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Relationships, Rigor, Relevance

POSTED 9/4/2013
OESJ to focus on relationships, rigor, relevance
The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School will focus on relationships, rigor and relevance as it creates a new vision, mission and culture for students and staff during the merged district’s first year of operation. 

“While we’ve already experienced a great deal of change – it is only the beginning. The merger, and the incentive aid that comes with it, gives us the resources to make great improvements to our educational program,” OESJ Superintendent Laura Lawrence said. “Our first priority is to establish strong relationships between teachers and students and between the school and the community.”

Lawrence said the district will also embrace increased rigor and higher expectations for all students and focus on the relevance of the school’s curriculum to a 21st century application. 

The district began outlining changes for its schools this summer when a 17-member team of administrators, teachers and board members attended the International Center for Leadership in Education’s Model Schools Conference in Washington D.C. Throughout the school year, the district will continue to work with the International Center for Leadership in Education to institute changes in the district’s educational program. The district will also be working with the Capital Area School Development Association to align curriculum with New York State’s new Common Core Learning Standards.

“In the next three to five years we’ll begin to see remarkable changes, and our district will become a model for schools for our area,” Lawrence said. 

While the district has started to institute long-term changes, students returning to school this year will also see immediate differences.

Among the notable differences will be the courses available to high school students. This year students had nearly 20 new electives to choose from. New courses range from drivers education, which had been cut by both previous districts due to budget constraints, to new English Language Arts electives such as Mystery and Suspense, and Myths and Legends. Also, courses once offered by just one of the districts are now available to all students. For instance, Oppenheim-Ephratah in the past offered Music Theory and Parenting but St. Johnsville did not, and while St. Johnsville offered Advanced Placement English and Psychology and Distance Learning classes O-E did not. Now all students will have access to those and other classes. 

Other changes students will notice in the district include technology upgrades to the high school Distance Learning room, a new floor in the high school gym, and a new playground at the D.H. Robbins Elementary School.  In addition to other preparations, painting at the O-E building has begun and the high school gym walls will also soon be painted. District buses have all been relettered and new signage for all district buildings will also soon be installed. 

The first day of classes for all OESJ students is Thursday, Sept. 5. Two superintendent’s conference days, including a regional training day in cooperation with the Gloversville and Johnstown districts will precede the start of school.

Caption:Incoming seniors Jessica Senft, left, and Victoria Blyth, right, compare class schedules during the OESJ High School orientation Tuesday, Sept. 3.