Portrait of a Graduate in Action: P.I.E. visit to Town Hall


Portrait of a Graduate in Action: P.I.E. visit to Town Hall

November 17, 2023

Portrait of a Graduate in Action is a regular feature that provides greater meaning and examples to the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Portrait of a Graduate, a representation of the district’s priority goals for teaching and learning to create graduates who are collaborators, communicators, creators and innovators, ethical and global citizens, resilient individuals, problem-solvers, and life-long learners.

Warwick Valley Central School District’s Partners in Education (P.I.E.) program depends on students, teachers and parents working together, as partners in education, to bridge home, school, and community in the classroom. This engagement and collaboration is at the core of the PIE philosophy, because it provides educators with an invaluable support system, and parents with a window into their child’s everyday learning environment.

PIE helps students begin to develop into creative problem solvers, critical thinkers, risk-takers, and to be socially responsible, lifelong learners. The district’s elementary PIE classes – kindergarten through fourth grade – take place at Sanfordville Elementary, although PIE is available to all Warwick Valley students by lottery enrollment each spring.

“One look at the design of our PIE program, and you can see just how closely its intentions align with our district’s aspirational model for Warwick grads, our Portrait of a Graduate,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Meghan McGourty. “For example, to become Ethical and Global Citizens, we have to understand how our communities work and the ways we can, and should, contribute.”

Ethical and Global Citizens consider the issues of the day through the lens of local, national, and global perspectives. They are community-minded and exhibit empathy, compassion and respect for others. They strive to explore and understand their own community, as well as communities and cultures outside of their own.

This week, the first and second grade PIE classes, led by teachers Taylyn Carter, Donna Denny and Lauren Hughes, took a special field trip to Warwick Town Hall for some hands-on learning about local government and civics. It was an exciting morning spent with town officials and employees from many town departments, including a visit to the Police Station. It was a perfect example of the unique opportunities in which PIE students are able to participate.

Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton was thrilled to see the Sanfordville contingent at Town Hall, and noted how engaged and excited they were throughout their visit. He shared with the students how he has always considered community engagement one of Warwick’s great strengths.

“I think the fact that we’re encouraging younger and younger people to understand the process and encourage them to be in it, is really an investment in the future of Warwick,” said Supervisor Sweeton.

Warwick Village Trustees Carly Foster and Mary Collura joined Supervisor Sweeton to talk to the students. They talked about their responsibilities and the ways that the students can get involved and affect change to Warwick policies.

“The students had written persuasive essays about things they hope to change in Warwick, and brought them along to present to the trustees,” said Ms. Carter. “The ideas ranged from putting recycling bins on Main Street and Band Aid boxes in the park, to adding bike lanes, and a town bus for everyone.”

Ms. Foster said that she and her fellow trustees were as glad to accept the students’ policy ideas as the students seemed excited to have them considered.

“One of the things we talked with the children about is how important it is for people to be involved in local government,” said Ms. Foster. “We’re going to propose that we have a discussion agenda item for the Village Board on Monday, so that we can talk about their ideas and see what we can do with them.”

Ms. Collura agreed that it was great to see the perspective of the Warwick students represented in their thoughtful essays.

“We spoke to the kids about how it’s this level of local government where they can really have an influence and see the change they want,” she said. “I want them to know that we are approachable.”

Stella Bisla, one of the visiting PIE students, enjoyed the time her group spent with the Town Clerk, learning about local elections and ballots, and about casting your vote. The students used sample ballots to cast votes in two mock elections. One vote was for a classroom mascot – puppy defeated contenders including tree frog and giraffe – and another vote was held to determine favorite cookie of the day.

Candidates: Oreo and chocolate chip. Oreo in a landslide!

“The mascot election tied into related lessons we’ve worked on in the classroom,” said Ms. Carter. “Today’s field trip ties into things we’ve been learning about elections and campaigns. We even created campaign posters for the candidates.”

“I also really liked seeing the trucks up close and hearing about what they do to help us during bad weather,” Stella said about the presentation by members of the Department of Public Works. With an enormous plow pulled right up in front of Town Hall, members of the DPW talked about the many very important services (some you see and some you don’t) that the DPW provides the community.

Another critical department, the Police Station, was a favorite stop for many of the students, including Addie Gallo. A special thank you to Sanfordville School Resource Officer Katie Oresto for her help in coordinating the visit to the Police Station.

“We got to see one of the police cars up close, and then we saw the room where they keep all their electric shocky (sic) tools,” Addie said. “And, it was also really fun to vote for our classroom mascot.” 

More overlap of PIE and Portrait of a Graduate concepts is evident in the importance PIE places on cooperative learning. The idea behind cooperative learning is that all students are capable of understanding, learning and performing leadership tasks, and that it is important for them to learn to work with other students of varying abilities and interests. By promoting peer intervention and cooperation, cooperative learning helps develop the Portrait of a Graduate qualities of being a Communicator and Collaborator.

Collaborators foster strong group dynamics by their openness to varied opinions. They solicit suggestions from others, and value their input when forming ideas and solving problems. Communicators connect with people both like and unlike them. They have a capacity to “get” big ideas and then make understandable and relatable for different audiences.


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