Monday, May 25, 2015

The Power of Positive Support

I hope that all of you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I also hope that you took a few minutes to reflect on why we truly have Memorial Day. There are plenty of very brave people who sacrificed and fought for the freedoms we have today and it is important to never forget that. Through several of our courses and programs we teach our students about the significance of Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and Flag Day. This was evidenced by our whole community at the Memorial Day parade when many of our students marched for the school and for those who were to be remembered.

Budget Passes: Last week was very humbling. I have been a Superintendent for fourteen years and a Business Administrator before that and have been a part of building and presenting sixteen school budgets.  Our recent school budget vote had an 85% passing rate, which is the highest passing percentage that I have ever been a part of. We sincerely appreciate your support and never take it for granted. From our Board of Education and throughout our organization we will continue to provide our students with the best opportunities possible and with the least financial impact on our community as possible. Thank you.

Olympics are Special: Dozens of our students went to Cicero North Syracuse High School for the Special Olympics last week and competed to their fullest and brought home a bus full of medals.  If you have never attended the Special Olympics you really need to carve out a couple of hours to watch these students perform and compete. It will make you a better person, I guarantee it. Congratulations to our awesome competitors and cannot wait for next year!

Athletes Compete: Many of our teams were also competing in sectional play.

  • Congratulations to West Genesee Boys Lacrosse coach Mike Messere on his 800th victory as a WILDCAT!! The Boys Lacrosse won over CNS and will play Auburn at the Dome on Wednesday for the Section 3 Championship.'
  • The Girls Lacrosse team won over the Baldwinsville Bees to play at the Dome on Tuesday for the Section 3 Championship.
  • The Boys Baseball team won and will be the #2 seed in the Section 3 tournament and will play home Thursday at 4:30 p.m. vs Baldwinsville, the #7 seed.
  • Boys and girls Track and Field compete in the Section 3 Championships this week at CNS.
  • In Boys Tennis, congratulations to the Boleslov brothers who just became Regional Champs in the Doubles.
  • The Girls Softball team made it to the 2nd round of Section 3 play and will travel to face Liverpool on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
  • Congratulations to West Genny Boys golfer Dylan Plis who made it to the 2nd round of the NYS qualifiers on Saturday.

  • This week should be really busy and our last day of classes at the high school is only 13 school days away from today! Thanks for the continued support.


    Monday, May 18, 2015

    A Weekend to Remember

    Car Crash Simulation Stresses Good Decisions: I had one of my most enjoyable weekends as a superintendent this past weekend. It started on Friday by watching an outpouring of willing volunteers (well over 40) conduct a mock DWI crash for our seniors who were heading to their Senior Ball that evening.

    Our gratitude goes to the Camillus Police Department, WAVES Ambulance, Fairmount and Taunton Fire Departments, Buranich Funeral Home, Onondaga County Medical Examiner and District Attorney's offices, Myers Towing, several students dressed up as the "victims", and Mrs. Agricola who played the role of a distressed parent. Perfection.

    It was also nice to see how many graduates that I know (after being here for a while now) came back to volunteer. Most even stayed and mingled with our seniors during the senior breakfast, and I was very proud of our students who showed them the respect they deserved.

    The Senior Ball: How was the dance itself? Special. I have been to over 20 senior balls and this group, mature beyond their years, was just a pleasure to spend the evening with. The food was great, the music kept everyone dancing, and most importantly, everyone made it to the After the Ball Party safely.

    What an After Party! By far the biggest attractions at the After the Ball Party were the hypnotist (always a crowd favorite) and a new feature which was an inflatable obstacle course about the width of our large gym. I watched as students poured into the inflatable and raced each other through the obstacles again and again. I can see that becoming a permanent part of the festivities in the future.

    I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Joanne Pooler who always helps to organize this critical event, and also a huge thank you to all the parent volunteers. There were dozens. They took the time to spend the night with our students to keep them entertained and safe. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Olympics are Special: This Thursday, weather permitting, is one of my most favorite events, the Special Olympics. If you have never attended, it is worth the couple of hours to watch students perform their absolute best as they beam with pride. Every time I go it makes me a better person. Good luck to all contestants!

    Mark Your Calendars for the Budget Vote: Please remember that tomorrow (Tuesday) is our annual school budget vote day. As a quick reminder, our budget plan falls below the Governor's tax cap, covers all efficiencies in order for community members to receive state rebate checks, and funds all of our existing programs, as long as the vote is successful.  The vote is from 6:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. in the West Genesee High School auditorium lobby. Thank you for taking time out of your day to exercise your right to vote.

    Days Off: Lastly, please remember that there is no school this Friday or next Monday as an observance of Memorial Day weekend.

    Thanks and have a great week!


    Monday, May 11, 2015

    Older and Wiser

    What a beautiful weekend!  The older and hopefully wiser I have become, the more I really value the words “Happy Mother’s Day”. In recent years, as more of my friends lose their mom (or dad for that matter), I realize that this holiday has different meaning to people.

    If your mom is still here, I hope you had a chance to connect with her and tell her that you love her. If she has moved on to a better place, I hope that the glow of her memory made your heart beat a little stronger. Either way, your mom will always be a part of your life; and a special part at that.

    Last Week was Great. We had a Collegial Circle organized by our Teaching Center. The event drew over one hundred of our teachers who displayed action research projects and unit plans that will help our entire organization to improve. It is always encouraging to see teachers working with each other to make things better for our students.

    A Concert on Periscope: There was also a very powerful string concert that allowed many students to really show off their talent! For the first time, we were able to use the new Periscope Twitter application to broadcast a few song selections and it looked and sounded great.

    Teachers of Excellence: I would like to take a moment to congratulate teachers Sue Deegan, Colleen Barba, Peggy Barbuto, and Steve Shoults as well as principals Beth Lozier and Steve Dunham for being nominated by their peers and honored by Senator DeFrancisco as 2015 "Teachers of Excellence". Congratulations!

    Into the Future: I don’t want to jinx our teams, but they are all playing pretty well and I expect deep runs into the post season! Believe it or not this Friday is our Senior Ball, and by the end of next weekend we have just over thirty days until graduation. Yes, that is correct. Crazy.

    Enjoy the week and I hope to see at one of our events.


    Monday, May 4, 2015

    Visibility and Availability

    Taking a Break: Congratulations to all the runners that participated in the Mountain Goat Run held this past weekend. I took a year off from running in it, but logged 28,000 steps on Saturday by just taking a quick run in the neighborhood, cleaning the house, and spreading mulch around the yard. Those 28,000 steps is right around 14 miles. When I saw that at the end of the day Saturday, I knew that the Mountain Goat would not be in the cards this year!

    What is Important: Visibility and availability are very important to me. When we hire administrators, one of the questions I always ask is how the candidate plans to get everything done AND be visible and available to parents, students, staff, and their own family.

    As you know, I like to be present in buildings, at events, and just “around” in general. I do this for a variety of reasons. I am not looking for a mental “check mark” from someone that I was at an event or in a classroom. I am visible and available because that is how you see the magic that happens between students and staff, understand culture, climate, and build relationships with EVERYONE in the school community. Trust is developed when you are visible and available.  

    If you follow me on Twitter (@cbrownwgcsd) you know that I like to spend a large part of my time interacting with students. Children are the most important gifts that parents have, and I am responsible for those gifts each day. This includes making sure every day they come to school is a worthwhile day.

    Last week I had some wonderful interactions that were not staged or scripted. Throughout this blog post are a few of the pictures taken last week that demonstrate what is on the minds of our students and your children so you can extend learning and have conversations at home. 

    Periscope: With this in mind, I want to extend my visibility to you in another format that is relatively new to the Internet. There is an application (app) called Periscope that you can download to your smart phone from your “App Store”. It is a free app (for now). When you launch the application you will log in using your Twitter account. It allows the server (that will be me) to play real time video of events that others can type comments about or “like” by tapping their phone screen.  

    I hope to experiment with Periscope at some events in the near future. For now, if you like what I am able to post and cover, just download the app. Then down the road I will announce some events on Twitter. I will be giving professional development to my administrators so they can serve live feeds as well. I am excited to expand our visibility and availability in this direction.

    It looks like we are going to have a spectacular week. I am sure I will see you around. Enjoy!

    Take care-