Sunday, June 18, 2017

Congratulations and Happy Summer...

With the dawn of summer upon us, there is much to be excited about. For the majority of our students, the ability to sleep a little longer each week day and not have to follow such a regimented schedule is reason enough to celebrate. For roughly 350 of our students, the reason to celebrate is much greater. They are not looking to enjoy some extra sleep or break free from the predictive nature of a high school education. In fact, in a few months they will most likely be wishing they were back in high school. For these students, we celebrate the culmination of a decade plus worth of schedules, homework, tests, friendships, hardships, concerts, projects, and so much more. Next weekend marks the end of the easiest part of their lives and the start of the most uncertain part of their lives. Our graduates are ready to tackle whatever life throws their way in the coming months, but they also need our support. As easy as it is to believe that life is pre-determined, it's just as easy to create our own destiny. In the coming years, our graduates will be developing technologies that do not yet exist and creating harmony amongst various groups around the globe where harmony was once not possible. Our graduates will need our support and encouragement as they embark on this tremendous journey called life. To the Rome Free Academy Class of 2017, congratulations and may all of your wildest dreams come true. You are prepared to take on whatever you choose and can certainly be successful with whatever life throws at you. For the rest of us, thank you for a great year and I hope that the summer is filled with memories to last a lifetime!! Have a great summer everyone and enjoy!! 


RFA Graduation


This year's graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Rome Free Academy Stadium. Please note that the processional of students begins promptly at 9:45 a.m. In order to ensure that you are able to view the entire event, it is crucial that you arrive to the Stadium no later than 9:30 a.m. as parking is at a premium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 23 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students. All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 


Graduation Walk


On Monday, June 19, the Rome Free Academy Class of 2017 will be participating in the first ever Rome City School District Graduation Walk. Graduates will visit each of the 7 elementary buildings in their caps and gowns and proceed through the hallways for our littlest learners to see the culmination of their academic endeavors. It is a nice tribute to all of the elementary staff as well, who are instrumental in the success of all students and often forgotten about once a student reaches high school. Students will visit the following schools at these times, if you are interested in viewing the graduation walk:


Bellamy - 9:30 a.m.
Staley - 10:15 a.m.
Gansevoort - 11:00 a.m.
Denti - 11:45 a.m.
Ridge Mills - 1:00 p.m.
Joy - 1:45 p.m.
Stokes - 2:30 p.m.

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

What's the Job...

SERVICE. That's it, it's that simple. This could be the shortest blog post of all-time if we left it at the plain terms. The reality is that all of us that work in a school setting work to serve children. On a daily basis, you can hear people mentioning that kids need to be at the center of every decision/action or that we want to do what's best for kids. The phrase has certainly become the latest in a long line of buzz phrases that people use because it not only sounds good, but it's actually the truth. We all start in the business to make the lives of children better. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, some of us lose that vision. Our profession is unlike any other in the world in that our purpose is to serve children but the vast majority of our discussions and dealings are with adults. Between the funding stream mainly coming from taxes and the conversations about progress and discipline occurring with parents, it's easy to forget that the kids are what matter. The whole set up is kind of crazy if you sit back and reflect for a moment. Taxpayers want what they want, regardless of how it effects kids; and some staff members and/or parents want what they want regardless of the best interest for ALL kids. The bottom line is that we all live and work in profession of service. Our job is to serve those that stand to benefit from our mission. In this case, our clients are children who are not paying the taxes, are most times not mature enough to help steer the decision making process, and more often than not they aren't interested in being involved or understand the value of their input. As we come to the end of the year, remember that our kids are the reason why we have a paycheck. It's not because of the parent that we try to satisfy. Remember that the 'stuff' you have to work with belongs to kids and that we have it good with resources because of kids. Let's strive to truly make kids the center of our organization by remembering that SERVICE, is our job.

RFA Graduation


This year's graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Rome Free Academy Stadium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 23 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students. All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 


13 Reasons Why


Many of you (or your children) may be learning about or engaged in the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. The series is based on a book where a student learns about the suicide of a classmate through pre-recorded messages that the student left behind. The story has been opening eyes across our nation and gives us a deeper understanding of the struggles that students face everyday in schools. The story has been a tremendous resource for helping others gain an understanding of the needs of students in our schools. However, some experts are saying that the TV series may be having the opposite effect. With more young people having access to the story, there is concern about the message that the show is sending in some circles. I would encourage parents to either speak with your children about the show, or watch it with them if they are interested in the story. There is much to learn from the story and a lot of positive can come from it; but the message needs to reach our children correctly.

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finish Strong...

It is that time of year where many schools, teachers, and students want to "coast" to the finish line. A lot like that NFL team that has their playoff birth locked up weeks before the end of the season so they start resting players to avoid potential injury as the regular season comes to an end; some schools have traditionally modeled this mentality. Difference being is that we are in a race, not a season. In a race, if you let up at the end, your final outcome/product will suffer. Even if you are in first place in the race, you don't slow down as you approach the finish line do you? You don't see the jockey on the thoroughbred pulling on the reins so that the team doesn't set a time record. Those thoughts would be unthinkable. So why do we pull up the flaps at the end of the school year on our kids' learning opportunities. Yes, the weather is nice. Yes, it's been a long year. Yes, we've just made it through State testing and AP testing. But, we only have 10 months out of the year to work with our kids to help them progress. Seems like it would be silly to waste one of those 10 simply because it's been a long year. The best athletes, the best organizations, they never slow down. Being great isn't good enough, being the best isn't even good enough. They are working toward perfection and becoming the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). That should be our goal, that's what our kids deserve. Every moment that we take it easy between now and the end of the school year is a moment where our kids will start next year with a gap in learning. We have all worked hard over the past 9 months to get to this point, don't take the easy route out and slow down now. Keep pushing our students to obtain their very best and keep pressing them to work harder and be stronger than even they expected that they could. Our students will do amazing things, but only if we provide them with the opportunities to do such. There's no reason why you can't be the GOAT or develop one of your students/children into a GOAT; but we have to finish strong!!

Restructuring Update


During the past week, we have been working to finalize the staffing for Academic Intervention Services, Special Education, Teaching Assistants, and Special Area's staff. While I believe we have things to a point where they are fair and sensible, we continue to work with the various unions to make sure that the reconfiguration is in alignment with contract language. 

Transportation and special permissions continue to be the main concern that we are hearing from the community. As we finalize the transportation grid, we are giving consideration to having students who need special permission due to child care be transported from their child care provider back to their catchment area home school. All of our building projections are based on where a residence is located and it's impossible to project current or future enrollment impacts on a building when students are attending schools other than their assigned school. Also, we continue to hear many families openly telling us and others that they will lie about their residence or need for child care to ensure that their child goes to the school that they desire. Once we have finalized the regular transportation routes, we will be reviewing the process by which special permissions are allowed.

Our final piece that we continue to work on is the master schedule. Our administration is working closely with the special areas staff to ensure that we develop a schedule that provides students with the amount of learning time necessary to increase their skills in the arts and physical education. Of importance with these schedules is the addition of instrumental music into the elementary schools. Regardless of the challenges, we still anticipate to have the master schedule developed earlier than in previous years. 

DimensionU Successful Again


As in years past, the Staley DimensionU team has proven successful again at displaying their talents in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Abigail Bates, Jacob Cosentino, Santino Campanaro, Gwen Caro, Cooper Engelbert, Collin Gannon, Caden Giardino, Micah Humphreys, Richard LaTour, Collin Mummert, Jacob Premo and Jacob Swavely, took first place in two out of three Mixed Grade Division categories at the 2017 DimensionU Department of Defense Math Games held at the Griffis Institute last week. Our students competed against 3 other schools from around the country to display their knowledge and ability to work as a team. Congratulations to the students and staff involved with this accomplishment!!

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.