Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and Other Adventures

Before I shut down the blog and Twitter account for the Thanksgiving Holiday I wanted to thank all of you for your continued support. We are doing some wonderful things for our children and it shows. You have every right to be proud of where you live. From a statistical (and quite boring, frankly) view we tax the least, yet produce the best academic results around. From a real life, and I think better way to look at things, we have students who are well rounded. They give for the sake of giving and at the same time they achieve. I know that I am thankful for the opportunities that this school is providing my own children and I also recognize and thank the community for the support to make it all possible.

Later today we will have a Blue Ribbon School celebration for Split Rock (a larger celebration for the community Will be in the Spring) and we will raise the Blue Ribbon Flag for the first time. Thanks to Bonnie Russell we have figured out how to post pictures so expect some pictures of the event later today to be here and on our main website.

We will be holding our mid-year National Honor Society induction on November 30th and our H1N1 vaccination clinic appears to still be on schedule for December 2nd.

As I mentioned at the top of this post I am shutting down Twitter and my blog until next week so I can try to enjoy some time with my family. I hope that you are able to do the same.

Please accept my best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Please do not forget to thank those who are in our armed services and will not be able to enjoy time with their family and friends.

Take care-


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hello Alaska!

I had one of my more enjoyable Board of Education meetings last evening when we demonstrated the possibilities of our new video conferencing equipment by taking a virtual field trip to Alaska.

We were greeted (in real-time) by a wonderful young lady who described what Alaska was like, and how her sled dog organization could teach children about science, math, and health. She then switched to an outdoor camera where our whole group (audience included) met an Alaskan Huskie named "Creamer" and his musher.

His musher was very friendly and talked to us about his dog and about how the dogs are cared for, etc... At the end of our demonstration, he placed the dog back into his pen and asked us to say goodbye to the dogs by howling and barking. I could feel the tension in the crowd because adults "aren't supposed to have fun", but howl and bark we did and to our amazement the dogs on the other end heard us and stood up and began howling themselves!

I am very thankful that we have a video-conferencing unit in each building and the learning and enrichment opportunities are endless. Thanks to Bill Roberge, our Director of Technology, for arranging everything for us on our end.

Before the Board meeting the Board was given a "tour" and a hands on demonstration of our Promethean Boards as well. The Board got to use the "boards" and Laura Cantone and Jen McArthur (East Hill Elementary School) created some wonderful flip-charts for them to use. They also filmed their students who taught the Board members how to use each of the major items on the toolbar for the Promethean Boards. It was great to see people being actively engaged in a Board setting just as I see students engaged every day in classrooms. Nicely done!

Prior to all of this good news, I attended probably the most depressing meeting that I have EVER attended in my entire life. The meeting centered around the State budget and the impact any changes to the budget will have on our students and programs. As I mentioned in a previous post, we are okay for this year because we planned for a mid-year cut in funding from the State but no one knows what is going to happen moving forward. I was very frustrated because it is difficult to create budget scenarios moving forward until the State makes the first move. We have the brain power and desire in our District to make things work even if the outlook is bleak, we just need our top governing body to make some decisions so we can move forward.

Tonight is going to be nice. First is my youngest son's modified basketball game followed by C.O.D.E. graduation at Stonehedge Elementary School followed by my oldest son's concert at the high school. Life is a blur right now.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Good Week

Another good week! I was very proud of our students and high school photography teacher Mrs. Cross who created the Veteran tribute film, "On Common Ground". It was shown at the Palace Theater this past Wednesday evening, and there was a very good turn-out. Talks are now in the works to show the film through the USO and get it out world-wide to the troops.

We continue to work through our at-risk and technology initiatives. The next phase of Promethean Board installations is about to begin, and as soon as we are in receipt of replacement servers, memory, and computers, we will finish our technology initiative for the year. Also, our efforts in technology will be featured in March when BOCES hosts a series called TALKS at the high school. People from all over the county will attend, and they will get to see what we are offering our students.

Our at-risk program is beginning to take a strong hold in each building, and you would wonder at this point what we ever did without the extra assistance we have been able to provide students. As we are now able to make some additional interventions with students, in many cases we have helped to prevent bad situations from becoming worse. In some cases we have been able to help provide some students with food and shelter. Our requests for free/reduced lunch are on the rise as well. Without the interventions we have been using, many of those students who we have been able to serve would go through the day hungry, or forced to make poor choices without appropriate guidance.

We are rolling out our credit recovery program at the high school as well, and I will report when our first student has completed a course through our NovaNet program.

A dance at Camillus Middle School and the musical Willy Wonka at West Genesee Middle School will kick-off what will hopefully be a nice weekend. Thanks again for your support and have a great weekend.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Joys of Parenthood and other Stories

Throughout my career I have always heard the criticism that my children get preferential treatment, and that I always get first pick of everything to do with school because of my position as Superintendent, etc.

Suffice it to say, that these statements could not be any farther from the truth. If anything, the road for my kids has been harder to travel because they are under a constant microscope and are sometimes used as vessels by adults to get messages to me. Unfair? Life is unfair. No biggie, but I do have some street smart boys (hopefully book smarts boys, too!). Last year was incredibly difficult for my wife, children, and I to fit into a much larger and much more competitive school community. This year has been somewhat easier for my wife and children, I think because they have had a year to establish friendships and know the new routines of being in a much larger place.

Two events last week really reminded me how stressful it can be to be a parent. First, was basketball try-outs for both of my boys. Our school is incredibly competitive, and I can tell you that we spent two very stressful evenings waiting to see if we were going to have boys playing on our own school teams or if they would be signing up for some of the other offerings in the community. They were fortunate enough to make the school teams. The lesson learned by both my boys was that hard work, practice, and skill can pay off. The lesson learned by us as parents, was that we need to prepare our children to recover from situations where their best may not be good enough someday because inevitably it will happen. The third lesson that I learned is that maybe I should get some training as a sports psychologist for both parents and students :>)

The second stressor was trying to get the boys registered for the H1N1 vaccine. As Superintendent I have had all of the information, all of the notifications, and all of the web site addresses necessary regarding H1N1. Like you, though, I was at my computer at 9:00AM trying to get the most important website link; the one to register my kids for the H1N1 vaccine on December 2! I was able to connect to the site around 9:03AM and even registered one child for a 4:00PM slot. Easy I thought. Then I saw that there were 520 slots available for the 4:00PM time slot. No problem I thought. I would just click BACK on my browser and register my other son and be on my way. Click, click, click....nothing... I started to feel very panicky. I have a Board Meeting at 7:00PM on the December 2 and I am sure that I will be helping the county workers that evening as well, so I really needed the 4:00PM slot. I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, I was able to register my other son. What was 520 slots a few minutes before was now down to 320. Click. Registered. 4:00PM. I put myself into the shoes of a line worker or someone who could not get to a computer until after work and just thought to myself that parenting is much more difficult than my job will ever be.

I apologize that this post is a little longer than normal, but I thought it would be nice for you to read that we are all in this parenting thing together.

Enjoy your week and I will post soon.