Superintendent's Message

February 26, 2013
The Future Is Already Here


My first six months in the Babylon School District have provided me with many opportunities to observe excellent teachers using innovative strategies to reach all children, students fully engaged in their learning and administrators making sure our schools are safe and student-centered learning environments. At the same time, it has presented many new challenges, especially in the aftermath of such unprecedented events as Hurricane Sandy and the Newtown Tragedy. Both had created sharp learning curves for all of us, but they also provided an opportunity for our schools and community to come together for our common good.
 
I have celebrated with our many successful athletic teams, applauded the talents of our singers and musicians and supported the achievements of our young scientists, mathematicians, writers and student leaders. Most of all, I continue to be impressed by the commitment made by our parents and community to excellence in education.

The trustees on the Board of Education, the administrative team and all of our faculty and staff are just as committed to providing a world-class education to each and every student. I am continuously pondering the question: What should every Babylon high school graduate know, understand and be able to do when he or she leaves us and ventures into the world of college and careers? Traditionally, a senior will have read Shakespeare, solved quadratic equations, studied the United States Constitution and learned to interpret the Periodic Table among numerous other learning experiences. However, will mastering this content be enough?

 I have been working with the Board and administration to create a vision of what a Babylon classroom will look like in the year 2020. In less than two years from now, students will be taking their assessment tests on line. Gone will be the pen-and-paper exam. More and more textbooks will also become digital with interactive content. Imagine. With the biology text on her handheld reading device, a sophomore in 2020 will read digital text about mitosis and then watch a video of cells duplicating themselves. She will then write what she observes in her device notebook, electronically send it to the teacher and store it in her digital portfolio.

Picture this! Our students will no longer be carrying heavy textbooks around in backpacks. They will never miss an assignment because teachers will post everything on-line. Learning will be truly interactive with video, music, narrative and illustration all integrated into every lesson. Smartboards will allow students to display the work on their personal devices for the entire class to see. The library will be a true media center where students can do in-depth research on line and make use of a vast assortment of digital resources. Students will never miss class once they can participate via skype. 

Down the road Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social websites will be commonplace methods to disseminate school information. Pinterest and Instagram remind us that this media is ever-evolving, so what we use in 2020 may not even exist yet.

It’s not such a brave new world anymore. The technology is available and is being employed in school districts everywhere. When we consider how familiar our kids already are with iPhones, kindles, e-books and iPods, or how facile they are on Facebook or Twitter, this new classroom will not only be familiar to them, it will also be what is expected. We in Babylon have been identifying and methodically making the improvements in technology that will be needed.

Therefore, as our mission continues to be squarely focused on nurturing and enriching every student’s natural delight in learning, we must more than ever hone our 20-20 Vision. As the author William Gibson said, “The future is already here.” I look forward to continuing my work with everyone in our Babylon school community with this question foremost in my mind: “How can we best prepare our graduates for success in this rapidly changing world?”

Richard Rozakis
Superintendent, Babylon UFSD