BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – The bell rang Wednesday morning and students in the Briarcliff Manor School District filed out after the first day of classes. Several hours and a few classes later, their teachers did the same thing.
Teachers in the district, who are learning dozens of new initiatives and ideas this school year, stayed after school to study. The after-school meetings took place so each teacher could get an understanding and recap of several initiatives that began last year, said Susan Howard, Briarcliff Middle School principal.
The afternoon’s activities included writing state-mandated objectives for the year, looking at new pre- and post-assessments for students and several new initiatives.
“The first day of school for the students is a compilation of months of work because we’ve been here planning for the next school year since the students left in June,” Howard said. “This is new for all of us so we’re working very hard to learn this information so we can help the students grow. I think our teachers are going to do an amazing job with these things this year and they’re going to be the best possible teachers we could have for our students.”
The first day of school was also a first for many of the district’s new teaching assistants. The Briarcliff Board of Education opted in February to eliminate 27 teacher-aide positions at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and replace them with teaching assistants for the 2012-13 school year.
Despite some initial nervousness, several of the teaching assistants say they are excited about the start of the school year.
“I found a lot of the kids are very sociable and eager to learn, which is a great thing,” said teaching assistant Linda Balbona. “We’re still figuring out where we’re supposed to be and exactly what our responsibilities are, just like the kids are. We’re all sort of navigating these unfamiliar waters.”
Teaching assistant Danielle Lerner agreed.
“It was really nice to meet all of the (students) and I think I was a little nervous just like they were,” she said. “I think we’re a little bit unclear just as the teachers are because we don’t know which students will need us the most. I think once we all get to know the students we’ll know exactly where our niche is and it will all come together.”