Monday, April 14, 2014

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I hope that each of you had an opportunity to spend at least a few minutes of the weekend outdoors. The weatherman indicates that the temperatures and sunshine that we experienced was a bit of a tease, but the real deal is not far around the corner.

Such Talented Students and Staff: Last week was pretty cool. The organizers of the High School Talent Show asked some of us adults to put something together for the students. Music teachers Bill Mercer and Mike Stachnik, along with Career and Technical Education teacher Steve Ficarra, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Brian Kesel and I blasted out Smells Like Teen Spirit from the 1990's band Nirvana.

When we hit the first few notes it sounded and looked like shock coming from the crowd. However, as Mr. Kesel belted out the lyrics and the music loudly supported it, the shock turned into excitement and it was cool to see the reaction from the students at the end!

We were fortunate that we pulled it off because West Genesee has so much talent that as each act performed, it became pretty clear that we had to really do well!  I would like to thank the organizers of the talent show, ALL of the performers, the students and the parents for allowing a group of middle aged guys to have a quick mid-life crisis. If anyone has a video (we have seen a few very short clips) we would love to see it.  Thanks again!

There was also an art show at the high school on Thursday night that was just incredible. It was challenging to select a favorite because the pieces were all so good! As a former math teacher, I had a special attachment to a drawing of a math paper with two hands pulling at the middle to show an island paradise.

Listening Session with U.S Department of Education: On Friday we had an opportunity to meet with Emily Davis who is a representative from the United States Department of Education as Teaching Ambassador Fellow. She first listened to a group of administrators and then a group of teachers about what is working and what needs improvement in terms of Federal mandates and initiatives. Much of the conversation centered around Race to the Top, the Common Core Learning Standards, and Title Grants. I felt that the time spent was worthwhile, and I believe that each of us felt heard.

It was refreshing to hear that the Common Core is being implemented much more efficiently in other states. This made me feel better because I have been and still am very supportive of the Common Core Learning Standards. It is the roll out at the state level that I have issues with. From a Federal perspective, they were interested to hear how we dealt with a rushed implementation, and how we are moving forward today.

I believe that we have some great examples because it is possible that we could receive a formal visit from Federal officials after spring break, and I could be traveling to Washington, D.C. soon to help as well. Time for me to put my money where my mouth is and use my voice to help make a difference on the largest stage.

A short but busy week ahead. I am not going away for break so I can get caught up from this crazy school year. That being said, I am going to take a one week break from this blog. The next time I will post will be the Monday we return.  Enjoy the week and the break!