Sunday, October 20, 2019

Thank You BoE...

The week of October 21, 2019 is dedicated in New York State as Board of Education Recognition Week. On behalf of the entire school community, I say thank you to the Rome City School District Board of Education members, including all past members, who have given their time, energy, and passion to helping the students, staff, and families of the Rome community.  It takes strong schools to build a strong community, and the women and men of our board devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child learn at a higher level. They make the tough decisions every month and spend many hours studying education issues and regulations in order to provide the kind of accountability our citizens expect. The key work of school boards is to raise student achievement by: Creating a shared vision for the future of education, setting the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance, providing accountability for student achievement results, developing a budget that aligns district resources to improve achievement, supporting a healthy school district culture in which to work and to learn, and much more!! Despite popular belief, the responsibility thrust onto a person who volunteers to serve the school community brings with it a tremendous amount of pressure. There is a myriad of laws to wade through, levels of bureaucracy with both federal and state government that has to be accounted for, and the pressures of constituents to push certain agendas that makes the job of a board members ever more challenging. Beyond all of that, maintaining the ability to focus on ALL students within a community is vital to their efforts. The vast majority of board members throughout our communities in New York State have little to no educational systems experience prior to becoming a community servant. The patience, understanding, perseverance, and effort of all board members everywhere is unmatched and for that, we are grateful for your service. Once again, on behalf of the entire District staff and community, thank you to our nine Board of Education members who devote many hours to our children each week!! 

October 25 - No School

Just a reminder to all that Friday, October 25 is scheduled as a Superintendent's Conference Day and there is no school for all students, pre-k through twelfth grade. Classes will resume as scheduled on Monday, October 28.

Screenagers Film Showing

Strough Middle School is thrilled to present SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary about the biggest parenting issue of our time. SCREENAGERS addresses the most pervasive parenting issue of our time head on—depicting teen struggles over social media, video games and internet addiction. The film empowers kids to best navigate the digital world and provides practical resources to help them do it. The showing will take place on Friday, November 1, 2019 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Strough Middle School. For more information, please visit https://www.eventcombo.com/e/screenagers-film-presented-by-strough-middle-school-36455


Oneida County Youth Services Council


As part of New York State’s Access to Childcare initiative, The Child Care Council received a grant to collaborate with the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council to survey child care needs as they affect our business and employer community in the Mohawk Valley.  This survey is meant to be taken by ANYONE, regardless of if you have children.  So please take it!  The survey aims to get real-time data on child care needs in the Mohawk Valley workforce – right now we use census data to generate statistical assumptions about child care needs. The council is asking for two things: Takes the survey yourself and send the link along to anyone else you know that may not have access. The survey will be open until November 1 and the survey can be found at this link:


Trunk or Treat Event


Trunk or Treat is all about safe, family fun and don't forget the candy! It's a holiday themed community tailgate party and it's completely free. You can expect bouncy castles, games, popcorn, cotton candy, prizes giveaways, and candy. The group will be awarding one lucky family 100 pounds of candy!! Plan on dropping by the Redeemer Church in Rome between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on October 31. For more information, please visit www.redeemer.tv/trunkortreat or call 315.792.4748. Trunk or Treat will take place at 129 N. Washington St. in Rome.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Drive the Race Car...

Recently, I had an opportunity to experience a professional development session with an educational activist and author who used the analogy of racing cars when trying to operate a school. While the analogy is similar to many other that you've probably heard, I felt that the message said from a slightly different perspective may make sense. Not having ever driven a race car, or any car at 200 mph, I lacked the background knowledge to understand that when traveling at that speed in a race, the driver needs to keep their eyes on the top two-thirds of the windshield and if they let their eyes wander to low on the windshield or dashboard, the potential for an accident increases dramatically. At first, people's reactions were so-so and many left thinking, "yeah, I guess that makes sense." As the presenting began making connections to the world of education, the light bulbs in the room began going off. Driving a race car (while it is the driver that gets most of the credit) is simply a part of being a team. And the driver relies on a host of people to also help guide the car around the track. There are team members monitoring the vitals (dashboard), tire usage, speed, fuel, other cars around their car, and much more. In essence, the driver simply needs to worry about the big picture while the team members worry about their functions of the team. And if ALL members of the TEAM stay focused on their responsibility, the team is successful and has a better chance to win the race. Thus, the driver focuses on the top part of the windshield so they can see things coming in front of them from further away, allowing them a better opportunity to react and adjust to a potential problem. When members of the team become focused on aspects of the race that they do not have any control over or are not necessarily expected to be focused on, the performance of the race car can break down and the team is not able to reach their maximum potential. I found this analogy powerful because we live in a society where everyone has more information than ever before. Not in all cases, but in some cases, people think that they may be an expert in a certain area simply because they have some experience with it. Also, thanks to the internet, we all have access and ability to learn new things through the simple process of some research. The ability for individuals to learn about things, however, does not make them an expert. While we can research various ailments online and learn a bit about what may be plaguing our health; the internet is no substitute for a visit to the doctor. Likewise, I can read a lot about how to drive a race car, but I'm pretty sure that I would not have the ability to walk onto a track and outperform someone who has been trained to do the job. Our society is no different. We are comprised of many intelligent people and when people work as a team and maintain their expertise, the group flourishes. Keeping the focus on the big picture while understanding what part of that picture we contribute to is the ultimate way to growth and success!!

Oneida Council Youth Services Council


As part of New York State’s Access to Childcare initiative, The Child Care Council received a grant to collaborate with the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council to survey child care needs as they affect our business and employer community in the Mohawk Valley.  This survey is meant to be taken by ANYONE, regardless of if you have children.  So please take it!  The survey aims to get real-time data on child care needs in the Mohawk Valley workforce – right now we use census data to generate statistical assumptions about child care needs. The council is asking for two things: Takes the survey yourself and send the link along to anyone else you know that may not have access. The survey will be open until November 1 and the survey can be found at this link:


Trunk or Treat Event


Trunk or Treat is all about safe, family fun and don't forget the candy! It's a holiday themed community tailgate party and it's completely free. You can expect bouncy castles, games, popcorn, cotton candy, prizes giveaways, and candy. The group will be awarding one lucky family 100 pounds of candy!! Plan on dropping by the Redeemer Church in Rome between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on October 31. For more information, please visit www.redeemer.tv/trunkortreat or call 315.792.4748. Trunk or Treat will take place at 129 N. Washington St. in Rome.



Free Bullying Prevention Workshop


One of our local karate dojos is sponsoring a free bullying prevention workshop on Friday, October 25 from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. The seminar, sponsored by Bullyproof: Unleash the Hero Inside Your Kid and Sidekicks Karate, aims to give kids the tools they need to protect themselves and empower them to have the confidence to stand up for themselves and others. For more information, or to register, please visit this website: https://romenykarate.com/bully-prevention/

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What is Education...

Reflecting on what an educator (formally known as a teacher) has to provide to a child in the 21st century almost makes the concept of schooling, or education, unrecognizable to the general public. In less than one generation, the requirements thrust upon our adults working with students in schools has changed so dramatically, that it is possible that in another generation there will be a true concern of teacher shortages. Currently in New York State, there is already a shortage of teaching assistants, bus drivers, monitors, special education teachers, foreign language teachers, science teachers, library media specialists, and superintendents. It's hard to determine the cause of shortages (which could be a combination of many factors), but the pool of candidates for our profession continues to dry up. Several decades ago, students came to school each day not always eager to learn but understanding the purpose of attending school. Many schools did not even serve food and in many cases, school would dismiss for everyone to go home and eat lunch. School counselors had the primary responsibility of guiding students through high school and to help them determine a post secondary path in life. If a family, or child, wanted to stop attending school at some point in their education, they were not shunned by society as an incapable contributor to society. Fast forward to today, college attendance is expected, schools are littered with services for students and families, schools serve two meals a day, students (or families) who do not desire to have a complete high school education are required to stay in school (often causing behavior concerns for others that want to be there), facilities are on constant lockdown, and governmental oversight of schools has made the list of regulations that must be adhered to so large that a whole profession has been born (educational law attorneys). Having conversations with people that are not in education and trying to explain all of the requirements of schools and educators today is a challenge. Most of the requirements don't make sense. Ironically, as you can notice by reading, the concepts of curriculum, instruction, and learning are some of the last things that schools are able to focus on in today's iteration of education. In the past, many people attempt to create conflict between parents and schools claiming that parents are doing less at home so more responsibilities fall on the schools/teachers. I would say this accusation is not accurate. In fact, I think that parents and schools are working together more than ever to try to solve the riddle of increased demands placed on kids and schools in today's society. There are increased pressures and stresses on students that cause a greater need for counseling support in schools. Access to food and basic resources has dwindled in the past couple of decades for many children. And, the general school day has shortened in time over the years to the point where it is virtually impossible to fit all of the academic requirements into a school day that teachers are required to attempt to teach, let alone address the social/emotional growth elements that they know kids need. For the sake of our educators, I hope that we can all continue to work together to provide solutions and relief that allow them to do what they have been trained to do... TEACH. We need to stop having people ask the question, what is education? And start allowing those that have chosen to be a professional in the world of education the trust and opportunity to educate our kids. 

RFA PBIS Test Drive Event

Come test drive a Ford, courtesy of Steet Ford of Yorkville, and Ford will donate $20 to Rome Free Academy. Steet Ford is bringing vehicles to RFA during its College Night on Wednesday, October 9, from 2:30 - 7:00 p.m. for the test drives.  Any driver 18 years of age or older with a valid driver's license and proof of insurance is encouraged to come test drive a Ford to help raise money for our students.  Ford will donate $20 per test drive, up to $6,000!! No purchase necessary! *Limit one donation per person and one donation per household.*

Free Bullying Prevention Workshop


One of our local karate dojos is sponsoring a free bullying prevention workshop on Friday, October 25 from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. The seminar, sponsored by Bullyproof: Unleash the Hero Inside Your Kid and Sidekicks Karate, aims to give kids the tools they need to protect themselves and empower them to have the confidence to stand up for themselves and others. For more information, or to register, please visit this website: https://romenykarate.com/bully-prevention/


Parent Portal


It's hard to believe that we are already talking about the end of a marking period already, but we are moving in on the close of the first quarter. As a reminder, the Rome City School District utilizes SchoolTool's Parent Portal for the report of both in progress grading and report cards.  If you do not already have an account and would like to sign up for an account, or if you are experiencing trouble accessing your account, please contact your child's school for assistance.