South Orangetown Central School District

Five South Orangetown Central School District staff members were recognized by the Board of Education last evening for their work as administrative interns. Thomas Colgan, Brian Galvin, Lori Graham, Arthur Gunther and Lucia McCahill are each pursuing Certificates of Advanced Study in School Administration through SUNY New Paltz and, as part of their programs of study, are required to complete 735 hours of unpaid internship experience.

“We are a part of the cohort program that Rockland BOCES put together due to projected shortages in administrators within the next couple of years,” explained William O. Schaefer Elementary School Psychologist Brian Galvin, who worked with a variety of administrators to learn about the processes required to prepare for a new school year. “I have been able to work on projects such as the master schedule and modifying the character education and the Little Book of School Rules. I also created an informational packet explaining how our school and school day operate for all substitute teachers.”

As an intern, Committee on Special Education Chairperson Lori Graham worked with the building administrators to help establish the new K-2 Bridge class at WOS and served on interview committees at South Orangetown Middle School. Her primary project was creating the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Safety Net program, in collaboration with the Office of Pupil Personnel Services and the Family Engagement Center, to provide SOCSD preschool-aged students who do not qualify for special education services to informally improve skills that may fall below the levels expected of children their age. As a New York State Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist, Graham is working with small groups of young students on a weekly basis for 10 weeks and providing families with ongoing feedback and practice work. “Throughout my work this summer, I have learned the value and importance of making personal, positive connections and being visible,” Graham noted. “Administrators have many roles and, through this experience, I’ve realized that being prepared and flexible are important characteristics they need to be successful. I look forward to continuing my professional growth and to contributing to SOCSD in a positive, meaningful way.”

CPSE/CSE Chairperson Thomas Colgan also spent time collaborating on the development of WOS’ K-2 Bridge class, updating charactering education materials and learning about transportation operations. “I am enjoying getting to know all of the different buildings, departments, and people around the district in order to understand how we all play a role in the success of every South Orangetown student,” he said. “To see the impact that our collective work in SOCSD has on our community has been professionally enlightening and personally heart-warming.”

WOS teacher Arthur Gunther worked on a variety of projects with Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Brian Culot, WOS Principal Sheila Beglin and WOS Assistant Principal Maggie White, including new teacher orientation, character education programming and preparations for the new school year. “As a result of the projects I worked on, I feel that I have grown into a more well-rounded educator. I have a better knowledge of the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ that go into the preparations necessary for a school year, and now look upon my teaching in the classroom in a more holistic way,” Gunther reflected.

WOS Reading Specialist Lucia McCahill worked with Dr. Culot to prepare for the new teacher orientation and develop a new teacher mentor handbook. “As a reading teacher, I know what happens in my room with my students. The time I have spent with Brian has afforded me the opportunity to see the big picture as far as what goes on in the district. I think this has helped me tremendously on a professional level. There is so much more that goes on beyond my reading room and working with Brian allows me to see the ‘why’ of what happens in the district,” said McCahill, who also spent many internship hours working with administrators at WOS. “The work I’ve done this summer has made me grow as a professional. Knowledge of the big picture and what happens behind the scenes is so important for all teachers to know. What I have learned has allowed me to truly understand how a school is run.”

Supporting administrative interns is an important part of SOCSD’s professional development efforts. “In working to retain high-quality staff members, it is our aim to provide them with multiple opportunities to learn and grow,” explained Director of Staff Relations Dr. Joseph Lloyd. “In this case, the administrative internship has enabled our colleagues to utilize both research and theoretical knowledge within an authentic field experience. We remain quite proud of their efforts to further their knowledge and skills.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Pritchard added that nurturing a professional culture that encourages employees to actively engage in lifelong learning is one of the goals outlined in the district’s Strategic Plan–and benefits everyone. “Our administrative interns not only selected projects that would have a profound impact on students, but they also have recharged our batteries and given us a chance to look at our work with fresh eyes,” he said.

Colgan, Galvin, Graham, Gunther and McCahill are slated to complete the advanced certificate program in May 2020. Administrative internships are a required component in fulfilling the NYS School District Leader (SDL) certificate.

Group photo of administrative interns, Dr. Pritchard and BOE members