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Our “Best of the Blogs” section includes thoughtful insights on school leadership being shared through blogs maintained by AASA members. This representative sampling of five bloggers, through an RSS feed, will change periodically to showcase other member blogs, so check back regularly. If you are aware of others, contact

  • Being Thankful

    Notes from the Superintendent|11/23/2015

    Finding the Positive: Let's face it, finding the positive in things has been a struggle lately; but we must, we owe it to our children. We cannot let every negative thing that we read, hear, or see make its way to our kids, who are having a tough enough time just being kids.

    I would ask that if you come across something that is negative, assess how much of it needs to make it to the dinner table. If it needs to (and that is certainly your judgment as parents), is there a positive that can be taken from the situation? If it is a problem that needs a solution, what are their suggestions?

    At school we focus on helping those in need. Students regularly help classmates who are sick or struggling. They help with larger projects to help those in our greater community and around the world. They are familiar with finding the positive, and we need to remember this as we head into Thanksgiving week.

    As you know, our community has changed over the past ten years. In 2006 six percent of our families lived below the poverty line. Today we are at twenty-four percent and rising. If you can lend a smile, a handshake, a kind word or more to people in need, please take the time to do so. It feels good!

    The Elves at WGMS Receive a Special Message: Congratulations to West Genesee Middle School students who performed Harry Connick Jr's production of The Happy Elf. Under the direction of Christy Knowlton, the students put on a great show. Equally cool was that Mr. Connick Jr sent a personal message and balloons to the cast!

    Elementary Parent Teacher Conferences: Please remember that we have half days today and tomorrow for elementary students with dismissal at 11:30 a.m. to accommodate Parent Teacher Conferences.

    Thank you for your continued support and I sincerely wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.


  • Thanksgiving

    Amy Griffin's Blog|11/22/2015

    Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.  -Henry Van Dyke
    I am thankful for my family, the CuCPS students and staff, and our community. Last week, I was fortunate to spend time with the Superintendent Student Panel members, administration at the November Academic Review Session, the School Board and Student Liaisons at the VSBA Conference, and the CCES teachers and administration during data meetings. It was a whirlwind of a week; however, opportunities such as these keep me grounded and focused. I enjoyed hearing from our student panel members and was proud to see our Student Liaisons attend the Student Leadership Workshop with students from across the state. Ahkiya and Hannah represented us well as they spoke with Board members and other superintendents after the session. It has been wonderful to see them grow from young children in elementary school to young adults getting ready to graduate -- I am thankful for who our students are becoming.
    I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Eat lots of food, have fun, and relax!  You deserve it!
    Interesting Articles for Teachers:
    Family and friends enjoy Thanksgving Lunch at CMS.
    CuCPS Highlights:

    Sixth grade students are learning to code in the Media Center.

    Events for the Week:
    • Monday
      • CHS Data Meetings
    • Tuesday
      • 8:30 Academic Jacket Ceremony
    • Wednesday-Friday:  Thanksgiving Break
    On December 2, 2015, all students will participate in the Betty Scales Day of Service.
    December School Board Meeting Reminders (12/14/15):
    • 5:00 p.m. -- Reception to honor School Board Member George Reid's 23 years of service to CuCPS.
    • 7:00 p.m. -- Public Input for the 2016-2017 School Budget

  • Finishing first!

    The Superintendent's Chair|11/21/2015

    Anyone who's ever played a sport wants to win the final game of the season. If you do it means you're the champion.

    Last year Novi High School varsity volleyball lost their final game. They finished second. A great accomplishment, but still heart wrenching.

    They learned lessons through losing. They learned about commitment, pressure, bouncing back, tenacity, grit, perseverance, and teamwork. But it still hurt.

    Today was a different day. 

    Novi High School varsity volleyball is the state champion. 

    It is not often a team reaches the state championship two years in a row. It's also not often that a team gets to face the team that beat them the year before. But today Novi faced down that very same team. In winning today Novi showed they learned their lessons well.

    Commitment, pressure, bouncing back, tenacity, grit, perseverance, and teamwork. The Wildcats learned their lessons well.

    And today they are state champions!

  • Teachers care - for a very good reason

    The Superintendent's Chair|11/19/2015

    I visit schools. A lot!

    When I visit I see things like this:

    and this:

    and this:

    and this:
    Teachers taking time to listen, model, encourage, and teach their students. Teachers taking time to invest in relationships with their students.


    "No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship," said James Comer. Teachers understand that learning increases as they invest time with their students.

    But it is not just time. Teachers need to communicate clearly to their students that the students matter. When students know and sense that they are important to their teachers the students invest more in their academic life.

    It's hard work. It's messy work. It's fun work.

    It's the work that the teachers in my district do every day!

  • What is Terror?

    Notes from the Superintendent|11/16/2015

    What is Terror?: It depends. For me there are levels of terror. Last week I went to calling hours for a twenty-four year old, five month pregnant woman. Open casket; the whole nine yards. Great kid, supporting family. Bad choice. Heroin overdose.

    Listening to stories from recovering addicts in the funeral home there were common themes. Former honor roll students, athletes, children of divorce, children overly pressured by parent(s) to perform, children with no other reason to use but to try the "next thing". That is terror to me as a parent and superintendent. That can happen to any one of us as parents. While we think "it can never happen to my family"; it happens. That is one level of terror. It is in our personal control and out of our control at the same time.

    Recent Events in Paris: The second level is a little more complicated. It is terror that is largely out of our control as civilians but can take place where we find ourselves on a day to day basis. Schools, restaurants, sporting events, concerts, malls, churches, airplanes; places we go to and/or use every day. The recent events in Paris, France remind us that there are people for one reason or another who want us to live in constant fear.

    Our older students talk about these types of terror because it bothers them as much as it bothers us. A high school student can understand that people were at a concert in France when someone detonated a bomb and began shooting people. A high school student will recollect the last time they were at a concert or a restaurant and it "could have been them". A stretch? Probably. Remember, that in the life of a teenager it is "all about them". That is by human design and development.

    What should you do with your student? Talk to them; see if they have any questions. Reassure them that thousands of people are working around the clock to keep them safe and that they have every right to have emotions. Please let their counselor know if their feelings persist. My younger son has aspirations to be a teacher and maybe superintendent someday. I hope he will lead at a time where he will not have to write things like this.

    Building Bridges: In more positive news, Twitter was very active on Saturday as a large group of West Genesee students took part in the "Build em' and Bust em'" bridge building/engineering competition at the MOST.

    We are very appreciative that the MOST supports this friendly competition!

    Cross Country Runners Contribute to State Sectional Win: You are also living in the "fastest" section in New York State thanks in part to the individual efforts of cross country runners Carly Benson (4th place AA girls) and David Leff (11th place AA boys). We are in Section III and the athletes competed for individual New York State Cross-Country Championships this past weekend. David, Carly, and other runners from our section combined their finishing scores to solidify the intersectional scoring win and bragging rights for Section III runners everywhere. Congratulations!

    Busy and warm week ahead.  Enjoy!


  • Counting Blessings!

    Amy Griffin's Blog|11/15/2015

    With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is the time to give thanks and show appreciation.  Students and staff honored Veterans last week with letters, cards, and by participating in the Cumberland Ruritan Veterans Day Breakfast.  
    We are thankful for a successful fall sports season with Varsity Volleyball competing in Regional Play-Offs and the Boys Cross Country Team and golfer Chase Grubbs competing in VHSL State Competition. This would not be possible without dedicated coaches and athletes as well as supportive parents and community members. It was wonderful to see staff members from across the division support the Lady Dukes Volleyball team by attending the game and raising money for students to attend.
    Personally, I am thankful for our CuCPS faculty and staff who continue to work non-stop to meet the needs of our students academically, socially, and emotionally.  Over the past two weeks during academic reviews and site visits, I have seen students engaged and passionate about learning. This could not happen without committed faculty and staff with the purpose of making a difference in our childrens' lives.  
    I was taught to count my blessings -- at Cumberland County Public Schools, we have much to be thankful for!  
    CuCPS Highlights:
    • The Cumberland High School JROTC presented colors to the veterans at the Cumberland Ruritan Veterans Day Breakfast.
    • Little Duke Leaders wrote letters to Veteran's and packed packages for Madeline's House.
    • The Cumberland Boys 2015 Cross Country team finished 9th at Great Meadows (State Course). Led by podium medalists Jared Halvorsen, 13th place, and Matthew Bapties, 15th place, both young men earned 2nd team All-State. Rounding out the top 5 team members were Hunter Cochran, Justin Stimpson, and Christopher Giles. This is the first team ever to crack VHSL Cross Country 1A states top 12 teams: 1. Auburn 49, 2. Altavista 57, 3. Radford 97, 4. Matthews 107, 5. Parry McCluer 163, 6. Luray 177, 7. Galax 179, 8. Stonewall Jackson (Quicksburg) 211, 9. Cumberland 224, 10. West Point 227, 11. Patrick Henry (Gladespring) 232, 12. Northwood 313.

    Events for the Week:
    • Tuesday
      • 9:00 CCES Supt. Student Panel Meeting
      • 10:00 CMS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
      • 2:15  CHS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
      • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
    • Wednesday
      • CCES and CMS Academic Review Session
      • VSBA Conference
    • Thursday
      • VSBA Conference
    • Friday
      • VSBA Conference
      • CCES Data Meetings
    Upcoming Important Dates:
    • 11/23:  CHS Data Meetings
    • 11/24:  CHS Academic Jacket Ceremony
    • 11/25-27:  Thanksgiving Break

  • A Week Full of Great Events!

    Notes from the Superintendent|11/9/2015

    Visiting Camillus Seniors: I had a chance to speak to senior citizens in our community at the Camillus Senior Center. I get an opportunity to speak there once or twice a year and it is always very interesting. Just because people are senior citizens does not mean that they do not care about what is happening in the schools and in our community. I was asked some great questions about the Common Core Learning Standards, issues that our current young people are facing, and how our Capital Project is progressing. At the end I asked for a show of hands as to who might be interested in taking a bus ride from the senior center to our high school musical in the late winter and everyone raised their hands!

    Marching Proudly for Our Veterans: Our Marching Band proudly participated in the Veteran's Day Parade held at the New York State Fairgrounds over the weekend. This is something that our students look forward to each year and while a little chilly, the weather held out for the event.

    The Hills Were Alive: Camillus Middle School students (with some cameo faculty appearances) performed The Sound of Music this past weekendIt was a terrific production and it is great to see so many students committed to something positive!

    Thanking our Veterans: Speaking of positive, our West Genesee Middle School students invited local Veterans to their classrooms to talk about what it was like to serve our country, what it is like to be a Veteran, and to make lasting connections. The students wrote the veterans thank you cards, and I had a chance to read several of them. Our students DO understand what our veterans did for them, and I am very proud that they do!

    Students are Top Spellers: Our annual Spelling Bee was held last week as well. It can be a stressful event for the students but I have to say the sportsmanship displayed by all of the contestants and their parents is remarkable. Forty-three students in grades 4-8 began the Spelling Bee, and twelve spellers finished to advance to the next level. They will join others from Central New York for a written test in January. The top 35 spellers from that round will compete in The Post-Standard WCNY Spelling Bee oral spell-down in February. Congratulations to all! (Click here to see the details.)

    Listening Sessions About Common Core: Those looking to see how the Governor is handling the review of the Common Core Learning Standards can attend a listening forum this Tuesday, November 10 at Onondaga Community College at the Storer Auditorium from 7:00 -9:00 p.m. The event is first come first served, so if you are interested in attending contact them soon by clicking here.

    Thanking a Local Columnist: Lastly, I would like to give a big thank you to local columnist Sean Kirst. He will be leaving our local paper after more than two decades of quality writing about local interest stories. I love Syracuse, and I felt like he always featured stories about amazing people and events right here at home that just solidified why we live in such a special place. Best of luck to him!

    Thank you to all Veterans, your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.


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