Monday, July 24, 2017

Mid-Summer Check In

That Time of Year for Lacrosse Tournaments: In Wildcat country you know you are nearing the mid-point of summer when the boys and girls lacrosse programs hold their Annual John Pepper Tournaments. The girls tournament was held yesterday and Saturday and was once again a huge success. I can never pin down exactly how many people attend these tournaments each year, but it has to be in the neighborhood of 2,000-3,000 people over the two days.

On top of that, our players, as well as the players from the teams around the area, state, and east coast, get a chance to interact and be seen by many high level college coaches. It is a great event to see the school, boosters, and the community working together for the benefit of kids. The boys tournament is July 29-30.

Music is in the Air: I often tell the story about how tough Marching Band members were when I was walking behind the school about six or seven years ago and it was raining.  I did not expect to see anyone, and I was actually just walking outside in the rain because I had been cooped up all day in meetings and I had evening meetings about to begin. I heard the sounds of the drumline and through the moderate rain, and light fog, I saw the Marching Band practicing.  As I walked closer, there was Nick Baratta, Creative Director/Music Arranger/Instructor, who was soaked with his glasses completely fogged up. He just looked at me calmly and said, "how's it going?".

The Marching Band is as determined as ever to notch another Field Band Championship, and even though it has rained a lot this summer, you can hear the band out back...every night. The beat rolls on and if you listen closely, you can hear the dedication.

It has also been fun to poke my head into the various summer camps that are held through the Town of Camillus. We are very fortunate to have such a great partnership with the town, and I really enjoy getting to interact with the students outside of the school year and participate in some of their activities with them (with the exception of water balloons however!).

Money for Technology Comes Through:  I have been working on getting ready for my tenth opening day at West Genesee, as well as helping some of our new employees transition into their roles at West Genesee. We also received word that the state government FINALLY released our Smart Schools Bond Act grant allocation, meaning we can now purchase the 3,641 pieces of equipment that we have been wanting to get into the hands of students for some time.

I am also working on some of the support pieces that our students are going to need as we head into the fall. We had the most successful school year that I have had as a superintendent; under some challenging conditions. Continuing that success takes time and planning, but that is what the summer is for!

Board of Education Plans Ahead: Today is our Board of Education retreat. The cohesiveness and dedication of our Board of Education should not be taken for granted. None of the members have hidden agendas or egos; they serve to make things better for ALL students, and that makes my job easier.

I will check in again next week. Until then, enjoy the sunshine when you can and I will see you around!


Monday, July 3, 2017

The Best Teacher Many Students Never Had

I hope that many of you were able to stretch the weekend through to the fourth of July. If not, like me, I hope you had a great weekend with a day off tomorrow. I spent the weekend in Hoboken, NJ hanging out with my niece and nephew, and I was able to go to an unforgettable U2 concert at the Meadowlands. I have seen dozens of concerts in my lifetime and that show ranks as a top three easily, along with RUSH at the NYS State Fair grandstands a few years back, and Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden in 2010. It was THAT good and restored my hope that these older bands aren't just out there "mailing in" concerts to pad their wallets. It flat out rocked.

The drive home did not flat out rock. A four-hour drive turned into five and a half hours due to construction, torrential rain, accidents, and flooding. I am no meteorologist, but I do not think we are in danger of a drought anytime soon.

Housing Summer School at CMS: Summer school starts soon and is being held at Camillus Middle School. The OCM BOCES leases the space from us and most schools from the west side, including West Genesee, send students to it. While Camillus Middle School is on the other side of the village of Camillus, many travelers from the six area school districts will be using West Genesee Street in the morning and afternoon to stop for food, gas, etc. While our parents and students are familiar with the territory, many visiting parents and students are not, so keep an extra eye out please, as well as an extra eye out around the high school, as summer camps are in full swing. Thanks!

The Best Teacher Many Students Never Had: I was going to hold off on a blog for a couple weeks, but I received news that long-time teacher, retiree, and a true piece of the fabric of West Genesee, Marsha Schoff, passed away. As news of her passing traveled through the Internet, graduate Sophie Meskos hit Marsha's impact right on the head when she said that, "Miss Schoff was the best teacher that she had never had". Many times it is easy to calculate how many students a teacher impacted in their careers, but in this case it really isn't possible. Yes, Miss Schoff taught for 36 years and always had a full load of 150 students on her schedule between US History courses and electives that were always closed out, so you could say that she impacted 5,400 students. I would call that her initial impact.

If you really want to get close to her true reach, you have to take into account that she was the Senior Class Advisor nearly every year that she worked for West Genesee; meaning she led EVERY senior ball and graduation. She was also responsible for starting the Mr. and Ms. West Genesee Pageant, Harvest Dinner, Senior High Awards Night and Honors Dinner (with former principal Helen White), Winter Semi-formal Dance, Spring Talent Show, and March Madness. She was also National Honor Society Advisor, and Student Council Advisor almost every year of her tenure as well.  You could not enter West Genesee as a freshman and exit as a senior without crossing her path; for 36 years.  She impacted tens of thousands of students and community members.

My best memories of Marsha would be her focus on excellence, and always having students needs at the heart of every decision she made. During my first two graduations here, she would give me blown up Polaroids (before cell phone cameras) to make sure that the ceremony lived up to my standards. In reality, I was trying to keep up to HER standards. To say that she will be missed is the understatement of the year. Her legacy, and one that I will continue to uphold, is the unwavering goal of helping ALL students to reach past their potential. Thank you, Miss Schoff, you will be missed by each and every one of us.

Thanks, and I will be writing again in a couple of weeks.

Happy 4th of July!!!