Rider’s ‘Opening Daze’ at Brandywine

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Amongst all the students going back to class at the Brandywine Public Schools, Gary Rider also had his first day of school Tuesday.
But Rider, superintendent of Brandywine Public Schools, wasn't learning in some of the newly renovated classrooms or teaching in them, he was behind the scenes making sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.
All of the Brandywine buildings were ready to receive new and returning students Tuesday, despite still being under construction in many areas, due to the efforts of the construction crews and custodial staff, Rider said.
Some things were out of Rider's and the custodial staff's hands Tuesday morning, like the results of the tests on the schools' water supply, which was switched from well water to a municipal water source over the summer.
Rider received the results at 8:22 a.m. Tuesday morning, just minutes before classes were scheduled to begin. The water was safe to drink.
Students at the schools have been unable to drink water from the school fountains for the past year and a half due to contamination caused by eroding pipes, Rider said.
Rider was at Brandywine Junior/Senior High School Tuesday morning to witness the first student taking a drink from a fountain. The student was tenth-grader Vanessa Zehrung, and Rider commemorated the event by taking a picture with his digital camera.
Tuesday night, Rider gave his report on the state of the district to the Brandywine Board of Education.
Rider told the board about the Administrative Team Advance over the summer to establish their Standards of Practice for the coming school year.
The advance was a retreat for the administrative staff, but Rider said he doesn't like the term retreat. "I'd like to think we don't retreat from problems," he said.
Rider presented the board with a slideshow titled, "Opening Daze," about the first day of school in the district.
After his presentation, Rider handed out foam stress balls, in the shape of construction hats, to board members that read "Building on tradition," in reference to the on-going construction.
Rider has plans to make big changes in the district in the coming months. The ground work for one of these changes was laid last week, before classes started.
Last Wednesday and Thursday, Rider held a teacher's workshop to get everyone prepared for the coming school year.
Activities at the workshop included team-building exercises and dialogues about curriculum.
Rider wants to make sure all teachers in the district are on the same page and to achieve this, he wants to sync up, or align all the teachers.
This horizontal and vertical alignment across the district will add a sense of cohesiveness to the curriculum, Rider said.
Some teachers were a little pressed for time as far as preparing for Tuesday went. Construction kept a few teachers from getting into their rooms up until Tuesday morning.
Rider said he couldn't have done any of this by himself. He thanks the community for all their support and said what he did is nothing compared to the work of the community.