The New Paltz Central School District (NPCSD) has appointed Llajaira Dessereau as the District’s first Supervisor of Elementary Instruction for Kindergarten through Grade 6. Dessereau’s role is to oversee approximately 65 teachers, ensuring that the District’s new Bridges math curriculum, a comprehensive K–5 curriculum that equips teachers to fully implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in a manner that is rigorous, coherent, engaging and accessible to all learners, is being used effectively in all three schools. In addition, she is charged with seeing that the curriculum’s implementation is being supported by professional development opportunities and dedicated curriculum specialists.
Dessereau started her work with the District on November 1 as an Academic Intervention Services (AIS) Math Specialist for students in Kindergarten through Grade 2 at Duzine Elementary School, where she helped to plan and support the rollout of the RTI (Respond to Intervention) math program by collaborating with classroom teachers about supports that could be provided to students and planning the use of the intervention component of the Bridges program that would be used to assess student needs in math. She began in her new role on November 18.
Previously, Dessereau taught elementary school students at Amber Charter Schools in East Harlem for nine years, before transitioning into a three-year stint as a staff developer, serving as an instructional coach, giving lesson-plan feedback to teachers, facilitating the implementation of curriculum, and analyzing data to help promote best instructional practices across grades.
Dessereau holds an Advanced Certificate for School Building Leader/School District Leader (SBL/SDL) from Touro College and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Scranton, where she focused on Psychology and Early Childhood Education. She also earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in Early Education.
Dessereau says that she had dreamed of working in education since early childhood. She fondly recalls her Grade 1 teacher who, she said, had a life-changing impact on her. “She cared about me and my family, watching me academically grow and making sure I had friends,” she said. When Dessereau enrolled in college, she initially pushed her childhood dream away in favor of accounting. However, she soon found her way back to her calling. She was thrilled, she said, to complete her student teaching requirements in her favorite teacher’s classroom at her former elementary school.
Dessereau said she views the students she serves as future leaders. Ensuring that those future leaders are kind — and are equipped to meet any challenges they may face — is critical, she said.
The most rewarding aspect of her new role, suggested Dessereau, is her ability to grow in the profession. Her professional responsibilities, she noted, have now been expanded to include Grade 6, thus planting a stake firmly in the middle school realm. Her top goal is to support the streamlining of efforts to implement the same instructional trends and curriculum across grades and across schools, while supporting the collection of data for assessment. “I don’t believe in overly assessing students; however, assessments are vital,” she explained. “I would like to see us addressing any trends or gaps that come up by using a data-driven, evidence-based approach. She is a fan of the District’s new Bridges elementary math curriculum, impressed with its depth of scope and wishes to use the resources in which the District has invested.
Dessereau said she appreciates how the NPCSD faculty and staff work to support the students holistically, noting that she has observed that “everyone from the grounds crew to the superintendent will do anything in their power to support the students.”
Superintendent of Schools Angela Urbina-Medina is excited to have Dessereau in her new role. “She brings both an analytical and creative approach to K-6 education at a critical time, when we are rolling out a new curriculum and the pandemic is simultaneously creating new obstacles to surmount,” she said. “Her ability to support staff and students and create metrics and benchmarks to meaningfully appraise the curriculum’s implementation without disturbing students’ social-emotional wellness is all exceptionally valuable.”