Representatives from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) visited Pinewood to learn about the work being done at Mohonasen for our new English as a New Language students (ENL).
Members from NYSED included Deputy Commissioners for P-12 Instruction Angelique Johnson-Dingle and Jason Harmon; Executive Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Diane Wynne; Associate Commissioner for the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages Elisa Alvares; and Associate in Education for the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages Laura Arpey.
The NYSED representatives first met with Superintendent Shannon Shine; Assistant Superintendent Laurel Logan-King; Pinewood Principal Jason Thompson; administrators Katie Lossi and Deborah Kavanaugh; and Pinewood librarian Jeanna Stapleton to discuss how the district rose to the challenge of welcoming 70 additional ENL students; essentially tripling the district’s population in the span of a few days.
“We found out overnight,” said Assistant Superintendent Logan-King to the NYSED representatives. “With many unanswered questions, we came together and figured it out. I couldn’t be more proud of the team here at Mohonasen,” she added.
Principal Thompson stressed that the success over the past few months has been due to the collective community effort. “We couldn’t have done any of this without the full support of our community and local organizations,” he said. “Because of their donations of both time and resources, the students were able to come to school.”
The group also discussed the current needs and challenges the district is facing and what Mohonasen hopes to be able to do for the students by collaborating with NYSED in the future.
During their visit to Pinewood, the members from NYSED visited Kate Winslow’s ENL classroom. This is Winslow’s 16th year teaching ENL and her ninth year teaching ENL at Mohonasen.
When Winslow was hired in 2015, she was hired to teach seven students across two buildings. In recent years she has taught anywhere from three to eight children per group lesson. Winslow now has a full-day class of 22 students.
Maria Horne, Winslow’s teaching assistant who is new this year, is fluent in Spanish and has been integral to the school assimilation process outside of the ENL classroom.
“We are beyond grateful Maria joined us this year. She is helping us forge even deeper connections with the students and their families,” said Winslow.
“I am truly inspired by what I’ve seen today,” said Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Instruction Johnson-Dingle. “It’s evident that Mrs. Winslow and Mrs. Horne and their students are breaking down barriers and fostering a community that celebrates diversity. This classroom is a testament to the power of education and the resilience of these incredible young people.”
“None of this would be possible without the all hands on deck approach of all those who work with our students every day,” said Pinewood librarian Jeanna Stapleton. “We’re learning how to bridge gaps every day whether it be through building with Lego bricks, writing or drawing.”
At the end of the visit, the group was joined by two students from Winslow’s class. The students shared their favorite part of the school day and what they wanted to be when they grew up. One student shared they would like to be a police officer, while the other said a fashion designer.
The visit showcased the incredible work being done at Mohonasen and served as a reminder that education, compassion, and determination can truly change lives.