By Barry Warner
The Nanuet Union Free School District Board of Education appointed Dr. Kevin McCahill as the new Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2019. As School Superintendent, he will oversee the daily operations and the long-range planning of the school district.
“I had the luxury of being an internal candidate for the position as School Superintendent, which brings some value to the district in that I can hit the ground running in a lot of ways and help us move forward with our district goals,” Dr. McCahill said. “This will be my sixth year working in Nanuet and I am continuing to work on important goals that have been established. The Nanuet School District rests on four foundational pillars, which are our 3–5 year district goals and govern most of our programs. In no priority order, Pillar 1 is the development of 21st century skills of communication and collaboration in order to develop young adults to be innovative thinkers and go into a world that is changing all the time—a world that expects our children to be nimble and capable and have personal skills that are less rigid based on content and what you are able to learn and adapt to change. There are a lot of sub-goals and a lot of work can be done there. Foundational Pillar 2 is the academic success of our students by training or staff so that their practices in the classroom are top notch. We want to hold onto practices that are successful in our field and bring our teachers into the 21st century to use new methodologies of working with content, the internet and technologies. Anyone can find facts these days, but the objective is to teach our children to get those facts, put them together, synthesize those thoughts, work as a group and engage in problem solving. In the public field, we are governed by flagship standardized test scores and output measures, and we want all of our kids to have the highest GPAs they can possibly get. We want to get into how they study, how they spend their time in and out of the class and how they prepare for assessments. We have an obligation to help the students prepare for another level of education, such as a vocation, on the job training, college or University. Those skills are part of our second pillar that includes how we teach our students to learn plus be good students and then perform on assessments with all of our children succeeding.”
“We have a huge focus on ‘equity of access’ to high-level courses. From kindergarten through 12th grade, we want our students to have an opportunity of access to those top notch experiences,” Dr. McCahill continued. “We are erasing the tracks and stigma of students having difficulty in earlier grades and developing ways of finding kids’ strengths and leveling the playing field by having them go on to advanced courses. We are developing ‘opportunity indexes’ to bring each child into the fold by offering a remediation course, a lunch bunch, a before-school group or a summer course to ramp up to their curriculum to hit the ground running. What’s important to me as Superintendent is that we develop children with life-long character-skills. We have invested in the RULER Program through Yale Institute by building children to adults with wide ranging skills and to be able to join the world. I am passionate, enthusiastic and believe in the institute of public education. Because schools are community centers, we have to have seamless ways of communicating things we are doing and the challenges facing us, which is the 3rd Pillar. People in the community and our stakeholders, such as the police department and town officials have to know what is going on to partner in raising our kids and bringing more resources to the district schools. The 4th Pillar is a financial responsibility to our tax payers. We have to make sure as an organization to balance or budgets and that we’re spending the money in a way that is mindful of our goals, we are transparent and respectful to the Nanuet taxpayers.”
For years, equity of access in education has referred to the ability of all students to receive an education from qualified teachers in buildings that are safe and conducive to learning in a district with sufficient resources that are equal among other schools in the same state. Consequently, all students should have an equal opportunity to succeed. Technology has added another dimension to the equation, since it opens up a much broader and richer arrangement of resources and information. Equity of access now includes access to devices to use digital content and connect to fellow students, educators and experts throughout the world. It also means sufficient high-speed broadband to the district, the school building, the classroom and the home.
RULER is an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learnings into schools developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER applies ‘hard science’ to the teaching of what has been called soft skills. RULER teaches the skills of emotional intelligence—those associated with recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating emotion. These skills are essential to effective teaching and learning, sound decision making, physical and emotional health, plus success in school and beyond.