In the midst of an upended world, with schools finding their feet with new distance learning plans in place, Alyce Misuraca is starting in as New Fairfield Public School’s new Curriculum Director. With a March 23 start date, Misuraca enters the scene as teachers are building online lesson plans to keep New Fairfield’s homebound children engaged in their education. Though the current situation is new territory, Misuraca is happy to be taking the district’s curriculum helm, saying that in general “I am very much looking forward to joining New Fairfield Public Schools. Teaching and learning is exciting work!”
In reflecting on her first week of work, Misuraca explained that her “onboarding has presented some challenges.” She says that, “It is my hope to integrate into zoom meetings to get ‘virtually’ acquainted with staff as we navigate our new normal. There has been a lot of behind the scenes skill building happening for teachers and support staff.” Buoyed by her new colleagues, she says “The time spent planning for distance learning is a testament to the commitment educators have to their students and families. Collaboration is thriving across the district and we are all growing in this process.”
Though this will be Misuraca’s first post that’s primarily focused on curriculum, she has experience in administration, most recently as the Principal of Bethlehem Elementary School, after holding an Assistant Principal position in Region 14. As a classroom teacher in elementary and middle grades for over 15 years, and a stint as a school-wide instructional coach, Misuraca says, “Having taught multiple grades, I have a strong background in both literacy and numeracy instruction. I understand the impact of effective teaching practices across the curriculum and between grade levels.” She went on to say, “For the past 6 years, I have been responsible for creating instructional shifts around mastery-based learning and transforming teaching practices in support of 21st century learning.” She’s excited to bring her expertise “Implementing many new initiatives that support skills including cognitive engagement and inquiry in the classroom” to New Fairfield.
Misuraca joins former coworker, Assistant Superintendent Julie Luby, who also came to New Fairfield from Region 14. Along with Luby, in her former positions, Misuraca was involved in curriculum development for math, science, and the humanities, plus lesson design and the creation of competencies to support performance-based learning. Given the close eye on underperforming standardized test scores in New Fairfield, she has the view that, “Student performance on state testing does provide some insight on effectiveness of curriculum and instruction within a district. This data can direct a district to take a closer look at curriculum implementation and instructional practices as areas needing improvement.” She went on to point out that, especially in light of the fast-paced changes in technology, “Content standards provide the framework, but how we actualize the content can make all the difference in student success….Inquiry and project-based learning can provide the opportunity for students to apply real world skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Experiences that allow for application of 21st century skills can help build well rounded success for students today.”
Given the high number of curriculum shifts in the district in recent years, Misuraca hopes to initially take the pulse and “hear from administrators and teachers to get a feel for what is working and what needs attention.” She believes that working together, “Systemic change happens with strong partnerships.” She is excited to work closely with the faculty to help students become, “flexible thinkers who persevere in problem solving and can provide the stamina to perform successfully on those benchmarks.”
Misuraca will be commuting from Prospect where she lives with her family, including an 11-year-old daughter and twin 9-year-old sons. In contemplating past roles, and readying for her new role in New Fairfield, she says, “As a teacher, I loved creating optimal learning environments for my students. As principal, I have worn many hats and I have always been drawn to what’s happening in the classroom. I am most excited to shift to a curriculum role to be able to focus on helping others use curriculum, instruction and assessment to create learning environments that are engaging and relevant to the students in that classroom.”
By Sarah Opdahl