Monday, July 20, 2015

How Much Can You Cram Into 20 Days?

Greetings! I hope that these first twenty days of July have been relaxing and rejuvenating. Mine have been a little bit of everything. On the first of July my basement flooded during the torrential rain we had. That was a blast (in a sarcastic voice). We are still repairing drywall, paint, it has been the summer gift that has kept on giving.

Family Vacations-History Lessons Along the Way: We recently took a trip to the Carolinas, which will most likely be our last family vacation. It was fairly emotional, although friends tell my wife and I that having an empty nest isn't so bad once you get used to it.

While there, it was interesting to see New York education news make it to the south. The New York State Education Department parted ways with Pearson, who had been writing Common Core Learning Standard assessments for New York for the past five years. The state chose a new vendor, Questar Assessment Inc., who promises to be transparent to everyone, which would include teachers and administrators participating in all aspects of upcoming assessment creation.

On the way back from the Carolinas we stopped at Gettysburg; the first time I had been there. If you have not had an opportunity to travel there, I highly recommend a trip to Gettysburg, especially with children from about fourth grade and beyond. As adults we know how pivotal Gettysburg was during the Civil War, but there are a lot of things to learn, see, and experience that gave me a renewed appreciation for human resolve, desire, and patriotism. I also found the visit to be very reasonably priced. You could find hotels for under $100 per night and up, and there was the most involved double decker bus tour that cost about $20 for adults and much less for kids (buy tickets for the top deck, you will thank me later). The drive was about four and a half hours, give or take.

My wife and I also celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to New York City. While there we caught a Broadway show and also visited the 911 Memorial, which was moving to say the least. If you haven't been there, put a visit to the memorial on your bucket list, especially if you knew someone who lost their life or a loved one on that awful day.

Unlike Gettysburg, in my opinion this memorial is NOT for children under seventh or eighth grade. Like Gettysburg, however, the price to visit is very low. We spent about two hours reading through everything and it reminded me just how heroic emergency service members, volunteers, and the passengers on the airplanes were. If you haven't visited this site yet, put it on your calendar.

Capital Project Progresses: While I was away our contractors were cranking away on the Capital Project. A HUGE crane placed the air conditioning unit on top of Stonehedge Elementary School. Also, the carpets, bathrooms, and locker rooms in various buildings were being torn apart and renovated. When everyone returns to the buildings in September they will begin to see physical progress. I am beyond excited to see these changes.

New IP Phone System: We also installed a new phone system called an Internet Protocol Phone, or IP Phone system. This system uses the Internet to help us make phone calls which allowed us to remove hundreds of phone lines that we were paying monthly fees for. This will save us tens of thousands of dollars.

The system does have voice mail, called ID, and a menu system. We do feel, however, that customer service is very important. So when you call during the school day, you will get a human being on the phone. The menu system will then be activated during the afternoon and overnight. There are still some minor glitches, but they will be worked out very shortly.

The High School is a Busy Place: While all of this was going on during the first twenty days of the month, the high school has been a busy place with Summer School, swim lessons, sports camps, and music lessons.

Summer School is operated by our local BOCES and serves students from five neighboring schools, including West Genesee. They went through a little rough patch this past week with student behavior, but they are in good shape now and we look forward to all of our guests meeting the West Genesee standard of behavior and learning that our community is accustomed to.

Mike Messere Turf Field Dedication: Lastly, please accept my personal invitation to attend the Mike Messere Turf Field Dedication Ceremony. It will take place on August 1 at 11:30 a.m. right on the turf field. I will be the emcee and this will be a special time for the Messere family as well as our school community. I hope you can attend. I will send out more about this event later in the week.

Thanks and enjoy the week!