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May 16, 2022 - 8:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Central Schools, Le Roy, schools, education, news, notify.

Four people are each vying for one of three trustee seats on Le Roy Central School's Board of Education during Tuesday's school budget vote.

The two candidates with the most votes will be elected to the two three-year terms that are open, and the candidate to come in third will fill the remaining two years on the other available seat.

The four candidates are Peter W. Loftus, Randa Williams, Jason Karcher, and Rachael Greene.

Also on the ballot is the district's $27,708,988 spending plan.  Voters are being asked to approve a $10,663,025 tax levy.  In-district property owners in Pavilion, Bergen, and Caledonia are looking at a projected tax rate of $19. Property owners in the Town of Le Roy pay the same rate they did this year, $24.14. For further explanation of the tax rates and budget, see The Batavian's previous coverage: Le Roy trustees support $66,000 tax levy increase, still lowering tax rate for property owners with assessment adjustments

During the May 10 school board meeting, the four candidates were given time to introduce themselves:

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Peter W. Loftus
Loftus has served on the school district board for six years and is seeking a third term.  He is married to Tammy and they have two children.   

He is an engineering manager at RL Kistler Inc.

"Kistler places a real high value on their employees giving back to the community and providing service wherever they can," Loftus said. "This has allowed me a lot of flexibility to get out of work when I need to, to get back here for any committee meeting, interview negotiations, anything like that that takes place in the normal working hours. My work is really understanding about that and provides me with that opportunity."

He said he learned two things when he first started on the school board. 

"The first thing that I learned is that it's just a massive operation," he said. "The running of this district is all the fast-moving parts. Everything's changing all the time. People are leaving. It's a natural path for people to come and go. So you're always filling slots. It's just the way it is.

"And the other thing that I learned -- and this is the biggie -- that they care; the education, and the life preparation of every student in this district, is what drives everybody here."

Six years ago, when he showed up at the Jr./Sr high school to participate in his own children's educations, he picked up a positive vibe just walking around the hallways. Loftus said, and he decided he wanted to be a part of it, so he decided to run for a seat on the board.

"Now, I do understand a lot of the challenges, and there are many things we need to do to be better," Loftus said. "It's not just a happy place where that vibe is going all the time. There are underlying issues. There are things that we need to improve."

And Loftus wants to help guide that improvement, he said, and his experience will prove to be an asset.

"My six years on the board equips me with some experience and some tools to be a more effective, more impactful board member," Loftus said. "I really look forward to putting that experience to use in a third term."

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Randa Williams
Williams, a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of Le Roy students, started her involvement with the Le Roy Central School District when her daughter entered kindergarten in 1976. She served on the PTSO and helped get the first playground built, and then a second.

She's been involved with Girl Scouts for 66 years.

"I think that the most important thing is to be involved in your community," Williams said. "I think that's what brought me here."

She thinks more people should get involved with their local schools.

"In a case like this, if you're involved, you know what's going on in your school. And it's very important what's going on here," she said.

Williams said she is excited to get more involved with the district through a seat on the school board.

"I'm very interested in what's going on and I would like to be involved in it," she said.

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Jason Karcher
Part of what brought Karcher to Le Roy is that he married a young lady from the community and they both wanted a place with a strong sense of community and family.

The Buffalo native arrived four years ago and immediately got involved.  He joined the Le Roy Rotary Club and is now set to become president-elect in July. He's also been involved with the PTSO.

"One of the big things for me was about (finding) some place that I could actually dig in, get my hands dirty, and be a part of something that was larger than myself," Karcher said. "When we made the decision, it wasn't a foregone conclusion about where we would go, but it presented itself really quickly that, with family here, and with all the opportunities that are available here, to be able to come back here and (get involved)."

He and his wife Shannon have a daughter and it was his daughter's love of softball that got him even more involved in the community. 

"About two years ago, we had a huge opportunity where there was going to be no softball, there's gonna be no community of girls softball," he said. "That was a big thing for our daughter to make sure that ( girls softball) could continue on. So Shanna and I jumped in and we formed a 501(C)(3) and got it off the ground, and in two years. Now we have over 100 girls playing softball again here in the community, which we think is fantastic, and we're really excited about it."

The level of involvement led to Karcher being appointed to a vacant seat on the school board.

He works for Apple as an employee relations specialist.

"For me, it's about involvement," he said. "One of the things I would call out is, this is our budget meeting, this is where people could come in and actually get to know our candidates. And this is what we have to write (motion it the largely empty auditorium). And I'll call out, why aren't there more people here? That bothers me. So that's one of the big things, if ever voted on to the school board, is wanting to make a commitment that we need more people here."

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Rachael Greene

Greene enters the race with more than two decades of experience in education. She started her career as a teacher in her hometown of Warsaw before becoming a principal in Mount Morris.  She was an instructional coordinator for BOCES (a position her husband, Peter, now holds) before becoming superintendent of the Stanley G. Falk School, which is a NYS-approved special day school that provides educational programming for students aged five to 21 who have special learning, social, and emotional needs.

"We have 600 students," Greene said. "We're the largest special education school in New York State -- seven locations and (there are) 44 different districts that we collaborate with. So when I think about what I could bring to the board, I think there's some insight and perspective in the fact that I've been able to sit in many of your positions within the district, not this district, specifically, but in a school system, and understand the roles that each of you plays to make decisions on what's best for kids. But also the perspective of being able to say, wow, you know, 44 districts, what are they doing with this?"

She said she wouldn't see her role as another superintendent in the district, a role Merrit Holly currently fills. 

"I think there's some value in being a thought partner at the table with the board," said Greene, a life-long resident of Le Roy. "In my experience, the other piece I think I would bring to the board is I'm a huge advocate for underrepresented students. When I look at our community of Le Roy and youth, and look at where we were 20 years ago, our poverty levels amongst our families and our students coming through our doors hovered around 10 percent. That trend line has done nothing but grow, where we are at almost 40 percent of our students that come into our school buildings living in poverty every day."

The Greenes have three children going to Le Roy schools, including Andrew, a ninth-grader who attended the meeting with his mother.

"I have a lot of confidence that he also will be in some form of leadership because he's class president, and now president of the Junior Honor Society," she said. "So I'm super proud of that. I think it's important for me as a parent to also model that when you're passionate about something, you want to have a seat at the table. So I'm super proud. He's here to support me."

 Greene said she would serve to support educators and see that both instructors and students -- especially those coming from poor families -- get what they need to succeed.

"I can tell you that our teachers in this district and our staff work so hard to do what's best for kids every day," Greene said. "So, as a board member, I'd want to think about what can we do, not just instructionally, but structurally to provide for what every kid needs in this district. Because the sad part is that two-thirds of those 40 percent don't pass the state exams. That tells me that there's a big gap there and it's our obligation, my duty, I would feel as the board member, and all of ours, to really look at what can we do to break down those barriers for kids every day."

Photos by Howard Owens.

May 16, 2022 - 9:13am
posted by Press Release in GCC, education, news.

Press release:

Since 2008, Genesee Community College has offered the Genesee Promise Plus (GPP) scholarships to help remove financial barriers to higher education for citizens in the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (GLOW) counties. Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply for up to two summer semester courses tuition-free at GCC!

"Summer is a perfect time for new GCC students or students in our Accelerated College Enrollment (ACE) program to stay on track or get ahead," Lindsay Gerhardt, assistant dean for Recruitment and Admissions, said. "The GPP program provides a wonderful opportunity for students to earn up to eight credits cost-effectively. Courses can be used to explore an academic program, see if college is the path for you, get a head start on a GCC degree program or be transferred to a 4-year institution."

GPP is available to GLOW region citizens who are high school juniors (rising seniors), graduating high school seniors or new adult college students (adults who have never attended college before). With more than 100 courses being offered this summer, in two summer sessions both online and at GCC's Batavia campus, there are ample opportunities for all eligible applicants in these categories:

  • High School Juniors (rising seniors) and qualifying Homeschool Students are eligible for scholarship tuition funding to take one or two courses.
  • Graduating High School Seniors are eligible for scholarship funding to take one or two courses.
  • Adults who have never attended college are eligible for scholarship funding to take one course. This includes adults who have received a GED before May 1, 2022, or graduated from a GLOW area high school in December 2021 or earlier. GCC will require a copy of high school transcripts.

GPP scholarship applications are being accepted until May 31, 2022, for the full or first session and July 5, 2022, for the second summer session. The complete list of courses available this summer is available at https://www.genesee.edu/courses/schedule/. The wide array of subjects includes Basic Math Skills to Statistics, History to Healthy Living, Psychology to Sociology, Business to Biology, and unique courses including Fundamentals of Acting and Theatre History, plus many others.

Applications, qualification criteria, and additional information are available at http://www.genesee.edu/gcc/promise/.

All interested individuals are encouraged to contact the admissions office at [email protected] or by calling (585) 345-6805 today!

Additional information about Genesee Community College is available at www.genesee.edu and through Facebook and Twitter.

May 13, 2022 - 1:32pm
posted by Press Release in BCSD Foundation, Batavia HS, batavia, news, education, schools.

Press release:

Nominations are being accepted for the 2022 BCSD Foundation, Inc. Scholarship.   This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Senior from Batavia High School.  The nominee has been successful in their educational program and has sought out skills to further their career.  In addition, they exemplify our Batavia school culture and climate of “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Connected and Be Ambitious.”

Any local community member may nominate a Batavia HS Senior who meets the above criteria.  Nomination forms are available on the Batavia City School District website, https://www.bataviacsd.org/page/bcsd-foundation. You may complete the Google Form or the pdf document to nominate a deserving Senior.  All nominations need to be received by May 27, 2022.

A copy of the nomination form is attached to this press release.                 

May 12, 2022 - 7:00pm

Batavia City Schools leaders have a “robust” summer school plan, they say.

Summer session will open July 12 and run for a month, to August 11. It’s a countermeasure for the ill effects of pandemic shutdowns. Instead of in the past, when students went to central designated sites, they will go to their own schools this year. Lessons will be taught from 9 a.m. to noon three days a week, and breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided, said Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction.

“We’re being deliberate, the kids will stay at their own school. So Jackson is hosting their own summer school program, and John Kennedy and the middle school are as well. And we added extra staff for those locations, and we're combining transportation, that's a big variable as well.” she said during an interview Wednesday with The Batavian. “We want to ensure that we get kids there. And right now our numbers are looking really good. At Jackson, it’s 150, where normally we would have 50 students.”

Those grades — Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade — are the “critical grades” to reach in July, she said. They will be taught basic literacy skills so that, by third grade, students are expected to “be reading to learn” and to enjoy learning to read.

“So we hired more teachers and we have a longer day than we traditionally have had. Last summer it was a two-hour program; this summer it's a three-hour program just so we have adequate time,” Superintendent Jason Smith said.

Strategies also include pairing students with trusted adults and an element of compassion for what the students have already gone through, Corey said.  The district is targeting 500 students for the summer school program in all three schools while extended days have already been implemented at the high school.

There will also be more teachers, albeit with a more summertime feel, at the middle school. Unlike a stiff remediation vibe, the Ross Street school will offer math and literacy camps with “high engagement” for middle school students and veteran teachers serving as coaches, Corey said.   

“It’s really just hooking them into the learning,” she said. “Giving them more purposeful practice while they do so.”

Smith believes it’s essential to not only bolster students but teachers also.

“Teachers have had very, very busy days, they make thousands of decisions every single day. So we want to give them support, so they can best support our students,” he said. “And one way to do that, one effective way to do it, is to appoint math coaches. We have literacy coaches currently in place through COVID funds as well. At the high school, we’re using the extended day to help kids recover credit from where they didn't meet the expectations during credit from the previous year.”

The district applied for federal COVID funds made available to New York State in 2020. Batavia was awarded $9 million over a three-year period to afford measures such as additional personnel, programs, extended school days and transportation and meals during summer school. 

Smith feels the district must be doing something right, given its recent ranking in U.S. News as being in the top 40 percent of schools in the country.

“So we're doing well,” he said. “We're on track.”

Enrollment is still open for summer school. For more information, call the district at (585) 343-2480.

May 12, 2022 - 6:56pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, learning loss, City Schools, notify, education, schools.

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While teaching a third-grade class at John Kennedy Intermediate, Molly Corey noticed one particular little girl who said Batavia was not her first school district and most likely wasn’t going to be her last.

The third-grader was chronically absent — about one day each week — and didn’t seem terribly invested in her lessons.

“We were her fourth school, and she said she will be moving again. So her buy-in to wanting to do well really depended on the relationship. I had lunch with the girl, but teachers can’t do that every day. She thought it was special that I was working with her. Whenever she would see me she would light up,” Corey said during an interview with The Batavian. “You know what, it was that relationship that really just helped to keep hooking her; I know our classroom teachers are trying hard with that.”

dr._molly_corey.jpegCorey’s regular job is not as a teacher but as executive director of the district’s curriculum and instruction department. She taught for a while to get an idea about what teachers encounter due to family circumstances and, for the last two years, a change of learning methods due to the pandemic.

Finding meaning in 'Learning Loss' ...
Two phrases that have become the “buzz words” in many school districts are “learning loss” and “social, emotional learning.” But what do they really mean? How did hybrid and remote learning affect kids, and more importantly, what are the remedies being purchased with COVID funds?

Each issue has greatly impacted students across all grades, and perhaps most crucial for children just starting to learn foundational lessons, Corey said.

“So if we start with the littlest ones at Jackson Primary, the incoming kids are really the ones most ready to thrive. It really was merely if anything changed with loss, it was because of quarantines or them being out being sick with a positive (test). So, we really tried hard to keep them on track,” she said. “If you were the first-grader or the second-grader, kids who had gaps in learning from not being here full-time last year, and from the first year of closure, some of the foundation skills that you would expect them to receive, where they're learning to read, and they're learning about basic number zones, we didn't have the same amount of time.”

The focus for teachers has been to catch up those foundational skills that students need to get into their normal curriculum and grade level, she said. Foundational skills include knowing the letters in sounds and understanding how they blend together, she said, then putting them all together in sentences. Those skills are the basics of learning to read and write, she said.

There's a sequence of skills students have to have — the building blocks — needed in order to master those skills and “build upon one another,” Corey said. “And it's a purposeful practice that really helps them to become fluent readers.”

Superintendent Jason Smith said the evidence has been evident through observing students and having conversations with teachers and principals: there are gaps in all grades due to remote learning and losing the consistency of routine.

No matter at what age, even with a solid one-to-one teaching model, it’s a difficult task, Corey said. Just imagine youngsters, especially, sitting at home staring at the computer. Working with one person. All-day long. “You can’t,” she said.

High school students, meanwhile, are struggling with earning enough credits, passing exams and meeting specific criteria for graduating at the end. Although the state Education Department gave out “some free passes” in terms of easing up on requirements for Regents exams, students still needed to acquire certain levels of knowledge," she said.

“But the reality is, we need them to pass the class, and being in person is an important factor to really give them time to show us what they know, with regard to subject,” she said. “So we have benchmark assessments that have told us some of the assignments that they're missing when there's brokenness with their schooling. We were focusing in on our seniors, obviously, we want to help them, but we have a plan in place for what we can do with the other grade levels as well.

“So we're pairing teachers with students, by content, and we're using a credit recovery system called Apex; it guides kids through the course. Because the ultimate goal is to learn and be successful, but the practical outcome is to have X number of credits to get the diploma. It's that balance to give them the compassion that they need, and the motivation to keep them going,” she said.

For Jackson Primary, John Kennedy Intermediate and the middle school, there will be an offering of summer school, taught three days a week. (See related article, “Batavia City Schools on track for robust summer.”)

“But we have these funds available, due in large part, whose goal in large part, is to help us address those gaps or the loss,” Smith said.

The social-emotional learning piece is tied to the kids’ ability to recognize and better regulate their emotions and have ability to interact well with others. Smith learned first-hand just how out of balance some students’ emotions are. He found himself getting involved with a student whose difficulties were escalating, and a report was sent to the superintendent. He helped to connect the student with a social worker and wondered what might have happened if the distraught kid missed out on that needed counseling.

Then there was the fourth-grader who began to cry, and then sobbed uncontrollably. These instances are happening, he and Corey said, and there need to be remedies to help students adjust to more than educational losses; many have mental health needs as well. Some 100 of those students not only had a pandemic to deal with, but they were also part of an ongoing trend of transplants. Throughout the school year, a portion of those 100 kids moves into the district while another portion moves out. Those fluctuations add another layer of need to help acclimate them to a new school, Corey said.

That’s where social-emotional learning comes in. The pandemic didn’t necessarily cause mental health issues as much as it put a spotlight on that piece, Smith and Corey said. In addition to hiring four new teachers to help with the academic shortfalls, another social worker will assist with the mental and emotional issues.

Federal COVID-19 funds were distributed for school districts to play catch-up with gaps due to pandemic shutdowns. Districts in New York State had to apply for the funds, explain the loss, the solutions being put in place and how they would assess outcomes. Smith said that Batavia City Schools was allocated about $9 million for three years.

After nine years at the city school district, Corey is experiencing new territory.

“It's some of the extremes ... Things we've never ever seen before,” she said.

Top Photo: 2019 File Photo of a Moving Up ceremony at John Kennedy Intermediate. Batavia City Schools officials are stepping up lessons, personnel and amount of time available to students to ensure continued progress toward graduation. Photo by Howard Owens.

Inset photo: Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction at Batavia City Schools. Photo submitted by BCSD

May 4, 2022 - 3:36pm
posted by Press Release in Musicians Of Note, batavia, Batavia HS, music, arts, education, news.

Press release:

Musicians of Note, an event honoring past Batavia High School graduates who have made an impact in music, will host its 3rd annual ceremony on Friday, May 13, 2022, in the Batavia High School Auditorium at 7:00 pm. 

Honorees will be recognized with a video presentation and performance ensembles to celebrate their achievements. A plaque featuring their accomplishments will be displayed on the new Musicians of Note wall at Batavia High School. 

This year’s five recipients of the 3rd annual Musician of Note Award include: 

Lyle Mark: Class of 1938,  

  • US Navy, WWII, Leader of Mellville, Rhode Island Naval Base Dance Band
  • 27-year career as music director for Elba Central School
  • A 34-year member of Genesee Symphony
  • A more than 50-year member of Batavia Concert Band
  • Private music instructor and mentor to area students and musicians

Beth Ann Lambein Hooker: Class of 1963  

  • Julia E. Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, BS Music Education-Voice Major, graduated 1967
  • Taught Grades K-12 Vocal Music Oak field-Alabama, Baldwinsville & LeRoy, New York 33 Years (1967-2000)
  • Methodist Church Youth & Sanctuary Choir Director (16 Years)
  • Directed/Produced/Appeared in 132 Theatrical Productions over 54 years (1968-2022)

Mark Hoerbelt: Class of 1986

  • Baritone In All-State Chorus (1985)
  • Area All-State Chorus and Orchestra (violin) (1983-1985) 
  • Teacher at Alexander High School/Middle School (2005-present) 
  • Music minister at Resurrection Parish (1999-present)
  • Genesee Chorale conductor (2000-2005) 

Jacqueline Siegel McLean: Class of 2002

  • Choir Director at Newfield Central School District (2006-2010)
  • Choir Director at LeRoy Central School District (2010-present)
  • Golden Apple Award Recipient 2018
  • LeRoy Musical Artistic Director of Stars of Tomorrow, award-winning musical program (2010-present)\
  • Proud music educator of several Conference All-State, Area All-State, and All-County students  (2006-present)

Cindy Baldwin: Retired Music Teacher BCSD 1984-2011

  • Batavia String Teacher (1984-2011)
  • Department Chair (2001-2011)
  • NYSCAME President (2006-07)
  • RPO String Educator Of The Year (2008)
  • Active Performer (1964-present)

Tickets for the May 13 event are on sale in the Main Office at Batavia High School for $10. You may also email Jane Haggett at [email protected] to reserve your tickets, which will be available at the will-call table the night of the event. 

May 2, 2022 - 4:21pm
posted by Press Release in BOCES, education, news, NYVirtual Academy.

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Press release:

When COVID-19 caused a worldwide pandemic in 2020, no one ever thought that school buildings across New York state would close. What was known as academic normalcy, and a typical school year changed overnight. Although school buildings were closed, instruction remained a top priority for school districts as teachers adopted new methods of how to creatively deliver instruction to students of all ages. Google Classroom, Zoom, Google Meet, Edpuzzle, Screencastify, Flipgrid and distance learning are just a few methods and strategies that teachers used to connect with students. All of these can be described as online learning.

As the pandemic progressed, teachers and administrators discovered that some students flourished in an online learning environment and, with proper guidance, some students were able to make significant academic gains.

Christopher Harris, Ed.D., oversees a number of programs at Genesee Valley BOCES, including
Model Schools, Library Media Services, Distance Learning, School Library System, and a new program launched in the fall of 2021 called NYVirtual Academy. The NYVirtual Academy was born out of a need to serve this population of students, who for many reasons, thrived in a virtual setting.

“A few years ago, we researched the possibility of creating an online learning program that would focus on college readiness.  Many students who live in this region are the first in their families to attend college. Due to fiscal constraints, the small rural school districts in this region, may not have the same college prep courses as larger more affluent suburban school districts,” Harris said. “We wrote a few grant proposals but then COVID-19 hit. This drastically changed our plan and we transitioned to supporting both remote and hybrid learning.”

First, discussions took place that framed out a rough idea of how a virtual academy would operate. As the 2020-2021 school year continued, with many school districts operating in a hybrid model, the need for this program became more evident.

 “The concern at that time was that school districts had massive numbers of students who could potentially be enrolled, so we knew that this would not be a good time to launch. We focused on supporting teachers by providing resources and tools that would best meet their immediate needs,” Harris explained. 

Throughout that school year, Harris researched and spoke with superintendents on how this concept could work.

“In June and July, we knew that there would be lingering impacts, and discovered that this virtual school concept was definitely a possibility.  The Governor and the State Education Department were communicating a ‘return to in-person learning where appropriate,’” Harris said.  “We knew that some students would not be able to return to in-person learning for a number of reasons, including health conditions, so we got to work. What made this development process work so well was the support of all the school superintendents in this region.”

The program launched in the fall of 2021 with an enrollment of 60 students. But very quickly in early September registration ballooned to 100 students.  As of March 2022, there are 125 students in the NYVirtual Academy.

How it works
NYVirtual Academy is a full-service educational program for students in grades 6-12.  The program provides all instructional components for students including core and elective courses to meet all New York State graduation requirements taught by New York State certified teachers.  Each day students are expected to spend 4-6 hours at home dedicated to their course work. Students are enrolled in their local districts, however, and should be eligible for sports and other extra-curricular activities. Additionally, it is the local district that grants credit and graduates the student based on recommendations from GV BOCES.

Patrick Whipple, Ph. D. oversees all of the Professional Learning Services (PLS) at GV BOCES.  The NYVirtual Academy is part of this department. Whipple described how this new school came to be.

“NYVirtual has its inception tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the late spring of 2020, Dr. Julie Donlon, GV BOCES Deputy Superintendent, presented the Professional Learning Services Department with a challenge-- how can GV BOCES create a service that can meet the demands for virtual learning while taking the burden off of local districts? NY Virtual was the response,” Whipple said. “The PLS Team built the proposal for the program by considering three large, student-focused buckets: effective curriculum, connectedness/mental health, and flexibility. To meet the needs of our districts, the team considered cost-effectiveness and viability as important factors; however, the cost-benefit analysis could not detract from the student-focused nature of the program.”

Whipple also noted how this unique program provides students with a new chance at learning in a protected environment.

“Some students and families are just too anxious to attend in-person school at this time - for various health-related reasons. This is the void that NYVirtual Academy fills. Our NYVirtual Academy staff provide the needed academic, social, and caring support to students who really need it right now. This program dismantles many of the barriers our students would have in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting,” Whipple said. “We focus on the kids by ensuring each student has a moderate group of classmates and a caring adult to interact with through our Advisory Model. These advisors act in a capacity of "school parent" to ensure students feel a sense of connectedness to peers and adults despite attending school from their homes. This important focus creates a warm and welcoming environment that reduces student anxiety, so they can more easily attend to academics.”

Donna McLaughlin is one of the NYVirtual Academy teachers. She applied to teach at this cyber school for many reasons.

“The advisory model was a big part of why I wanted to teach at the NYVirtual Academy. I truly believe in the idea that kids don't care what you know until they know that you care.  In my experience, students who feel safe, heard, and valued by their teachers are more motivated and engaged and, therefore, do better academically,” McLaughlin said.

McCarthy teaches a multitude of offerings including English 10, 11, 12, Career English 12, AP English 12 as well as Mythology and Folklore. It would seem that teaching students remotely would be challenging but McLaughlin disagrees.

“Being an online learning specialist provides me with a unique opportunity to work with students from all over New York state rather than just one localized school building/area.  I have flexibility with my schedule which allows me to have the freedom and opportunity to meet with students 1:1 whenever they need extra support rather than just during after-school hours,” she explained. “Another positive benefit of this position is that the Edmentum (the curriculum this cyber school follows) modules and assessments are rigorous and help students develop the skills and habits they need to be independent learners beyond high school.”

Harris explained that NYVirtual Academy supports students who each have a unique set of circumstances as to why a traditional school setting is not the best fit.  McCarthy agrees.

“I have several students who are facing really difficult, mental/emotional and environmental challenges but are thriving in our program. One student, in particular, is facing a significant number of barriers to success yet she shows up to advisory every morning with a smile and a great attitude,” McCarthy shared. “This student is on pace in all her classes and earning excellent grades despite working 30-40 hours a week to support herself.  She has shared with me that having the option to complete her schoolwork when it fits into her schedule has been critical for her success this year.”

What does the future hold?
It is both Harris’ and McCarthy’s hope that this school model continues.

“I think this program is an amazing example of student-centered learning where kids who don't fit into the traditional brick and mortar school are provided the chance to engage in the educational experience in a new way,” McCarthy said. “Kids who have mental/emotional issues that prevent them from being able to focus and engage in a classroom full of students and stimuli are now able to receive a quality education that values, accommodates, and supports their unique health circumstances.” 

Harris wholeheartedly agrees. 

“Our students are better prepared for their next steps in life. They understand how to work independently, have great time management skills, are able to advocate for themselves when they need help and are able to engage in online learning,” Harris said. 

-College and career-ready are common words used to describe how schools are expected to prepare students.  The NYVirtual Academy does just that and more by providing a culture that fosters learning and teaches students the necessary skills to prepare them for life.

Submitted photo: Harris and his team recently received the Genesee Valley BOCES School Board Association Excellence in Student Services Award. This award recognizes school districts, programs and staff members.  The awards were selected based upon uniqueness, effectiveness and availability to serve the population they were designed to serve. Pictured (left to right) Dr. Patrick Whipple presenting Dr. Christopher Harris with the Genesee Valley BOCES School Board Association Excellence in Student Services Award.

April 30, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Press Release in Ed Rath, news, 61st senate district, education.

Press release:

Senator Rath is asking for residents to nominate teachers that they would like to honor.  The nominations will be open during Teacher Appreciate Week, which runs from May 2nd through May 6th

“Teachers play such an instrumental role in children’s lives, many of us can recall a teacher who made a lasting impact on us.  I hope everyone will take a moment to nominate that special teacher,” said Senator Ed Rath. 

To nominate an educator from the 61st senate district, visit https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/edward-rath-iii

April 29, 2022 - 11:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, reading, education, schools, news.

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Children whose parents read to them at home are faster learners, studies show, which is one reason administrators and teachers at Jackson Primary School in Batavia put a strong emphasis on reading.

It's a goal of the school that no child graduates from Jackson to John Kennedy without reading at least grade level, said Principal Maureen Notaro.

"We're promoting early literacy with our "Wild About Reading " theme," Notaro said during the family reading night at the school on Thursday. "Family reading night brings families together to help kids be invigorated and show their love of reading."

Teachers and staff decorated the hallways in a contest to emphasize the "Wild About Writing" theme and Brian Sutton, Steve Hyde, and Officer Miah Stevens judged the wall art, with the winning team getting a pizza party.

This was the first event with a gathering of students and parents at the school in 2 1/2 years.

"Parents who read to their kids get them excited (about reading)," Notaro said. "Kids are so curious. So anything, anything you say or expose them to is just a wonderful experience for them. I always tell parents, any chance you get to read to your children, you know, do it.  Do it in the car, point things out, just involve literacy in everyday life."

Further reading:

Top photo: Miles McCracken, 5, shows off the book he chose to purchase at Jackson School's "Wild About Reading" night on Thursday.  He said, "Reading is cool." 

Photos by Howard Owens

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Officer Miah Stevens.

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Superintendent Jason Smith

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Teachers with their favorite books from childhood were featured in pictures in the foyer of the school.

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April 27, 2022 - 2:46pm
posted by Press Release in BOCES, education, news.

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Press release:

In April, the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Chapter announced the names of 31 career and technical student inductees. These students met the rigorous criteria set forth by this national organization. The minimum grade point average for acceptance is a 3.0 GPA.  Students are also selected based upon credit hours completed, attendance, volunteer service, and membership in other student organizations.

Margaret Poray, Executive Principal of the Genesee Valley BOCES Batavia Campus, was inducted as an honorary member.
The ceremony was held on April 21 at the Elba Central School District. The inductees are noted below.

The 2022 Batavia Career and Technical Education Center NTHS Inductees

  • Matthew Cecere, Alexander, Computer Information Systems
  • Devon Grunthaner, Alexander, Auto Technology
  • Olivia Colon-Mercado, Attica, Animal Science
  • Ella Dickinson, Attica, Criminal Justice
  • Alyssa Jacoby, Attica, Cosmetology
  • Tyler Strong, Attica, Criminal Justice
  • Grace Snyder, Attica, Cosmetology
  • Robert McCarthy, Batavia, Metal Trades
  • Synia Morrison, Batavia, Criminal Justice
  • Melanie Quinones, Batavia, Animal Science
  • Tyler Umlauf, Batavia, Graphic Arts
  • Alyssa Vickery, Batavia, Health Dimensions
  • Shyann Ruffino, Batavia Academy, Animal Science
  • Tyler Pangrazio, Cal-Mum, Building Trades
  • William Eschberger, LeRoy, Electro-Mechanical Trades
  • Ryan Higgins, LeRoy, Electro-Mechanical Trades
  • Josh Noble, LeRoy, Metal Trades
  • McKenna Coniber, LeRoy, Building Trades
  • Ann Navarra, LeRoy, Cosmetology
  • Ashlyn Puccio, LeRoy, Cosmetology
  • Bryceton Berry, Notre Dame, Electro-Mechanical Trades
  • James Hudson, Notre Dame, Conservation
  • Grace Mileham, Notre Dame, Health Dimensions
  • Jaylee Johnson, Oakfield-Alabama, Graphic Arts
  • Lauren Mandel, Oakfield-Alabama, Cosmetology
  • Kyra Rhodes, Oakfield-Alabama, Graphic Arts
  • Emmaly Wilkosz, Oakfield-Alabama­­, Cosmetology
  • Victoria Franks, Pembroke, Conservation
  • Karli Houseknecht, Pembroke, Electro-Mechanical Trades
  • Riley Martin, Pembroke, Computer Information Systems
  • Rylee Seelau, Pembroke, Criminal Justice

Submitted photo: The 2022 Batavia CTE Center National Technical Honor Society Inductees.

April 27, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, education, schools, Le Roy Central Schools, news, notify.

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Le Roy Central School District is planning to increase the tax levy by $66,000 after calculating how much state aid the district can expect to help cover its $27,708,988 spending plan.

The good news for residents of Stafford, who this year reportedly saw a substantial increase in their property assessments, is that if the numbers hold, their property tax rate for public education will go down about $2.37 per $1,000 of assessed value. The anticipated rate is $19.80. That's 13 cents more than it would have been had the Board of Education decided to balance the budget with reserves rather than increase the levy.

Property owners in the district in Pavilion, Bergen, and Caledonia are also looking at a projected tax rate of $19.

However, property owners in the Town of Le Roy pay the same rate they did this year, $24.14. 

State law requires that all property owners in a district share the burden of education equally so a formula will be applied to Le Roy's tax rate to make it equitable.  

Business Administrator Brian Foeller presented anticipated revenue numbers to board members at a Monday afternoon meeting and then all members of the board participated in a discussion about the tax levy before reaching a consensus decision (no motion nor vote was required) to raise the levy by $66,000.

These are all estimates because final assessment numbers will not be available until July, which will affect the total tax levy.

The tax levy is the total amount of revenue raised through property taxes.  The tax rate is the amount per thousand of assessed value that property owners are billed to pay into the levy.

Board President Jacalyn Whiting (top photo) said she was confused by the Town's decision to forego assessment adjustments this year given the state's required equalization rate and that the town must eventually get assessments up to 100 percent of fair market value.

"How is this going to make things better?" Whiting said.

The spending plan is covered by $16,135,963 in state aid, $10,663,025 tax levy, and $910,000 in local revenues.

Local revenues are:

  • Fund Balance carried forward
  • PILOTS
  • Late taxpayer penalties
  • Out of district tuition paid by other schools
  • Interest earnings of investments
  • Medicaid
  • BOCES Refund

Budget increases include:

  • Professional support and staff salaries, $364,963
  • Special Education out-of-district tuition, $282,000
  • Staff health insurance, $150,721 (a 12.5 percent increase)
  • Grounds/facilities equipment, $81,000
  • Debt payment on existing loans, $56,611

The district is adding one full-time equivalent position, replacing a part-time BOCES employee due to an increase in BOCES attendance. 

A part-time BOCES speech therapist position is being eliminated. There is also a reduction in spending on COVID-19 supplies and several retirements, with not all positions being replaced.

"We've done our part to try and keep this in mind with rising costs," said Superintendent Merritt Holly. "It's tough. These are not easy decisions."

 Whiting agreed, saying the district has done the best it can to control costs.

"This is hard, because I feel we've done a really good job, even adding $66,000 to the levy to bring it to $2 lower per $1,000," Whiting said. "But the assessment part is out of our control. By the same token, you know, we have to balance out here, too."

One thing helping the district this year is the state increased the amount of state aid, a portion called Foundation Aid, to offset shortages to the district in previous years. The increase is only temporary and the district cannot count on it in the future.

Trustee Jason Karcher expressed concern that without a levy increase, the district will face a steeper hill to climb at some point.

"That's gonna be a shock to the system when, and we don't necessarily know when, that would happen," he said. "That's lovely."

Trustee William MacKenzie agreed.

"Eventually the Foundation Aid is going to go away," he said. "It's going to happen."

Trustee Denise Duthe said she believes the district has a history of being responsible for taxpayers' money.

"I think has always done a good job of keeping things basically straight or just a little bit up, not these kinds of wild gyrations," Duthe said. "Everything costs a little bit more. Keep in mind that we want to be as fiscally responsible as we can but we also don't want to do a giant jump next year."

The budget public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium.

The vote on the budget and candidates for trustees will be on May 17.

There are four candidates for three open seats.  There are two three-year terms and one two-year term open.  The candidates are  Peter W. Loftus (Incumbent), Randa Williams, Jason Karcher, and Rachael Greene.

Photos by Howard Owens

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April 22, 2022 - 4:42pm
posted by Press Release in pembroke, schools, arts, education, news, Pembroke Central Schools.

Press release:

Pembroke Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  Now in its 23rd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Pembroke Central School District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Our K-12 music department and the consistent quality of vocal and instrumental instruction it has provided to our young Dragons has been nothing short of amazing!” said Superintendent Matthew Calderón. “Receiving this designation for three years in a row is no surprise to me and will have an ongoing positive impact on the district’s music education program.”

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education. 

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

April 15, 2022 - 5:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GO ART!, news, arts, education, notify.

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Willow Amherein dances in her rehearsal for a green screen video production during the final day, today, of GO Art!'s spring week-long art camp for children.

GO Art! offers art camps during school breaks -- winter and spring -- to expose children to as much art as possible.

Many of the classes during the camp were taught by guest artists. The artists included:

  • Blanca Rodriguez from Avon, originally from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. She demonstrated and helped the campers make traditional foods: tortillas, pico de gallo and a drink, agua de jamaica (Hibiscus flower "tea".)
  • Womba Africa, a Ghanaian drumming and dance group from Rochester. Their leader is Quaye Odai, and two other members of the group came on Friday, Odai and Raymon. They came to the U.S. in 2019 and settled in Rochester. They perform for all kinds of community events, concerts and do assemblies or visits to schools.
  • Grandmaster Yuanming Zhang, who earned international recognition for his expertise in medical qigong, internal martial arts, energy painting & calligraphy, practical application of the Yi-Jing, and remote energy healing. He did Calligraphy with the kids.

The students also painted and made 3D mosaics.

At the end of an interview, Mary Jo Whitman, education/SCR director for GO Art! as a group working at paintings on a nearby table, "What is art?" and Kashmarae Wissinger spoke up immediately: "It's everything!"

"That's right," Whitman said. "It's everything and that's the goal of our program."

Photos by Howard Owens

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Jodi Fisher working with students on their green screen video projects.

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Mary Jo Whitman mixing paint for a student.

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Thera Sanchez helping a student with her art project.

April 8, 2022 - 10:11am
posted by Press Release in GCC, solar, news, education.

Press release:

Genesee Community College has officially opened enrollment into its newest offering- the Solar Electric Technician Certificate for the Fall 2022 semester. Requiring a total of just 15 credit hours, this program is designed to be completed in as little as one semester. In addition, students can apply those credits toward a concentration within an Associate in Applied Science degree in Individualized Studies.

Careers in renewable energy in the form of solar electric (photovoltaic) grid systems are expanding rapidly throughout New York State both residentially and commercially. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for solar technology workers is projected to increase 50% over the next ten years which translates into roughly 6,000 new workers.

"Solar Tech skills have never been more relevant and more needed," said Director of Mathematics and Engineering Science, Christopher Kemp. "Solar projects from residential homes to major commercial solar farms are going up across the world and in our own back yards. The Solar Tech program is unique in that it can springboard directly into high-paying entry-level installer jobs, higher-level and specialized training, national accreditations, and four-year programs in renewable energy and the sciences. It can also enhance the current marketable skills of current practicing electricians, and educate individuals on the versatility and utility of solar technology. Starting out in solar is easy to do, and the opportunities are almost unlimited."

Upon graduation, GCC students are positioned to enter high-demand and lucrative solar-related employment opportunities, including residential and commercial solar panel installer, solar sales, solar electric maintenance, and recreational vehicle solar package installer.

Further details can be found at https://www.genesee.edu/home/academics/programs/tech/solartech/

Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for FREE online at https://www.genesee.edu/offices/admissions/apply/ or to call (585) 343-6800 or 1-866-CALL-GCC, or email [email protected].

April 3, 2022 - 6:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Central Schools, Le Roy, schools, education, news.

Administrators with the Le Roy Central School District have been working on the 2022-2023 budget for weeks and are currently proposing $27,708,988 in expenditures, an increase of $839,701 from the 2021-2022 budget, or a 3.13% increase.

Superintendent Merritt Holly said officials still need to compare revenue numbers to help finalize the budget.

School districts do not yet know how much state aid they will receive, which is a significant portion of every district's revenue. Without that number, officials cannot say what the anticipated tax levy will be and what that will mean for the tax rate on property owners in the district.

Under the property tax cap, the district can increase the levy by 2.39 percent.   

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the auditorium of Wolcott School.

March 25, 2022 - 11:38pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, oakfield-alabama, drop-outs, education, notify, schools.

New York State’s high school drop-out rate has declined in recent years, to an all-time low of 5.6 percent, USAfacts.org says.

Still, nobody wants to see students drop out, even if it’s only one or two, as is the case at Oakfield-Alabama Central, Superintendent John Fisgus said during the district’s recent board meeting.

“We hate losing these kids at the last minute. They usually drop out by 17, as a junior, and they only have one year to go,” he said. “We want to see these kids leave with a high school diploma.”

He consulted with other school districts, including Batavia City Schools and Pembroke Central, about setting a legal drop-out requirement to age 17 for Oakfield-Alabama’s district, which has a legal age of 16 currently. The feedback from both schools led him to his proposal to the board: raise the legal drop-out age to 17.

“There were no negatives,” Fisgus said. “The board has the right to make it 17.”

A board member asked how many students this change would affect, and the answer was “maybe one or two.” But, according to the American Psychological Association, dropouts face “extremely bleak economic and social prospects” from not having a high school diploma. National statistics from 2012 showed more than 1 million high school students not graduating and earning that prized diploma. 

Those dropouts, compared to high school grads, are also less likely to find a job and earn a living wage, APA.org stated. 

“Poverty and dropouts are inextricably connected in the three primary settings affecting healthy child and adolescent development: families, schools and communities,” it stated.

Batavia City Schools not only has the higher age limit but also recently touted a 96 percent graduation rate and various educational and career-related activities being offered to upper-level high school students. Pembroke’s graduation rate is 92 percent, and both are higher than the state’s average of 86 percent. August 2021 data reported Oakfield-Alabama’s rate to be 86 percent. 

The remaining districts in Genesee County include Alexander Central, at 95 percent; Byron-Bergen at 98 percent; Elba at 80 percent; Le Roy at 90 percent; and Pavilion at 83 percent.

Lake Shore High School in Erie County made a move similar to Oakfield-Alabama in 2020, citing an 11 percent dropout rate. The school board adopted a new policy that would force students to remain in school until the end of the year in which they turn 17. The only exception is if they have a full-time job.

New York State law was revised in 2019 to extend the option, initially open to larger cities such as Buffalo and New York City, to rural and suburban districts. State law also exempts students who have full-time jobs.

Should Oakfield-Alabama’s board approve this policy change — something that “affects students and families to this extent” — families would be notified through ParentSquare, the district’s communication platform, Fisgus said. 

Board votes can take a while, however, since the group is entitled to up to three readings of a policy before taking a vote. This particular policy change has an expected timeline of approval in April, he said.

“We discussed it as an administrative team, and I am in full support of such a change moving forward,” he said.

March 24, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, Le Roy Central Schools, news, education, schools, notify.

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Watching fellow students learn and grow because of the help you've given them and the friendship you've shown them is one of the most satisfying things in life, Evelyn Babcock told trustees of the Le Roy Central School District on Monday night. 

She recalled her interaction with one boy she tutored through a program called Knights Academic Access Program that she co-founded with her twin brother Brett Babcock.

"'I don't like it (school),'" she recalled a boy telling her.  "It's boring."  She added, exacerbated, "Oh, eighth-grade boys," eliciting laughter from the board, then she continued, "It's rewarding watching someone go from 19 in social studies to a 91 ... he was like ‘hey, this kind of isn’t that bad.’

"So to watch that drive sparked again, to see that drive and motivation and understanding organizational skills and understanding not just the academic portion but understanding optimism and attitude and energy and things like that that go into it, and watching a light go off in their eyes, is one of the most rewarding experiences I could ever say I had yet so far in high school."

Brett and Evelyn are highly motivated students.  They both have scholarships for Ohio State.  Evelyn is set on attending Ohio. She's even named her car "Scarlett" (one of the school's colors -- "I'm a bit obsessed," she told the board). But she doesn't know what she will major in.  She has "10,000 interests," she said.  Brett is a little less sure about Ohio but he's set on entering pre-med and becoming a doctor. 

With that degree of motivation, they found the options available for programs to help them meet their community service requirements were less than satisfying.

"My brother and I were looking for a way to give back going beyond painting rocks or chalk art on sidewalks," Evelyn told the board. "It’s pretty and all but our time is very valuable to us because we don’t have much of it and we're always busy so we wanted to put as much efficiency into our time as possible. We started contacting things like Big Brother/BigSister programs and trying to find a way and we were contacting everyone and there was no response, no results, so we were like, you know what, we’re going to start our own program.  Why not just start something?"

Sophomores at the time, it was the start of the pandemic.  It might be surprising that such motivated students felt they were falling behind academically.  

They thought if that was happening to them, what about students who were already doing poorly in school?  So they decided to start a peer-to-peer tutoring program. 

The twins contacted every person they knew, from administrators to fellow students, to try and get a tutoring program going.

Of course, the school supported it.  They cite former principal Tim McArdle especially for helping get the fledgling program off the ground, but say also Kelly Ronan, Austin Dwyer, and Jen Bertrand were supportive as well.

The reason the program has been successful, Brett told the board, is because it's student-run and there is a strong emphasis on tutors and the younger students building a friendship.

"It's not just tutoring," Brett said. "It's about having friends and having mentors."

"If we just made a tutoring program where you show up after school and you don't want to go to tutor but you're spending 45 minutes after school, I don't think it would be as successful, he said.  "We both preach, get a kid, stick with them, build a foundation, because it will be rewarding when you see them succeed in school but also see them laugh."

There are about 20 other student tutors and currently about 20 students being tutored.  And some of those tutors are ready to lead the program next year, Brett said, explaining that he's not worried about it going away after he and his sister graduate.

Not everyone who wants to be a tutor gets to be a tutor, Evelyn said.  There have been some sophomores who have applied to become tutors but they need to display both academic success and maturity. 

If sophomores are accepted, they tutor students younger than those typically assigned to juniors and seniors so that the tutor can maintain a level of separation and authority.

"The level of maturity needs to be there because you are impacting somebody’s life greatly, so we don’t want to be like, ‘hey, I want to be a tutor.’ No. That’s not how it’s going to work," Evelyn said.

Some students just need help at the end of a marking period.  Others need help all year.  Either way, the program is making a difference, the siblings said.

"We even get messages from their parents saying how it’s not just in school but at home, you can see their confidence rise due to they believe in themselves," Brett said. "They have a little bit more self-confidence because they see their grades rising and they can say, ‘I can actually do this.”  It’s so rewarding and it really shows how just a little step — this isn’t a huge program but for some people it is.  if you can save one person and help them grow as a person I would consider that win."

The board members were duly impressed.

"What you’re doing is awesome," said Trustee Rich Lawrence.  "You're planting seeds and those seeds are going to grow."

Vice President Denise Duthe said, "We're so so proud of you. The fact that you saw or thought that this was going to be something that people needed, and putting hours and hours into it is just outstanding."

The plaudits were followed by a round of applause from board members and administrators. 

Top photo: Brett and Evelyn Babcock present their tutoring initiative to Le Roy Central School Board during a meeting on Tuesday.

March 22, 2022 - 10:49pm
posted by Press Release in le roy hs, Le Roy, Le Roy Central Schools, schools, education, news, notify.

Press release:

On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, the Le Roy Board of Education unanimously approved Dr. David Russell as the new Jr/Sr High School Principal. Dr. Russell will start officially on Monday, April 25, 2022.

Dr. Russell is currently the assistant principal at the Cosgrove (Spencerport) Middle School, a position he has held since 2019. Previously he was the principal of the Western Wayne Summer Academy, a Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES program. Dr. Russell was also a special education teacher at Sodus Central School District and the True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School.

“We are very excited to bring Dr. Russell’s energy and passion to collaborate with our students, teachers, and parents,” said Merritt Holly, Superintendent of Schools. “He is a strong instructional leader who has consistently made positive connections with all stakeholders in his previous experiences. We look forward to Dr. Russell’s leadership as we continue to follow our vision to cultivate a world-class community of learners who exceed core local, state, national, and international standards.”

The mission of the Le Roy Central School District is to provide an exceptional, high-quality educational environment where all learners are empowered to succeed.

Dr. Russell earned a Bachelor of Arts, History, Adolescent Education from SUNY Geneseo, a Master of Education from Roberts Wesleyan College, and a Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester. Along with his special education certification, Dr. Russell also holds New York State certifications as a School Building and School District Leader.

The district posted the position on February 2, 2022, and 17 candidates applied. First-round interviews with four applicants were held on Friday, March 11, 2022. A 15-member committee consisting of students, teachers, parents, administration, and board members narrowed the field to two finalists. Second-round interviews with the administrative team took place on Thursday, March 17, 2022. A final interview with the superintendent was conducted on Friday, March 18, 2022.

Dr. Russell takes over for Mr. Tim McArdle, who left on Friday, February 4, 2022, to take an assistant principal position at Caledonia-Mumford Central School District. The district would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Beth Patton, who has been interim principal since Monday, February 7, 2022. 

March 22, 2022 - 5:24pm
posted by Press Release in Crosby's, news, John Kennedy School, batavia, schools, education.

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Press release:

Each year, ExxonMobil offers more than $2M of grant funding to its distributors to support local schools in their marketing area. 

ExxonMobil has awarded John Kennedy Intermediate a $500 Educational Alliance Math & Science Grant under this program.

Reid Petroleum, a local distributor for ExxonMobil, has also matched the $500 donation, bringing the total grant amount to $1K.

The grant is authorized for use in a number of ways, including films, speakers, or field trips to science centers; Student volunteer programs; Scholarships or awards to encourage academic or leadership excellence in math or science; Science fairs, parent/student events; Educational tools, such as computers, math or science books, calculators, software geared toward math or science.

Since 2000, ExxonMobil has donated close to $1.25B in grants for the Educational Alliance program. 

CEO of Reid Petroleum, Paul Reid, shares a vision of education and community involvement and has been involved with the program for close to 15 years, expanding it to include more schools in the past few years under the leadership of Meredith Reid Harris.

This is the second year John Kennedy Intermediate has received a grant from Reid Petroleum/Crosby's.

Submitted Photo: Superintendent Jason Smith, John Kennedy Intermediate Principal Brian Sutton, Pam Kilgore, Team Leader at Crosby’s Batavia, Mike McCarthy, VP of Sales and Marketing, Reid Petroleum, Jack McCarthy, John Kennedy Intermediate Student, John Kennedy Intermediate Assistant Principal Heather McCarthy. 

March 18, 2022 - 7:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in techwars, GCEDC, news, education, notify.
Video Sponsor

During Tech Wars at GCC on Thursday, The Batavian spoke with Chris Suozzi, VP of business and workforce development for GCEDC, about how companies that are opening new operations here -- such as La Fermière and PlugPower -- as well as those that are expanding.

With labor markets tight, Suozzi said the future workforce of Genesee County can be found at events like TechWars, among the kids being turned on to engineering and technology.

He pointed to the $700,000 mechatronics training equipment acquired by BOCES on display at TechWars as one of the ways Genesee County is leading the state in workforce development.

GLOW with Your Hands, he noted, has also been a huge success and is also setting the pace in New York for workforce development. 

This summer, GCEDC starts up the Cornell in High School Program, which will provide training and job experience to 40 high school seniors in dairy science and sanitation in a boot-camp format.

Also this summer, people 18-24 will be able to participate in a tech-job training program that includes 16 hours of free classroom training and a 24-hour paid internship, each week for six weeks, that will lead to a paid apprenticeship with a participating local company. 

Both Suozzi and Rich Monroe, who is leading the mechatronics program at BOCES, mentioned several students who have successfully completed workforce development programs.  One went from selling car parts at $12.50 an hour to an apprenticeship at Barilla Pasta at $15 an hour and in less than a year with the company is now making $28 an hour.  Another student went from working at a convenience store to a job at USG where he started at $22 an hour and is now making $25 an hour.

All with student debt, Suozzi noted.

"It’s not to just go get a job," Monroe said. "It’s to further their education and to get more skills and make them more viable in the workplace."

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