As Sweet Home school district teachers and administrators seek to improve academic outcomes among their students, attempts are in the offing to strengthen the district’s relationships with local business and industry.
Following a School Board work session this week, at which math specialists in the district made an hourlong presentation on a K-12 mathematics improvement program, feedback was sought from Colleen DiPirro, president and chief executive officer of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
DiPirro was invited by school officials to attend the work session.
“I am so impressed by what I heard tonight,” DiPirro said after Tuesday night’s meeting. She noted that the Chamber only hears about the school districts in Amherst at budget time, so that the business community and industry “think of you only in an economic component rather than the education component and all the quality you add to this community.”
The school district more than a year ago embarked on a program that calls for a rigorous course of study for all of its students in the core academic areas, and it has developed a comprehensive intervention system and group study programs aimed at ensuring that struggling students receive extra support. Aspects of the program were outlined at the board work session.
“This is not a teaching program anymore; they’re learning math and the concepts of mathematics. There is a solid core body of knowledge that is embedded within the common core,” said Superintendent Anthony Day, following the presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Larry Leaven and math teacher specialist James Bialasik.
“When I listened to the math specialists talk about how they met 18 months ago and started talking in theory about how they could implement these programs and how they started … I think we should start the same way,” said DiPirro, in terms of how the school district and business community should proceed in forming a collaboration.
“Maybe, as an organization, we can offer the opportunity for some of our business people … to come in and hear these type of presentations,” DiPirro said. “If we made this available to our more than 700 members, I’m sure we could fill this room with representatives for hourlong presentations. I think that will build the networks that we want to build.”
She also recommended establishing internships and shadow programs to engage Sweet Home students in the day-to-day operations of local business and industry.