LITTLE FALLS — When Little Falls City School District Superintendent Keith Levatino started his position as head of the school district earlier this year, he reached out to the district’s teachers through a survey.
He said it was to learn "what was great about the school and its strengths, but also to learn about some things they’d like to see, additionally."
Based on the survey results, Levatino said many of the teachers expressed an interest in more curriculum, more use of data-driven instruction and more professional development.
Levatino said Maria Lindsay, who was appointed to the new administrative curriculum specialist and assistant principal position in June, was doing her administrative internship at the time he was collecting the survey results. With her background in Little Falls, Lindsay was hired to help lead the way with putting forth new initiatives to address the survey results.
One thing the school district has initiated as a result of the survey is a new teacher mentor program.
On Aug. 26, six new teachers were matched with mentors. The meeting included a bus tour of the community, a visit from the union president to discuss contracts and a meeting with the director of safety to talk about procedures. After lunch, the afternoon was an informational session for the teachers to look at curriculum and to plan instruction.
"It’s a more formal process," said Lindsay. "[We] wanted to help them to get to know the culture of the school, as well as the community."
Lindsay said as part of this new initiative the new teachers and their mentors will stay in touch, including meeting once a month to discuss certain topics including classroom management and parent communication.
"Teaching can be a somewhat stressful job," she said. "… For those going into education, we want them to love it. We want them to enjoy the job."
Another initiative that started this summer was the boost in professional development options. Lindsay said the district teachers could come in for three paid days that covered different topics, including supporting technology through Google classroom training, training in programs to help set up the classroom roster and Level Literacy Intervention which provides benchmark assessments for reading.
Another initiative will allow teachers to attend data-driven workshops through four additional half days that will allow them to "build off of some of the curriculum."
Levatino said these initiatives are expected to be tied in with a capital improvement project the district hopes to implement in the next few years, which will be tied into "instructional delivery."
"We don’t know what that looks like, yet. That’s still in the planning stages," he said.