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Five Questions With New Superintendent Eric Byrne

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y.—With the new school year just two weeks away, The Daily Chappaqua sat down with one of the newest school administrators, Eric Byrne, to ask him five questions. Byrne was formerly the principal at Roaring Brook Elementary School before being promoted to his position as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the Chappaqua Central School District.

  1. 1. You started at your position on July 1 but now the school year is starting, What are you looking forward to with that?

“Certainly at this point, there’s so much work we’ve been doing over the summer to prepare for the start of school. We’ve had a tremendous number of teachers working on really important projects, curriculum development and staff development, doing some very powerful work looking at some ways to better differentiate instruction and meet the individual needs of kids so looking forward to the implementation phase when school starts.”

  1. 2. What are some things that you’re changing or doing differently with the curriculum?

“It’s not so much changing from what was done in the past but there are new mandates and new things happening at the state and federal level. For example, yesterday we had a group of fifth grade math teachers from the middle schools working with one of our staff developers, Ginger Hamlin and their focus of their work was taking the current math curriculum and the new common core standards, which are national standards which have been adopted by the state of New York and we’re looking to align our curriculum and our instruction with these rigorous standards which are quite good.  We’ve done that in mathematics this summer from K to about fifth grade. We’ve done that in literacy and we’ll continue that work as we go forward. That’s a big piece of the work ahead is the implementation of the common core.”

Another big piece is the new evaluation system of teachers and principals. We’ve been working to design a system for evaluations that meets the state regulations but also makes sense for Chappaqua and builds on the strengths that exist here. And as part of that, one of my big tasks going forward will be the development of local performance assessments. That’s part of the requirement. Teachers and principals will be measured. Part of their evaluation is measurement of student performance and so we’ll be kicking it off very soon and developing assessments across all areas, across all levels that are consistent with our board of education’s strategic quest for learning and consistent with the common core standards, New York state curriculum and our instructional practices in Chappaqua which are outstanding.

  1. 3. How much do state test scores effect the evaluations?

“The way the evaluation system is working, its call the APPR, Annual Professional Performance Review, and essentially 60 percent of the evaluation is based on local measures. It’s going to be looking at, within that 60 percent will be observations of teachers, inquiry projects that teachers do based on classroom work and classroom research and then in the 40 percent, 20 percent of that 40 is the local developed assessments and the other 20 is the state exams. So for example, the ELA for the third through eighth grade kids and the state math for the third through eighth grade kids and then the Regents exams in the high school subjects.

  1. 4. Can you just clarify for people what your position is?

“As Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, the areas of my work are essentially around the articulation and management of the curriculum, supporting the instructional programs, working with teachers and administrators to implement a rigorous curriculum and to design and bring in and find opportunities outside for professional development that supports those areas. Additionally, I will be doing some work with leadership in terms of the principals as it relates to curriculum and instruction.”

  1. 5. How do you like your new position? How’s it going?

“It’s been great. I really have great respect for our superintendent, Lyn McKay and I’m thrilled to working with her. Our board of education is an outstanding group of dedicated community volunteers who are really committed to making Chappaqua the best school district. There’s a terrific support staff here that’s helping me get to know the way things work here at the district office having been in a different building for a long time. We have an amazing group of teachers and administrators to work with and certainly in a community like us, we’ve got wonderful families and students and it really makes it a pleasure to do this work. I’ve enjoyed the first few weeks of summer, it’s been pretty busy but I really enjoy the work.”

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