SWBOCES teachers return with "amazing energy"
Southern Westchester BOCES welcomed back teachers, principals, counselors, psychologists and all educators from across the student-based programs.
The rest and recovery of summer break gave way to back-to-school activities, punctuated by hugs and catching up among colleagues as Opening Day got under way at the Harrison training center. Aside from a few programs that met last week, most programs re-convened Tuesday morning for a day of professional development administrative meetings to kick the school year off.
"I just want to say that when I walked in here this morning, the energy was amazing, such powerful, positive energy," said Deputy Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline O'Donnell.
Ms. O'Donnell spoke of the mission, vision, values and goals that guide the entire organization and are infused in every program and initiative. BOCES fills the gaps the districts face, and the goal is to be their first choice to meet their needs, she said. "I want all of us to be proud that this is the place that we choose to be."
Student-based programs include Career and Technical Education programs at the Career Services campus in Valhalla; Special Services programs at a half-dozen locations across Southern Westchester (two of which met last week); and the Sprain Brook Academy hosted by the Westchester County Department of Correction.
District Superintendent Harold Coles provided attendees with updates on pressing issues in education at the BOCES, statewide and national levels, from a change in leadership at the state Education Department to implementation of the federal education law known as ESSA.
“One of the things that we want to focus on is that BOCES is opportunity," Dr. Coles said. “That’s what we bring to working with our students.”
Among the items on the agenda for day one were trainings in School Safety and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention as well as team meetings and building-level activities. Attendees also received information important to their work from the Human Resources and Technology departments.
Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services James Gratto introduced new leadership staff before presenting a slideshow of images from the myriad graduations and end-of-year recognition ceremonies held less than three months ago. Seeing the end result of educators' work is a poignant reminder of its importance as that work gets under way yet again, he said.
Sept. 3 and 4 are conference days across Southern Westchester BOCES. School officially opens with the return of students Thursday, Sept. 5.