There have been many social media posts during the past two tumultuous years about the “problems” people have with our school district. As always, the loudest voices and most eye-catching posts garner the most attention. If you attended a board of education meeting during this time, you might leave thinking our administration and board members do not have the students’ best interests at heart.
Maybe it’s time to step back a few paces and view the district through a different lens. Recently, a friend of mine asked people to reflect on the positive measures that Wantagh has implemented within the past several years. Here is a list of some of the great initiatives that have been implemented that seek to benefit the children of Wantagh:
- K-12 1:1 Chromebook initiative – this was a crucial piece that allowed virtual instruction to take place in 2020 and 2021. Without this technology, many students would not have been able to receive instruction during the pandemic. Now, all students have access to the technology they need to succeed in the classroom and at home.
- STEAM classes at the elementary school level – students can explore projects relating to science, technology, engineering, art, and music. They learn to come up with creative solutions to problems.
- Universal Pre-K – as of right now there are 63 open spots for children in our district.
- Full day Kindergarten – Wantagh was one of the last districts to move to full day Kindergarten, which it finally did in the 2013-2014 school year. Not only is this developmentally appropriate and important for children, it also increases our property values to have a district with full day Kindergarten.
- 6:1:1 self contained class at Mandalay. This special education setting allows students that would have been placed in classes outside of the district to meet their educational needs in Wantagh.
- Redesigned science units at the elementary level to meet the NYS curriculum and provide hands on, inquiry based instruction.
- Adopted an inquiry based Science curriculum at the Middle School to align with the current NYS Standards. This curriculum is also hands on, inquiry based instead of rote learning.
- Block scheduling at the middle school that allows for AM and PM blocks and rotating classes. This promotes a smoother transition from elementary school and meets the needs of students who may function better at different times of the day.
- Early bird elective classes for middle school students – students can choose from a wide variety of electives including Intro to Piano and Fitness for Life to take during the period before the advisory period begins. This opens up an opportunity to learn new skills and explore different topics that interest them.
- Expanded programs in the Music Department and the Fine Arts – including Onora La Voci (Honors Chorus) and Project Lead the Way – Intro to Engineering Design offered through Rochester Institute of Technology.
- Expanded ICT at the high school level to include an ICT Chemistry class, making it possible for students to get the support they need in this area.
- Introduction of the AP Capstone program, which according to the district course book “immerses high school students in the challenging practice of the critical skills students need today. The ability to think independently, write effectively, research, collaborate, and learn across disciplines is essential for success in college and beyond.”
- Expanded AP and Dual College Enrollment courses for High School students. According to Dr. Paul Guzzone, principal of WHS, “our goal is to ensure that all students feel connected to their learning, as well as can challenge themselves by taking classes that they have an interest in, that hold rigor. By offering our learners classes such as AP Environmental Science, AP Capstone, AP European History, AP Calc, College Criminology, AP Music Theory, AP World Language, College International Business, College Accounting, College English, PLTW Engineering, we are putting our students in the best position to feel a sense of belonging to their class, teachers, and school.”
- Implementation of Schoology and Infinite Campus to improve communication between students, parents, and teachers. This allows parents to actively monitor their child’s progress in real time.
These are just some of the many great changes that have been made in Wantagh that allow all students to succeed. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Wantagh High School as a National Blue Ribbon School. It needs to be said that our teaching and support staff are made up of some of the finest educators on Long Island. I am proud to send my children to Wantagh Schools, and am grateful for the education they are receiving.