On Saturday, Jan. 20, the Genesee Valley School Board Association (GVSBA) met for their annual breakfast hosted by the Byron-Bergen Central School District.
The event included superintendents and representatives from districts throughout the GLOW region as well as Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Gregg Torrey representing Senator George Borrello. The gathering served as an opportunity for the school administrators and school board members to discuss issues with their state representatives and
honor the 2024 recipients of the Excellence in Student Service awards.
“I was very pleased with the nominations as they came in this year and the wide range of programs,” said GVSBA Coordinator Pat Burk. “It shows that schools are thinking outside of the box to make what they do much more accessible as well as entertaining and really, really special.”
Twenty school districts and Genesee Valley BOCES received Excellence in Student Service awards. Byron-Bergen was honored for the district-wide therapy dog program which launched in 2021 through the efforts of district staff and retired Byron-Bergen teacher Jen Faro. The program began with one therapy dog, Pinot, owned by Faro, and has quickly expanded to include six dogs and additional visiting dogs from the Rochester-based not-for-profit, RocDogs.
Pinot, Maya, Dottie, Stew, Hula, and Daisy are valuable members of our team,” said Byron-Bergen Superintendent Pat McGee. “These therapy dogs are boots on the ground, in the district supporting student and staff mental health. I am extremely proud of this program and believe that they deserve this recognition.”
The award was presented by Burk and GVSBA and Byron-Bergen School Board President Deb List. The award was accepted by McGee, Director of Instructional Services Betsy Brown with her therapy dog Dottie, and Byron-Bergen High School Counselor Kristie Holler with her therapy dog Stew.
“The therapy dogs are here for all of our students as well as the staff,” said Brown. “There are students who specifically visit the office just to see Dottie and receive some love and attention. Research shows that interacting with therapy dogs reduces stress and anxiety and I’m thrilled that Dottie and I can be active participants in the program.”
The event also included a performance by the Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Jazz Ensemble led HS Band Director Kevin Bleiler, breakfast catered by the Byron-Bergen Food Service Department, and discussion sessions in which school and elected officials discussed rural education.