Hynes reflects on past, looks toward future in Port’s State of the District address

Hynes reflects on past, looks toward future in Port’s State of the District address
Port Washington Superintendent Michael Hynes discussed the future of the school district last week. (Screencap by Rose Weldon)

Port Washington School Superintendent Michael Hynes said restructuring the district’s curriculum, instruction and assessment office and more oversight on teaching and learning are some of the district’s goals.

Hynes, who was hired as superintendent in 2019, reflected on the district’s past, present and future accomplishments last week during the State of the District presentation. When Hynes came to the district three years ago, he introduced a 100-day plan aimed to build relationships with community stakeholders and conduct an organizational review and analysis of the district.

Hynes said common suggestions he heard from parents, teachers, staff and students included more summer camps, an increased focus on career technical education and other plans to provide for students outside of college, keeping in touch with alumni, updates to livestreaming Board of Education meetings and more mental health resources.

Additionally, funds have been allocated over the past few years to hire new elementary school teachers and security guards along with $1.9 million included in the proposed 2020-21 budget to repair the roof at Salem Elementary School and a section of Schreiber High’s as well.

Hynes said an overwhelming majority of feedback from stakeholders has been addressed, including a technology initiative that provided each student in the district with either an iPad or Chromebook. The district’s utilization of technological resources, he said, had it well-prepared for the coronavirus pandemic when classes were forced to be held remotely.

“What happened over the past two years … This is a silver lining because, now, we are a one-to-one school district from a technology standpoint,” Hynes said. “That’s very good for our students from an access standpoint.”

With the initial feedback from stakeholders, Hynes said, he and his administrative team began to develop a five-year strategic plan for the district, including what types of assessments should be featured. Part of the five-year plan includes the district’s Portrait of a Graduate Vision & Mission, which was adopted by the Board of Education in May.

Through the initiative, the district aims to have each student have experience with global citizenship, problem solving, life balance, social and emotional intelligence, communication skills, embracing diversity, a rigorous curriculum and learning how to be a creative and innovative thinker.

Hynes touted the work of the committee of well over 30 people who helped form the document, saying it was “an eclectic mix of our school community.”

“What we found over the x-amount of years is the same issues kept coming up again and again,” he said. “This is a way to eradicate them, to make sure that whatever things that kept coming up over and over again, we can now move forward with the solution.”

Last fall, Hynes said, the district continued to hire new personnel, including a director of the district’s English as a New Language program, a director of guidance, assistant principals at Manorhaven and Weber, and an assistant superintendent of business.

Hynes said this winter the district plans to re-establish curriculum maps, modernize the budget process, roll out the Portrait of a Graduate Vision & Mission and prepare to restructure the office of curriculum, instruction and assessment. Hynes announced that the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment is transitioning out of his position and will be replaced. 

“If our main focus right now is curriculum, instruction and assessment and that is one of the major things that gets us out of bed in the morning, we need to do something about it right now,” Hynes said. “There is no better time to do it than now. Everything is fresh, everything is new and we’re going to continue to grow the rest of this year and moving forward.”

Hynes said the “teachers are the lifeblood” of the school district and that the planned increase in oversight on their methods will support them inside of the classroom. The next steps for the district, Hynes said, include transitioning from the goals to fully implementing the strategic plan. Part of the plan featured in the 2022-23 school year includes more work in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion education, increasing graduation rates and developing exit interviews with seniors.

Hynes expressed his gratitude to the stakeholders for working with the district and providing input since he arrived. He said the next State of the District address will take place some time in the fall.

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