Sunday, April 17, 2016

Opportunity...

Throughout life, we are constantly provided with opportunities. As adults, we are provided many opportunities, some that we create through our own initiative and hard work and others because of who we are. Regardless, opportunity is one of the components that makes up the American Dream. Our students in today's society also have opportunity. I think back to when I was in high school and I had 10% of the opportunities that our children in RFA have today. Whether it be in terms of access and opportunity to college level coursework, opportunities to participate in the JROTC program, the access and opportunities that students have through BOCES and our own technology program, or the myriad of clubs and athletic opportunities that students have; the chance to find a sense of belonging and growth exists.

While our students have opportunity through school, I often ask the question if they have the capacity to access their opportunities. While as adults we have the privilege to create and ability to access and make the most of our opportunities, children often do not. Our children are born into their circumstances and often rely on the school to be their opportunity. However, I ask if our schools are always providing our children with the opportunity to make more of their lives than their parents before them. Over the past half century, the world around us has changed dramatically. But have our schools? The inside of a school still has the same basic look and feel as 50 years ago. If everything around us has changed, but we aren't changing on the inside; are we really providing our children with the opportunity they deserve? I recently saw a tweet where an educator asked if their organization was more like Eastman Kodak or Apple? Kodak was rendered irrelevant in the global market place because of their inability to see the opportunity available to them outside their own mindset. We can't afford to do that with our children. It's time the American education system realizes that change is required to provide our kids with the opportunities they deserve.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to the RFA JROTC program for completing and passing their Annual Inspection from the United States Air Force!!

Congratulations to the cast, crew, and support staff of Beauty and the Beast on 4 marvelous performances last week!!

Congratulations to the Girls Track Team on 2 victories in the past week!!

Congratulations to the varsity Girls Softball Team on their victory over Holland Patent last week!!

Congratulations to staff members Mrs. Corletto, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Dunn, Mrs. Witter, Ms. Ferlo, Mr. Natishak, Ms. Winkler, and Mrs. Shaw for winning the Rotary Interact raffle!!

Congratulations to Sarah Chien and Spencer Parrish for being named STAR Scholars by the Rome Chamber of Commerce!!

"PAIR"ents Partnership ...

You should be receiving report cards this week for the 3rd marking period. Please take a moment to review your students' report card and discuss their progress. If you have concerns, I continue to encourage you to contact their teacher directly. I have heard from several parents that claim that they do not want to contact their child's teacher for various reasons. This type of solution is not the answer. Our teachers always have the best insight into our students' history, ability, performance, and progress. Directly contacting the teacher is always the best method to ensure direct dialogue and success. In conjunction with this, if you are having trouble contacting a staff member for any reason, please let an administrator know and we will help to facilitate a discussion. We look forward to continued success over the last 10 weeks of the school year!!

This Week at RFA...

4/18 - Boys (v) Tennis vs. Whiteboro
4/18 - Girls (v) Golf at Holland Patent
4/18 - Boys (v) Golf vs. Proctor
4/18 - Boys (v) Track and Field vs. New Hartford
4/18 - Boys (v) Baseball vs. Whitesboro
4/18 - Girls (v) Softball vs. Whitesboro
4/19 - VEX Robotics Trip to World Championships in Louisville, KY
4/19 - District I&S Meeting
4/19 - Key Club Meeting
4/19 - Hillside Family Dinner
4/19 - Boys (v) Tennis at New Hartford
4/19 - Girls (v) Golf vs. Central Valley
4/19 - Girls (v) Softball at New Hartford
4/19 - Boys (v) Baseball at New Hartford
4/19 - Girls (v) Lacrosse vs. New Hartford
4/20 - Board of Education Meeting
4/20 - Area 51 Coffee House
4/20 - Girls (v) Golf vs. New Hartford
4/20 - Boys (v) Track and Field at Central Valley
4/21 - Travel Club Trip to Costa Rica
4/21 - SBIT Meeting
4/21 - Full Staff Meeting
4/21 - Career Seminar
4/21 - Strolling Strings 27th Annual Tea Fundraiser
4/21 - Girls (v) Golf vs. Camden
4/21 - Boys (v) Tennis at Camden
4/21 - Girls (v) Softball at Camden
4/21 - Boys (v) Baseball vs. ESM
4/21 - Boys (v) Lacrosse at Proctor
4/21 - Girls (v) Lacrosse vs. VVS
4/22 - JROTC Dining In Event
4/22 - Boys (v) Baseball at Whitesboro
4/22 - Boys (v) Track and Field Tournament at Proctor
4/22 - Boys (v) Golf at Camden
4/22 - Boys (v) Lacrosse at VVS
4/23 - Girls (v) Softball at Central Square


Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

The American education system is built upon providing children with the opportunity to better their lives. Becoming better than ever imagined requires someone to take a chance on us and allow us to grow. During the last weeks of the school year, reflect on your classroom practices and see if your practices are providing students with the best opportunity to succeed in life. As mentioned here often, there is always something we can do as professionals to be better educators. Find that thing and do it, for our children!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Re-Writing History...

As we watch golfer Jordan Spieth re-write the record books this weekend in The Masters tournament, it reminds me of the opportunities that we all have to affect positive change in our history. Although I am an avid golfer, I believe that the similarities between golf and life are abundant and easily understood by all. In order to position himself for this weekend's tournament where he can re-write history (or in his case create it), Spieth has not won a single tournament this season after dominating golf last year. Not only has he not won, but he really hasn't been competitive. What does this have to do with education? It's simple, keep your eye on the prize! Along the road there are all kinds of little tasks and larger tasks that all lead to one goal; COMPLETION!!

In public school it doesn't matter if you are first or last or somewhere in the middle. It's not a competition against your classmates or your teachers, it's a competition against the system. And the best part is that we are all on the SAME team!! Everyone one of us from the students, to the teachers, to the parents, grocers, elected officials, referees.. you name it, everyone wants the same outcome for our youth and that is simply to finish high school so that everyone has the best opportunity possible for their future. Jordan Spieth has already made history this weekend and is poised to continue making history because he has not been afraid of failure and taken the risks needed to progress. We need to provide opportunities for our teachers and students to take risks. It's time to re-write history of what schools look like but at the same time understand and respect where we have come from. Every decision on the golf course comes with a risk/reward element and most often times we choose risk. Let's provide that same mentality to our children with learning without penalizing them for failure.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to the members of the RFA Weight Lifting Club for finishing 1st as a team in their first ever competition!!

Congratulations to the members of Fermata Nowhere for winning the Judges Choice Award at their recent competition in Reston, Virginia!!

"PAIR"ents Partnership ...

On a regular basis, I am having the privilege of meeting more and more parents and having great conversations. The one thing that I really appreciate is that all of our families are passionate about their child's education. I urge you to continue to contact us if you have a concern. As we enter the last marking period of the school year, there are a lot of stresses that students experience related to graduation, college, summer school, passing, exams, and the list goes on. Keep an eye on your student and if you notice any behaviors that begin to surface that are out of the ordinary for your student, have a conversation with them about what may be happening. While students often will say they don't care about their grades and schooling, the reality is that they care more than we think.


This Week at RFA...

4/11 - Girls (v) Track and Field at Camden
4/11 - Boys (v) Tennis at VVS
4/11 - Boys (v) Golf at VVS
4/11 - Girls (v) Golf vs. VVS
4/11 - Boys (v) Baseball at VVS
4/11 - Girls (v) Softball at VVS
4/11 - Girls (v) Lacrosse vs. Carthage
4/11 - District Parent Advisory Meeting
4/12 - Key Club Meeting
4/12 - Honor Society Meeting
4/12 - Ballister's Bistro Art Show Opening
4/12 - Boys (v) Tennis vs. Oneida
4/12 - Girls (v) Golf at Proctor
4/12 - Girls (v) Softball vs. Holland Patent
4/13 - Varsity Baseball Team to Visit Major League Baseball Headquarters
4/13 - Mock Trial Field Trip to Utica Court House
4/13 - Boys (v) Golf vs. Oneida
4/13 - Girls (v) Golf at Oneida
4/13 - Boys (v) Track and Field vs. VVS
4/14 - American Red Cross Blood Drive at RFA
4/14 - Career Seminar
4/14 - RFA Musical, Beauty & the Beast
4/14 - Boys (v) Golf vs. Central Valley Academy
4/14 - Boys (v) Lacrosse vs. Clinton
4/14 - Girls (v) Lacrosse vs. Marcellus
4/15 - RFA Musical, Beauty & the Beast
4/15 - Travel Club Meeting
4/15 - Class of 2018 Chicken Riggie Dinner Fundraiser
4/15 - Boys (v) Track and Field vs. Camden
4/15 - Boys (v) Tennis vs. Proctor
4/15 - Girls (v) Softball vs. Notre Dame
4/16 - RFA Musical, Beauty & the Beast
4/17 - RFA Musical, Beauty & the Beast

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

The end of the year is always the most stressful time for many. The weather gets nicer and we want to be outside, let alone that giant summer vacation staring you in the face. Find some strategies to improve your time management over the coming weeks as the year comes to a close. What are some classroom activities that you can allow students to have more ownership over? Can you do something different with your assessment practices, grading practices, homework to provide you with more time to have a good balance between work and play? After all, having a good balance in life helps us all perform our duties more efficiently.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Agents of Change...

Continuing some of last week's thoughts on educational grit, I wanted to write a bit about being agents of change in our educational institutions. On a daily basis I have conversations with people about climate, culture, and basically the "good old days" when teaching and learning were done at the discretion of the professionals and not guided by verbose curriculums and exams. I am a believer that the current world of education and the past world of education can live in harmony. Yes there are more and more mandates coming down from many places, but the mandates have never told us exactly what and how to teach. They are more or less a set of goals and desires for our students. We all want the same thing for our kids, the difference is who is setting the goals. I say, regardless of what we are "required" to do, we still control our own destiny with a little bit of grit.

Playing the new game is a challenge and it takes some brutal honesty, courage, trust, and teamwork to get our schools back to feeling like they are free of verbose mandates and expectations. We all want kids to graduate, learn, and become productive citizens of our society. More and more we are hearing that college isn't for every student and more and more students are stating that they prefer to enter the work force in a trade rather than attend college. Sound like Back to the Future or what? But how do we make it happen? Educational grit; the ability to work together, develop a common goal, and be willing to re-learn some of our old habits that just don't work within a new system. Remember, being an agent of change is not about dismissing the past or believing that what was done before was wrong; it's about being better and more efficient than ever before. If we can keep that in mind, we can all be the change that we desire in our schools. After all, we always encourage our students to pursue whatever they want in life, right? So when did we stop believing that we had control over our own destiny's as well? Be the change that you want to see...

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to RFA athletes Tekitha Posey-Barry, Brad Dougherty, and Ryan Swavely for being named to the All-CNY Indoor Track Team!!

"PAIR"ents Partnership ...

Spring time is always the most challenging time of year for schools, students, and parents. The "senioritis" takes hold with a lot of students preparing to graduate, and the sunshine and green grass out the window causes many others to pump the brakes a little bit. I encourage you to help us stress the importance of school attendance and punctuality with our students. Attendance and punctuality at school is the number one indicator of academic success. It's not rocket science to understand that more learning and productivity takes place when we are present at our jobs/school. If you are experiencing challenges with your child regarding their desire to attend school, please contact your child's counselor or administrator sooner than later (if discussions haven't already begun). Together we can work to solve the attendance riddle.

This Week at RFA...

4/4 - Boys (v) Tennis vs. Central Valley Academy
4/4 - Boys (v) Golf vs. Central Valley Academy
4/4 - Girls (v) Golf at Central Valley Academy
4/4 - Girls (v) Softball vs. West Genesee
4/4 - Girls (v) Lacrosse vs. Clinton
4/5 - Educational Policy Committee Meeting
4/5 - Key Club Meeting
4/5 - Boys (v) Tennis at Proctor
4/6 - STASS Meeting
4/6 - Mock Trial Field Trip to Utica Courthouse
4/6 - Girls (v) Golf vs. Proctor
4/6 - Boys (v) Lacrosse at New Hartford
4/7 - Career Seminar
4/7 - Girls (v) Softball vs. CNS
4/7 - Boys (v) Baseball at Whiteboro
4/7 - Boys (v) Lacrosse vs. Notre Dame
4/8 -Travel Club Meeting
4/8 - RFA Dugout Club Pasta Dinner
4/8 - Girls (v) Golf at Notre Dame
4/8 - Boys (v) Golf vs. Notre Dame
4/8 - Boys (v) Track & Field vs. Camden
4/8 - Girls (v) Track & Field at Camden
4/9 - Rome Dollars for Scholars Run/Walk
4/9 - ACT Examination
4/9 - Boys (v) Baseball at South Lewis Central
4/9 - Boys (v) Lacrosse vs. Central Square
4/9 - Girls (v) Softball at Oswego

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

This week's message is very simple, don't be afraid to ask for help. We encourage our kids to do it every day and we need to be honest with ourselves if we are to grow into the change we desire in public schools. Kids are not what they used to be, they array of differences is greater than ever. We can't pretend that a one-size fits all model of education will work anymore. Challenge yourself to grow and expand outside your comfort zone.