Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District

Episode 37 - Summer Programming Plans with Dr. Marie Palano

May 07, 2021 Seneca Valley School District Season 1 Episode 37
Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District
Episode 37 - Summer Programming Plans with Dr. Marie Palano
Show Notes Transcript

Summer Programming Plans with Dr. Marie Palano

Dr. Marie Palano, Seneca Valley Analytics and Federal Programs Director
Dr. Marie Palano has been an administrator in the Seneca Valley School District since 2011, serving as assistant principal and principal before moving to her current role of Director of Analytics and Federal Programs. Dr. Palano uses meaningful data to develop and implement initiatives connected to the district's goals. In addition, Dr. Palano oversees federal programming (Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV) for the district.


  • How the District is prioritizing realistic expectations for student learning during COVID-19
  • How the District plans to enhance academic opportunities to meet students where they are as opposed to where they “should be” 
  • How student learning has evolved throughout the pandemic  

 File Name: Voices E37 Marie Palano.mp3

File Length: 00:10:47

FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)


00:00:02:23 - 00:00:07:25

Intro: Welcome to Voices, a podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District. 


00:00:10:20 - 00:00:18:14

Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff today we're talking with Dr. Marie Palano, director of analytics and federal programs. Thanks for joining us. 


00:00:19:03 - 00:00:19:26

Marie Palano: Hello there. 


00:00:20:06 - 00:00:39:07

Jeff Krakoff: So, you know, everyone knows it's been an odd year where we're still in the middle. We're coming at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. But first question, how is the district been prioritizing expectations, realistic expectations for students during the pandemic? 


00:00:40:09 - 00:01:18:04

Marie Palano: Yeah, so this year has been a very difficult year for so many people and for a wide variety of reasons. The pandemic has certainly impacted our school community and our families in many different ways. But despite all of these challenges, the Seneca Valley mission statement remains a gentle reminder of our expectations as a public school district. I won't read the entire statement for our listeners, but I would like to point out or highlight just a few of the key words and phrases that do frame our expectations. 


00:01:18:27 - 00:01:52:08

Marie Palano: So in our district mission, we do speak directly to the collaboration with family and community and forever it has been a priority of our school district to maintain family and parent engagement. Due to the pandemic, of course, I would say that the frequency of communication, the type of communication has certainly increased not only from the district to the parents and guardians, but also from the parents and guardians to the district. 


00:01:52:19 - 00:02:22:24

Marie Palano: And so this increased opportunity to communicate has certainly been very beneficial in how we shape our expectations. So we are able to share with parents and families our expectations. But they have also been able to communicate with us what their expectations are for us as a school district. We've been able to engage with parents virtually fully, which wasn't necessarily the status quo in years prior. 


00:02:23:05 - 00:02:53:10

Marie Palano: So work issues or other conflicts that we typically would be working around, the utilization of technology has given us more access, I think, to parents and families so that we can collectively work together to really determine what our realistic expectations are for student learning. So we continue to develop these. We continue to modify these based on our current situations and the circumstances at that particular time. 


00:02:54:05 - 00:02:55:27

Marie Palano: OK, go ahead. 


00:02:56:04 - 00:03:07:22

Jeff Krakoff: I'm just wondering, you mentioned having discussions with parents to see what their expectations are that anything in particular come to mind that you're hearing more often than not from parents? 


00:03:09:03 - 00:03:50:20

Marie Palano: I think it's the ability to be flexible. So our technology has granted us the ability to be more flexible, whether we have students that are learning in person or whether we have students that are learning remotely. We have been able to provide education. We have maintained access to the core curriculum through new technology tools. So I think that in terms of expectations from parents to the school district really, truly is the ability to listen and to learn, because our expectations are certainly shaped by our personal experiences and our professional experiences. 


00:03:51:07 - 00:04:09:10

Marie Palano: So keeping the way of communication open to not only share communication, but receive it so that we can learn from other people what their experiences are, so that we can certainly make adjustments and modifications to provide the highest quality of education possible. 


00:04:09:18 - 00:04:31:27

Jeff Krakoff: OK, makes sense. So I don't think I can go a week without watching the news and hearing the term learning gap. Right. I know the data is now in there because the school year isn't over yet, but what's the district going to do to enhance and provide opportunities for students to to meet students, maybe more where they are rather than where they should be? 


00:04:33:01 - 00:05:10:01

Marie Palano: Yeah, so we are consistently utilizing student learning data. We are focusing on our essential standards, which are our priority standards that go beyond a single grade level or content area. And we are using this information to make instructional decisions for students who are at risk of not meeting an end of year learning target or do not have the evidence of proficiency at this particular time. We are utilizing Esser II funds and Esser II funds are just one time funds that school districts have been provided to respond to. 


00:05:10:03 - 00:05:46:12

Marie Palano: COVID-19 and its impacts, so we will utilize these funds to develop and implement new summer programming for students who need time beyond the school year to engage with the core content. So it's not unusual for a student to have their learning outcomes affected due to summer vacation. However, with the impact of the pandemic, we know that students might have a greater need for academic support, specifically in those core content areas such as reading and math. 


00:05:46:27 - 00:06:22:17

Marie Palano: So these Esser II funds will be applied to these newly designed summer programs for students who need that additional time. So we've collaborated as an educational team, as an entity, and we've gathered student learning data that will be applied to the qualification process for this year, summer camps that will be funded through Esser. The camps will run in our District K through 12. We do plan to provide district transportation free of charge, of course, for any family that chooses to utilize the district transportation. 


00:06:23:03 - 00:06:46:15

Marie Palano: And also we will be providing or extending our free breakfast and lunch programs throughout our summer programming. So we anticipate that each one of these programs from a K-12 perspective will focus, of course, on developing academic skills as well as developing age appropriate social and emotional competencies. 


00:06:47:03 - 00:07:02:24

Jeff Krakoff: Sounds like a great opportunity, right, to have some summer involvement. But as for now, starting to get closer to the end of this school year, how have you how is the district seen student learning evolving throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic? 


00:07:03:15 - 00:07:34:23

Marie Palano: Yes, that's a great question. So there is no one assessment, I don't believe that will fully capture all that students have learned throughout this pandemic. Our job has not changed in the sense that it is our responsibility to meet students where they are and to provide academic, social and emotional support, to provide interventions, to provide opportunities for enrichment based on how we know our students as individuals. 


00:07:35:23 - 00:08:27:20

Marie Palano: So throughout the pandemic, everyone has been challenged to think about things differently. We're thinking about instruction differently. We're thinking about student learning differently, assessments, attendance, the role of technology. This is absolutely been our challenge. So there is this notion that learning loss exists, but perhaps we need to look at it from the lens of what has been gained throughout this time period. Our students have been exposed to and they have learned so much more than just the core content, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, different ways to approach specific problems, I think as we continue to learn whether it be in person or remotely during this pandemic. 


00:08:28:18 - 00:09:03:07

Marie Palano: Overall, we've gained a lot of critical thinking skills that go beyond any concept that is taught in one particular content area. These children really have persevered. They showed resiliency. The staff has been resilient. They have been adaptive and made changes to meet the needs of these families and community members. So from what have we gained, we've gained increases in communication and we have absolutely gained problem-solving and critical thinking from all stakeholders. 


00:09:03:21 - 00:09:24:21

Jeff Krakoff: That's great to hear that there actually is a silver lining that some some critical skills are being learned that may not have been, if not for the pandemic. So if I'm the parent of a student and they are at risk of not being where they need to be, will the district be notifying have they already notified parents yet? 


00:09:25:15 - 00:09:57:02

Marie Palano: Yeah. So I think that depends. It depends on the grade level of the student and the building in which the student is currently attending and of course, the mode of instruction that the student is currently receiving. So we are consistently as a school district, administrators, teachers alike, we are consistently reviewing student learning data and making the determination as to whether or not a student would benefit from time beyond the school year to participate in some of these newly designed summer programs. 


00:09:57:15 - 00:10:28:04

Marie Palano: Our typical summer programming, of course, will still be offered for students with special needs for our English as a second language students. But in addition to that, we, of course, are offering programming that will focus potentially on students who just need that time. So if you've not yet received communication, you may receive communication because like I said, we do continue to review all of that student learning data to ensure that opportunity is there for students who need that time. 


00:10:28:20 - 00:10:38:24

Jeff Krakoff: All right. Lots of great information. Thank you so much, Dr. Marie Palano. It is great to have you and have a great rest of the school year and a great summer. 


00:10:39:07 - 00:10:40:14

Marie Palano: Thank you very much. 


00:10:40:25 - 00:10:41:21

Jeff Krakoff: All right. Take care. 


00:10:42:03 - 00:10:42:22

Marie Palano: You too.