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Hempstead board OKs Hofstra experts’ help at middle school

Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in

Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead on April 15, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Hempstead board members have approved plans to bring Hofstra University educators and other experts to train middle school staff as part of efforts to improve academic results at the struggling school.

Hofstra personnel would work with selected teachers at the district’s Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in one of three curriculum and instruction initiatives approved in 5-0 votes at Thursday night’s board meeting. The efforts are to be funded through state grants slated for struggling schools.

The state Education Department categorizes the middle school as “struggling” and Hempstead High School as “persistently struggling” for respectively falling short of academic benchmarks. The schools are under receivership and the district is under state mandate to show improvement within certain time periods or risk turnover of the facilities to outside management.

Hofstra’s program costs $100,000. The other approved proposals are partnerships with Learner Centered Initiatives in Garden City, costing $80,000, and the Electrical Training Center in Copiague, at a cost of $32,400.

Learner Centered Initiatives will offer professional development services at the middle school, while the Electrical Training Center is a partner “for course work” training of Hempstead High School students for “low-level employment” in the electrical field.

The district “will leave no stone unturned as we aggressively continue to pursue meaningful partnerships with our neighbors to better prepare both students and faculty,” said a statement from board president LaMont Johnson.

A Hofstra administrator said its partnership will focus on working closely with six teachers on “leadership, curriculum and subject areas” for the remainder of the school year. Those teachers, in turn, will be expected to mentor peers.

Lawrence Levy, Hofstra’s executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies, said there are “a number of tremendous teachers in the district who want to make a difference.”

The Hofstra team, including professors from its School of Education, will work with the teachers so they can pass on the knowledge, Levy said. “We believe that teachers make the best teachers, especially when they have the respect and confidence of the teachers who might need a little help.”

In other business, board members and the superintendent sparred over — and took into executive session — a discussion on appointing a district director of science, technology, engineering and math. The board approved the hire with an annual salary of $150,000, funded by a state grant.

They split 3-2 to name Subrina Oliver to the post, with trustee Maribel Touré questioning the salary and Gwendolyn Jackson joining her in voting against the appointment.

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