The Peekskill City School District is one of forty-two school districts and charter schools and eight consortia to receive a New York State grant award for the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) 3 Program. The District has been awarded $366,125 of the total $24.2 million released by the NYS Education Department.
Peekskill’s most recent award comes only weeks after the District received a grant from the NYS Education Department for their Peekskill Priority Pre-K Program (4P’s Program). The 4P’s program will receive over $170,000 for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year and over $300,000 for the program’s following year.
"We are thrilled that our District has received this substantial award,” said Peekskill Superintendent Dr. Larry Licopoli. “With this most recent grant, in addition to the money we received to fund our enhanced Pre-K program, our District will be able to quickly move toward our goal of maintaining a school system in which student learning is the main focus.”
According to the grant’s guidelines, the purpose of New York State’s STLE 3 grant is to help school districts who have at least a 25 percent low-income student population to develop a “comprehensive approach to recruitment, development, support, retention and equitable distribution of effective teachers and school leaders as part of their implementation of an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan.”
Peekskill’s award will be used to support the District’s Career Ladder and offer professional learning opportunities for faculty and administration with the goal of producing thoughtful, highly effective educators and leaders. These individuals will then mentor new and struggling professionals within the Peekskill school system.
"Through the support provided by the STLE 3 grant our District will be able to provide professional development assistance and support to our participating teachers and school leaders," said Peekskill Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Joseph Mosey. "In turn, these individuals will bring their wealth of new knowledge back into our buildings to share with their colleagues, and ultimately, our students will be the ones who benefit."
A large part of Peekskill’s grant-funded professional development programs will focus on increasing student literacy. All participating teachers in grades Pre-K through eighth will be enrolled in either Early Literacy Training or the Literacy Collaborative Program at Lesley University, while participating secondary school teachers will receive professional development in Teaching Reading in the Content Areas (TRICA). Some will also receive bilingual extensions through other institutions.
In addition to focusing on the professional development of teachers and student literacy, grant funds will also be used to ensure Peekskill’s building principals are prepared to help faculty improve their teaching skills. To accomplish this, participating principals will be trained with Teachscape Reflect, which is a complete observation and evaluation management system that will help Peekskill administration provide feedback to teachers.
"This is about supporting our educators and helping our students succeed," said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. in a press release announcing the STLE 3 award recipients. "Districts across the state are already using the STLE grant to successfully develop and support effective educators. Research shows the best way to help students succeed is to have effective teachers and principals in every school building. The STLE grants are an important part of our implementation of the higher standards we’ve set for our students. The grants will help more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers."
The Peekskill City School District has indicated that they will sustain the programs brought in by the STLE 3 grant after the award period has expired. Those faculty members and administrators trained in the initial year during the award period will be certified to provide in-house training to co-workers in the following years, therefore the costs to the District will be minimal and will include only faculty/administer stipends and the Teachscape Reflect licensing fee. The District anticipates these costs will be offset by lower professional turnover rates, greater employee satisfaction and the reduction of additional professional development costs.
The District plans to roll out their STLE 3 grant plan in March 2014 and will start recruitment for the grant’s newly created positions at this time.
“We are looking forward to taking the next steps involved in enhancing our District,” Licopoli said. “I believe the initiatives afforded to us by this grant will help ensure the improvement of our District’s instructional practices while also reinforcing the District’s culture of clear and high expectations for our students and staff.”