Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Friday Free For All...

'Tis the season where you can go to the store to do some fun shopping and enjoy some time away from the house and end up leaving the store wondering what in the world has happened to our society? I know Black Friday has become a national event where we can literally save hundreds and thousands of dollars shopping. But, it has also become an event where many people seem to think that all rules of human decency don't apply anymore. I for one enjoy being in the mall and shopping on Black Friday but I found myself asking what people are thinking in our world today. On a minor level, people leave food waste, empty drink containers, and other trash wherever they want. What ever happened to a trash bin, which by the way is only a few 50 feet away? On a major level, people are being shot over parking spaces, trampled because of coupon give aways, and fighting over television sales. Is this really what the season is all about? More specifically, is this what mankind has really become in America? I'd like to think that with all of the growth and questioning we have done as a society over the past 50 years that there is still some room for good old fashioned manners and chivalry. After all, the root definition of 'chivalry' dates back to medieval knighthood and we are the Black Knights. So, this holiday season, please remember that the spirit of the holidays (and everyday) is about helping others and patience. Our society was built on kindness and under the pretenses that we help each other to succeed. For once let's not think about "I or me" and instead think about "You or we." Our whole society will be better for it. Happy Holidays everyone!!


Redistricting Presentation 

On Tuesday, November 29th at 6:00 p.m., the Board of Education will be provided with a public presentation by Castallo & Silky Educational Consultants discussing possibilities for redistricting. After discussing the topic internally and with colleagues throughout the state, we feel it is best to look at long range solutions that can prevent us from having to re-draw residence boundaries every year. The flexible zoning method does provide temporary relief, however over the course of time can lead to compounded problems. We are hoping that by doing a true study that is geared toward sustainability that we can develop a redistricting plan that works for everyone and for the long term. The presentation will be occurring at RFA in the library on the evening of November 29th.

Boys & Girls Choir of Harlem

The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley is presenting the Boys & Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble on Friday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m. at RFA. The choir will also be performing for some of our students during the day. If you are interested in attending to enjoy some holiday cheer, tickets are on sale at www.ymcatrivalley.org and cost $20 each.


Winter Sports Season

Now that we have gotten past the Thanksgiving holiday and are headed for December, the winter sports season is in full swing. Already the boys ice hockey team has competed in a tournament and our other teams will begin their competitive schedule this week. You can view a full schedule of all athletic events HERE if you wish to attend this season. Our student athletes dedicate a lot of time and effort to representing our community well, the least we can do is get behind them and attend some of these events. Good luck to our winter teams and athletes!!










Sunday, November 20, 2016

Time for Thanks...

This is the week of the year where most Americans enjoy a short week of school/work, some food with their family and friends, maybe some shopping, and hopefully remembering what it's all about. This is the week where we are thankful for everything that we have as individuals and as a community. I'm sure that we have all had our struggles this past year, but through it all, there is much to be thankful for. On a weekly basis I find myself involved in putting out fires between someone on the school staff and someone in the community. Often times, when playing referee, I realize that both sides of the equation are actually right and justified for the feelings and thoughts. The problems arise when people overreact and make a situation worse because they didn't want to listen to the other side. Far too often, people become defensive immediately when trying to solve a problem together instead of truly taking the time to hear each other out. I believe that we would find far more often that we are seeing eye to eye. So, during this week of thanks; I am thankful that I work in a community that cares about education. I am thankful that the teachers, staff, students, parents, and community care about education enough that they aren't afraid to try and make the system better. I truly believe that through listening to each other and working together, we can achieve great things. I wish you all well during this Thanksgiving week and I hope this finds you and your's safe, healthy, and happy to begin this holiday season!! 

Redistricting Presentation 

On Tuesday, November 29th at 6:00 p.m., the Board of Education will be provided with a public presentation by Castallo & Silky Educational Consultants discussing possibilities for redistricting. After discussing the topic internally and with colleagues throughout the state, we feel it is best to look at long range solutions that can prevent us from having to re-draw residence boundaries every year. The flexible zoning method does provide temporary relief, however over the course of time can lead to compounded problems. We are hoping that by doing a true study that is geared toward sustainability that we can develop a redistricting plan that works for everyone and for the long term. The presentation will be occurring at RFA in the library on the evening of November 29th.


Boys & Girls Choir of Harlem

The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley is presenting the Boys & Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble on Friday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m. at RFA. The choir will also be performing for some of our students during the day. If you are interested in attending to enjoy some holiday cheer, tickets are on sale at www.ymcatrivalley.org and cost $20 each.

Genesis Awards

The Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley honors various educators and programs each year through their Annual Celebration of Education. This year, 2 Rome educators were honored by the Genesis group for their contributions and commitment to the field of education and Rome City Schools. Both Mr. Leonard Gratch and Colonel Ken Field have been recognized this year by the Genesis Group as distinguished educators. Congratulations to both individuals and thank you for all of your service to the students and community in Rome!!


RFA PBIS Spirit-wear

The RFA Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team is currently running a spirit-wear to help raise funds to offer rewards to students who are creating a positive atmosphere at RFA. Gear, included decals, drink containers, bags, and more; can be purchased through http://www.gullasgraphics.com/store. PBIS is a program that requires a teacher a vote prior to implementing the system in a school and RFA is one of few high schools around the region to have a successful program. The staff and students work very hard to improve their school climate and every little show of support is always welcomed.


3-8 State Testing

This past week, Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Commissioner MaryEllen Elia have announced that the state will maintain current grade 3-8 testing protocols for the spring 2017 exams. They left the door open to changes in 2018. The announcement means three-day testing periods will remain in place for each of the math and English language arts exams and the exams will continue to reflect changes introduced for the 2016 tests, which were untimed and included fewer questions. Initially, a different plan was presented. On Monday, the first of two days of November Regents meetings, state officials announced that the exams would remain the same through spring 2018. On Tuesday, Rosa read a statement saying the six-day testing period would remain in place for 2017 but the commissioner and the board would be "absolutely open" to changes in 2018.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fail It Forward...

One of education's most feared words is FAIL. Think back about going to school and what the fear of that word did to your academic performance, or being told that word. How did it make you feel? How often were we told by our teachers it's okay to fail because true learning occurs when we make mistakes and someone shows us where we went wrong and how to fix it? I would venture to say that not many of us were taught that failing is a method to growing when we were kids. I know I wasn't. Fast forward to today and I can think of countless skills that I have learned simply from trying to achieve something that I knew nothing about, but the power of trial and error has taught me so much. Everything from opening and closing a pool, electrical work, cooking, flooring, and tying a bow tie. Trial and error teaches us so much more than a skill though, it teaches patience. In the end, almost everyone is successful because they don't give up. That perseverance is because we aren't afraid to make a mistake as adults. Sure things may take longer than we want, but the outcome is gratifying because we not only accomplish a task, but we have learned along the way. That's all our children want in life/school, to learn. This is all part of shifting the mindset in education. Instead of using the word 'fail' to portray an act of defeat, we need to use the word as a positive chance for our kids. Failing is an opportunity for learning and growth. After all, learning is not a finite task or a tangible thing. It is an ongoing pursuit of knowledge that best occurs when we make a mistake and can understand that mistake. We owe it to our students to Fail It Forward and help them understand that failure is nothing more than an opportunity. 

Early Childhood Grant 

For those that have not heard yet, the Rome City School District was awarded an Early Childhood grant in the amount of $1,147,527 by Governor Andrew Cuomo this past week. This award is the second largest grant provided in the State for this program. The funding will be utilized within this school year and must be used to begin a 3-year old program here in Rome. Having the opportunity to provide pre-school service to our 3-year olds will only benefit the district and community in the long run. I would like to thank our Director of Early Childhood, Nancy Kristl, for all of her effort and dedication to preparing this grant and getting it submitted. It was her vision that resulted in our youngest learners having this opportunity. While there are still many details to be worked out with regard to where the programs will be housed, it is expected that we should start seeing programs begin before February 2017. 


Centennial Partnership Award

This week, our Art Department was awarded a Centennial Partnership Award for their efforts in building strong community partnerships and involvement with the National Parks Service Centennial and 40th Anniversary of Fort Stanwix last summer. The visual art teachers of the Rome City School District are constantly going above and beyond the call to both provide a quality experience for our students, but also to help them learn about the power and appreciation of art. Frequently throughout the year, you can find our students' artwork on display throughout the city as our teachers are always looking for ways to partner with the community and community organizations to promote our student work. Thank you to our art teachers and the National Parks Service for making this award possible. Congratulations artists!!


Lead in School Drinking Water Testing

We have completed all of the testing on our buildings throughout the district and are awaiting the results. To date, we have only received the results of the testing conducted at Stokes Elementary School. Of the 72 samples taken, only 2 locations in the building came back as non-compliant with the State requirements. As the results from our other buildings become available, we will be notifying families by letter and on our website as to the results of the tests. The test results can be found at http://www.romecsd.org/Page/1634 for anyone that wants to follow all of the district buildings. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thank You Veterans...

The end of this week marks the official designation for 'Veteran's Day'. A day when we pay tribute to all of the men and women who have served our country over the years. Our community, and school community, has several military veterans who dedicated a portion of their life to protecting the rest of us. Whether it be in times of combat, or in times of so-called peace, these individuals have made sure that the rest of us can live a life that is free of worry from attack on our home soil. When you are in the military, there is no time of peace as you are constantly working to prevent those throughout the world that wish to do harm from actually doing it. It's safe to say that almost everyone probably knows someone who served in our nation's military, if not had a family member serve. Personally, I still enjoy reading my grandfather's field journal from France and Germany from World War II. Take time to thank these individuals and more importantly, learn their story. Our history and their dedication are both things that we need to cherish. So this week, when the rest of us civilians have a day off from school becuase of the courage and bravery of our veteran's, please take the time to simply say "thank you." It is the least that we can do for all that you have done for us. On behalf of the Rome City School District, thank you to all of the veterans on our staff and in our community. We appreciate you and Happy Veteran's Day!!


New SchoolTool App 

This week, the Rome City School District has been able to confirm the successful release of the SchoolTool application for your smart phone. The application is not directly connected to the Rome City School District, but you can connect with our platfrom by simply logging into the app. Having used SchoolTool for almost a decade myself, the app is much more user friendly and powerful than the web based version on the phone. To download the app, simply visit the iTunes App Store (iOS devices) or the Google Play Store (android devices) and download the SchoolTool app. Once downloaded, the login screen will ask for your district's URL which is: schooltool.romecsd.org/schooltoolweb/. From there, you simply enter your normal username and password. The app provides you with an option to remember this information so you never have to do it again. It is a very powerful tool for on-the-go people and staff/parents alike. I highly recommend it!!



Kiwanis Craft Show at RFA

This coming weekend, the Lake Delta Kiwanis Club will be hosting their annual craft show at RFA on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Among the highlights of the craft show is that the Rome Police Department will be on-site to provide families and the community the opportunity to participate in a free Child Identification Program. The craft show is open to the public and is always an enjoyable community event. Please support our local chapter of the Kiwanis, they provide many opportunities to our students throughout the school year.


School Closings

It is unfortunately that time of year where we have to begin talking about potential school closings due to weather. In the event of an emergency closing, parent/guardians and students are notified by means of announcements on local radio, television stations, automated phone calling system, social media (Facebook and Twitter) and the District website. The decision to close is based upon several criteria – wind speed in combination with temperature, present and predicted precipitation, and overall road conditions. Also, keep in mind that the Rome City School District is 72 square miles and overall road conditions might not be the same in one part of the district as in other areas.

Announcement of school/closings are made through the news media and automated phone calling system, generally beginning at 6:00 a.m. In some instances, it may be necessary to make announcements as late as 6:30 a.m. Since decisions on closing have to be made very early in the morning and weather conditions sometimes change drastically before students actually begin traveling to school, the ultimate decision on safety of travel conditions for students rests with the parents/guardian.
Delays, cancellations and early dismissals are all announced on the following stations, The Rome City School District Facebook page and Twitter:
TV: Ch. 2, 3, 9, 10, 11     
RADIO:                                                     
FM: WLZW-98.7; WFRG-104.3; WBGK-99.7/101.1; WMCR; WKRL-100.9;
WOUR-96.9; WSKS-97.9; WODZ-96.1; WZUN-102.1; WUMX - Mix 102.5
AM: WIBX-950; WMCR - WFBL 1600