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December 2, 2019 - 2:37pm

A world-renowned photographer who specializes in tintype artistry and who is a Civil War historian will be the special guest at Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School tomorrow (Dec. 3).

Rob J. Gibson will give a presentation to teacher Eric Johnson's Photography classes in the school's Visual Arts Department as well as to Johnson's Social Studies classes.

In the evening from 6:30 to 9 in the school library, Gibson will speak and give a demonstration at a special, free community event entitled "Recreating the Past: The Vintage Photography of Rob Gibson."

Gibson describes himself as an Ansel Adams meets Easy Rider kind of guy -- a Renaissance man who is on a crusade to save at least some of forgotten America.

This passion for historical investigation fuels him to seek out vintage roadside attractions, abandoned buildings, industrial sites and significant historic locales. He travels wherever necessary to create art that tells the story of the nation's past, one photographic plate at a time.

He rides U.S. backroads on his 1950 panhead Harley-Davidson motorcycle replete with a working 1938 package truck sidecar that has been converted to a darkroom -- in fact, "The World's Fastest Darkroom."

His cameras capture forgotten icons as well as those who keep these relics alive, forming a mosaic of Americana that is distinctive and ingenuous.

The result is awe-inspiring tintype images captured with his primitive cameras and developed into photographs on site, as was done in the demanding 19th century process of tintype photography.

Hollywood movies have made use of his skills and he has made contributions to "Gettysburg," "Cold Mountain," "National Treasure," and the just-released "Harriet."

Gibson's artwork has also been featured on television, in magazines, Internet blogs and articles and it hangs on the walls of clients worldwide. Thousands of people, including the White House Press Corps and visitors to the Smithsonian Institution, have seen his demonstrations.

While on the road, Gibson gets sidetracked, beckoned by unexpected sights. It is during these extraneous excursions that his McGiver-like resourcefulness becomes particularly useful to keep his bike running and his equipment functioning.

Long ago Gibson, who grew up in Lockport, says he learned that the journey is just as important as the destination.

He's come a long way from the machinist job he left at General Motors to open an 1860s-style photography studio in Gettysburg, Pa.

How did he cross paths with a teacher in Pembroke?

"I met Rob at the Newfane Bike Night this past August, a charity event that raises money for a local not-for-profit organization," Johnson wrote The Batavian in an email. "I saw his Harley sidecar darkroom, and as a photography teacher and artist myself, I struck up a conversation with Rob."

The "art teacher/biker" says the encounter was quite unexpected, a quirky coincidence.

Fortunately for people in Genesee County, it has turned into what promises to be an interesting opportunity to learn about a unique talent tomorrow evening.

Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School is located at 58 Alleghany Road (routes 5 and 77) in Corfu.

Gibson is available for commissioned custom work and can be reached at: [email protected]

Top photo of Rob Gibson and his 1950 panhead Harley-Davidson with the sidecar that's "The World's Fastest Darkroom," courtesy of Eric Johnson.

Bottom photos made by Rob Gibson on the movie set of "Harriet," courtesy of Eric Johnson, showing actress Cynthia Erivo as the iconic slave-turned-abolishionist Harriet Tubman.

December 2, 2019 - 11:44am
posted by Billie Owens in news, GCC, education.

Press release:

"Learn a new skill or hobby." It's on the top five list of most common New Year's Resolutions, and there is a wide assortment of options available at Genesee Community College this coming semester. It's a great way to start the new decade.

Learn karate, how to write a screen play, sign language, or how about public speaking or digital photography? Courses in these topics and many more will be offered at GCC this semester starting Monday, Jan. 13. 

GCC's Beginning Karate (PED132) is being taught by the world's highest ranking black belt! Instructor Cynthia Jones (Hanshi*) recently received a 10th Degree Black Belt (Ju-Dani) from the Isshinryu World Karate Association making her the highest-ranking black belt in the world. Who better to teach Beginning Karate right here in Batavia?

Registration for this course is now open! Anyone can enroll for this eight-week course, no prerequisite courses are required and it does not have to be taken as part of a degree program. Beginning Karate runs on Monday, Jan. 13 through March 6 and meets every Monday and Wednesday from 3:40 till 5 p.m. at GCC's Batavia Campus.

Beginning Karate focuses on achieving the physical and mental conditioning and training required to execute a variety of basic martial arts techniques and forms (or kata) and engages in effective sparring and self-defense. In just eight weeks, the course will also cover:

  • A brief overview of the historical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of the martial arts;
  • The benefits of daily fitness activity specific to karate.

Any budding screen or stage writer will appreciate the small class size learning environment with instructor Shawn Adamson in his Writing for the Stage and Screen (CIN214). The 15-week course teaches the proper screenplay format and introduces the technique of storytelling though dialogue, action and characterization in a continuous workshop process. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:50 - 4:10 p.m., starting Jan. 13.

American Sign Language 1 (ASL101) is offered five different times and at three different campus locations; Intro to Digital Photography (PHO118) is offered three different times and at two locations; and Public Speaking (SPE108) is offered 14 different times, at five campus locations and online. 

"Education really is the gift that keeps on giving," said Donna Rae Sutherland, director of Marketing Communications. "No matter your age or interests -- learning something new in 2020 is a rock solid way to kick off the new decade." 

Anyone interested in this course who is not a current GCC student, is encouraged to contact the College's Admissions team at (585) 345-6800 or via email at [email protected], or apply online to get started.

* A bestowed title in karate: Hanshi(範士) : eighth dan for more than two years, older than 60.

November 22, 2019 - 3:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, BCSD, news.

Press release:

The Batavia City School District Board of Education and administration invite District residents to serve as a budget ambassador to assist with the 2020-2021 budget process.

Residents of the District are invited to become budget ambassadors and make recommendations regarding the School District budget.

No experience is necessary, but ambassadors will be expected to attend three Monday evening sessions on Feb. 24, March 2, and March 9, with an alternate/snow date of March 16. All sessions are from 6:30-9 p.m. in the District Administration Conference Room #49.

If interested in serving, please notify the District in writing by Friday, Jan. 24. The letter of interest should be mailed to: Scott Bischoping, Interim Superintendent of Schools, 260 State St., Batavia, NY 14020, or emailed to [email protected]

For questions or additional information, please contact the Superintendent’s Office at 343-2480, ext. 1000, or e-mail Bischoping at [email protected].

November 22, 2019 - 2:01pm

Above, Chef Tracy Burgio, instructor of the Culinary Arts program at the Batavia CTE Center, helps student Jaheim Merritt (Batavia HS) with his meatloaf gravy.

Submitted photos and information from the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership​.

As Chef Tracy Burgio and her Culinary Arts students at the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center prepared to take over the building’s cafeteria yesterday, they had a worthy goal in mind. 

“We want to prove that you can make healthy food from scratch,” Chef Burgio said. 

Culinary Arts students normally cook lunch for faculty and staff members on Thursdays. But for yesterday's "takeover," students attending daytime classes at the center were also queued up.

“The kids have such an interest in having good cafeteria food, this project really drives home that message," the chef said.

Buffalo chicken meatloaf, mashed potatoes, grilled zucchini, apple crisp, and biscuits were prepared for them using USDA recipes.

Burgio said she has been interested in taking over the cafeteria for several years, and plans similar events on Jan. 29 and March 11.

She would like to make the partnership between her students and cafeteria staff a normal part of the Culinary Arts curriculum and would also like to incorporate locally grown produce into recipes. 

Jaheim Merritt, a Culinary Arts student and junior from Batavia High School, stood at a stove making gravy for the meatloaf.

“I think making lunch for everyone is a big responsibility, but I think it’s a good idea,” Jaheim said. “A lot of kids complain about our lunches, so we can help make a change.”

Burgio wants to show kids that healthy food can still taste good.

As students went through the lunch line, they learned nutritional facts about each food. For example, zucchini and carrots are high in vitamins A and C, and the Buffalo chicken meatloaf was high in protein and low in fat.

Culinary Arts students and Byron-Bergen High School juniors Isaiah Merrell and Austin Evert were student-leaders during the cafeteria takeover.

“I’m hoping that making lunch from scratch will help inspire the kids in the Academy,” Isaiah said.

Added Austin, “With our lunches, we don’t normally know the nutritional facts. Now we are giving them knowledge and good food.”

Below: Chef Tracy Burgio spoons out gravy during the lunch takeover. 

November 21, 2019 - 11:54am
posted by Billie Owens in education, GCC, American Presidency, 2020 election, batavia, news.

Press release:

The 2020 Presidential Election is already being covered on every radio station, every social media outlet and soon it will take over local television as well. This is predicted to be one of the most contentious and tumultuous elections in recent history.

Campaign commercials, debates, stump speeches, candidates' history, statistics, surveys and predictions will bombard every media outlet in the months to come.

To make sense of it all, Genesee Community College has opened registration for a very special course that is available only during Presidential Election years.

The quadrennial course (i.e., only offered every four years) American Presidency (POS210) is taught by Derek Maxfield, GCC's associate professor of History.

Maxfield has a long and nearly intimate history with past presidents, both through his lengthy teaching tenure, but also through his historical presentation of Ulysses S. Grant, the famous Civil War General and our 18th U.S. president.

The American Presidency covers the historical foundations, theoretical aspects and powers of the presidency. In addition, the learning outcomes of POS210 include:

  • How media and popular culture have influenced the presidency over time;
  • Various models of presidential power and the major issues scholars are investigating;
  • How different presidents have interpreted and exercised political power;
  • The constitutional relationship between the executive and other branches of the government.

Anyone can enroll in this course with no pre-requisites are required. It does not have to be taken as part of a degree program and is an excellent elective for any degree. If seats are available, the course can be audited for free by seniors over the age of 60.

The onsite course begins on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. 'til 12:20 p.m. at GCC's Batavia Campus.

Anyone interested in this course who is not a current GCC student, is encouraged to contact the College's Admissions team at (585) 345-6800, or via email at [email protected], or apply online at https://www.genesee.edu/courses/nonmatriculated/ to get started.

November 20, 2019 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Batavia Middle School, batavia, schools, education.
Video Sponsor
November 18, 2019 - 2:35pm

Above, Tonia Galban teaches weaving.

Submitted photos and press release from Gretchen Spittler, Byron-Bergen Central School District:

BERGEN -- Alyson Tardy’s fourth-grade class has been studying Haudenosaunee culture. Their studies included a special classroom guest -- Tonia Galban, who is a member of the Mohawk Bear Clan and a celebrated basket maker.

Today (Nov. 18), Galban is teaching the students how to make a woven, decorative, sunflower bookmark out of strips of black ash wood and raffia.

Galban and Tardy came together as part of a workshop called Culture, Community, and the Classroom, offered through Genesee Valley Educational Partnership by Local Learning: The National Network of Folk Arts. The workshop paired artists with classroom teachers to explore the mutually beneficial aspects of collaborating.

Today was the second, and last, of Galban’s visits. On her first visit she discussed ties between arts and Haudenosaunee culture. During the final visit, she chose to teach the hands-on activity in a traditional way. Galban gathered the students around the front table where she taught, not the students, but Tardy and her two teacher aides how to weave the bookmark.

“Children will watch the adults working,” Galban said. “Sometimes they won’t even realize that theyhave learned the skill – just by watching. All people have to develop patience. Calm insides and calm minds. Use your senses first, listen, and follow directions.”

After the demonstration, each student returned to their own desk to try weaving. As they worked, the adults helped them until, at some point, they began to help each other.

“Not everyone is a basket maker,” Galban said to the class. “You might be a singer or a dancer. Some sunflowers are big, some are small. You have your family to depend on – your friends can help.”

After some hard work and concentration, each student held up their completed sunflower.

“You have taken part in an in-depth dialogue with your teachers and me on big concepts,” said Galban as the lesson concluded. “The basket weaving is an analogy for how to be in your mind and in your heart. Patience and cooperation. Being a balanced human being. Kudos to you guys – you learned more than I could have even hoped for.”

“Niá:wen,” the students thanked Galban in Haudenosaunee. “Io, you’re welcome” she replied.

In addition to Galban’s visit, the students’ study of Native American culture included a field trip to Ganondagan State Historic Site. Also known as Boughton Hill, it is a Native American historic site in the present-day Town of Victor in Ontario County. It was the largest Seneca village of the 17th century.

During the field trip, the children experienced song, dance, storytelling, traditional arts, and culture during the annual Haudenosaunee Day celebration. They also presented their Haudenosaunee cultural artifact projects to other students.

Below, Tonia Galban working with student.

Below, students help each other with a weaving project.

Below, the class displays their finished projects.

November 15, 2019 - 12:44pm

Press release:

Assemblymen Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River), Mike Norris (R,I,C,Ref-Lockport), Mark Johns (R,C,I,Ref-Webster) and Peter Lawrence (R,C,I-Greece), alongside other members of the Assembly Minority Conference, hosted a forum Thursday evening in Rochester to discuss the best ways to transition students from high school into the workplace and ensure they possess the skills required to obtain a career in the trade or field of their choosing.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) attended the forum.

The Assembly Minority Task Force on Learning for Work hosted the last of six regional forums at Monroe Community College. Specifically, the forum sought feedback from educational, trade and industrial leaders, students and the public in regard to the proposed Learning for Work Program (A.4255, Ra) and its role in helping to address the “middle-skills gap” in the state.

“Our Conference’s ‘Learning for Work’ legislation would create an apprenticeship program aimed at furthering students’ workplace education through hands-on experience, helping to prepare them for a wide variety of technical careers,” said Assemblyman Blankenbush, task force co-chairman. “There are available jobs out there, and if we can successfully combine coursework with real-world training, we can pair up skilled workers with those vacant positions. Our state’s economic health, viability and competitiveness depend on a well-trained, skilled workforce.”

“Four-year degrees are a great tool for some individuals to achieve their career goals, but too many young people are told at an early age they must obtain one in order to succeed. That’s simply not the case,” said Assemblyman Norris, task force co-chairman. “As early as middle school, we must start encouraging more students to enroll in technical and trade-school programs, and that starts with proper messaging. Success should not be measured by how long someone goes to school; it should be measured by how well-suited an individual is for the program and career path they’re on.”

“There is no single path to success in life. Endless opportunities exist for people of all ages, backgrounds and skill sets; the trick is to match the person to the career that best suits them,” said Assemblyman Johns. “Our task force is designed to help figure out systemic solutions to workforce shortages in skilled-trade jobs that we desperately need filled. I am proud to work alongside labor and education experts to help get those jobs stocked quickly and with the right people.”

“Not every student has the desire to pursue a four-year degree,” said Assemblyman Lawrence. “We are seeing a resurgence in manufacturing and the need for skilled labor is in high demand. Business leaders are telling me that they cannot fill positions due to the lack of skilled workers. It is crucial that we show students that they can be successful and thrive in their pursuit of these well-paid and rewarding jobs. Our state and the demands of our workforce are looking to these students to be the next leaders in manufacturing and building trades. I am proud to be a part of this important conversation and believe the outcome of these forums will only make New York a better place to live and work.”

The feedback and firsthand information gathered during the task force forums will be used to better understand the strengths of, and areas in which to improve, current legislation to ensure all students are well equipped to enter the 21st century workforce. At the conclusion of the forums, a report, including a summary of findings and targeted policy solutions, will be generated and brought to the Legislature.

“A labor force works best when its workers efficiently fill positions in high demand. Often, this means laborers performing a diverse array of work, with a diverse array of skills,” Assemblyman Hawley said. “This task force aims to help match demand to positions and ensure the job force is operating at peak effectiveness. There are so many incredible, high-paying jobs that are going unfilled for no other reason than a lack of awareness and education. We seek to remedy that though this effort.”

“We must shrink the skills gap and reduce the massive amount of student loan debt that too many of our young men and women are acquiring,” said Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia). “The cost of college tuition continues to rise and student loan debt is one of the highest consumer debt categories in the nation. We need to start taking a more proactive approach when speaking to students about options for their future.”

“I am confident that through these forums, we will learn more about the needs of our businesses and how to better bridge the middle-skills gap,” said Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R,C,I,Ref-Lyons). “Opportunities are out there. We just need to make the information available to students and businesses alike and help to bring them together. New York state’s economic well-being depends on it.”

November 14, 2019 - 3:36pm

Above photo: Sarah Worley, valedictorian, receives an award from Heidi Mix, Regional Medical Programs coordinator.

Submitted photos and press release:

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (the Partnership) School of Practical Nursing graduated 32 students during a ceremony at Pavilion Central School on Nov. 7.

Heidi Mix, Regional Medical Programs coordinator, offered congratulatory remarks on the dedication and hard work the graduates displayed throughout the yearlong program.

Sarah Worley, the class valedictorian, addressed the crowd during the ceremony. Sarah Lewis and Michelle Ramsdell were named co-salutatorians.

Brandon Davidson received awards for both leadership and professionalism.

Instructors Janet Green, Frank Dana, Krista Copeland, and Amanda Milligan assisted throughout the ceremony. Seventeen of the graduates were named Students with High Honors, a designation for averages of 90 or above. 

According to Mix, there is a huge need for practical nurses in the healthcare system.

The Partnership’s LPN Program currently has 23 clinical contracts with different hospitals, nursing facilities, and primary care practices. This allows students exposure to many different types of facilities, and many of these sites hire the students prior to graduation.

“In the past year, our LPN program has had 100-percent job placement for those who have taken their State Boards and passed,” Mix said. “Many of our graduates go on for their Registered Nursing degree and work as an LPN as they go through school.

"Our graduates are able to make a good salary while continuing their education. Many healthcare facilities help support the growth of our LPNs by providing tuition assistance to go on in the nursing profession.”

Students took part in this 12-month, 1,200-clock-hour program that is certified by the New York State Education Department. The program is designed to prepare graduates for the NCLEX-PN Examination for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

This course is offered in three different sites in Western New York: Batavia; Rochester Tech Park in Gates, and Mount Morris.

For more information about this program, contact the Adult Education/School of Practical Nursing at (585) 344-7788.

Photo below, instructor Janet Green helps LPN graduates light candles at the conclusion of the Nov. 7 ceremony. 

November 14, 2019 - 11:53am
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, education, winterim, online learning, news, batavia.

Press release:

Great news for college students everywhere! Whether they are commuter students to Genesee Community College, or living and attending a college or university far away, GCC has 13 college courses available completely ONLINE during the winterim session that begins on Dec. 9 and runs five weeks through Jan. 8. 

The courses offered during this session help any college student complete their general education requirements, pick up an interesting elective, start an introductory program-specific course, and also transfer SUNY college credit back to their "home-school" institution.

GCC generally sends official college course transcripts to more than 500 colleges and universities across the United States each year, helping college students earn their degrees faster and more affordably! 

"Each year, more and more students from other colleges are joining GCC students to take advantage of our winterim sessions," said Craig Lamb, Ph.D., dean of Distributive Learning, who oversees GCC's Online Learning program. "Winterim at GCC provides the same quality instruction at a much more affordable credit hour rate. This helps students financially, but it also lightens their course load for the spring semester."

In addition to an accelerated timeline to graduation, students looking to retain their New York State Excelsior Scholarship find winterim courses maintain their credit hour requirements and eligibility.

Since the courses are all offered online, students enjoy the flexibility of studying on their own schedule from wherever they choose! Without venturing to a campus location, students can earn college credit and still have time to enjoy their semester break. 

Among the options are College Composition (ENG101), Microeconomics (ECO101), World Civilizations (HIS101), General Psychology (PSY101), Business Communications (BUS106), and Hip Hop Culture (MUS107) provides a fun and fascinating elective!

The complete list of courses being offered during winterim is available online and students are encouraged to sign up quickly as seats are limited.

For more information on winterim classes, contact Online Learning at (585) 345-6969, or via email at [email protected].

November 13, 2019 - 11:12am

Press release:

The Batavia City School District’s Board of Education (BOE) has named three finalists for the district’s next superintendent. 

Patrick Burk, Batavia City School District’s Board president, said he is pleased with the high-quality candidate pool and enthused about the potential the three finalists have to offer. 

“Selecting the best superintendent for Batavia City Schools is the Board’s top priority,” Burk said. “The BOE has narrowed the search to three finalists. We look forward to the next round of interviews where the finalists meet with our stakeholder groups.”

The three finalists are Jason Smith, Joleen Dimitroff, and Anibal Soler Jr.

Jason Smith

Smith is the superintendent of Lyndonville Central Schools, located in Lyndonville. As superintendent, Smith supervises more than 100 staff and faculty members, and a student body of more than 648.

He’s led extensive curriculum work in math and English Language Arts with full alignment to the Common Core which resulted in a near 100-percent increase in math scores from 2013 to 2014. Smith implemented APPR requirements with alignment to the Framework for Teaching and Leadership standards and provided on-going administrator professional development to ensure consistency and calibration of teacher observations.

Smith has 18 years of educational leadership experience including serving as the assistant principal of the Albion Middle School in Albion, and elementary and high school principal at the Elba Central School District. Smith began his career in education in 1994 as a Social Studies teacher at Albion Central Schools.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Geneseo, a master’s degree and a Certificate of Advance Study in Educational Administration from The College at Brockport. He holds a certification as a New York State School Administrator.

Joleen Dimitroff

Dimitroff is the principal of Glendale Elementary School in the Sweet Home Central School District, which is located in Tonawanda. Dimitroff has served the Sweet Home Central School District since 2006 where she’s also served as principal of Sweet Home High School. She also served as primary school principal/Special Education director for the Akron Central School District in Akron.

As principal, her leadership and professional experiences includes the adoption of 12 new Niagara University Accredited Course as well as establishing an International Honors Academy for grades 9 and 10. She also designed a building-wide Professional Learning Community Framework. During her tenure as director of Special Education at Akron Central Schools, she supervised the Committee on Preschool Special Education protocols and procedures. 

Dimitroff began her career in education in 1989 as a special education teacher for the Binghamton City School District. She holds a Bachelor of Science from SUNY Fredonia, a master’s degree from SUNY Binghamton and a School District Administrator Certificate in Educational Administration from Canisius College. She also holds a New York School District Administrator Certificate.

Anibal Soler Jr.

Soler Jr. is the associate superintendent of Strategic Alignment and Innovation for the Buffalo Public Schools, New York State’s second-largest school district, a position he has held since 2018. In this role, he oversees four areas: Adult Education; district Athletics; the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; and district school improvement strategy known as Strong Community Schools, which encompasses 11,000 students and 21 schools across the City of Buffalo.

This Strong Community Schools effort has moved persistently struggling or failing schools to good-standing rating by the New York State Education Department. From 2016 until 2018, Soler Jr., was the principal of North Park Academy, an elementary school in the Buffalo Public School District. In this role, he led a staff of more than 50 and 250 students and supervised all instructional and operational aspects of this Pre-K through 8 community school.

From 2009-2016, Soler Jr. was the principal of East High School, the largest comprehensive high school in the Rochester City School District with between 1,500 to 2,000 students and a staff of almost 250. Through his leadership, the school was removed from New York State Education Department’s Persistently Dangerous list in 2011.

Soler Jr. serves as an adjunct professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He began teaching in 2000 as an Art teacher at Thomas Middle School in the Rochester City School District. 

Soler Jr. holds a Bachelor of Science from Daemen College, a master’s degree from Nazareth College and Certification in School Administrator  and School District Administration from St. John Fisher College. He holds a certification as a New York State School Administrator and New York State School Administration Supervisor. He is currently enrolled in the doctorate program in Educational Leadership at the University of Rochester.

The BOE will conduct the final round of interviews with the three candidates on Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at the Batavia City School District.

Smith is set to visit on Nov. 18; Dimitroff on Nov. 19; and Soler Jr. on Nov. 20. During each candidate’s district visit, a community meet-and-greet will be held from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. in the library at Batavia High School.

The anticipated start date for the new Superintendent is no later than Feb. 3.

Kevin MacDonald, district superintendent of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, who is acting as search consultant, said the Board has developed and implemented a process that will help determine the best candidate.

“This is a thorough process that the board and stakeholders undertake,” MacDonald said. “Finalists will visit at the district, and go through another round of interviews. The process concludes with the Board meeting to make a final decision.”


The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.

November 11, 2019 - 4:33pm

Genesee Community College Criminal Justice student Kadeja Jenkins (above photo, on right) is an inaugural recipient of the new Norman R. McConney Jr. Award.

The State University of New York presented the Educational Opportunity Program  Student Excellence honor last month at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan.

EOP provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for success in college but who may not have otherwise been offered admission.

SUNY established the EOP Norman R. McConney Jr. Award this year to recognize students who have overcome significant obstacles in their own lives and who have demonstrated academic success, courage, perseverance and leadership qualities in achieving their educational and personal goals.

Having lived in New York City all her life, Jenkins enrolled in a local community college, but she struggled to stay focused on her education while meeting the demands of her home life.

She began searching for an affordable college away from the distractions of the city.

"GCC offered exactly what I was looking for," Jenkins said. "The Criminal Justice major fit well into my plan to become a probation officer, and the quiet country area was all new to me and it allowed me to focus and get away from everything that interfered with my studies before."

But even from 350 miles away, interruptions from home continued to test Jenkins's commitment to her college education.

While home in NYC for the summer and contemplating dropping out of college, she received a call from Thomas C. Priester, Ph.D., GCC's associate vice president of Student Success, who offered Jenkins an opportunity to be an EOP Navigator. Students so designated guide and mentor the newest EOP students at GCC's Summer Academy.

"To me, being given the opportunity to come back to campus early as an EOP Navigator was a sign that I belonged at GCC," Jenkins said. "It changed everything. I got myself registered for classes and back on campus, and it has been a wonderful experience. I am on track to graduate in January of 2020.

Guests at the inaugural EOP Honors Awards Ceremony in Manhattan heard from EOP graduate, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and also SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson (top photo, left).

"Through the EOP, SUNY has changed the course of so many lives and has given so many students the chance to excel and pursue their dreams," Chancellor Johnson said at the ceremony. "We are enormously proud of the students receiving these awards today.

"Many of them have overcome enormous obstacles to fulfill goals that once may have seemed unattainable. I applaud every one of them for demonstrating perseverance and determination."

Jenkins offers this advice to students who may be struggling: "Don't give up! Things may not go the way you expected -- but it all plays out the way it's supposed to in the end."

Through her hard work and perseverance Jenkins earned a place in GCC's Recognition Matters series, which highlights the accomplishments of the College's faculty, staff and students.

Officials at GCC have embraced this series as a way to acknowledge not only the achievement, but the high quality of the recognized individuals who demonstrate GCC's "beyond expectations" brand.

Submitted photo: SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, left, and honoree Kadeja Jenkins. Information from Genesee Community College.

November 7, 2019 - 2:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, education, social justice day, batavia, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

Extending the reach of the One GCC efforts at Genesee Community College, Diversity and Inclusion coordinator Sara Vacin and the Inclusive Excellence Committee will host Social Justice Day on Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Batavia Campus Forum.

This event is made possible through a SUNY Diversity and Inclusion Performance Improvement Fund and is FREE and open to the entire community.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate Librada Paz (inset photo left) will open Social Justice Day at 12:30 p.m. sharing how she came to this country as a young migrant farmer with dreams of studying engineering.

As her journey ensued, she became a nationally recognized activist, which she will describe in her keynote presentation, "The Voice of Farmworkers' Rights."

In addition, on Tuesday, Art Force 5, a group of self-proclaimed "art-equipped heroes" founded at Alfred University will lead attendees to do as they have done and embrace creativity over conflict through the creation of a large mosaic piece.

The mosaic will become a visual tribute to GCC's Open Door Internship Program. 

From 2 - 2:55 p.m. Social Justice Day participants can attend one of the following sessions:

  • "Creativity Over Conflict" with Dan Napolitano of Alfred University in the Forum;
  • "Know Your Rights" with GCC Criminal Justice professor Karen Wicka in T122;
  • "Being an Ally to People of Color" with Political Club student president Dennis Austin in T121;
  • "Social Justice Issues Facing Veterans Today" with Dave Oliver of the Veterans Outreach Center in G200. 

From 3 - 3:55 p.m. participants can choose from the following sessions:

  • "Social Justice Work and Migrant Workers: Past, Present and Future" presented by members of the Geneseo Migrant Center in G200;
  • "Bail Reform and Its Impact" with Catherine Uhly from Genesee Justice in T122;
  • "Sexual Assault Victim's Rights" by RESTORE's Sarah Link and Hannah Kujawski in T121.

Finally, at 4 p.m. all participants are encouraged to come together for refreshments and a closing discussion reflecting on the opportunities to put the information they've been given into action in their own lives.

November 6, 2019 - 12:45pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Last month, Genesee Community College announced the beginning of its year-long celebration of the Nursing Program's 50th anniversary.

During a special "Tea and a Toast" event, the Nursing Program Director Laurel Sanger, Director of Development and Alumni Affairs Tamatha L. Arneth, and Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Jennifer Wakefield kicked off the program's centennial with several impressive announcements all stemming from one of GCC's most substantial scholarship gifts to date.

The Antoinette Marchese Clancy Scholarship Fund and Excellence Award are both being instituted this year. Starting late this spring and continuing for another 50 years, a new scholarship opportunity will support GCC's second-year nursing students.

The significance of this gift has allowed the College to name its School of Nursing after its largest benefactor, specifically, The Antoinette Marchese Clancy School of Nursing.

(Above inset photo is Antoinette Marchese Clancy.)

"It has been my honor to work with the Clancy family to help them introduce an opportunity that recognizes and supports second-year nursing students who have exhibited dedication and excellence in their first year of study, and promise to continue this distinction in their second year," Arneth said.

"The dream of helping the next generation of GCC nursing students has been very important to the Clancy family despite the many years and the physical distance between Mrs. Clancy and her alma mater."

Antoinette Marchese grew up in Batavia and in 1970 graduated from Notre Dame High School, where she had met her husband, Emmet Clancy.

After working as a nurse's aide at St. Jerome's Hospital, she enrolled at D'Youville College, but transferred and graduated from GCC in 1974 earning the Nursing Excellence Award, an honor that is still very important to her.

The Clancy family, now residing in California, has grown to include five children and 11 grandchildren throughout their 45-year marriage.

Earlier this year, Emmet Clancy contacted GCC exploring how his wife's desire to help future nursing students could become a reality. He also wanted to recognize the hard work and dedication of his beloved.

Knowing how much GCC and the Nursing Excellence Award means to his wife and inspired by her selflessness, Emmet Clancy worked with Arneth to establish two opportunities available to nursing students next year.

  • The Antoinette Marchese Clancy Scholarship Fund has been established through a generous gift from the Clancy family and recognizes Antoinette, GCC Class of 1974. Each year going forward, this scholarship will support several second-year GCC nursing students who are academically in the upper third of the class and have illustrated excellence in their clinical performance.
  • In addition, the Antoinette Marchese Clancy Excellence Award will be awarded for the first time to the top clinical performing nursing student at the annual Nursing Recognition Ceremony that is scheduled before the college-wide Commencement, which will occur next on Saturday, May 16.

A formal recognition reception with the Clancys in attendance is also scheduled for Thursday, May 14, as a highlight of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of GCC's Nursing Program and the annual Nursing graduation ceremony.

November 5, 2019 - 11:33am
posted by Billie Owens in education, GCC, scholarships, CampusWorks.

GCC's Foundation Director of Development Tammy Arneth, Vice President for Student Enrollment Services Shelitha Williams, Ph.D., and GCC President James M. Sunser, Ed.D.

Submitted photo and press release:

Last week, Genesee Community College received a $2,000 scholarship from strategic higher education consulting firm, CampusWorks.

In celebration of the company's 20th anniversary, CampusWorks launched a scholarship giveaway pledging to donate $2,000 scholarships to 20 different colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. In all a total of $40,000 in financial support is being donated to help students in need.

CampusWorks' vision is to improve society by making higher education accessible to everyone, and offering these scholarships is a big step toward making that vision a reality.

"After two decades working directly with community colleges, we see firsthand the challenges many students face," said CampusWorks CEO Liz Murphy. "We are thrilled that this scholarship will help students pursue their educational goals at Genesee Community College."

Year after year, education costs rise resulting in an increase in the number of students who need financial assistance.

"The team at GCC is delighted to be among those selected to help celebrate CampusWorks' 20th Anniversary and being able to offer an additional scholarship to our students is truly a gift beyond measure," said GCC President James M. Sunser, Ed.D.

"Last year alone, GCC's Foundation awarded over $145,000 in scholarships to GCC students in need and we anticipate a greater demand this year. It is reassuring to know firms like CampusWorks recognize this challenge for our students."

GCC is currently accepting student scholarship applications until Feb. 1.

Current or new students interested in any of GCC's scholarship opportunities are encouraged to visit www.genesee.edu/offices/finaid/scholarships/ to view the available scholarships and to apply online. In addition, GCC offers expert advisement to help students and their families search for and complete scholarship applications.

Potential new students of all ages are invited to GCC's Academic Open House scheduled on Veteran's Day, Monday, Nov. 11, from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Batavia Campus. Register online at www.genesee.edu/home/offices/admissions/visit/. A financial aid session is included in the program.

November 1, 2019 - 4:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in USDA, education, scholarships, news.

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the “OneUSDA Internship” opportunity for Summer 2020. As part of the Federal Pathways Program, the OneUSDA Internship Program will provide students a way to explore serving their country through a career in government while gaining work experience in agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and other career fields.

“Our goal at USDA is to recruit the best and retain the best through our OneUSDA Internship Program offered nationwide,” said Secretary Perdue. “Today’s young people are the future of America and there are few things more American than agriculture. We’re aiming to find young talent, with a diverse background, across all 50 states, to begin their careers as interns with USDA.”

The OneUSDA Internship Program offers Federal opportunities to students currently enrolled in qualifying educational programs or institutions, with a comprehensive developmental program intended to provide students with experience in a dynamic work environment that will enhance their educational goals and shape their career choices.

An internship with USDA will involve various components of on-the-job experience, mentorship, and training tailored to the student’s education, experience, and interests.

During 2019, USDA was proud to host thousands of interns throughout the country, many of which were through the Federal Pathways Program. In the Summer of 2020, USDA will hire Pathways Interns in hundreds of locations in nearly every state in the country for the following occupational fields:

USDA is making sure the Summer 2020 OneUSDA internship job announcement is easier-than-ever for students to find and apply for. After choosing the geographic location of preference and the career path that best matches with student’s area of study and professional aspirations online, students simply follow the weblinks here to set up an account, then follow the prompts to apply to the internship.

When applying, students will also have an opportunity to indicate their preferred occupational area of interest and USDA Agency or office. The application window opens today (Nov. 1) and close on Nov. 15th. Application review will begin immediately thereafter.

For more information, visit www.USDA.gov/Internships.

November 1, 2019 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, schools, education, news, batavia, st. paul lutheran school.
Video Sponsor

City of Batavia firefighters gave Gretchen Weicher, a student at St. Paul Luthern School in Batavia, a ride to school in a fire truck as an award for winning the department's annual fire safety poster contest.

October 29, 2019 - 1:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, USDA, news, education, scholarships.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the opening of the 2020 scholarship application cycle for the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program.

The program aims to increase the number of students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and other agriculture-related disciplines. The program is available through the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program was established in 1992 as part of the partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the 19 1890 Land-Grant Universities (PDF, 1.2 MB).

The program provides full tuition, fees, books, room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition.

Currently, USDA and 1890 Land-Grant Universities are providing scholarships to 109 students.

“The Scholars Program is an important way to collaborate with historically black land-grant universities and train the workforce for 21st century agriculture.” said Mike Beatty, director of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

This program is among several USDA efforts to build the capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Since the passage of the Second Morrill Act of 1890, USDA has supported scholarships, research, education, extension activities, and grants for facilities and equipment at these institutions.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is available to high school seniors entering their freshman year of college, and college sophomores. General requirements include U.S. citizenship, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a score of 1080 or more on the SAT or 21 or more on the ACT, and acceptance to, or currently attending an 1890 University to study agriculture, food, and natural resources.

The scholarship is renewable each year and is contingent on satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Additional requirements are listed in the application package.

All application materials must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 31. See the 2020 high school application (PDF, 337 KB) and the 2020 college application (PDF, 347 KB) for details. For other questions, email: [email protected]

October 29, 2019 - 1:25pm

Photos and information from Gretchen Spittler, Byron-Bergen Communications Specialist.

BERGEN -- Craig Schroth’s fifth- and sixth-grade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Lab classes are carving pumpkins. But, there are no pumpkins in the room.

Students sit at their computers and each one builds and carves their own virtual pumpkin in a three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) program. When they are complete, Schroth will print them on a 3-D printer.

“It takes a long time, but it’s cool,” said one student.

“Cool” is the word most students use to describe the project.

The pumpkins start to take shape. Students “group” repeated elliptical spheres to create scalloped edges, then add a cylindrical stem. On each screen, orange shapes come together to form what is, unmistakably, a pumpkin.

To hollow out the pumpkin, students place a sphere in the middle. It does not affect the surface design but “it makes printing more efficient,” Schroth explains. “I have two printers and many students and I want to fill the display case with as many projects as possible.”

The students have been following instructions up to this point, but now they get creative. Students add jack-o-lantern faces using various shapes and designs. Eyes appear as stars and hearts. One pumpkin has sunglasses and a mustache.

When compared with traditional pumpkin carving, one students argues that she doesn’t like getting pumpkin guts on her hands. Another argues that virtual pumpkins have no seeds, a favorite snack of hers. When asked if he would like to continue working in 3-D design in high school, another student simply blurts, “Yes!”

“This project has been a great way for students to explore the use of computer-aided design programs in 3-D modeling and prototyping,” Schroth said. “Students are applying skills that they have learned in math class through angles, measurement, and geometry to design a model they can actually hold on to with 3-D printing.”

In the front hallway of the Elementary School, a large display case holds a tractor and wagon, both built by third-grade students. The tractor is driven by the STEAM Lab robot mascot, named Byron, and the tractor displays rows of 3-D printed jack-o-lanterns. Picked fresh daily. Well, printed fresh daily.

October 28, 2019 - 11:40am

Press release:

The faculty and students of the Fashion Design and Business programs at Genesee Community College are excited about several upcoming events that celebrate the changing seasons and how to best present yourself.

The first event, the Color Draping Session is free and open to the public and scheduled Monday, Nov. 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. in room T119 in the Conable Technology Building. Under Fashion Design Professor Donna Ehrhart, students and participants from the local community will enjoy a free consultation. Together, they will determine the color palettes that most appropriately complement each person's unique hair color, skin tone, complexion and eye color, and the seasonality of fashion.

"Color psychology goes all the way back to the 1700s and has continued to shape both the world of fashion and art, especially through the creative process of design or when painting or photographing portraits," Professor Ehrhart said.

"The Draping Session gives our sophomore students the opportunity to practice the skills they learned last year and engage the freshmen students in the theory of color. We hope members of local community will join us and also enjoy the event."

The second event, "Dress for Success and Dining Etiquette" is open to GCC students only and is co-sponsored by the College's Fashion Program, Alumni Office and Student Success Center. On Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 5 - 6:30 p.m., again in room T119, Professor Ehrhart will be joined by Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Jennifer Wakefield in preparing a multifaceted program that will cover not only the importance of dressing for success, but also all the nuances of dining in a manner that reinforces professionalism and confidence.

"Is bacon eaten with a fork or your fingers? Which fork do you use? Which water glass is yours? Knowing the answers to these questions can be a critical component to the impression one makes," Wakefield said. "A lot of important business is conducted over a meal and it is best to know dining etiquette and not let something as simple as having pepper in your teeth detract be your lasting impression." Student participants must come prepared to this event by wearing their business attire.

A third and final opportunity that is also in development with GCC's Fashion program is a window display competition in tandem with Downtown Batavia's "Christmas in the City." Several store fronts will be designed and decorated by GCC students in time for the holiday event on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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