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New opportunities abound at Green Island for the 2021-22 school year

Students smile outside schoolA new distance-learning program, new learning pods and more are highlighting the start of the 2021-22 school year in the Green Island Union Free School District.

Students returned on September 7 to the Heatly School, one of the region's only preK-12 school buildings.

The start of the year brought several changes to programming to better prepare the district’s scholars for work and higher education, as well as a slight increase in enrollment – 280 students now attend programing in grades PreK through 12.

“We are excited to have so many opportunities for our students and for an increase in scholars,” said Superintendent Kim Ross.

Super Ross greets studentsAmong the big changes implemented this year is the launch of a distance learning program that will allow students in grades 9-12 to take classes they might not otherwise be able to take.

Offerings include criminal justice, cartooning and animation, American politics, computer application and social problems, as well as others. Assistant District Superintendent Tiffany Dzembo said that a number of school districts in conjunction with Capital Region BOCES are making their classes available to Green Island through distance learning and in return, Green Island is offering a number of classes to those districts.

Also new for the 2021-22 school year is the district’s opening Career and Technical School offerings to students.

KindergartenSeveral students have enrolled in the Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School and will be taking classes that prepare them for careers in the skilled trades, higher learning or a combination of both.

“The focus has been increasing offerings to focus directly on the wants and needs of our individual learners and through partnerships with BOCES and others, we are able to accomplish that,” Dzembo said.

At the same time, Ross said the district is continuing to offer its College in the High School program which allows students to earn college credits while still juniors and seniors.

“These courses give our students a chance to not only earn college credits, but challenge themselves with college-level courses that further prepare them for higher learning,” said Ross.

In the elementary level, Ross said the district has created learning pods in which grades levels are physically clustered next to each other, allowing faculty to better exchange ideas and learning and to share their lessons while students benefit from increased group learning and sharing.

Another change for the coming school year Ross highlighted is Green Island’s taking total control of the PreK programming. Previously, it was a shared initiative with an outside entity.

By taking full control, Ross said school officials are able to launch a new literacy initiative and take other steps to reach the youngest of the learnings in the district.

“From the youngest to our oldest scholars, we are implementing initiatives that will make them even more college and career ready. I am truly excited for what the future holds,” Ross said.