well they will have access to academic enrichment services.

“It’s higher level thinking skills to broaden experiences. We want them to see what else is out there under the guidance of a teacher and go more in depth in a subject area,” Harrelson said.

The district is continuing to offer college level courses and credits for students; it has also expanded the distance learning lab in conjunction with BOCES to offer such courses as marine science and AP psychology.

Harrelson is striving to turn education into a community affair.

“One of my main goals is for students, staff and parents to work cohesively together. This is our family,” she said.

As far as new staff goes, the high school welcomes Kristen Constantineau as a math teacher and Adam Burr for physical education.

“Their experience and knowledge will bring a lot to the school,” Harrelson said. Julia Pooler will join the special education staff at Mary J. Tanner.

Both MJT and Granville Elementary School will also be focusing on the Common Core. GES Principal Jane O’Shea said staff spent a week working on ELA and a week working on math.

Diane Dumas, principal at MJT, said the new curriculum will start on day one. She also said the UPK is completely filled this year with 36 students.

The school will be holding a carnival next Thursday, Sept. 5 for PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.) There will be alpacas and other activities.

School starts next Wednesday, Sept. 4.

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