Like other school districts, Herricks Public Schools has an orientation program for new teachers. Let no one say Herricks isn’t unique. Teachers weren’t in a classroom. Instead, the new staff was welcomed with a three-day orientation program that challenged their teamwork, collaboration and support for one another through a high elements obstacle course.
Teachers, administrators and faculty members navigated three challenge courses in the Herricks High School courtyard. While safely harnessed in, participants were suspended at the height of a telephone pole, where they employed balance and hand-eye coordination skills to walk a tightrope. Attendees also tackled a ground-level course with a partner by climbing over logs and helping the other reach the top of the obstacle.
The outdoor learning area was built by the company Visionary Adventure, who were on-site to securely suit up and instruct staff members through the vertical playpens.
“As I’m watching the staff work together, I think this experience has made me trust and rely on my colleagues when I need it,” said Malori Steinhauer, a family and consumer science teacher at the middle school.
“This experience has boosted my confidence level to push my students forward,” said Lauren Zubovic, who teaches the fourth grade at Searingtown School. “If they can’t do something or say they can’t, I’ll put them in the right mindset to remind them that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.”
Alongside new staff members and administrators, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fino Celano encouraged participants with cheers, applause and high-fives as they completed the courses.
“While developing our staff members’ connections with one another, the elements course also enhanced their ability to empathize and relate to how many students feel when they are challenged and put outside their comfort zones,” he said.
In addition to the physical challenge activities, the orientation provided sessions and presentations that focused on technology use, professional development opportunities, pupil personnel services and special education, business office procedures and the Annual Professional Performance Review process. Celano, along with members of the Board of Education, administration, Herricks Teachers Association and Parent Teacher Associations, greeted the new staff members with welcoming remarks. Bus tours familiarized attendees with the district’s layout, and individual school building orientations acclimated them to their assigned locations. “It was wonderful to see such an enthusiastic and dedicated group of individuals,” Celano said. “We’re looking forward to a successful school year.”
—Submitted by the Herricks Public Schools