Slowing Down Change

Change, real systemic change, in public education. When we’ve had BIG CHANGE, we’ve pushed back and said that it didn’t work because of rushed implementation or uneven implementation or a failure to prepare adequately or a lack of resources. Maybe it’s because I’m in the last decade of my career, but I’m becoming impatient. I want to make a significant difference in the lives of our students. I want their learning experiences to be tailored to who they are as learners not who we were when I attended school in the seventies.

It takes FOREVER for something to change in public education. I worry that we are now slowing down the implementation of any NYS initiative because of the push back of the past five years.  And I worry that we’re not really “preparing” for these changes. From my perspective it just seems to mean being given more time before we “have to do something”.  Are we preparing or putting off?

Take computer based testing as an example.

The NYS Education Department has been preparing us for computer based assessments for a couple of years now. And districts are looking at piloting “computer based” assessments between now and 2020; some have started already. Why the slow roll out? To allow districts to prepare for it.

When we talk about computer based assessments in our district, we’re talking about using technology to support learning through adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction that’s tailored for every child’s learning path. A significant tool for teachers to better understand individual students. It’s like using the coolest apps on your smart phone to do things better, faster, more efficiently, more personalized.

When the state is talking about computer based assessments for the NYS tests, they’re talking about replacing the paper/pencil assessments with something that’s on a computer. This won’t transform learning for a child, it will still be a summative check and it will be a tool, much as it is now, to see how we’re doing as a system as compared to other school systems. It’s like using your smart phone to make a phone call.

That ^^^^ is not enough. The argument is that we have to implement this substitution of paper/pencil tests so that we’re ready to use adaptive testing. Cripe. I’ll be dead by the time we get to adaptive testing and personalizing learning through diagnostic instruction for every child in this state.

We’ve been using adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction in the districts I’ve worked in since 2011. There are likely districts that have done so far longer than we have. It’s the right way to use assessments and technology, in formative ways throughout the school year to improve our instruction for every child. We have the ability to do things well, to target the expenditures in our school budgets in the right ways. We can use technology and curriculum (like Dreambox and iReady and PEG Writing and Zulama and check out the product reviews at EdSurge for hundreds more ) to redefine learning.

We are going to work hard to be sure that our students in Springville are using technology and assessments in ways that transform their learning. Not just as a substitute.

Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura developed the SAMR model over a decade ago.   And in NYS we’re just getting to the first level, substitution, in 2020.  That’s the best we can do?

Welcoming the Class of 2029

I love this–the Springville Faculty Association presented all of our Kindercamp (incoming Kindergarten) students with this great “Class of 2029” bag which included items from our teachers and the community.FullSizeRender

Included in each bag were:

  • books from the SFA
  • bus magnets with important district phone numbers from the SFA
  • Play-Doh and matchbox cars from Walmart
  • a magnet from Bertrand Chaffee Hospital
  • bracelets for SES girls from Fresh Floral & Gifts
  • stuffed animals for CES girls from Lu Lu Belle’s
  • informational items from LOVE INC.

Thank you to everyone who donated and for the SFA members for acting on a great idea. The Class of 2029, wow!

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Preferred Building Substitute Teachers Needed

Every year we employ preferred “building” substitute teachers. A preferred building substitute teacher teaches on a daily, itinerant basis when students are in attendance. What a great opportunity for someone who’s recently graduated or hasn’t yet obtained a teaching position!

If you are a NYSED certified teacher and would be interested in a position in which you substitute every day in one of our buildings (the same building every day),  please submit your application to the Personnel Clerk, SGI CSD, 307 Newman Street, Springville, New York 14141. Complete the application for instructional personnel, available under the Employment Opportunities link at www.springvillegi.org. The salary is $110 per day for our preferred building subs which is higher than our daily substitute certified teacher rate of $95/$90 daily substitute non-certified teacher substitute rate.

Applications are due as soon as possible and we will work to have our preferred building substitutes identified for BOE consideration at the Monday, September 12 BOE meeting.

We accept regular substitute applications for all positions throughout the school year. Please consider applying to substitute at SGI!

Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District is an equal opportunity employer.

Upcoming Communication from SGI

Residents will soon be receiving a “Save the Date” postcard in the mail with important dates regarding our upcoming September 27, 2016 Capital Project Vote. The public hearing will be September 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the HS Library.

You can also expect our school calendar, which was beautifully created by District Clerk Kathy Tucker, in the mail as soon as this weekend or next week. An electronic copy of this calendar will also be linked on the district website.

Our district newsletter, The Bulletin, will be delivered to residents soon after school begins. The Bulletin includes a four page insert with information on the finalized capital project proposal. I will also post the components of that insert here for residents who prefer to read their news on line.

Good communication is important to us. We want to listen as well as we are sharing information. Remember that we are available via email, for a phone conversation or a visit–I can be reached at 592-3230. Hope to see everyone at our many events this fall!

 

Announcing Our New Springville Elementary Principal

At the August 8, 2016 BOE meeting, we were pleased to appoint Mr. Christopher Scarpine as the new SES Principal. Mr. Scarpine has been the Middle School Assistant Principal for the Lake Shore Evans-Brant CSD since April, 2014. Prior to that he was an SES classroom teacher of grades 3, 4, and 5 from 2005-2014. Chris brings a great set of leadership skills to his principalship and we can’t wait for him to get started!

We are hopeful that Mr. Scarpine can begin prior to the start of the school year but must also be respectful of the needs of his current district. On August 15, 2016, Ms. Marcole Feuz and Mrs. Kathy Townsend will transition to their new roles as Colden Elementary Principal and Principal for Special Programs. To help facilitate a successful transition for all, Ms. Rochelle Sarikey, Director of Special Education who is located in SES, has offered to lead SES for the weeks in between principals. Thank you Ms. Sarikey!

We are delighted to welcome Chris Scarpine back to SGI as the Springville Elementary School Principal! Congratulations Mr. Scarpine.

The Return of the SGI Newsletter, the Bulletin

We are excited to bring back the Bulletin, our SGI newsletter! Given this week’s unfortunate closure of our local newspaper, the Springville Journal, it’s fortuitous that we have been planning this for the last few months.

Attention all SGI employees: If you have an article of interest to our school community that you would like to see published in our district newsletter, please submit the article and applicable photos to Laurie Pfeffer in our district office. You can email Laurie at lpfeffer@springvillegi.org.

We are planning seven issues to be published and mailed during the 2016-17 school year. The deadline for our first issue is August 5, 2016.

The Best-Laid Plans. . . often go awry.

This saying is adapted from “To a Mouse”, by Robert Burns and it clearly applies to our hiring process as outlined for our SES Principal position. Today is the closing date and I was astonished to receive only a few applications. I thought we’d gotten everything right: identified our process, invited participants on the interview committee, all set to go for 8/8 BOE Approval, communicated the process to our school community here. The best-laid plans, right?

As I studied the applications I started to think “why are our only applicants from Springville?” And why did we receive so many applications for SMS and SHS Principal and so few for this position? Which turned into the question asked of District Clerk Kathy Tucker, “are we sure the Buffalo News ran our ad as submitted?”

And here’s where it goes awry. The Buffalo News did not run our ad. They are now– our SES Principal position will be advertised in print and on their website for the next week at no additional charge to the district. This means we are moving our closing date to next Tuesday, July 26. 

So, Help Still Wanted, Amazing Principal Candidates Please Apply! And for our local candidates who applied, hang on–you’re in the mix.  The new interview process will be as follows:

Round #1 Screening Interviews: Wednesday, July 27, 2016, beginning at 8:00 am.

Round #2 with a Committee including a representative from each union and 3-4 SES teachers: Monday, August 1, 2016, beginning at 8:30 am.

Round #3 Final Interview with me and a BOE member from the Personnel Committee, Thursday, August 4, 2016, beginning at 8:30 am.

This should still afford us the time to have our new SES Principal selected and BOE appointed at our next BOE meeting on August 8, 2016.

Help Wanted: Amazing Principal Candidates Please Apply

With the movement of Kathy Townsend to our Principal for Special Programs position and Marcole Feuz to the Colden Elementary Principal position, we have posted and advertised for our K-5 Springville Elementary Principal position. What an incredible opportunity to work with an amazing faculty and staff with wonderful students and families! 

We are looking for a positive, enthusiastic, caring and dedicated building leader who wants the chance to make a difference in the lives of our children. Application files are due to me in the district office by July 18, 2016. I’m excited to review all of the applications.

Our process will include three rounds of interviews. The first round of interviews will be a screening interview in which we will interview as many of the candidates as we find are qualified and fit our criteria. This round is scheduled for Thursday, July 21, 2016 and will be with me, our directors, JoAnn DePue and Shelly Sarikey, and two representatives of our faculty.

Successful candidates from round #1 will be invited back to a committee interview in which every union is invited to send a volunteer, SES will have 3-4 teacher representatives, and the PTA will be invited to participate. Round #2 interviews will be scheduled for Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

From those round #2 committee interviews we will likely move two finalists on to a final round #3 interview with me and one BOE member from the Personnel Committee on August 1, 2016. We will then be happy to ask for BOE approval of our new SES Principal at our August 8, 2016 BOE meeting.

Announcing Our New Colden Elementary Principal

As sometimes happens, one change can lead to another. With our current Colden Elementary Principal, Mrs. Kathy Townsend, accepting a new position within the District  an opportunity at Colden Elementary opens.

I am delighted to announce that our current Springville Elementary Principal, Ms. Marcole Feuz, has accepted the Colden position! This move is a homecoming of sorts for Ms. Feuz, as she was raised in Colden and currently resides there with her husband. Previously an assistant principal in the SGI District for 3 years, Marcole has been the SES Principal since 2011.

In Marcole’s own words,

I am so proud of the work we have accomplished together at SES! The professional working relationships and relationships with our wonderful families have been incredible for me. We have focused on our students and taken SES “above and beyond” as we intended.

I am excited about the opportunity to return to Colden as the elementary principal, to work with what I know is an excellent faculty and staff, and to serve the families of the community I love so much.

While the planned changes bring someone new for every building in the district for the 2016-17 school year, I believe that we are at a tipping point as a District right now. We have the right people in the right positions and an administrative team who is committed to working together to make good decisions for the right reasons to move our district forward. Good things are happening Griffins!

Principal for Special Programs

The Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District is pleased to announce that Mrs. Kathy Townsend was appointed to the new position of principal for special programs at the 7/5/16 BOE meeting.

Mrs. Townsend has been the Colden Elementary Principal since July 2011 and has worked as an administrator in the district since 2007. Kathy’s position will be one of new program development and working to support programs throughout the district in collaboration with other administrators.  She brings a great deal of experience with a proven track record as someone who can get things done. New program development requires careful analysis, research and planning for successful implementation–these are all strengths of Mrs. Townsend.

Following are the responsibilities Mrs. Townsend is assuming within this position and the expected timeline for implementation:

  1. Development of an in district program for in-school- suspension, out-of-school suspension and an alternative education program. (2016-17 and beyond) I anticipate an in district ISS/OSS program will be in place within the 2016-17 school year while an alternative education program will take more time to develop.
  2. Coordination of the K-12 AIS Program (2016-17) including interim formative assessments, grade level data team meetings with building principals, and AIMSweb testing three times annually.
  3. Universal Pre-Kindergarten (2017-18 and beyond) Currently only 60 SGI students receive UPK through our collaboration with the Early Bird Learning Center. We are interested in the  expansion of this program to serve more of our children. There are multiple funding streams for UPK. We are excited to have a dedicated administrator who can apply for funding, research, plan and implement programs for our children in these critical years of their development and learning.
  4. Conduct unannounced teacher evaluations as an independent observer district wide. (2016-17)
  5. Oversight and supervision of home/school tutoring of students on medical leave or due to suspensions. This will include hiring tutors with BOE approval, working with the families/tutors for scheduling, tutoring logs and timesheets. (2016-17)
  6. Home School Liaison working with our Homeschool families to review Individualized Home Instruction Plans and quarterly reports. (2016-17)
  7. Development and implementation of Green Ribbon School initiatives. (2016-17 and beyond)
  8. District Homeless Liaison. (2016-17)
  9. District Safety Committee Chairperson including the development, maintenance and oversight of the district Safety Committee and safety plans. (2016-17)
  10. District Wellness Committee Chairperson including annual review of the district’s wellness policy and committee meetings as necessary. (2016-17)

The above are duties and responsibilities, primarily #s 1-3, that require a dedicated administrator to make happen to our fullest advantage as a District. They are needs within the District that we have identified we have not previously focused on sufficiently. I am excited to work with Mrs. Townsend as she makes a significant difference for the children of the SGI school district through this position. Congratulations Mrs. Townsend!