Board Considers ‘Whole Child’

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The Manhasset Board of Education listening to the Whole Child presentation.

The Manhasset Board of Education convened on Jan. 18 with the main focus being on the concept of “The Whole Child,” which Superintendent of Schools Vincent Butera explained as looking at a child’s academic, social and emotional abilities to address the whole child. To begin the conversation, a presentation was given by Director of Guidance and Counseling Services Jane Grappone and Executive Director of Special Education Programs and Services Allison Rushforth.

“We’re trying to examine and define what success will look like,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Charles Leone. “When you look historically, it isn’t just all about academics. But we really have to examine what is happening with our students currently and currently social and emotional learning is a significant component of what we need to address in school. Schools are in partnership with home and family so we feel as a school we have a responsibility to develop the social and emotional component as well as the academics. We need to make our students ready for whatever path they pursue.”

Social and emotional learning was defined as “a process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.” Social and emotional skills can be learned in a student’s home, community, school and classroom. The school district hopes to integrate the five components of social and emotional learning including self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills into the curriculum.

Executive Director of Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services Allison Rushforth discussing the Whole Child

In order to integrate social and emotional skills in the classroom, Manhasset is having students participate in student team-building and class-building activities, having social and emotional learning lessons implemented in health curriculums, implementing the responsive classroom, providing counseling and support programs, holding guidance counselor classroom lessons and more. However, the district is still trying to understand the social and emotional well-being of its students in order to better meet their needs. Efforts to understand include a Board of Education retreat, conversations with school counselors, nurses, social workers, school psychologists, faculty, staff and administrators, a student forum and a comprehensive survey to be developed and administered to faculty, staff, parents and students in grades seven through 12 in March and April.

“It will measure and provide feedback on a lot of the areas we spoke about today, so we’ll be able to get some really clear data as to how students are feeling, how parents are feeling, faculty is feeling, so we can be much more strategic,” said Butera.

The board approved a donation of $20,000 from the Manhasset SCA to offset the cost of the K12 Insight, LLC custom school climate survey in the amount of $21,390. Along with the SCA donation, a donation of $10,000 from The Diane Whipple Foundation was approved for field repairs. It was announced at the meeting that Manhasset Union Free School District is currently in the top five districts with the most candidates to become National Board Certified Teachers.

“These are current candidates going to finish the work,” said Leone. “New York City has 199 candidates, Yonkers has 30, Schenectady has 22 and Manhasset has 16.”

Prior to the meeting, student and staff recognition took place in the Black Box Theatre. Students recognized for New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State Music Festival were Philip Barsky, Alexandra Hong, Ashley Kim, Yuna Kim, Serene Lee, Fayfay Ning, Elizabeth Rutkovsky, Walter Stackler, Sophia Tashjian, Sophie Vincoff and Jasmine Zhong. Recognized for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Ensemble were Chelsie Howell and Daniel Miller. Those recognized for Art for a Cure included Astrid Angeles, Melenie Atahualpa, Katie Barnes, Chloe Chee, Erin Delaney, Sachi Kapoor, Ava Klissouras, Lea Klissouras, Adriane Kong, Kiki Lee, Brianna Li, Hantian Lin, Selina Lu, Luca Mancuso, Sabrina Nie, Rachel O’Day, Daniela Ras, Christina Ruan, Jessica Wei, Shirley Xiao, Lillian Yang, Cici Yuan, Gabriella Zahn and Jasmin Zelaya. Teachers Sean Adcroft, Diana DiPaolo-Caputi, Sarah Duke, Geralyn Marasco, Marianne O’Donnell, Loretta Schuellein-McGovern and Elizabeth Watt were recognized for becoming National Board Certified.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at Shelter Rock Elementary School.

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Christina Claus is a reporter for Anton Media Group and a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly and Anton's magazines.

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