School visits build a sense of community in General Brown district

DEXTER, NY — As the 2018-19 school year winds down, General Brown Central School District leaders want to make sure that elementary students who will be attending a different school next year due to the upcoming grade reconfiguration meet some of their new classmates and have a
chance to explore their new buildings.

On Friday, May 17, assemblies focusing on building a sense of community and making new friends will be held at both Dexter and Brownville-Glen Park elementary schools, followed by brief building tours for the students who will be new to the schools in the fall.

“This will be their building next year, and we want to ease any fears they have about the change and for them to be excited—and comfortable—about coming here,” Dexter Elementary School Principal David Ramie said.

As part of the district’s strategic plan that the board of education adopted in February, beginning in the fall, Dexter Elementary School will serve all of the district’s students enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 2, and Brownville-Glen Park Elementary School will serve all students enrolled in grades 3-6. About 170 current Brownville students and 160 current Dexter students will change schools for the 2019-20 school year.

Currently, both schools serve pre-K through grade 6. The district has noted that the existing grade configuration has led to several challenges, such as unbalanced classroom sizes between the two elementary schools, which leads to differing educational experiences within the grade level, and few opportunities for teachers to collaborate with their grade-level peers outside of the school where they are based.

“We are excited about the opportunities this change will present for our staff to enhance their own learning and professional development as there will be more opportunities for staff to meet and share ideas,” Superintendent Barbara Case said.

“We are equally as excited about the opportunities for growth— academically and socially— this change will present for our students.”

The May 17 events will each last about 60 minutes total and feature motivational speaker Lecelle Providence, founder and CEO of I.M.P.A.C Performance Fitness Club in Watertown. Providence will give 15-20 minute presentations at each school. At Dexter, the assembly will bring together all of the districts’ existing prekindergarten through grade 1 students for a common experience that will incorporate music, movement and positive messages about change and friendship. Following the Dexter event, a similar presentation will take place at
Brownville for students in grades 2-5.

After each school’s assembly, sixth-grade students will take the younger students new to the buildings on a brief tour, highlighting each grade-level’s wing and such areas as the nurse’s office, school library and cafeteria. They will also have the opportunity to meet staff members during the tour, and since the schools already share some staff, such as the librarian and music teacher, they will recognize familiar faces in the fall. Bringing students to their new schools during the school year while the building is occupied by staff and students was an important consideration in holding the assemblies and tours now rather than waiting until summer, Brownville-Glen Park Elementary School Principal Joseph R. O’Donnell said.

Seeing an empty building in the summer would not have given students a true feel for what their future school is really like, he said.

And holding the event during the school day and providing busing takes the onus off of parents and guardians to carve out time for a visit and figure out transportation.

“We wanted to take that trip off the parents’ minds and handle it for them,” O’Donnell said.

General Brown School District news release