Monday, December 14, 2015

Proud of our School Community

A Student in Need: There are hundreds, if not thousands of reasons why I am proud of our school community. One of those reasons showed itself last week. One of our students (and the rest of the family) lost their home in a fire. Fortunately everyone escaped, but the house is a loss and they lost EVERYTHING. I mean everything. The Red Cross is doing what they can for them, but they have limits because of everyone else they have to help. 

I cannot say enough about our school counselors and transportation department. Our counselors have been working all week to help the family, and counselor Mrs. Clancy sent a list of basic needs that was shared with our staff in an "all staff" e-mail. Within minutes, our employees had mobilized and the family is well on their way to being helped to far beyond "square one", and they would repeat this generosity for any of our students or families. I can tell you from experience that every school community is not like our school community, and we should all be thankful!

A Good Week for Education: Last week was a good week for education in my opinion. The Federal government replaced what was called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is important for several reasons (a great comparison of the two Acts can be found by clicking here. Probably the most important change, however, is that control over many facets of education (curriculum, testing, and accountability) will be in the hands of each state.

At the same time at the State level, the Governor released the findings and recommendations from his Common Core Task Force. The entire summary can be found by clicking here.

Essentially, there were twenty-one recommendations made and most of them involve breaking the tie between testing and teacher/principal evaluations, length of testing, quantity of testing, and development of curricular resources. Again, these are recommendations; but my guess is that the NYS Commissioner of Education and the Board of Regents will vote positively on nearly all of the recommendations.

It is tough for me to give an opinion on what one group or entity was responsible for bringing these changes about. I feel like is has been a battle fought in the trenches by Board of Educations, administrators, teachers, and parents as a collective.

What is really important to me as a superintendent is that this "win" for educators does not cloud the need for increased financial resources from New York State. I am afraid that people may not be as willing to push for adequate funding this year because they are so elated with the other recent developments. We need to keep our "eye on the prize"; and we will.

Community Forum on Substance Abuse: I have received some great questions about our upcoming substance abuse forum. For starters, we are very pleased to have Congressman John Katko as a confirmed guest and participant. Secondly, we have been asked about students attending the forum. Our National Honor Society is going to be providing free child care for school-aged students right at the high school during the forum. 

As a collective group of committee members, it was decided that we would advertise the event for students in grades 7 through 12. As a parent I think it is important for you to understand before you bring your young adult that some of the subject matter could be emotional and jarring to some audience members. We will be viewing a short video of someone being revived from a heroin overdose with NARCAN. There will also be stories shared by a recovering addict as well as a mom who recently lost her child to drug addiction. You will have to make the call as a parent if you would like your child to attend. We have an informational flyer that you can access and share by clicking here. Stay tuned.

Lots of events happening this week and I hope to see you at some of them!