October 23, 2021

CSD’s new head of curriculum says effects of pandemic a focus of concern

Children are resilient, but with remote learning, separation from teachers and peers during the coronavirus pandemic, the Cortland school district’s next curriculum director wants to focus on their social and emotional needs.

“Children might need more mental health support, there might be more gaps instructionally,” said Amanda Viel, the new director of curriculum and instruction with the Cortland Enlarged City School District.

Viel, the principal at Millard Hawk Elementary School in Central Square, was named the next director March 23 after Jeff Craig, who held the position in Cortland since 2015, announced his retirement earlier this year, Superintendent Robert Edwards said.

“I’ve been grateful for his work and support,” Edwards said. “He’s been a true professional.”

Edwards said Viel was chosen from among 31 applicants because her background fit well with the position.

“Dr. Viel was clearly a very good fit for the district,” he said.

Viel began her career in education in 2006 as a first-grade teacher in the Binghamton City School District, she said.

Following her completion of her certificate of advanced study in educational leadership from Binghamton University, Viel interned at Truxton Elementary School as the principal from July to December 2010.

The district approved of her work and she was hired on full-time to be the principal.

From there, she would take on roles as an elementary school principal in the Liverpool Central School District, the assistant director for instruction at the Mohawk Regional Information Center before becoming the principal for Millard Hawk Elementary School in 2016.

“I’m just so excited to learn hand in hand and to continue on the journey they’re already on,” she said.

Her new role will have her overseeing all items curriculum related, including:

  • Meeting state standards.
  • Focusing on student achievement.
  • Working on instructional strategies.
  • Training staff.
  • Overseeing teacher teams.

“Everything I do impacts our administrative team and impacts the classroom,” she said.

Planning for curriculum, especially during the pandemic, has revolved around what model of teaching the district is using, Viel said. For districts like Cortland, which has been in-person this year, not much has changed except for longterm planning.

“You can’t really plan today what’s going to be going on next December,” she said.

In her new role, she said she isn’t looking to bring any immediate changes. Rather, she wants to learn from staff about the district, what’s working well and what isn’t, before making any changes.

One area she especially likes is the teacher teams, where teachers work together on their curricula and make plans for how to best teach students.

The focus on student social and emotional wellness will be an especially large area of her focus as the district comes out of the pandemic, she said.

Students might need more support mentally and academically, which Viel said she’ll look to address by working with the teacher teams.

As for her goals for the position? Be reasonable with the administrative team in the district and get to know the community.

“I want to get to know everybody, have them get to know me and start to move forward,” she said.