The New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) Fall Leadership Summit is an annual opportunity for school district leaders to connect with their colleagues, share best practices and attend presentations on important topics and issues currently facing educators. This year’s Summit, “Connecting with All Kids!” featured keynote addresses by national experts on leadership and education, but kicked off locally at Queensbury High School.
For two hours, educators from around the state toured the newly renovated high school. Attendees learned that the Legacy 2020 Capital Project was a seven-year endeavor, one that took three years of planning and discussion. Superintendent Dr. Doug Huntley and Robert Hendriks of the Educational Legacy Planning Group gave a brief presentation to attendees prior to the tour. They explained that from the first conversation in November of 2012, having the right framework for the project was always the priority.
“That was one thing that Queensbury understood,” said Hendriks. “We had to talk about practice before we could talk about physical space. This district was far thinking enough to be okay with a seven year process. You can’t rush these things. There’s no substitute for time; there’s no substitute for having these discussions and planting these seeds.”
“We desperately wanted to move away from a typical high school setting of 1960s vintage,” added Dr. Huntley. “Teachers teaching in a collaborative methodology was a big change and shift for us. This project would not have happened without the changes in the classroom.”
Dr. Huntley encouraged his fellow education leaders to make a project like Legacy 2020 a community-centered project, explaining how community summits and forums were held as part of the planning process before construction began. What resulted was a significant transformation of Queensbury High School over a period of two years of construction.
After the presentation, attendees toured the building, including Tier 3 Classrooms and Extended Learning areas, the new Fine and Performing Arts wing, and the new Innovation Spaces.
“I was inspired before I showed up and I’m certainly inspired as I’m walking through right now,” said Joshua Anisansel, the Director of Secondary ELA and K-12 ENL for the Farmingdale Union Free School District. “It’s not just thinking about the physical space, but the long-term strategic planning and how those are integrated and accounted for in the process.”
“I am inspired because it is really innovative,” added Jennifer Spring, the Cohoes City School District Superintendent. “It’s not a typical high school in any way, shape or form. This facility will now allow for all of those 21st century skills, all of the collaboration. It’s awe-inspiring, it really is.”
Dr. Huntley explained that in each of the new spaces, the form is now following the function. A seven-year project resulted in not only renovated classrooms, but a true change in teaching practices.
“Students are learning in ways that will prepare them for the future,” said Dr. Huntley. “It is so rewarding to see high school kids actively engaged in their learning.”