RSES Students Engage in Raider Wednesdays

RSES Students Engage in Raider Wednesdays
Posted on 10/26/2020

RSES is making the most of its hybrid learning schedule by inviting students into school for Raider Wednesdays, a day devoted to enhancing school climate, increasing student engagement, and boosting academic skills.

At the start of the school year, staff extended an invitation to students they believed would benefit most from the program, which began in late September. About 100 students in grades 4-6 are participating in leadership development, special area coursework, and academically-focused programming led by community partners.

“At each grade level, we identified some global needs across the board where we could focus our efforts and build capacity,” RSES Principal Mike Faustino said. “The feedback from students and parents has been overwhelmingly positive. They are really engaged in the process.”

Raider Wednesdays builds upon a school-wide initiative launched last year to expand our after school student programming and build strategic community partnerships as one way to increase student engagement and attendance. The school successfully hosted 10 different after school clubs, each with a different focus and held on a different day of the week, before the pandemic closed schools. With afterschool programming on hold this year, Faustino said the Raider Wednesday initiative is a way to continue those student engagement efforts during the hybrid learning phase while maintaining health and safety protocols.

“For a lot of kids, it’s a nice break to be engaged in something outside of academics while they’re at school, to have outlets to connect with each other around timely topics,” Faustino said.

Participating students have a full school day on Wednesdays, including a morning Restorative Circle to practice positive behavior techniques and morning sessions focused on academic support in ELA, Math and Writing. The day also includes physical education, art, music, library, and a personal safety curriculum called “Think First, Stay Safe,” aimed at raising awareness of child victimization.

The remainder of the day includes sessions with community partners, such as leadership consultant Otis Jennings, the Canastota Public Library, and the Great Swamp Conservancy. Enrichment-style lessons are tied into key academic focus areas – 4th grade social studies, 5th grade science, and 6th grade research and exploration for example – to help reinforce the curriculum through a hands-on, whole child approach. Building partnerships was one of the goals of RSES’s school improvement plan, and the building leadership team decided to focus more heavily on local partnerships to help students become better connected to the Canastota community.

RSES is set to return to a five day a week instructional schedule in the very near future, but the school is committed to continuing these programs throughout the week. 

“We are fiercely committed to community-based programming and we will find creative ways to maintain this positive momentum,” Faustino said.