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Past Meets Future at Suffield BoE Meeting

The panel honors three retirees and reviews plans for a high-tech new curriculum.

Suffield’s past and the future met each other Tuesday night at the Suffield Board of Education meeting.

The board honored three retirees for their years of service as well as heard plans from staff about high-tech textbooks, technology upgrades and the goals for meeting the new state common core standards. The session was held in the media room.

Two teachers, Florence Falkowski and Barbara Novak, and one administrator, Ida Hickerson, were feted by Superintendent of Schools Karen Baldwin and chairman Sue Porcello for their dedication to the youth of the district.

Falkowski has been with Suffield since 1989 as an elementary school teacher, mostly in second grade. She was the 2010 Suffield teacher of the year and the celebration Tuesday was joined by about 20 members of her current second grade glass. Tears and flowers were in abundance as people commented how much Mrs. Falkowski will be missed.

Novak is a graduate of Suffield High School and returned to the community in the early 1970s as a physical education teacher, mostly at the middle school. She was also a coach and a leader in the development of health and wellness curriculum in the community.

Hickerson began teaching in North Carolina in 1974 and moved to Connecticut years later. She taught in New Haven for several years before coming to Suffield in 2001 as the assistant principal for the middle school. Baldwin noted that she has been an “integral part of the middle school leadership team and deeply committed to the well being of kids.”

In other news, the board heard a presentation about the new personal finance textbook that includes an interactive electronic version. The e-book is the wave of the future as the school system intend to go virtually all electronic texts within the next few years.

The personal finance book, for example, offers web links, reviewable and correctable testing with links to the answers as well as hyperlinks to videos and other features. The board purchased 150 of these books to meet enrollment at a cost of just over $15,000, according to Baldwin.

The next technology component was a presentation by interim director of curriculum Andrew Lees about the plans for the sixth grade technology course. In cooperation with middle school principal John Warrington, Lees noted that the course is being seen as a benchmark to assist students with knowledge and understanding of the technical pieces required for school.

Technology usage is woven throughout the classes and it is important that students needing help with this part of the academic development be identified and assisted. He added that the teachers will also be offered additional knowledge as to how to integrate technology into their lesson plans and develop their own skills further as the district continues its march to a high-tech learning environment.

The ultimate goal is to fully integrate technology into the common core standards and better prepare students for technology usage in school and after graduation.

Technology director Rebecca Osleger, who is also part of that team, gave a presentation about the steps being taken to meet the new Connecticut standards and how Suffield is targeting those goals with both its upgraded technology infrastructure and its future plans. Osleger noted that the district is well on the way to meeting these goals and that cooperative efforts with other districts have helped increase purchasing power as well as proved valuable in terms of data collection and analysis.

Spaulding Elementary School principal Angie Roman also briefed the panel on the success of the new half-day kindergarten enrichment program. The program adds a morning component to the current afternoon kindergarten program. It was test program for a small number of students held in Suffield as opposed to past programs that had taken place in other communities.

Roman summarized the program noting that the 15 students, including 10 from Suffield and five school-choice kids, have been well integrated into the classroom, become better learners and are more prepared for full-time school than kids in similar programs in the past. In addition, the program has been financially self-sufficient.

“Most importantly,” she added, “I’m really excited about the outcomes as our children come in committed to school.”

The board’s next session will take place on Tuesday, June 19.

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