South Orangetown Central School District

South Orangetown Middle School has earned its second redesignation from the New York State Department of Education as a National Forum Schools to Watch model school! SOMS first received this recognition, which honors excellence in middle grades education, in 2015 and was redesignated in 2018.

“Our SOMS staff recognize the importance of creating a school that is an inviting, supportive and safe place for young adolescents.  SOMS is a community that promotes in-depth mastery of content while enhancing students’ emotional and physical wellbeing,” said Superintendent of Schools Robert Pritchard, Ed.D. “Congratulations to our SOMS administrators and staff for earning this outstanding recognition once again!”

To be considered for recognition, middle schools must participate in a rigorous application and review process and commit to a culture of continuous improvement in four domains: academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure and processes. Applicants are provided with feedback regarding their schools’ strengths and potential areas for improvement. Principal Chad Corey, Ed.D. reported that SOMS administrators and staff have used the evaluation data to further enhance programs and supports for students.

“The key to helping our students be successful and feel connected is our staff’s commitment to engaging them in their learning and bringing learning to life. Our team’s philosophy is to do whatever we can to help each student while respecting the changes they are undergoing as adolescents,” he said. “One of our strengths is the structure we’ve established to meet our students’ academic, developmental and social needs. This has been important this year, more than ever. These structures enable us to identify and respond to emerging needs, such as implementing social emotional learning lessons for students in different learning models to receive direct instruction from a counselor to learn stress and anxiety management strategies.”

Assistant Principal Joseph Onativia noted, “The growth of this building from one application to another is notable, but our staff doesn’t do this work for the accolades. They are motivated by their colleagues and their shared dedication to the work they do with our students.”

Corey says that networking with other model schools has also been valuable. “It’s not one-size-fits-all for middle schools and reaching out to learn from others is important for our own growth.”

The SOMS 2021 STW Writing Team in front of school

Pictured above are members of the SOMS 2021 Schools to Watch application writing team: Chad Corey, Ed.D., Joseph Onativia, Ron Scherer, Andrea Fortuno and Christa Loughran. Not shown: Michael Ryan and Marie-Laure Spatz.