By: Jolie Wasserman and Justin Boder
This school year has presented unexpected challenges. Challenges that certainly weren’t on the mind of the Briarcliff School District five years ago, when the one-to-one device initiative was implemented. Michael Haberman, President of the Briarcliff UFSD school board, attributes Briarcliff’s success to the board’s constant goal of staying current and even ahead of the technology learning curve. “We have been really successful compared to schools nearby,” noted Mr. Haberman. Mr. Haberman emphasizes that “the main goal all along is to obviously keep everyone safe and to have as much in-person school as possible.”
Online learning prepares students for the future, where working with colleagues in other parts of the world will not be out of the ordinary. However, it still does not serve as a substitute for in-person schooling. Briarcliff High School is not spacious enough to accommodate all of the student body every day, so the school board decided on the hybrid technique to best integrate a safe and conducive learning environment. The board’s approach towards the demands of elementary school students and high school students differed as “kids at Todd school are really learning how to be with other people: to not be with their parents.”
A main concern amongst students in the school district presents itself in the form of ever coveted snow days. When asked about this, Mr. Haberman said “I think students could smile and expect that we will still have snow days in the future.” He added that since many teachers have their own children who would be home from school, teachers would not have childcare if they were teaching students from home. “Our students work really, really hard and sometimes they need a break, and sometimes a snow day is a pleasant break.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Briarcliff School District has kept moving forward, working on becoming an Apple Certified school. The district’s diversity and inclusion initiative “has not fallen off of the agenda during Covid.” The committee led by Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Pellegrin is going to hold professional development days for teachers on such topics.
Looking towards the future, Mr. Haberman and the school board are “pushing to be as aggressive as we can be while keeping safety foremost in our mind.” Mr. Haberman explained that “The board and the administration, we are all united in that we believe school and quote on quote normal school is as important as possible.”