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District Initiatives

The Byram Hills Central School District commits to a continuous improvement process--study, plan, implement, evaluate, reflect, revise/refine--on many district-wide initiatives. We provide opportunities for professional development throughout the school year and during the summer to develop our skills and knowledge in curriculum, instruction, and assessment to improve student learning. Furthermore, we strive to meet the goals of our District mission, to "provide students with the means, the knowledge, and the opportunity to excel in order to become productive and responsible citizens of the twenty-first century."

Below are various initiatives in the Byram Hills School District and the professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators.


Character Education

The Byram Hills School District, in seeking to live its mission to create an "environment of mutual respect," adopted a set of core values with respect to character education. These values were determined based upon a survey of parents, teachers and students. Adopted over ten years ago, the District supports programs and activities to promote the character education principles:

  • Respectful Dialogue
  • Respect for Self and Others
  • Service and Kindness

The Site-Based Teams and the Curriculum Committees continue to support goals and efforts in Character Education. (For more information, visit the Site-Based Team/Curriculum Committee page.)

As part of our character education programs, the District seeks to create a positive school climate. In doing so, we implement programs on bullying prevention and cyberbullying. We are in our third year to review the District's bullying prevention and internet safety programs, and evaluate further areas in our curriculum and building-level programs for additional areas of need. Additionally, the District collaborates with the Byram Hills PTSA for programming, outreach and communication with families in the community. 

Bullying Prevention

  • Bullying Prevention and Pro Social Behavior Programs K-12.  View our current programs in support of our character education principles related to our bullying prevention goals. CLICK HERE.
  • Bullying Prevention: view the Parent Resource Guide
  • PTSA C.H.I.L.D. Bullying Prevention Program, What Works and What More Can be Done: CLICK HERE.
  • Visit the Byram Hills PTSA website for additional information on how families can get involved in the schools.

Internet Safety

  • Internet Safety and Usage Curriculum Map.  View our current programs K-12 to address internet safety, internet use, and cyber bullying. CLICK HERE. The I-Safety Committee is evaluating and reviewing our programs K-12 this year with the building principals and will make recommendations for next year. 
  • View the Bobcat TV show on Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying at HCC Middle School, featuring Detective Frank Kolarik, the HCC Guidance Counselors, and Dr. Evan Powderly: CLICK HERE
  • View the Bobcat TV show on Internet Safety with Judge Elyse Lazansky: CLICK HERE
  • Visit the school web pages for additional information on school-related programs.


Cultural Proficiency

In 2005 the Byram Hills School District made a commitment to creating a culturally proficient school community by developing and promoting the skills and knowledge for respectful dialogue and respect for self and others. “Cultural Proficiency is a mindset, a way of being that esteems the culture of others as one esteems his/her own culture while positively engaging, adapting and responding.” (Brenda and Franklin CampbellJones, 2006) To this end, the District developed a training program and additional structures to continue its journey toward cultural proficiency.

The Cultural Proficiency Study Groups at Coman Hill and Wampus Elementary Schools meet monthly to continue training and to plan for additional programs, efforts and initiatives to support the District goals of cultural proficiency. A Student Leadership Board was created to train high school students on the cultural proficiency framework; these high school students become leaders of efforts to promote a school climate built on respect for self and others.

The links below offer detailed information about this important initiative.

  • NEW! Read this article on teaching students cultural awareness through systems thinking in K-2 classrooms, written by Jane del Villar, our K-2 Library Media Specialist.
    NEW! Presentation to the Board of Education on the Student Leadership Board.
  • Watch related programming on Bobcat TV: Cultural Proficiency
  • Read an Overview of our cultural proficiency initiative since 2005.
  • FACING HISTORY AND OURSELVES provides resources and training for teachers to develop lessons, activities and strategies to help young students take responsibility for the world in which we live. We continue to train middle and high school teachers to support the integration of Facing History and Ourselves resources and strategies into their classroom lessons. Watch the Bobcat TV show: Facing History and Ourselves.


Sustainability

The Byram Hills School District recognizes the importance of educating students, parents, faculty and community members about environmental responsibility. The District models best practices in the schools, develops a coordinated K-12 curriculum, integrates environmentally sustainable products and practices into the facilities and transportation departments, and finds partners with local, state and national communities and organizations.

"Educators for sustainability work to develop in young people and adults the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and enduring understandings required to individually and collectively contribute to a healthy and sustainable future." (Jaimie P. Cloud, Educating for a Sustainable Future, 2010, p. 168)


World Languages

From 2008 to 2010, the District engaged in a study of our World Languages program with a committee of teachers, administrators and parents. The study was presented to the Board of Education, and we are currently reviewing and implementing the recommendations of the committee.

The recommendations made to the Superintendent, Dr. Jackie Taylor, were:

  1. Explore a linguistics course for an elective course at the high school.
  2. Explore a non-romance language elective course at the high school.
  3. Expand upon the exploratory cycle in grade 6 to include linguistics.
  4. Continue to implement the current program based upon student interest and community commitment.

In 2011-2012, we:

  • Implemented the sixth grade linguistics course.
  • Revised the high school Regents curriculum and the Advanced Placement courses.
  • Planned and implemented high quality performance assessments.
  • Continued to explore the feasibility of a non-romance language elective at the high school.

In 2012=2013, we are:

  • Reviewing and revising the sixth grade linquistics course.
  • Continuing to review and revise the 7 - 12 grade curricula.
  • Implementing newly designed high quality performance assessments and tasks.
  • Utilizing technology to enhance the curricular and instructional programs.

A detailed overview of the committee's work is located on the World Languages Study page.


Technology

For the past fourteen years, the District has engaged in a focused and sustained effort to integrate technology into every classroom at all grade levels to support student learning. We continue to support the use of meaningful technology in our classrooms, such as the use of SMART Boards, BOBCAT-alog for research, e-boards, wikis, blogging, and other innovative technology during our K-12 Professional Learning Communities.

In 2011-2012, we are implementing many new technologies, such as, the Smart Table at Coman Hill, Lego Robots at Wampus and H. C. Crittenden, and the Smart Response System at Byram Hills High School. Check back for more updates as we find ways to showcase our technology initiatives throughout the District.

For more information about technology, visit other sections of our District website:


Performance Assessments

Each year we conduct a detailed data analysis of our New York State Testing Data. Overtime, our analysis demonstrates high levels of sustained student achievement on the state testing program and the Regents exams. While the state tests are designed to identify students who are not meeting standards, they do not provide valuable data on students at the top end of achievement. Furthermore, the states tend to focus on skills and knowledge by relying heavily on multiple choice test items, and therefore, do not assess student understanding of concepts and application of knowledge in a meaningful way.

As a result, the District strives to collect valuable assessment data systematically on student learning above and beyond the state standards across all disciplines and grade levels. In doing so, we recognize the need to develop a system to collect student performance data. The District definition of performance assessments is:

A performance assessment is a unique task which measures enduring understandings through the application of skills and transfer of knowledge.

Since 2005, the District has provided extensive training on the development of high quality performance assessments. In 2011-2012, we expect to develop performance assessments across grade levels and classrooms as we provide further teacher training in assessment design and data analysis of student work samples.

The District assessment reports can be viewed on Assessment Reports page of our website.

Watch related programming on Bobcat TV:
- Performance assessments in Wind Symphony
- Performance assessments in Italian V


Differentiation

The District strives to meet the learning needs of every child. Over the past ten years we have provided professional development at all grade levels to support teacher learning of the theories of differentiation and provide opportunities for collaboration on differentiated lessons, activities and assignments. Our efforts are guided by the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson, and ongoing training has been provided by Cindy Strickland from the University of Virginia.

The District continues to support teacher training in and implementation of differentiated strategies.

To learn more, you can watch a Bobcat TV program on differentiation: Differentiation and World Languages


Investigators of Practice

Byram Hills teachers have the opportunity to engage in a collaborative inquiry approach to professional learning through Investigators of Practice. During this course, teachers have the opportunity to systematically analyze an aspect of their classroom practice in a supportive collegial environment. Teachers will: reflect upon their practice; develop an inquiry plan; collect and analyze data; use literature to inform their work; discuss their work and respond to the work of others in a reflective learning community; and share their work with the school community.

The first Investigators of Practice course began during the 2009-2010 school year and was met with success. The participants develop written summaries of their inquiry projects each year, and these summaries can be found on the Investigators of Practice page (click here or on the link to the left.)

We believe in the importance of educators sharing their knowledge with the greater community for the purpose of enhancing the learning within the teaching profession. We hope our Investigators of Practice summaries provide you with valuable information and insight, and that it inspires you to investigate your practice through the collaborative inquiry process.  


Current Events:  What's the Nation Talking About?

In our efforts to prepare students for 21st Century learning, the Byram Hills School District is committed to engaging our students in critical thinking in all curricular areas. In the classroom, we prepare students in critical analysis by helping them learn, discuss and evaluate important issues.

To that end, we invite parents, teachers and administrators to discuss with our students the events that are “the talk of the nation.” Each month we post a current events topic on our website to invite a conversation around important issues, promoting analysis and synthesis from multiple perspectives. Visit the current events page to see the current and past topics.


 








Byram Hills Central School District | 10 Tripp Lane, Armonk, NY 10504 | (914) 273-4082