Monday, April 4, 2016

The Difference Between a Bunny and a Chicken

Running in Snow, in April? Only in Syracuse can you play golf one day of the week and then shovel snow on another. My older son and I ran the Syracuse Half Marathon yesterday, and I cannot recall a time when I ran in worse conditions. The funny thing was that no one really complained about it. Most of the comments I heard were "well, this IS Syracuse".

I kept up with him for the first seven miles or so and then he slowly faded into the distance. It was fun to find each other after the race and agree that anyone who actually finished that race in those conditions was a true champion! In this picture he had been finished about ten minutes, and I had just finished. My beard collected a fair share of snow and ice! Already looking forward to next year.

Bunny vs Chicken: I often tell people that I have the best job in the world, and I have the stories to back up my claim. On Friday of last week I was visiting Stonehedge Elementary School, and I walked into a kindergarten classroom. This is a very normal occurrence for the students so I received the usual chorus of "good morning Dr. Brown!" but then a student walked up to me with a paper cutout of a rabbit. She looked up at me and asked if I wanted a chicken. I told her that she did not have a chicken. She quickly responded with, "I know, it is a bunny. April Fools!". I had been had by a kindergartener! It made my day.

Mini-Forums on Substance Abuse: Last week we held the first of six mini-forums about substance abuse in our community. This particular forum was about actual data and resources concerning substance abuse in our schools, as well as a great presentation from the Camillus Police and District Attorney's office about their new "Tip411" service.

You can find video and the presentations by clicking here (page will be updated after each mini-forum). The survey results showed that parents (about forty in attendance and another one hundred seventy watching live on our Periscope app) really enjoyed knowing what is actually happening within the four walls of our schools.

Parents and I were also VERY impressed with the power and anonymity of the new "Tip411" system. Community members can submit tips to the Camillus Police (or twenty one other agencies) about drug activity that they see. The tip is then immediately sent to someone who will respond to the person submitting the tip and then they will either start a new investigation or add the tip to an existing one.

You can check it out by going to and looking for Tip411. We are actually going to add it to our tools to combat drug activity at school, and we will also be showing students how to use the system over time. Good stuff and thank you to all who attended!

Meeting an Astronaut: Always wanted to meet a real life astronaut but haven't been able to? Well now you can! Thanks to the efforts of the Junior League, NASA Astronaut Dr. Jeannette Epps will be live in the West Genesee High School Auditorium on April 21, 7:00 p.m. She is going to talk about her experiences, possible careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (especially for girls) and take questions from the audience. How cool is that? Put it on your calendar!

Assessments: This week is grades 3-8 assessment week for English Language Arts. Our new Commissioner has made the assessments shorter, has made sure that teachers have had a say in question development, and has made sure that there are no time limits. This will not stop those who are really against state assessing from voicing opinions or opting their children out of the tests.

In my view the current Commissioner has done a remarkable job in a very short amount of time fixing some of the very poor decisions that had been made by the previous Commissioner with regards to how our children are assessed. She needs more time to continue the process, but I am pleased that she is listening to ALL of us about changes that need to be made.

That being said, parents will make choices for their children with regards to assessments and we will respect those choices like we always have.

Thanks for your tremendous support and enjoy the week!