Sunday, October 24, 2010
First of all, it is my pleasure to announce that Gail Glagola, art teacher at the high school, Kathleen Callahan, a mathematics teacher at Camillus Middle School, and Kelli Barbuto, 5th grade teacher at Stonehedge Elementary School, were all named as 2010 Teachers of the Year by the Camillus Optimists Club. They were voted on by their peers and a reception to honor them will be held in November 9th. Congratulations!
I think that you are going to find the Commissioners discussion regarding changes to graduation requirements for New York State to be quite startling. Nothing is set in stone of course, but when I read the 23 page summary of what will be discussed with the Board of Regents it certainly got my attention. The full report can be viewed here (http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2010Meetings/October2010/1010ccrd1.doc) but some of the highlights of the proposal include:
1. Longer school year
2. Additional graduation requirements beyond the traditional 22 credits
3. Extra year of Mathematics and Science with extra Regents examinations as well (examinations paid for by the District)
4. Raising the "passing grade" of a Regents exam from 65 to 70, 75, and 80 respectfully beginning with the 9th graders entering next year and continuing the next two years.
5. Allowing online credit and allowing students to "graduate" when they complete the credits required for graduation
Most of these ideas are not bad at face value, but in the face of declining dollars and resources some of them will be incredibly difficult to accommodate. We will see where things go from here.
Our efforts to do something different with addressing the subject of bullying are moving forward. There are many different people in powerful positions beginning different "causes" related to bullying, harassment, and hate, but I really think that a couple of our students (Mike McCartney and Alyssa VanGampler) have something unique with their efforts to record stories of how bullying and harassment have affected real people; not actors. Their start up website, http//http://www.sthsquared.webs.com/ is the beginning of what will be an emotional and yet necessary journey to healing for those who have been bullied. This site is created by students and for students, and it will be created on their own time so I would suggest that as the site is populated that you support it but review the material on it before sharing with younger children because I have never heard a bullying story that has been "G" rated. Well done students and thanks for leading the charge on your level while I get things done with programs and policies.
Big week ahead for the Wildcat Marching Band as they prepare for their Dome show this weekend. Aside from football, who ended their season last Friday night, many of our other sports are still in post-season play. Check the website for schedules and information.
Have a great week-
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The end of the Fall sports season is drawing near which means that Winter is right around the corner. If you have children playing Winter sports as I do, this is also when stress re-enters the household. It is very difficult to have children understand that they are going to school in a Class I AA environment, which means that we are in the largest, most competitive division that New York State athletics has to offer. Winter sports (no pun intended) teams which have the fewest number of participants, in turn, have the largest number of cuts.
As I always explain to my kids (they might understand it 5 years from now) "if you give it your best and you don't make the team then it is what it is, and if you don't give it your best and don't make the team, then it should eat you up until the next time you can try out". What is nice about this community is that there are dozens of other recreational and organized sports programs available so that if a child wants to participate in basketball, for example, but does not make our team they can still find a place to play. As I tell everyone, I just want kids to be happy first, and learn something second.
I occasionally get asked if the Board of Education ever reviews its policies. This is a great question because in many schools the answer is no. Here we have an active policy committee consisting of three Board members who meet three to four times a year to make policy updates or add and subtract policies from the manual. I have liked this approach since I have been here because it gives me a chance to make sure that the policies that I am charged to enforced are complete and accurate for the times.
Our anti-bullying task force is scheduled to meet for the first time on Tuesday, October 19 at the high school in the large group instruction room. If you are not on the committee but would like to become a member, please give me a call 1-315-487-4682, shoot me an e-mail email@example.com, or just show up. Our second meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 16.
I have also received some questions about Race to the Top, the federal initiative to improve student performance and hold teachers and administrators accountable for their performance as well. We are going to work with our local BOCES to have them help us collect the student data required to complete our improvement plans, and we are going to work with our Teaching Center to help us to revise our evaluation systems for administrators and teachers. There was $110,000 allocated for these over the course of 4 years which means little money to accomplish a lot, but we will take it.
I have figured out how to use my Blackberry to send better pictures of our students in action to Twitter. My Twitter handle is http://www.twitter.com/cbrownwgcsd. If you connect you can just see what is going on each day in the buildings or you can increase your involvement by sending me messages or having my posts "pushed" directly to your phone. I intent to hold a community "Social Media" night so people can come in, sign up, and learn to use some of the technology that we are using to communicate. Stay tuned.
All for now. Have a wonderful week.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Also please have a great weekend, whatever you do, and don't forget to NOT SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL NEXT TUESDAY, THE 12th. That will be a workshop day for staff.
Also, please be aware that we were contacted by the Department of Transportation, and they plan to pave the intersection of Milton Avenue and Hinsdale Road next Wednesday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Can your GPS say, "Plan an alternate route?"
Have a wonderful weekend-
Sunday, October 3, 2010
In my three years in the District I have never seen as many people on our campus as I did last night at the Tournament of Bands. There were people from all over the state, and I was really pleased to hear all of the positive comments about our facilities and about the organization of the event.
Last week was really cool. I had the chance to watch a youngster read for the very first time. The look on his face was priceless, and you could see the new found power that he had as he read his second sentence. This is why I do the job!
I also had a chance to speak with some staff about the education series featured on msnbc.com titled Education Nation (http://www.educationnation.com/). If watched in isolation this series is really a downer as it paints a negative picture of education in the United States. We are fortunate that we have been ahead of the curve nationally, and evidence of that success can be found at (http://nbcscorecard.greatschools.org/). If you type 13031 into the search box, you can see how most of our schools in the District rated on a national and global scale (except for Onondaga Road, which you need to input 13219 or the school name into the search box to find it). Interesting information and certainly a "Don't Stop Believing" exercise.
Last week we also learned that West Genesee is going to receive $110,000 over four years to accommodate the provisions set forth by Race to the Top. In the grand scheme of a $70M budget, this amount of money is really not much. By accepting Race to the Top we are required to show improvements in student achievement, overhaul our evaluation system for teachers and administrators, and establish a "data team" made up of at least three people. All good ideas, but in the long run it appears that we will spend more on Race to the Top than we will receive from the organizers of the program. We shall see.
This week is Spirit Week leading up to homecoming. This is a true sign of Fall and a true sign that we are already five weeks into the school year!
Have a great week.