Sunday, June 23, 2019

Class of 2k19...

As the 2018-2019 school year enters the final week and comes to a close, it is time to say congratulations and "until next time" to many people. Most importantly, congratulations to our graduating seniors, the Class of 2019, the 150th graduating class of Rome Free Academy! For these young adults, 13 years of hard work and effort is coming to a close as they prepare to move onto college, work, the military, or other opportunities. Graduation is also a time to congratulate the parents, families, and guardians of our graduates who have sacrificed and supported all the way through until this moment. Each student completing high school has a tremendous network and support system behind them, each step of the way. No individual in life can be successful without a supporting cast. As teenagers growing up, our most important support structures are our families. So, congratulations to all of the parents, families, and guardians of the Class of 2019 as you watch your youngsters grow into fine young adults. Finally, we need to take a moment to say congratulations and thank you to all of our staff members that have retired, are retiring, or are relocating in 2019. On a daily basis, you can count on a child to remind you what life is all about. Bringing perspective to the world on what is important, and what is nonsense. Some of our retirees have spent more than 30 years dedicated to the Rome City School District and to children in general. Our staff members touch countless lives within the walls of our schools and beyond. To the amazing staff members moving onto the next chapter of their lives, thank you for everything you have given to the Rome City School District and for everything you have done to support children during your time as an educator. As we close out our year, thank you to everyone who has been a part of making a difference with a child throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Your work and effort toward the continued improvement of our school district and community does not go unnoticed. I hope you all have an amazing summer filled with plenty of rest and fun. To the Class of 2k19: go forward boldly and bravely for you control your journey. While life is filled with struggle, challenge, adversity, and heart-ache, it is also filled with joy, happiness, gratitude, and fun. You get to choose which way you will view things through your own spectrum. Choose wisely, as we only have one life that has been granted to us on this planet, it's best to make every moment count!! Signing off until August my friends- enjoy!!

Graduation Information

We are one week away from the 150th Commencement of Rome Free Academy and the celebration for the Class of 2019. The ceremony will once again take place at the stadium on Turin Road beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. Please note that the processional of students begins promptly at 9:45 a.m. In order to ensure that you are able to view the entire event, it is crucial that you arrive to the Stadium no later than 9:30 a.m. as parking is at a premium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 28 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students and high school main office. Finally, we will also be live streaming the graduation ceremony for anyone that is not able to attend in person. A link to the live stream can be found on our home page at www.romecsd.org All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 

June 26 - Staley Information

As mentioned previously in a letter home, Staley families, please be reminded that Wednesday, June 26 will be a half-day for students this week. This is related to the unfortunate need to close school for the first two days of the year back in September. In order to meet the 180 student days mandate, we scheduled an additional student day back in March, and now this one in June. Again, this is for Staley only. 

2019-2020 Budget Update

This past week, the district received some good news relative to the 2019-2020 budget. The federal title grant allocations were finally released and there was a decent increase in funding for our four schools identified under ESSA as target schools. Thanks to the School Improvement Grant (SIG) portion of Title I funding, each identified elementary (Joy, Denti, Gansevoort, & Staley) has been allocated $100,000, and the district has been allocated $50,000. Along with this funding, Assemblywoman Buttenschon has notified the district that the Assembly approved bullet aid for Rome in the amount of $325,000. All of this is clearly good news for the community and the district. Once again, I cannot thank Assembly woman Buttenschon, Senator Griffo, and Mayor Izzo enough for all of their political support throughout this budget season. Without them, the bullet aid would not be possible.  

Parent Portal / Report Cards Reminder

The parent portal feature of SchoolTool will be closed beginning on Tuesday, June 18 so that teachers can work on finalizing their grades. Since this feature of the student management system is a k-12 function, all accounts (regardless of grade level) will not work on a temporary basis. During this time period, final grades can change from day to day depending on exam scoring, inputting of grades, and many other things. The portal will re-open on Friday, June 28 which is the same day that high school report cards are mailed home. All final report cards, k-12, will be sent home in hard copy format at the end of the year. Elementary report cards will come home with students on the last day of school as they have in the past. Middle school and high school report cards will be mailed home. 

2019-2020 School Vaccination Requirements

Recently, the New York State legislature passed a law that now does not allow for religious exemption for school vaccinations. This law takes effect immediately and any student who currently has a religious exemption has 30 days to become compliant with the law. The link below will take you to the State Education Department website that outlines the required vaccinations. In addition to vaccination requirements, New York State requires several other health related items for attendance in public school. Some of these items include:

  • Health Examinations required in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
  • Vision and Hearing Screening required within 6 moths of entering school and in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
  • Scoliosis Screenings are required for females in grades 5 and 7, and for males in grade 9.
Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding any requirements.



Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day...

Father's Day tends to mark the unofficial start of the summer months. In most years, it occurs the weekend directly before the last week of school. Falling in the middle of June, the weather is usually finally steady, warm, sunny, and prime for outdoor activity. Fathers everywhere bask in the fact that for the next few months, we can spend more time outside than inside. More importantly, we bask in the fact that we are able to enjoy one of the greatest privileges in the world, being a parent. Whether you are a mother, father, step-parent, foster-parent, guardian, and more, there is no greater honor than being a parent and having the ability to help provide for children and help them grow. The gift of parenthood is the greatest gift we can have. The job of being a parent is certainly not an easy task, it is a challenge that fathers and all parents attempt to master each and every day. So to our fathers everywhere, thank you for all the wonderful opportunities that you provide for our children every day. I hope that you have an amazing day today with your family, friends, and loved ones. Most importantly, we all need to remember that our children are the best observers around and they are learning from our every move. The lessons we teach them today will stay with them forever. Happy Father's Day everyone, enjoy!!  

New School Vaccination Law


This week, the New York State legislature passed a law that now does not allow for religious exemption for school vaccinations. This law takes effect immediately and any student who currently has a religious exemption has 30 days to become compliant with the law. The link below will take you to the State Education Department website that outlines the required vaccinations. In addition to vaccination requirements, New York State requires several other health related items for attendance in public school. Some of these items include:


  • Health Examinations required in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
  • Vision and Hearing Screening required within 6 moths of entering school and in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
  • Scoliosis Screenings are required for females in grades 5 and 7, and for males in grade 9.
Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding any requirements.





Graduation Flower Bouquet - Fundraiser


For the first time this year, the RFA student governments are holding a graduation flower bouquet fundraiser. In order to participate, simply go to following website: https://www.thecommencementgroup.com/romefreeacademy/ , select the bouquet you wish to order, and your flowers will be waiting for you at the students' kiosk on graduation day! There is no easier way to get your flowers and support the students at the same time!

Parent Portal / Report Cards


The parent portal feature of SchoolTool will be closed beginning on Tuesday, June 18 so that teachers can work on finalizing their grades. Since this feature of the student management system is a k-12 function, all accounts (regardless of grade level) will not work on a temporary basis. During this time period, final grades can change from day to day depending on exam scoring, inputting of grades, and many other things. The portal will re-open on Friday, June 28 which is the same day that high school report cards are mailed home. All final report cards, k-12, will be sent home in hard copy format at the end of the year. Elementary report cards will come home with students on the last day of school as they have in the past. Middle school and high school report cards will be mailed home. 




Sunday, June 9, 2019

What Grinds My Gears...

In a play on words from the comedic hit cartoon, Family Guy, there is an episode where the main character has a television show where he essentially rambles about all of the things that agitate him on a daily basis. For me, what grinds my gears is simple: nothing. We live in a society where we are surrounded by negativity, social media has become a platform where people spend more time putting others down than utilizing it for what it was intended for, and where very few people want to take responsibility for mistakes. We are quick to judge, we don't listen to each other as carefully as we should to understand others (especially those who have different view points or backgrounds than ourselves), and we most often don't help others in need as much as our previous generations. If someone were to really let all of the negativity that surrounds us get to them on a daily basis, their stress, anxiety, and anger would be through the roof. So, I choose to not listen to the noise of negativity and pessimism. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and different opinions and view points from ourselves does not mean that someone else is wrong. It may simply mean that they don't have the same information that we have. Or, if they do, they may just disagree. Which is perfectly fine. Discourse in our world is what has allowed all of us to progress to where we are today. Without it, we don't grow. However, when too many people want to make their beliefs an outwardly attack on others, organizations, or things, we digress into a society that is not working together to make our lives better as a whole, but a society that is working against each other in spite of a common goal. So, in a world where people are constantly criticizing, judging, and spreading their fabled tales, I choose to not let it grind my gears. While things can be frustrating and hurtful, it is easier, healthier, and more enjoyable to choose to ignore the noise of negativity and embrace the short amount of time we have been afforded to walk this earth. It certainly isn't worth letting my gears get all ground up to focus on the negativity of the world around us.

School Closed - Monday, June 10


As a final reminder, all Rome City schools and facilities will be closed tomorrow, Monday, June 10 as utilization of our final contingency days. June 10 was the only day remaining this school year where there are no major activities occurring that could not be rescheduled. By utilizing this day, none of the student activities, field trips, or building events will be effected. 

Graduation Flower Bouquet - Fundraiser


For the first time this year, the RFA student governments are holding a graduation flower bouquet fundraiser. In order to participate, simply go to following website: https://www.thecommencementgroup.com/romefreeacademy/ , select the bouquet you wish to order, and your flowers will be waiting for you at the students' kiosk on graduation day! There is no easier way to get your flowers and support the students at the same time!

Art and Music Showcase


RFA's Rotary Interact Club will be hosting a special art and music showcase this week on Wednesday, June 12, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Rome Downtown Market on the City Green. The event will include student art, face painting, and live music. Families and friends are encouraged to stop by! Interact clubs organize at least two projects every year, one that helps their school or community and one that promotes international understanding.

Pharmaceutical Take Back Program


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) conducts ongoing pharmaceutical take back programs all throughout the state. They are currently running an advocacy campaign to help raise awareness in communities throughout the state about various locations where people can safely dispose of unwanted medications. By doing this, they are also taking proactive steps to combat the opioid epidemic that is plaguing many of our communities across the state. In Rome, there are locations at the Rome Police Department, RMH Retail Pharmacy, and Walgreens. To learn more about this program and the DEC's ongoing efforts, please visit their website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/67720.html



Sunday, June 2, 2019

It Has Changed...

A common expression found throughout history in society is, "times are changing." In schools, we often use this as an excuse for why the job is more challenging, or why students don't behave in a similar fashion that they did 30 years ago, or why student performance may not be as high as it once was. The fact is, times aren't changing. Times HAVE changed. And while schools in general have done a lot to address it and adapt, many adults have not come to grips with it and changed their mentality/thinking about education. This has a cause that makes many people think that schools haven't changed at all over the past 100 years. Sure, many things are still similar. However, class sizes are 50% smaller than they used to be, schools offer more opportunities for extended learning, social/emotional/mental health supports have dramatically increased, technology has changed programming and access to information, and inquiry is at the forefront of our systems. At one point in time, learning was considered successful if a student did everything the teacher told them to do and listened "attentively" in class. Today, the concept of simply following directives does not compute with modern generations and learning is no longer about being told facts by an adult, it's about inquiry and investigation. Today's kids have learned to challenge the status quo and ask deeper questions to expand their learning. This is the same reason why directives no longer work. Kids, and adults for that matter, need to be able to rationalize why they being told to do something. Education is not changing, it has changed. Family structures are vastly different than 30-50 years ago, curriculum has expanded, laws and legal responsibilities continue to grow, and students have realized that they have a voice and are not robots sitting in rows of desks being told what they need to know. As adults, whether in schools or not, we need to shift our thinking about what learning means to the kids. What we feel as adults is no longer the best way to approach learning all the time. Society has changed and schools can no longer pretend as if they are sheltered from the greater world around them. It's to do more to meet children and families where they are along the path to success. It's time to stop saying, "things are changing" and realize that they already have changed. 

Pharmaceutical Take Back Program


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) conducts ongoing pharmaceutical take back programs all throughout the state. They are currently running an advocacy campaign to help raise awareness in communities throughout the state about various locations where people can safely dispose of unwanted medications. By doing this, they are also taking proactive steps to combat the opioid epidemic that is plaguing many of our communities across the state. In Rome, there are locations at the Rome Police Department, RMH Retail Pharmacy, and Walgreens. To learn more about this program and the DEC's ongoing efforts, please visit their website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/67720.html

Fleet Feet Run Camp


From July 8 through July 12, Fleet Feet will be presenting Summer Run Camp 2019. The camp is for students in grades 7-12 and they are offering a week long training series to assist not only cross country runners, but any student athlete looking to maintain conditioning through the summer. The camp is coached by experienced Section III cross country and track coaches, and has a program cost of $99. For more information, including registration details, please visit http://www.fleetfeetsyracuse.com/training

Contingency Give Back Day


We currently have one (1) unused contingency day for the 2018-2019 school year. After a careful review of the school calendar and activities for the months of May and June, the only day remaining this school year where there are no major activities occurring that cannot be rescheduled is Monday, June 10. Baring any unforeseen event happening between now and June 10, the Rome City School District will be closed on Monday, June 10 to finish the use of our contingency days. By utilizing this day, none of the student activities, field trips, or building events will be effected. Please mark your calendars for this date.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Thank You Rome...



As you know, the Rome community successfully passed the 2019-2020 school budget this past week with a 74% approval rate. On behalf of all of the students and staff of the Rome City School District, I want to thank you all for your support. We are very appreciative to have a community that values education and wants the best for their children. The district is dedicated to ensuring that our students are receiving the very best instruction possible with the most appropriate resources available for learning. Given the challenges that our district and the community faced throughout this budget season, the support of a successful budget is greatly appreciated. While the fight is not over with regard to equitable funding of education, we have taken one giant step forward to ensuring that our future with have more stability with both our advocacy and passage of this budget. Even with the unfortunate reality of needing to make reductions, the core of our programming remains untouched and our students will still receive the quality instruction and opportunities that our community expects. All of these efforts are made possible because of the support of our community. When you work in a community and environment that is support of children and growth, it makes the entire system better. We appreciate our community and once again, on behalf of our children and staff, THANK YOU for your support!!

ARTLETICS Camp

Hosted by the Rome Art and Community Center (RACC), ARTLETICS is an 8-week day program for children ages 5-12. During the experience, children receive top-notch art instruction with social skill development. Each week has a different theme and day is carefully planned out and structured. For more information about ARTLETICS, including fees and offerings, please visit their website at http://romeart.org/site/artletics/

Soccer Camp

Boys and girls, ages 5-13, are invited to explore a summer soccer camp hosted by the Rising Stars Sports Center of Westmoreland. The camp will run Monday through Friday, beginning June 26 through August 30. For more information about the camp, including fees and further details, please visit their website at https://risingstarssports.sportngin.com/register/form/798195007


Contingency Day Give Back


We currently have one (1) unused contingency day for the 2018-2019 school year. After a careful review of the school calendar and activities for the months of May and June, the only day remaining this school year where there are no major activities occurring that cannot be rescheduled is Monday, June 10. Baring any unforeseen event happening between now and June 10, the Rome City School District will be closed on Monday, June 10 to finish the use of our contingency days. By utilizing this day, none of the student activities, field trips, or building events will be effected. Please mark your calendars for this date.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Don't Overthink It...

This week I have decided to dedicate my blog to the game that I love and hate the most, golf!! Whenever folks are playing golf, there is generally one constant about the game: regardless of a good shot or bad shot, the mumbling usually says, "Don't overthink it!" Almost everyone knows that sports, especially golf, are mentally grueling and the more you think while playing usually the worse the outcome. So why do we continue to overthink things? Most of our lives can be represented by this small phrase and often in our schools, we have a tendency to overthink everything especially when it comes to listening to our students or allowing for change that students are asking for.  Famous golfer Ben Hogan once said, "Golf is the hardest game in the world. There's no way you can ever get it. Just when you think you do, the game jumps up and puts you in your place." I find this to be a perfect analogy for our profession. The second we as educators think we have everything figured out and become stagnant is the second we have failed ourselves and our students. One thing we have all learned about life is that change is a given and currently in education change is becoming more and more the norm. So why do we resist change so much in our profession. After all, if our duty is to promote learning to our youth, why are so many educators turned off to the idea of learning new strategies and trying new lessons? While degrees and certifications may prove our intelligence, they certainly do not make us omnipotent wizards of the classroom. Our craft is always changing and the only way to ensure success for all is to recognize this, accept it, and grow with it. If we don't overthink the change, then it won't be anything to fear. I leave you today with this quote from Bruce Crampton, "Golf is a compromise between what your ego wants you to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves will let you do." I'm not certain that there could be a better correlation for the difficult task of being an educator. We must continue to want to grow and acknowledge our biases and understand that our beliefs are simply that, our beliefs. No one's beliefs are absolute and prescribing of everyone in our communities. It's time to compromise with our egos and experience and take the risk that our nerves and students are telling us to take!!

Annual Budget Vote

The school district 2019-2020 budget and Board of Education member elections will be held next week on Tuesday, May 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. More information regarding the proposed budget can be found here: SCHOOL BUDGET DETAILS

Voting locations are as follows:

First Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St.
Second Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St.
Third Ward: Lobby at City Hall – 198 N. Washington St.
Fourth Ward: Gansevoort School–  758 W. Liberty St.
Fifth Ward: Strough Middle School - 801 Laurel St.
Sixth Ward: St. Paul’s Catholic Church - 1807 Bedford St.
Seventh Ward: Life Church, 1110 Black River Blvd.
Eighth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Ninth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Tenth Ward: Westernville Library – 9172 Main St., Westernville


Meet the Candidates Event

On Monday, May 20, the Rome branch of the NAACP will be hosting a 'Meet the Candidates' event for all individuals who are running for public office this year. This will include candidates running for public offices in the fall election season. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at the Zion Episcopal Church located at 140 W. Liberty St. in Rome. 

Salvation Army Summer Camps

On Thursday, May 23, the Salvation Army of Rome will be hosting a summer camp sign-up event at 5:00 p.m. The event is for elementary aged students and their families interested in learning more about the summer camp opportunities for students. Registration for the week-long camps is $25 and space is limited. For more information, please attend the event or visit www.longpointcamp.org.


Contingency Day Give Back

We currently have one (1) unused contingency day for the 2018-2019 school year. After a careful review of the school calendar and activities for the months of May and June, the only day remaining this school year where there are no major activities occurring that cannot be rescheduled is Monday, June 10. Baring any unforeseen event happening between now and June 10, the Rome City School District will be closed on Monday, June 10 to finish the use of our contingency days. By utilizing this day, none of the student activities, field trips, or building events will be effected. Please mark your calendars for this date.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

It's Mother's Day...

On this Mother's Day, we all need to take a moment to reflect and think about the value our mother's have added to our lives. We've all heard the old sayings about how our parents are our first teachers, and there is truth to that. One of the nice things about being an adult is that you learn to appreciate the moment and enjoy the little things in life as you learn that not everyone has the same life that you may have. You also learn to value those in your life that helped raise you and you understand a parents unconditional love. Our mothers and parents truly have our best interest in mind when making every decision that they do while we grow. Most people can remember several instances where frustration set in with regard to a decision or action by our parents while growing up. It doesn't mean that parents are always right, but they certainly do the best the know how when the moment calls for it. What does all this mean? It means that we need to take more time and recognize that our parents care about us more than we imagine. As a teenager (and college student) I certainly did not have the understanding of family that my parents deserved. As an adult, the picture could not be more clear. Our parents truly are our first teachers and they never stop. Life is too short for grudges and conflict, everyone shows their affection in different ways but a simple phone call, meal, or card goes a long way. So on this Mother's Day, I hope that you all take a moment to truly recognize and thank your mom and to all of the mothers out there today, Happy Mother's Day!!

Annual Budget Vote

The school district 2019-2020 budget and Board of Education member elections will be held next week on Tuesday, May 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. More information regarding the proposed budget can be found here: SCHOOL BUDGET DETAILS

Voting locations are as follows:

First Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St.
Second Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St.
Third Ward: Lobby at City Hall – 198 N. Washington St.
Fourth Ward: Gansevoort School–  758 W. Liberty St.
Fifth Ward: Strough Middle School - 801 Laurel St.
Sixth Ward: St. Paul’s Catholic Church - 1807 Bedford St.
Seventh Ward: Life Church, 1110 Black River Blvd.
Eighth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Ninth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Tenth Ward: Westernville Library – 9172 Main St., Westernville


NYSPHAA Coaches Appreciation Day


Wednesday, May 15 is Coaches Appreciation Day is a day student-athletes are encouraged to thank school approved coaches who have had an impact in their life or high school athletic career. It was established in 2018 as a way to recognize all coaches at every level, including modified, who have coached Fall, Winter, and Spring sports within a NYSPHAA member school. NYSPHAA has also established the hashtag #NYSPHAACoachesDay for all social media posts for anyone who wants to share their favorite memories and stories throughout the day. Thank you to all of the wonderful women and men who work with our Rome Free Academy and Strough Black Knights!!

Paint Rome Purple

The 'Paint the Town Purple' campaign is part of a national effort by volunteers with the American Cancer Society to show support for local cancer survivors and to raise awareness for their local Relay For Life event. Our Relay For Life in Rome is scheduled for Saturday & Sunday, June 1st & 2nd at the NYS School for the Deaf. You can find out more at www.RelayForLife.org/RomeNY. On Wednesday, May 15, the American Cancer Society is Painting the Town Purple. We hope you will consider joining in this fun and worthwhile community project. We're hoping to see lots of great participation and a bunch of purple all around Rome on Wednesday, May 15th!


Parent University Kick-Off

The Rome Alliance for Education, in conjunction with the Rome Chamber of Commerce and Jervis Library, will be hosting their first ever Parent University event on Wednesday, May 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Strough Middle School. As part of the community schools initiative, Parent University is an opportunity for the Rome Alliance for Education to provide supports to parents in a variety of ways. This kick-off event is an opportunity for you to learn more about what they have to offer, as well as to provide information about what types of learning opportunities our parents need. For more information about the event, please contact the Rome Alliance for Education or see their flier HERE.

Contingency Day Give Back


We currently have one (1) unused contingency day for the 2018-2019 school year. After a careful review of the school calendar and activities for the months of May and June, the only day remaining this school year where there are no major activities occurring that cannot be rescheduled is Monday, June 10. Baring any unforeseen event happening between now and June 10, the Rome City School District will be closed on Monday, June 10 to finish the use of our contingency days. By utilizing this day, none of the student activities, field trips, or building events will be effected. Please mark your calendars for this date.

Rising Stars Summer/Fall Registration


Rising Stars is a fun learning experience that teaches stage and life skills through games and activities, individual coaching, and actual performances on the Capitol Stage. The program focuses on developing the students' own creativity, building self-confidence, improving reading comprehension and speaking ability, accepting responsibility, and teamwork. If you are interested in learning basic through advanced stage techniques, as well as life skills, Rising Stars may be for you!! For more information about the program and how to register, please visit their website at https://www.romecapitol.com/rising-stars/