Sunday, January 21, 2018

Open Up Narrow...

As I was listening to some good tunes this week, a jazz classic from trumpet legend Bill Chase came on the playlist: Open Up Wide. Chase was fusion jazz trumpet player who led a small group of trumpets with a rhythm section. Those that don't appreciate trumpet players playing sounds that are into the stratosphere may classify his music as cats being swung by their tails. Regardless, the title of the tune made me reflect on some conversations I've had recently about the direction of the education profession as a whole. Education is the one profession where literally every person in a community has some experience with. Educational professionals are frequently questioned about whether or not they know what they are doing by a community because every member of the community has been in a school. We don't often question the dentist about their plans if we have no experience with dentistry. Or our personal trainer, mechanic, contractor, lawyer, etc. We listen to their judgement because they are the professional. Not in education, everything is second guessed because everyone else knows better. Another issue facing education is the drastic change in demographics and needs for future job skills. Did you know that major engineering colleges are already removing mathematics from their curricular requirements citing that engineers don't need to know how to do math, they only need to be able to understand the concept behind the math. That will have significant implications on public education down the road. Regarding demographics, our children from all walks of life are coming to school with needs that many educational professionals have not experienced in their lifetime. This makes it challenging to understand and relate to these needs, but we have to find a way. The age old saying, "it worked for me when I was a student" or "that's the expectation I have for my own kids" simply isn't relatable in today's world. The types of issues that our own children may face when not in school most likely are not the same issues that our students are facing when they leave school. And how about that comment, "it worked for me.."; I would ask: Did you ever have to come to school hungry? Did you ever have to wear the same clothes 3 days in a row? Did you ever fail a test? Did you ever not have time to do your homework? I could go on and on and I would imagine that 97% of educational professionals throughout the country would answer every question with, "NO." The world has changed. Society has changed. Education has not. We are as narrow minded as ever and if those of us that are charged with providing a future for our children and society don't open up our minds... in a wide way... our children have lost. It's time to worry more about getting to know kids and what makes them tick, than to worry about teaching the x's and o's. It's time to open up the narrow mind.


RFA Regents Week

Rome Free Academy will be having Regents Exams Monday January 22-Thursday January 25th. If students are not scheduled to take exams they do not have to attend school those days as regular classes will not be in session at RFA. RFA BOCES students will have morning and afternoon transportation to attend their respective programs Monday January 22-Thursday January 25th as their classes are still in session. For more information, including the exam schedule and transportation schedule, please visit http://www.rfa.romecsd.org/ or contact an RFA administrator.


Evening of Arts


Our annual Celebrate the Arts event will take place on Friday, January 26, in the large cafeteria at Rome Free Academy. The art gallery, with work created by our art faculty, and appetizers will take place from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Following that, a concert featuring the talents of our music faculty will occur from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. There is no admission fee for this event, however donations are welcome and will go toward funding a scholarship for one Rome music student and one Rome art student who plane to continue their education in the field. The more money raised, the more that goes to the students! The Rome City School District is the only local district who does an event featuring their faculty like this! Please join us for this unique event and SPREAD THE WORD!

RFA Volleyball Dinner


On January 30th, the Rome Free Academy volleyball program is hosting a chicken riggie dinner fundraiser in conjunction with the girls’ basketball senior night. The dinner will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the RFA cafeteria. Tickets are $10 for dine in or take out. The public can reserve tickets through nnatishak@romecsd.org. Basketball senior night ceremony will begin at 6:45pm. Stop on by to enjoy a nice riggie dinner before cheering on the Lady Knights!

Griffiss Institute Internship


Griffiss Institute’s Summer Internship Program at the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, is currently accepting applications. The internship opportunity is a paid internship, and while it is geared toward students who are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university (freshman through PhD level), high school students can gain entrance if the application is strong enough. The majority of students selected will be majoring in technical fields, however some other fields (accounting, finance, marketing, etc.) may also be selected. The application deadline is January 31, 2018 and more information can be found by visiting https://www.griffissinstitute.org


Monday, January 15, 2018

Seventy Years Later...

It's hard to believe that the civil rights movement, led by Dr. King, began roughly 70 years ago. I say this because we seem to be still striving for the same things that he once advocated for. In fact, in some regards, we may have regressed as a society in recent years. The concept of equal rights has been around for centuries and in today's era is most commonly referred to a social justice. While rights are something that are bestowed upon an individual, that doesn't simply mean that all things are equal. Social justice is the concept by which the equality of rights are being exercised consistently across all groups of people. While rights can be equal on paper, our society still does not unilaterally view people as equal. It's up to society, made up of human beings from all walks of life, to ensure that all humans are considered valuable. It shouldn't take catastrophic events for communities to come together and support each other, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. Last week, one of the world's all time great football coaches, Nick Saban, won his sixth college football national championship. His philosophy is simple and is also the reason he struggled in the professional ranks. As an NFL head coach, he once said in a press conference, "I don't care about winning and losing, I care about doing things right." If you take a step back and think about those words, it's a simple concept. If everyone in a society or organization simply did what was right and expected of them all of the time; the society or organization would be wildly successful. Hence, Alabama football. In 2018, the message is the same as it was seventy years ago as Dr. Martin Luther King attempted to get us all to understand. More importantly, the message is simple. JUST DO WHAT'S RIGHT. If every one of us were to value life, humans, and society... we would finally have turned the corner down the correct path of social justice... just seventy years later.

Lost and Found

As I walk through our elementary schools, the piles and piles of clothes, jackets, shoes, hats, gloves, etc. are growing exponentially. This is the time of year where everyone's lost and found tables/piles seem to become uncontrollable. Each year, schools end up with bags full of clothing that is left behind throughout the year. Please take time to review your child's belongings each day and if you notice that they did not come home with something that they went to school with, please contact the school and have the student check the lost and found. With amount of changing and layers that kids come to school with in the winter, it's understandable that little ones often forget something. Another tactic would be to use a permanent marker to write your child's name inside all clothing items, so that if something does get lost, we can return it without having to wonder who it belongs to. Winter clothing is important, but also can be costly; we want to help to make sure that our families and students are not losing much needed items and/or spending additional money on items if we can locate them.

Thank You Key Bank/YMCA


Thank you to Key Bank, who has donated $15,000 to fund the Strategic Teen Enrichment Program (STEP) for Rome City School District 7th and 8th graders at the YMCA of Rome. The grant will also be used to bring outside agencies to the YMCA to present specific subject matters that will help the students with important things they will encounter as they get older. Some programs will include: Job readiness, money matters, addiction, relationships, real estate, whether it’s a house or shopping for an apartment, and careers and college readiness discussed by instructors from MVCC. The STEP program is a successful and established partnership with the YMCA for RFA students, and we are beyond excited to be able to offer the same experience for our middle school students. Thank you!!


Evening of Arts


Our annual Celebrate the Arts event will take place on Friday, January 26, in the large cafeteria at Rome Free Academy. The art gallery, with work created by our art faculty, and appetizers will take place from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Following that, a concert featuring the talents of our music faculty will occur from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. There is no admission fee for this event, however donations are welcome and will go toward funding a scholarship for one Rome music student and one Rome art student who plane to continue their education in the field. The more money raised, the more that goes to the students! The Rome City School District is the only local district who does an event featuring their faculty like this! Please join us for this unique event and SPREAD THE WORD!

Community Concert Opportunity


The Clinton Symphony Orchestra of the Mohawk Valley will be hosting a concert on Sunday, January 21, 2018. They will be featuring guest artist David Kim, who will make their Steinway piano come alive while performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20. Also on the program will be Tchaikowsky's Symphony No. 6. There will be a special pre-concert program scheduled for 1:30 p.m. with the concert beginning at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and a grant has been secured by the organization to allow students to attend as guests. Enjoy an afternoon of music at their amazing theatre! The concert will be performed at the Clinton Central School Performing Arts Complex and for questions, please call 315-404-2016.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

'K'-Coins Abound...

No, I am not blogging about my new attempt at an internet sensation to replace the bitcoin. Actually, a 'K'-coin is an initiative started by the RFA PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) team several years ago as a method to provide students and staff with compliments. PBIS is a program that we have adopted in the Rome City Schools that works to compliment people and recognize positive behaviors, rather than the traditional method of noticing negative behaviors in schools. The 'K' stands for Knight and individuals at the high school are awarded with the 'K'-coin randomly by either staff members or fellow students. The entire PBIS program has been very successful throughout our region and it can be monumental in shifting the needle from negatively treating each other, to seeing the positive in everything. With this blog, I want to send out my own 'K'-coin kudos to our entire district. The past week (and through this weekend with the cold) has been an extreme challenge on our buildings and grounds department. Our custodians and maintenance staff have worked tirelessly to keep snow and ice clear of our lots and walkways, while others have worked to ensure that our boilers are functioning through the extreme cold. Our staff has done a wonderful job and maintaining focus on learning and students as we are faced with the constant uncertainty of winter. The clerical staff always deserves a tremendous K-coin for always being our front line and taking many negative calls throughout the days. It is challenging to remain positive day after day when people feel that they have a privilege to be able to curse at our clerical staff and call them names. Finally, our students deserve a some 'K'-coins for through all the potential negative that can exist out there (especially on social media), for answering the call to rise above negativity and learn to utilize social media in a positive light. Winter is not an easy time of year for public schools because we are always under scrutiny by people that think that have a small clue about the reality of public schools, but our organization is off to a great start this winter. Thank you everyone for remaining focused on the goal of making Rome the best school district in New York and off of the distractions. 'K'-coins for all!!

Strough Art Show


Strough Middle School is currently holding an art show at the Rome MVCC campus. The show opened this past week on January 4 and will close on Wednesday, January 17. The student art work is on display in the Plumley Complex commons area. The staff are excited to share the work of our students with the community and I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day to walk through the art show and enjoy the great work of your young artists!


CFLR Partnership


The Rome City School District is pleased to have been able to develop a partnership this year with the Center for Family, Life, and Recovery (CFLR). CFLR is a local organization that provides many benefits to families and children throughout our community who struggle with a myriad of potential life altering concerns. Their specialties span from social emotional concerns, mental health, to substance abuse and addiction. Our school district currently has an individual available to work with students and families that may be experiencing some challenges related to these things. If you feel that your student may benefit from speaking with a professional in this area, please contact Amanda Jones (Director of Counseling Services) at the District Office for more information.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome 2018...

The ringing in of the New Year always brings a sense of newfound hope, energy, and optimism for many throughout the country and the world. Turning over the calendar is a nice symbolic way to close a chapter and begin anew. A year is made up of 365 days and today brings with it the first opportunity to make 2018 a better year than the previous one. In fact, we all have 365 opportunities to make 2018 special. It would certainly be nice if a simple changing of the calendar and a new number at the end of the year would be enough to make the world a better place. If only it were that simple to create a different outcome or scenario. Unfortunately, for many people in our community and country, real world problems are a fact of daily life and simply changing a date can't take away the concern, fear, and uncertainty that they face. While there isn't much that many others can do either, we can continue our work of treating each other with respect, dignity, and honor. We've all heard the phrase that you never know what someone is dealing with until you've walked a day in their lives. Our society in general has become one of pessimism and negativity where individuals feel that lashing out and putting others down is acceptable and appropriate. The unfortunate outcome of these actions is often unseen by those issuing the verbal attack, as they generally have no comprehension of the reality in which others live. This is something that does not have to be the norm if we all take a moment to think before we act and care more for others than we do ourselves. It's an age old concept that can lead to tremendous growth. As we enter 2018, I look forward to the challenge of continuing our work to make Rome the most prestigious location for education in New York State. The challenge is great, the road is long, but our children deserve innovation and opportunity. Let's contribute to the opportunity by setting the example of how to treat each other in 2018. Our children are counting on us in 2018, are you going to welcome the challenge? 


RFA Scholar Athletes

Each athletic season, Section 3 Athletics recognizes student athletes and teams that achieve either a combined 90% academic average as a team, or 90% academic average as an individual. This fall, Rome Free Academy had 110 student athletes from 12 teams achieve the status of scholar athlete. Along with this honor, our Girls' gymnastics, soccer, cross country, swimming/diving, and tennis teams all received the scholar team award. On the Boys' side, our soccer and cross country teams were honored with scholar team award. Congratulations to all of the athletes who represent our school and community. Keep up the great work!! 


RFA Cabaret


On Saturday, January 6, 2018, the RFA music department will be hosting their annual student and alumni cabaret. The Cabaret is an annual event that brings together the current music students of Rome, with alumni from all walks of life. The concert will be held in the RFA auditorium and will begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information about this event, please contact the RFA main office.




RCSD App Now Available


Dove tailing with our website redesign this past summer, our technology team has also developed our first mobile application. Available through Apple's App Store or through Android's Google Play Store, you can download the app to your device and customize as you prefer. Some basic features include allowing you to set the app for your child's school to receive messages/information about that school only. Simply search for Rome City School District in the store and you will find our app with the District logo. 











Sunday, December 17, 2017

Happy Holidays...

Not much new to report this week so we are going to keep it simple. Most people find the holidays as a time of year to enjoy with family and friends, and we often reflect on the past and attempt to predict the future. This time of year is also when most people are thinking positively about all aspects of their lives. Unfortunately, this is also a time when many struggle with remaining positive for a myriad of reasons. A family member, or friend, may be ill; there could be tension in one's life (work or home); or it could be a time of year when someone has experienced trauma, making it tough to manage. In my case, this is the time of year when ironically all 4 of my grandparents passed away. It's the time of year where my family wonders and worries a bit, as we enjoy each other's company to celebrate our year. We all have our ups and downs throughout the year, but what is most important is that we don't give up on each other. In today's world, it's very easy to see the negative in anything. Our news media tends to focus on mostly bad things and the world of social media has evolved from a place of keeping in touch, to a place of putting people down (that often we don't even know or have 2% of the details about the topic we talk about). Nonetheless, most people continue to find happiness and joy during this season, and I encourage you to try as well. More importantly, this is the time of year to help others find happiness and joy. I've said this before and I'll say again, Rome, NY is probably the most giving/philanthropic community that I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. During this holiday season, let's continue to display this caring for each other and our society with the hope of passing this trait onto our youth. Our children are our future and if we don't continue to educate them about the importance of caring for others, the negative twist on life in general is going to take over. Take a moment to support each other, help someone, or just be positive in general. Our society needs you and there isn't a better time of the year to provide some cheer! From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!!



RCSD App Now Available

Dove tailing with our website redesign this past summer, our technology team has also developed our first mobile application. Available through Apple's App Store or through Android's Google Play Store, you can download the app to your device and customize as you prefer. Some basic features include allowing you to set the app for your child's school to receive messages/information about that school only. Simply search for Rome City School District in the store and you will find our app with the District logo. 


Military Service Data Collection


Each year, the United States Department of Education provides roughly $40 million in Impact Aid to school districts which serve the children of military and civilian employees. In order to receive this aid, school districts must gather registration data regarding the students enrolled in their district. This funding enables us to provide programs and services that may not otherwise be available to students. The information gathered to determine eligibility for Impact Aid pertains to any student whose mother, father, or legal guardian is active military, OR a civilian working on a military post. If you are a parent/guardian that meets this requirement, please take a moment to complete the survey HERE so that our student may have the opportunity to benefit from this Federal Aid.



Socks for Teens


The Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) is collecting new socks to support teen students throughout the Mohawk Valley as part of National Runaway Prevention Month. As the weather becomes more challenging, socks are an essential requirement for students who are on the streets. All schools are collecting donations of new socks of all kinds, preferably sizes 4-9. If you would like to help the MVCAA in this effort, please send in socks to your school's main office labeled "MVCAA Sock Donation" on or before December 21. 

Block R Club Cereal Drive


Once again this year the Block R Club, made up of varsity athletes, will be collecting cereal donations at all home athletic events. This year they are also accepting donations of granola bars and pop tarts. The donated items will be distributed to students for the holiday break who depend on the District for breakfast and/or lunch, since students do not have access to those resources during that time. You may also participate by simply dropping off cereal, granola bars, or pop tarts to the RFA main office at any point before December 21. Thank you to all who have supported thus far and to our student athletes for sponsoring this wonderful drive!


RCSD Apparel Sale


The Rome City School District is holding an online apparel sale from now through December 22, 2017. Items for sale can be found by following this link: https://form.jotform.com/73234073037955. All apparel comes in varying sizes, men's/women's, and colors. The logo on each item varies, so please read the item description carefully. We expect product delivery to be roughly one month from the close of the sale. All payments are made online and go directly to the vendor. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Let It Fun...

As I attempt to watch the Bills game today with all their snow and have listened to the Christmas classic, 'Let It Snow' recently; I reflect on some professional development from the past two weeks that reminded us all to find ways to provide more fun in both our jobs and in life. I have not done research on this, nor have I gone looking for it; but I would venture a bet that anecdotally most children that are disengaged with school would tell you that it is because they are not having fun. Likewise, I would imagine that most people that are not happy with their place of employment would say it's because their job is not fun. If you know me at all, you know that my next question is \, "Why?" Why can't we have more fun in school? Why can't we make our jobs more fun? Is there a rule against having fun? Perhaps the problem is who defines what fun is? In schools, it's most often defined by the adults, but students are our clients/consumers (to take lingo from the corporate world). Education historically is the only industry that refuses to produce/evolve based on the demand of it's consumers. In schools, we love to follow the, "It worked for me 20 years ago, so it should work for you model." Have you looked at your phone lately? When was the last time you heard some looking for a rotary style phone (that isn't an app) or for a land line even. Everything around us has evolved, but schooling wants to resist society. We don't have to. Let's listen to our students, our consumers, our clients. Education is not meant to serve the adults who have already completed it. It's meant to serve the children who NEED it to ensure that our society prospers when we are retired. So when it come time to make that New Year's resolution, I say, "Let It Fun!!"

Military Service Data Collection


Each year, the United States Department of Education provides roughly $40 million in Impact Aid to school districts which serve the children of military and civilian employees. In order to receive this aid, school districts must gather registration data regarding the students enrolled in their district. This funding enables us to provide programs and services that may not otherwise be available to students. The information gathered to determine eligibility for Impact Aid pertains to any student whose mother, father, or legal guardian is active military, OR a civilian working on a military post. If you are a parent/guardian that meets this requirement, please take a moment to complete the survey HERE so that our student may have the opportunity to benefit from this Federal Aid.


Socks for Teens


The Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) is collecting new socks to support teen students throughout the Mohawk Valley as part of National Runaway Prevention Month. As the weather becomes more challenging, socks are an essential requirement for students who are on the streets. All schools are collecting donations of new socks of all kinds, preferably sizes 4-9. If you would like to help the MVCAA in this effort, please send in socks to your school's main office labeled "MVCAA Sock Donation" on or before December 21. 

Block R Club Cereal Drive


Once again this year the Block R Club, made up of varsity athletes, will be collecting cereal donations at all home athletic events. This year they are also accepting donations of granola bars and pop tarts. The donated items will be distributed to students for the holiday break who depend on the District for breakfast and/or lunch, since students do not have access to those resources during that time. You may also participate by simply dropping off cereal, granola bars, or pop tarts to the RFA main office at any point before December 21. Thank you to all who have supported thus far and to our student athletes for sponsoring this wonderful drive!


RCSD Apparel Sale


The Rome City School District is holding an online apparel sale from now through December 22, 2017. Items for sale can be found by following this link: https://form.jotform.com/73234073037955. All apparel comes in varying sizes, men's/women's, and colors. The logo on each item varies, so please read the item description carefully. We expect product delivery to be roughly one month from the close of the sale. All payments are made online and go directly to the vendor.