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Staying Connected: Your Stories - February 19, 2021

Connections in Education during COVID-19

Throughout our State, administrators, teachers, and school personnel continue to demonstrate their extraordinary dedication, support, and commitment to their students and our children. The New York State Education Department wishes to highlight the exceptional efforts of our educators to stay connected with the students of New York State during the coronavirus pandemic. 

This edition of Staying Connected highlights:

  • Long Island High School for the Arts's commitment to Creating Pathways to Careers in the Arts; and
  • Delevan Elementary's ability to support UPK programs in a hybrid instructional model.

The Department is grateful to the dedicated educators and school personnel who are working so diligently to ensure that students are safe and well. We encourage you to Submit Your Story detailing how you continue to stay connected throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

Creating Pathways to Careers in the Arts

Nassau BOCES ~ Long Island High School for the Arts (LIHSA)

Long Island High School for the Arts (LIHSA) is Long Island’s only public school dedicated to the arts. For over 45 years we have educated talented students, trained them in dance, music, theatre, filmmaking, and fine arts, and opened up career pathways to them.

Equity is an important issue for the administrators at LIHSA for many reasons. At our core, our mission is to create pathways to careers in the arts. At its base, this mission legitimizes the arts field as a career.  The arts give our society purpose, they teach us to feel and think creatively, and our students leave LIHSA with a way to turn their talent and passion into viable occupations while also leaving their mark to make our world better.

“We need music, we need dancing, we need theater that’s through humanity; through history that has helped people cope.”
Mark Cocheo, LIHSA Teacher

We offer opportunities to all talented Long Island students to come to LIHSA, and we welcome these young artists from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Some of our students cannot afford private lessons or after-school training. Admittance at LIHSA provides opportunities to students from all backgrounds and circumstances to hone their craft and pursue their dreams.

Over the years, LIHSA’s curriculum has become increasingly broad and inclusive, ensuring that the arts are taught not only from a western perspective. An example includes the Rhythmic Exploration class that will enjoy artist residencies with six different artists, each representing different countries’ music and perspectives. These include: Vashti Dance Theatre (West African), Alan Asuncion- STOMP Performer, Sunny Jain (Indian), Jose Decamps (Cuban), Ryu Shu Kan (Japanese), and Paula Verdina (Brazilian-Capoeira).

“I think it is really amazing that we get to come here and do what we love and be able to express ourselves during this craziness.”
Zoe Cali Manko, LIHSA Student

We stayed true to our mission throughout the pandemic, firm in our knowledge that our students needed LIHSA’s offerings and the arts more than ever. LIHSA administrators worked steadily all summer to ready the facility for in-person classes every day beginning on the first day of school for the full 2020-21 academic year. It was incumbent upon us to find safe ways for all students to practice their art forms, which not only allowed for continued honing of their skills, but provided an outlet for the emotions they were holding after months of fear and social isolation. We set up outdoor classrooms that serve year-round for our performing arts students who are vocal and instrumental musicians. We narrowed down choreography in our dance classes that would allow for curriculum guided technique and still be COVID compliant for social distance guidelines. We applied our new safety guidelines in all aspects of our curriculum and have kept our students, faculty, and staff safe. In order to continue our Winter Festival, we recorded students performing live on stage and premiered it online for families.  

“We can serve as an exemplar of what’s possible and be an inspiration to bring back the arts.”
Dr. Christine Rogutsky, LIHSA Principal

Watch the video LIHSA Winter Festival 2020 Indian Lyrical Dance to view a short clip from the festival.

Whether Remote or In-Person, UPK is Engaged in Learning

Pioneer Central Schools ~ Delevan Elementary School

The best practices for teaching UPK students are created and centered around the developmental levels of young children.  Teachers will use these developmentally appropriate practices to make purposeful use of various learning formats to enhance a child’s development and learning to achieve important goals, all while establishing important relationships.  Many teachers at the UPK level would agree that having a play-based, multi-sensory, hands-on curriculum, complete with opportunities for self-discovery is vital for a young child’s success in school.  How can all of this be translated into the virtual world that Covid-19 has thrown us all into?  This is the difficult task that has been given to all educators.  At Delevan Elementary, we are using a hybrid model where our UPK children come to school face-to-face for half of the day and are virtual the other half of the day. 

Many teachers at the UPK level would agree that having a play-based, multi-sensory, hands-on curriculum, complete with opportunities for self-discovery is vital for a young child’s success in school.

When the children are here face-to-face, we take every opportunity possible to create learning experiences that pertain to our students’ lives and provide them with hands-on, play based learning activities, while still following the Covid-19 safety protocols.  Each child has their own set of materials.  Using a class set of dish washing bins filled with water, we provided each student their own water table (kinetic sand or uncooked pasta can also be used as sensory fillers).  Letter beads, plastic alphabet or number bubbles, or other manipulatives can be added to the water bin depending on our learning goals.  Students then engage with the manipulatives in the water (sorting, matching, etc.). Take-out containers can also be used to create individual alphabet soup activities.  These contain alphabet pasta and letter beads of all sizes.  The students use these alphabet soup bins to sort letters (letters found in their name vs. letters not found in their name, letter of the week, or identifying initial sounds).

Students engage in virtual classrooms when they are learning remotely. The virtual classroom resembles the actual classroom as much as possible.  Voice recordings and hyperlinks are added to our virtual classroom to make it as easy and straight forward for young children as possible.  Additionally, students can access videos for mini lessons and read alouds.  Thanks to hundreds of teachers who are willing to share resources, there are many virtual activities and templates that are easy to edit and add into any virtual classroom.  While challenging, it is still possible to maintain connections and implement the practices we know to be best for young children in a virtual setting.

Submit & Subscribe

We encourage you to share your story. Your story might be a one-page account, a video, or even pictures showing us how your school, your students, and your community are staying connected. Please visit our Submit Your Story page for additional information.

Subscribe here to receive future editions of Staying Connected.