Jon LaRochester, in his first academic year as the principal of Islip High School, shared his goals with the school community at Tuesday’s board of education meeting at the high school.
“For six months, we have been putting together a three-to-five-year plan,” LaRochester said, adding that data reinforcing those goals was presented to the board at a previous meeting, behind closed doors. “There is a lot of work that we have started to put together.”
LaRochester said the primary goal of the comprehensive plan is better preparing high school students for higher education, coming from the school district.
“Going through some of the metrics and identifying, I think that the part that would spark some conversation has to do with how colleges and universities view students from Islip,” LaRochester added. “When they just show up as a test number or test score, a GPA and a CED number, and looking at some of those indices and saying, ‘well, how do we increase our mastery in mathematics? Do we offer labs in certain classes?’”
LaRochester made use of the phrase “elevating your academic profile” as a school district when colleges and universities view a student’s particular profile from this particular school.
Although the high school offers 18 AP courses in various subjects, only a portion of them are considered accredited college-level courses. LaRochester said that increasing the amount of courses that not only grant students more opportunity in terms of a university’s excellence, but also promoting challenging feats for students is a crucial aspect of the comprehensive plan.
“I have some experience in conducting a study that more than 200 universities and colleges surveyed their process, their procedures and looking at how valuable regent scores, AP, and the depth of a student’s transcript,” he said. “For example, an 85 in an AP class is significantly better than a 95 in a non-AP class. The research shows that the rigor of that environment is better for kids.”
The first line of order, he explained, is to accomplish this goal is forming committees to begin to explore the plans.The second highlighted goal he expanded upon was supported increased leadership opportunities for students, featuring “the culture of yes.”
“I want kids to have experiences with research, with public speaking, with personal finance... we’re looking at all those things, and we’re trying to make sure that there is real leadership, not kids just with titles,” LaRochester explained. “That is that culture of ‘yes.’ I will show up, but [the students] are planning the whole thing.”
Lastly, LaRochester touched on the importance of educating students in the realm of technology. On the other side of that coin, however, is the district being mindful of their part in utilizing the best technology for their web presence and social media activity.
“Parents of students born in 2006: Those children have never known a world that is not 1080p, Bluetooth, hi-def... they have never used a CD,” he said. “They are digital everything — instant gratification. At some point, those kids are going to be juniors and seniors in high school, and the letter getting backpacked home is not how they consume information. As school districts, we need to be able to maintain traditional communication with letters and e-mails and connect that, but we need a giant social media platform. There are parents who don’t want to click 17 times. We are evaluating our links and finding dead links.”
LaRochester said all the data and ins and outs of the plan were not able to be presented at the board meeting because of time constraints. The Islip Bulletin will be reporting more intricate aspects of the drawn-out three-to-five-year plan in coming weeks