On Oct. 14, the West Hempstead School District acquired a $270,000 two-year grant from the New York State Education Department to extend the administrative reach of its educators for the sake of retaining its faculty and fostering professional development.
As part of the state’s competitive grant program, the West Hempstead district applied for the “Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness” grant — which supplies school districts with $15,000 a year to train faculty members in assuming more challenging roles while remaining in their current positions — in July, based on criteria that at least 25 percent of its students are from low-income families.
Once the grant takes effect next month, Assistant Superintendent Ann Peluso said that the district intends to broaden the capabilities of its internal staff so administrators can foster academic excellence and equal opportunities for students, specifically by offering higher-level courses to more students and improving the success rate for English as a Second Langauge students and students with disabilities.
“My goal always in the district is to improve instruction and learning,” said Peluso, adding, “and the purpose of this grant is to expand leadership opportunities, which I’ve always supported, so I’m very excited.”
In extending faculty responsibilities within the district, Peluso said that this grant will fund the development of two-year leadership roles for a program designed to act as a support system for educators in every school, learning skills from highly-qualified colleagues. Peluso also said that the district will use $1,000 provided by the Nassau Teaching Center for advancing the leadership skills of its educators.
West Hempstead teachers and principals eligible for the program will either be assigned to the role of “model,” allowing other educators to observe lessons in the classroom, or “leader,” which would offer support to colleagues outside of school.
Under the discretion of an advisory committee — a group of teachers and administrators selected to develop these roles and their respective criteria for eligible candidates — “models” and “leaders” will receive varying stipends for both years that will be proposed by the state and negotiated with those teachers and principals.
The committee will review applications for specific positions and conduct interviews before making final recommendations on candidates to Superintendent John Hogan. Peluso said that the committee will likely search for model educators with a minimum of three years’ experience that are endorsed by administrators and colleagues, have served on committees in the past and assumed leadership roles in other capacities.
In developing this district-wide support system for all educators, Peluso said that administrators are striving to replicate certain teaching strategies in every classroom for improved academic success, specifically with integrating the Common Core ELA curriculum to teach students reading and writing in an effective way and exploring science and math ematics at the middle school.