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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 magazine@aasa.org.

  • Honoring Officer Tarentino

    Judy Paolucci's Multimedia Blog|5/26/2016

    The Board of Selectmen declared Friday, May 27th 2016 a town-wide day of mourning to remember the life, service and sacrifice of Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. The Board of Selectmen encourages the community to continue to honor his life and remember his service. Many will not be able to attend Officer Tarentinos funeral but all can find ways to honor his life and remember his service and such (Continued...)

  • Journey of a Superintendent: Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize!

    It's Up to Us: Inspiring Excellence|5/25/2016

    Each year I have the privilege of congratulating nearly 1,000 graduates as they commence to the next phase in their life’s journey. It is so rewarding to be a small part of the accomplishments of our students, families, schools and … Continue reading

  • Yearly Rituals

    Notes from the Superintendent|5/23/2016

    Budget Vote Pressure: As the polls closed last Tuesday night and I began the yearly ritual of getting a stomach ache while the votes were tabulated, I took a moment to reflect. I thought to myself, "Why do I get a stomach ache every year?". We are doing tremendous things at all levels, we are always below the tax cap, we are always transparent about our business, and our District has local, state, and national credibility.

    The reality is that even with sustained success, one should never take anything for granted. Trust, support, and votes are earned every day, even when people aren't watching. The level of pressure to keep improving upon our success from year to year AND to keep your trust and support is always on my mind.

    The results? Outstanding once again and in that moment of exhale, I am so thankful for all that you do to help support me, our staff, our students, and our community. We are humbled once again and will keep making you proud.

    High School Hero: Someone else made me proud last week. After leaving the Senior Ball, senior Nicole Corrente was headed back to school on Route 690 with a friend to enjoy the All-Night After Party. She noticed a person in the median of the highway. It was approaching midnight and the person looked out of place. She and her companion could have kept driving. The music was playing in the car, and they were anxious to hang out with their other friends back at school. Nicole then did the right thing. She decided that the after party could wait a little while. She called 911 and reported what she saw. Turns out the person was suffering from dementia and had been missing. The police came and brought her back to her family.

    Nicole probably saved a life. She went about her business from there, back to the after party and did not think much of it until she was contacted by the family of the missing person. Good stuff! There needs to be more Nicole's in the world. Thanks for doing the right thing. (Click here to view CNYCentral coverage of this story.)

    Special Olympics: Last Thursday I had an incredible time watching about two hundred of our students cheer on fifty of our athletes at the Special Olympics.

    I was filled with pride as students gave it their all while their fans held up signs, cheered, and congratulated their exceptional classmates. This made me very proud to be a Wildcat!

    This week is BUSY! There are all kinds of athletic sectional competitions this week as well as Kaleidoscope on Thursday night at the Civic Center. We are looking forward to seeing the Alumni Marching Band and our current Marching Band at the Memorial Day Parade on Monday. We have so many people participating, that they are hoping to break the Guinness Book of World Records! With that many alumni, we have had to reach out as far as Pennsylvania to get enough instruments for people to play! Luckily, it looks like the long-term weather forecast is very good. I cannot wait!

    Please remember that there is no school this Friday. Thanks and enjoy the week!

    Chris

  • The knuckleball and innovation in schools

    The Superintendent's Chair|5/17/2016

    RA Dickey is a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. He throws the knuckleball.


    While a member of the New York Mets RA Dickey won the CY Young Award - emblematic of the best pitcher in baseball. Knuckleball pitchers don't win the Cy Young Award. Dickey was the first to do so.

    When Dickey accepted his Cy Young Award he said:

    We live in a culture now that's got a very progressive mentality, which is fantastic as far as the association of the knuckleball goes. And that's a compliment to the vision and the imagination of the writers who voted. They didn't see the knuckleball as a trick pitch. They didn't see it as some kind of illegitimate weapon that you can use that isn't worthy. They saw it as a legitimate weapon. 

    So what does RA Dickey winning the Cy Young Award have to do with innovation in education?

    Perhaps, and this is just a hunch on my part, we are turning a corner. Perhaps, we are beginning to see that it is the outcome that is most important and not the means.

    RA Dickey won the CY Young Award because he won a lot of games. It didn't matter that he threw the knuckleball. It didn't matter that he was not a typical fastball, curve ball kind of pitcher. He won because he won.

    Schools exist to help students learn. We should use any means available to us to help students learn.

    In the past we have viewed learning as "legitimate" only if it was teacher directed. Teachers were rated as effective if they were the primary "talkers" in the classroom. Teachers were rated as effective if they commanded the attention of the students in the room.

    But that is not how students learn anymore.

    Students are more independent. Students have a voice.

    Student have developed their voice by gaining access to information through the Internet, by connecting with people from around the world through gaming platforms, by sharing ideas through Twitter and Snapchat.

    We can no longer say that students should not have a voice in our classrooms. We cannot say that the only legitimate learning that occurs is in the classroom between the hours of 8:00 and 4:00.

    Learning occurs throughout the day, throughout the night, throughout the year.

    The definition of legitimate learning has to expand. Students have access to too much information.

    The question is how do schools capitalize on this and expand learning opportunities inside of our schools?

    The baseball writers accept that the knuckleball is now a "legitimate" pitch.

    Can we as educators accept that student learning is different now than it has been in the past? And if we can accept that, how does it change how we do business?

  • A Busy Time of Year

    Notes from the Superintendent|5/16/2016

    Another Great Senior Ball: Just when you thought the Senior Ball was going to be a washout, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and over 400 students had a wonderful time at the "Phantom of the Opera" themed dinner and dance held at the OnCenter. The students were mature beyond their years and were just awesome to be with for the evening.

    Earlier in the day they attended a modified presentation of a Mock DWI exercise that although abbreviated due to the weather, was still very powerful. Afterwards they enjoyed a delicious breakfast.

    All told, I would say that nearly 100 staff, community members, and parents helped to make sure that the students had a safe and enjoyable 24 hours. Thanks to all!

    50th Anniversary of Alumni Marching Band: What has 1,276 legs and is over a quarter of a mile long? The West Genesee Alumni Marching Band. On their 50th anniversary they will try to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest alumni band. How cool is that?!? I hope to see you there.

    Reward School Honor: Last week we received some great news. For the second year in a row, West Genesee High School was recognized as a "Reward School" by the New York State Education Department. This is the highest academic award given by New York State, and we are proud to be a recipient. The main criteria that has helped us to achieve this goal is our overall completion rate, which is very high compared to other schools in New York State.

    Congratulations goes to all of our teachers, support staff, administrators, Board of Education, parents, and especially our students! Other schools in our area to also receive this award are Jamesville-Dewitt, Skaneateles, and Westhill High Schools. I want to congratulate those schools for also receiving this honor.

    Update on the STAR Program: In keeping an eye on what is happening around the state, I wanted to draw your attention to some changes that are being made to the STAR program. STAR is a property and school tax reduction program that primary homeowners qualify for. If you have not bought a new house this year, you have nothing to worry about as STAR will work as it always has. If you have bought a home this year, check out this brief article from syracuse.com to see how to register and receive the STAR reduction.

    Special Olympics is this Week: If you have time on Thursday, May 19, please join me as I cheer on hundreds of children (including many of our own students) at the Special Olympics being held at Cicero-North Syracuse High School starts at 9:30 a.m. with the parade beginning at 10:15 a.m.. This is always one of my favorite things to do each year and every competitor is an inspiration to us all!

    Time to Vote on the School Budget: Lastly, please remember to vote on the school budget and for Board of Education members this Tuesday. It is very important to us to hear from as many community members as possible.Voting will take place from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium lobby.

    Please remember that due to the state no longer providing waivers to use the old style of voting machines, we will be using the new voting system with the Board of Elections workers working the polls.

    A special thank you to all of the volunteers who have worked the school budget vote over the years. We are planning a small celebration for them on vote day, including community member Hugh Stannard who is one hundred years young!

    Thank you for your support and have a great week!

    Chris

  • Chowan County Named First NC Works Certified Work Ready Community in Northeastern North Carolina

    #ibelieveinyou|5/10/2016

    (From left: Board of Education Chair John Guard, NC Representative Bob Steinburg, Vidant Hospital President Jeff Sackrison, NC Chamber Foundation Vice-President Ed Troha, Board of County Commissioners Chair Jeff Smith, COA President Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Town of Edenton Mayor Roland Vaughan, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Win Dale, Edenton-Chowan Schools Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson)

    On Monday, May 9th, local and state dignitaries gathered with community members to announce and celebrate Chowan County being named as a NC Works Certified Work Ready Community.

    According to the description, "the foundation of a community's certification is based on individuals at the county level across the current, transitioning and emerging workforce earning a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and employers recognizing the NCRC. The NCRC is a portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual’s WorkKeys® skills in reading for information, applied math and locating information – skills required for 77 percent of jobs based on the ACT JobPro database."

    The announcement and presentation was made by Ed Troha, Vice President of the North Carolina Chamber Foundation. He traveled from Raleigh to announce the certification and present a plaque to Chowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Smith and Town of Edenton Mayor Roland Vaughan.

    I had the honor to serve as the Chairman of the Steering Committee charged with leading our county's efforts to earn this certification. The way that our county was able to master and exceed the goals of the certification criteria is a testament to the partnership between the Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce, the Edenton-Chowan Partnership for Economic Development, the County of Chowan, the Town of Edenton, the College of the Albemarle, local businesses, and the Edenton-Chowan School System.

    As a community, we are honored and proud to be the first county in Northeastern North Carolina to earn this designation and believe that it will be a significant tool for the Partnership, the Chamber, and our local government to use in retaining our current businesses and attracting new businesses. We have demonstrated that our Work Force is prepared and ready to help the companies they work for take quantum leaps forward as they benefit from the potential employees they find right here in Chowan County.

    For the emerging workforce, our high schools students, the goal that was set for us was to have 46 National Career Readiness Certificates earned. The students at our local high school, John A. Holmes High, earned 328 certificates, over seven times the goal that was set for them. Our students in our local public school system have been able to demonstrate on this national assessment that they are ready and that they are well-prepared for college and career.

    I had the opportunity to introduce two members of the emerging work force. These are students who have taken the exams, proven their worth, and helped our county achieve this designation.

    Each of these students have earned a Gold Certificate. They represent the other 326 of their classmates who have also earned a National Career Readiness Certificate while in high school. The certificate they have earned gives them proof that they possess the skills employers deem essential to workplace success. 

    In addition to the National Career Readiness Certificate, our students are earning credentials in many areas including credentials like: Certified Nursing Assistant; Certified Production Technician Safety; ServSafe; Microsoft; OSHA-10; CPR-Heartsaver; and CPR-Healthcare Provider. Next year, our students will have the opportunity to earn credentials in Adobe; as a Carolina Certified Plant Professional; Community Emergency Response Team; EverFi; NC Private Pesticide Applicator; and PrintED in Graphic Communications.

    Our students will tell you that they would not have obtained success of this magnitude without the incredible teachers and staff members they have worked with throughout their school years. Though they took this test as students at John A. Holmes High School, their achievement was made possible by the strong foundational skills they mastered at White Oak Elementary, DF Walker Elementary, and Chowan Middle Schools.

    We are committed to doing all that we can to assist our students in achieving their dreams. We are proud of the Career Academies we opened this year in Public Safety, Health Sciences, and our STEM Academy. We are proud of the students that we have interning in Nursing Homes and Early Childhood Education Centers. We are proud of our incredible staff members.
    COA President Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer 
    I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the incredible partnership we have with the College of the Albemarle. Because of the partnership we have with our community college, our students are earning college credits in record numbers. This week I will join COA President Deitemeyer as one of our high school seniors participates in the COA Commencement Ceremony because he has earned his two-year Associates Degree while in high school.

    On behalf of our Board of Education, I would like to again thank our partners the Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce, the Edenton-Chowan Partnership for Economic Development, the County of Chowan, the Town of Edenton, the College of the Albemarle, and local businesses. We are proud of this honor and look forward to continuing to work together as we do all that we can to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.

  • Appreciate What You Have

    Notes from the Superintendent|5/9/2016

    Appreciating our Mothers: It can be easy to just type "Happy Mother's Day" as a Facebook status, as a quick Tweet, or a post on Instagram. With a little extra elbow grease most can even paste a picture of their mom to go along with that Tweet. One thing I have learned over time, and was especially reminded of last week, was how fortunate a person actually is to still have their mom around to celebrate Mother's Day.

    Forty-eight hours before Mother’s Day, I was handing a high school diploma to a senior in front of her mom who was expected to pass away at any moment. She unfortunately did not make it to Mother's Day. To read an article about this on syracuse.com, just click here.

    What was amazing was that even in dire sickness, this mother still kept everything together for her family. That is what moms do, and that is why they are such amazing people.

    If you are fortunate to still have your mother with you and TRULY didn't get a chance to thank your mom yesterday, you have some homework to do today.

    If your mom has passed on, I hope that you, your family, and your friends took a moment out to remember all of the things that made her the most important part of your lives. If you didn't, you have homework as well! When I write about Mother's Day next year, I will be checking your work!

    Ceramics Team Wins: Last week our high school Ceramics Team made school history by winning the "Feats of Clay" event at Onondaga Community College. They have worked hard and are extremely creative and it all paid off. Congratulations to all of the participants and to our Ceramics teacher Mrs. Schrader!

    Teamwork: Also congratulations to our ninth grade team who worked together to offer a "Renaissance Festival" to third graders from Stonehedge Elementary School. This is the second year of the full festival and the event has helped to promote teamwork, responsibility, and true authentic learning!

    Honors Breakfasts: Congratulations to the hundreds of students in ninth through eleventh grade who were recognized for being on the high honor roll for nearly every semester of their high school careers. It was great to enjoy the moment with their parents, and I am looking forward to celebrating academic success with the seniors later this month.

    Wrapping up the Mini-Forums: Last week we also hosted the last two mini-forums about substance abuse for the school year. The first was about Treatment and the second provided NARCAN training.

    They were both very informative and close to 200 people received the NARCAN (antidote to a heroin overdose) training convincing me that our community coalition is really doing some positive and much needed work right now. I am proud to be a part of something so important. To view news coverage on this event by News Channel 9, click here.

    Simulated Car Crash: Believe it or not, this coming Friday is the Senior Ball! On Friday morning we will be holding a simulated DWI crash in the circle at the high school. We have community partners from area emergency agencies as well as the district attorney's office, Buranich Funeral Home, Meyers Towing, clergy, the county medical examiner, and for the first time since 2009 and weather permitting, a helicopter.

    The event takes place from 7:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. so please do NOT be alarmed if you are driving on West Genesee Street during that time and see an "accident" unfolding. We want to thank all of these agencies and the community for volunteering their time because it does make a difference!

    Thank you for the continued support and enjoy the week!

    Chris



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