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A Challenging Day in Sandwich ….

by Dr. Richard Canfield, Superintendent

Today, the district experienced a shortage of substitute teachers for coverage needed at the STEM Academy and the high school. The district maintains a list of available substitute teachers, all of whom have been approved to serve within the Sandwich Public Schools. Sandwich uses Aesop, a web-based attendance monitoring and automated substitute procurement system to help ensure that we have teachers available for all classes on every school day.

Given our recollection, today’s issue was an anomaly for the Sandwich Public Schools. The district did have a special training for teachers in project-based learning that contributed to today’s issue. Project-based teaching and learning reflects the best of 21st Century educational practice. When the district made the commitment to STEM education, we promised our parents that we would provide this teacher training.

We have offered this training during the past three summers to support the approach to teaching that is espoused by the district, and will offer it again this summer. The majority of our teachers were able to participate voluntarily in these summer trainings. Some teachers were not able to participate during the summer, due to other personal obligations. In agreement with our teachers’sassociation, the district offered today’s one-day training. At the conclusion of today’s training. one-hundred percent of STEM Academy and SHS will have been trained. The training provider, the Buck Institute for Educatoin,  is a California based organization, and the available dates for them to provide this training were limited, and the training is grant funded.

This is a time of year when the district does have some field trips that require some substitute coverage, as well as coverage for some teachers to participate in mandated special education meetings. This is also a time of year when many districts experience substitute shortages because some substitutes choose not to accept the assignment due to family events that occur in the later part of May and June.

The confluence of these circumstances, along with today’s training session, resulted in coverage needs that could not be met.

The administration, faculty and staff responded well and worked together to develop a plan for coverage, and to have students work with the lesson plans that their teachers had provided. The auditorium became a staging area to connect students with the adult that would be taking them to a classroom to work.

The majority of students in the Academy and the high school were unaffected as all of their teachers were present, while others could have missed more than one class. I am proud to say that there are no study halls at STEM Academy or Sandwich High School. While today presented unique challenges for parents and students, I am confident that students and parents will see and experience the benefits of this high quality teacher training.

Dr. Richard Canfield

Superintendent of Schools