Monday, December 19, 2016

There are Always Opportunities to Learn

Mother Nature: Last week was a whirlwind of situations, decisions, and events, including an epic battle with Mother Nature. On Monday, I called what I thought was a no-brainer two-hour delay and then the temperature rose a few degrees more than predicted and the roads ended up being much better than anticipated. Not the end of the world, and it is always good to err on the side of caution, but I also am very aware of the impact that school delay and closing decisions have on work and childcare schedules. Mother Nature 1, me 0.

Winter National Honor Society Induction: We had an excellent winter induction ceremony to the National Honor Society. There were ten students inducted: Faris Amer, Jack Birchler, Jay Considine, Priscilla Grooms, Alexandra Guglielmi, Margaret Guinto, Emma Miller, Secidean Scott, Michael Serbun, and Andrea Wierbinski. What I like about the winter ceremony is that many of the students, for one reason or another, did not participate in the ceremony with the bulk of their classmates; but they hung on and worked even harder to receive their recognition.

To be selected for the National Honor Society, a student must exhibit leadership, scholarship, service, and character. In my speech I was able to remind students of these characteristics, and I think this applies to us as adults also. If you have to tell people that you are a leader, have character, are smart, or help out; then you are doing something wrong. If someone truly exhibits those characteristics; other people will be sure to recognize them. Congratulations to our honorees!

Difficult Situations: I believe that every situation in life provides learning opportunities. As many of you have seen or read already, we had to work through a difficult employee situation last week. This January will be my 17th anniversary as a superintendent. During that time I have worked through four such cases, and those four have come in the past five years. One situation is too many in my book, but can there be a positive out of what happened last week? I think so.

First, I think in our District at least, we have gotten the students to a point where they trust our counselors, principals, and me to follow through on situations that are brought to our attention. I also think that in our District at least, we have put a lot of value in truly knowing our students and what to do if we interact with a student and something doesn't seem quite right.

I am criticized by some superintendent colleagues for being on the news too much, being too transparent, communicating too much, and spending too much time in classrooms and buildings. I couldn't disagree with them more.

I have no greater job than to keep our kids safe, the public informed, and to know each student no matter how large our District is so they know they can come to me for help or guidance if needed. If certain colleagues don't like it, too bad. Making friends isn't in my job description. Keeping us safe and at the top of our game in every area is.

Early Dismissal: On Thursday, the battle with Mother Nature continued. We were able to get our students in safely, and we were cruising through our day when some heavy snow that was predicted to stay north began to creep slightly south. We contacted an area meteorologist, as well as SUNY Oswego forecasters, and they told me that it would be a really good idea to get our kids and staff home no later than 3:15 p.m., or face some dangerous situations.

Heeding that warning, we started an early dismissal. I can count on one hand how many early dismissals I have called in my career; it turned out to be a good decision. The snow began to fall at 3:15 p.m. and did not let up until about 7:00 p.m., and the conditions were very dangerous. Mother Nature 1, me 1 for the week. I am hoping that this week is a little more calm!

Substance Abuse Coalition Update: While all of this has been happening, our substance abuse coalition has been working to offer two great events during the winter. The first is going to be NARCAN training, which will be held on January 5, 2017 at our high school. Sessions are free, one-hour in length, and begin at 4:00 p.m. and will go through 9:00 p.m. Once trained, the Camillus Police will offer vouchers for participants to receive a free NARCAN kit once they are off of back order. We had tremendous response the first time we offered this. It is open to anyone you can think of who would like to be trained.

Our second event will be held on Monday, February 27, 2017 and it is setting up to be very informative. I will have much more information to share after the holidays.

Thank You: Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to all of our custodians, cleaners, bus drivers, mechanics, and transportation staff for their work last week. They all worked MANY grueling hours and kept our students and staff safe. Our crew has no equal!

Thanks and enjoy the week.