School Superintendent Marco Pochintesta indicated that the district was busy on many fronts this summer. The maintenance staff worked to get the buildings and grounds ready for the start of the new semester. In addition, curriculum development projects, technology training and many other valuable initiatives to enhance student development were explored.
In a substantive interview with The Rockland County Times, Mr. Pochintesta highlighted capital improvements, Maker Space and 21st century skills, new courses, additional staff positions plus the Pearl River High School Senior Capstone Experience.
. For a fresh and vibrant look, the capital improvements included a complete renovation of the flagpole entrance of the high school, a granite bench for the high school waiting area, painting of the halls and common areas at the Lincoln Avenue Elementary School and the Pearl River Middle School plus the landscaping and preparation of the athletic fields.
. A computer lab was re-purposed into a Maker Space, which is a collaborative work area for making, learning and exploring. These spaces have a variety of equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons, cardboard, Legos and art supplies. A ‘maker-mindset’ is to create something out of nothing and explore one’s own interest. Some of the know-how learned in the Maker Space may pertain to electronics, 3D printing and even woodworking. The space helps to prepare students for the fields of science , technology, engineering and math (STEM). It provides 21st century skills of hands on learning, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, problem solving and may even serve as an incubator to foster future entrepreneurship.
. New course initiatives include robotics, coding, computer science and a business 101 statistics class, in cooperation with Rockland Community College.
. Two Technology coaches were added to help teachers integrate more technology into their classroom lessons.
. According to the Pearl River Senior Capstone brochure, the experience is a requirement for passing English 12. It is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual proficiency for students during their final year of high school. This long-term investigative project culminates in a final product, presentation or performance. Students may be asked to select a topic, profession or social problem that interests them, conduct research on the subject, maintain a portfolio of the findings or results, create a final product or multimedia presentation and present an oral report to a panel. For example, a project may include designing and building a product, computer program, app or robot to address a specific need, such as assisting the learning disabled.
In conclusion, Mr. Pochintesta stated, “The success of bringing improvements to the learning environment and planning for the future needs of the district infrastructure are due to the leadership and support of the Board of Education, the PTA and our great staff.”