Commenting on the Blog

Did you know that you don’t have to be TOTALLY PUBLIC about who you are when you post a comment to the blog? It is  true that you have to post your actual email address. This is so that I know yours is a legitimate comment before approving it and so that your comment doesn’t land in the spam filter. But no one sees that email address but me.

Why does that matter? Well, I understand that there are teachers or parents who don’t want to post a comment because they don’t feel like dealing with the sometimes snide remarks of their colleagues or they don’t want to get into an argument with the neighbor across the street or hallway who they know disagrees.

That’s why you can feel free to post a comment as Lulu or Trixie or George or Hank if you want. As long as you list your actual email, it’ll go through. And if I see that you’re posting under a different name, I’ll get it–no questions asked.

But if you’re like Mrs. Senn or Mr. Scapelitte or Mr. Brooks and you want to just put it out there–keep on posting, I love that you care enough to share what you’re thinking.

Either way, your comments add something to the conversation. So comment away!

School Leaders: Why Should They Blog?

I’m attending a workshop on Thursday entitled “Unleashing the Power of Web-Based Tools for Every School Leader: Using Digital Tools for Instruction, Communication, Community building, and Professional Development” as presented by Dr. Kathleeen P. King, Professor of Education at Fordham University. Iroquois Superintendent Neil Rochelle and I are presenting in the middle of the day on the “regional applications” of the tools.

There’s a lot happening in our classrooms with the uses of technology by our faculty and students. Off the top of my head at Randolph these uses include pod-casts, wikis, Ipods, smart boards with senteo clickers, video presentations of projects, digital media including YouTube videos, blogging and all of our instructional software programs which are too numerous to list.

I’m guessing though that this audience of administrators from Western New York will want to hear more about the reasons Neil and I might have for including technology in our own professional practices. Specifically, I’ve been asked to talk about this practice of blogging.

At first I was going to do a PowerPoint presentation about it, not detailed–more just a visual about the uses of the blog for me, including screen shots. I started it and thought, “this isn’t right–PowerPoint is so yesterday and they’re there to learn more about today’s tools“–so I’m going to do a series of posts with links that I can point to for the presentation.

Readers–please consider posting a comment below directed at an audience of administrators that answers the question, “Why do you read this blog?” To further prompt readers, consider: If you come back after reading the first time, why? What are you looking for? What does it provide for you? What more do you wish you could learn here?

Perhaps your comments will help to influence a group of school administrators who are considering additional ways to communicate with their school communities!

Mentoring Opportunity

I thought we’d give the blog a shot for recruitment purposes today. We are looking to develop a Youth Mentoring site at Randolph–mentors who can serve as positive adult role models to students. We do have one youth mentor who I know worked with an elementary student last year and I think it was rewarding to them both. Right now we have two students who need mentors from our community. If you may be interested in working with one of our students a couple of hours per week, read on to see what Erica Fleischman and Cindy Crandall, from Student Programs at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, have to say about the opportunity,

Opportunity to Mentor a Young Person

Are you looking for a way to give back in your local community? The Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Youth Mentoring Program, federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, is looking for volunteer mentors to serve students at Randolph Central School.  Mentors are needed in order to continue serving Randolph students. 

The CA- BOCES Youth Mentoring Program is a site-based mentoring program serving students in grades 4-8.  Mentoring at Randolph is every week, following the school calendar, on Monday from 4-6 p.m. All mentoring takes place at the Randolph school which means that mentors meet with their mentee in a safe and supervised environment.  Activity options are provided, along with occasional group educational/cultural field trips. Mentor applicants go through a personal interview and screening process. The Mentoring Center has a Site Coordinator (certified teacher or counselor) to oversee the matches, provide support and activities as needed.

A mentor is a friend, a coach, a role model, an advocate and a supporter. A mentor is not a substitute parent, childcare provider, social worker or miracle worker.   Mentoring helps build more positive relationships with adults and the community.

We are in need of adults to volunteer as mentors, to work one-to-one with a student, at Randolph for the 09-10 school year. The steps to become a mentor include:

  • A personal interview
  • Criminal background checks (including fingerprinting)
  • Reference checks
  • Orientation session prior to being matched.

Once a mentor applicant has successfully completed these steps then the matching process can begin. Mentors are matched with a mentee based on gender.  Matches are also made based on a common career interest/background, hobby, sport, etc.

 To learn more visit or call 716-376-8370 or 716-373-8386 to receive an application.

If this seems like something you’d like to do to help a child, please contact BOCES directly or contact me if I can be of help.

President Obama’s Speech

By this time you may or may not be aware that President Obama’s planned speech on Tuesday is creating a controversy in the media. I have received two parent phone calls today regarding the speech. I must admit that I’ve been completely consumed with RCS this week and was unaware of the controversy. If interested, you can easily read more on-line about the discussion. I refuse to perpetuate the conversation with detail here, it’s not the purpose of this blog.

We are not showing the speech in whole school assemblies. Teachers have been given the discretion to watch it with their classes. I realize now that some of our parents may object to their children watching the speech live, in school, without them. If we receive a note from a parent indicating that a child is not permitted to watch the speech, we will honor the parent’s request.

A message to our children encouraging our students to work hard in school is a welcome one, from anyone and everyone who wants to spread the message.

Once again I recognize that one of our most crucial goals as educators is to teach our students to critically analyze information. If we look at the media firestorm brewing about this speech and the vast amount of information available to our kids, it becomes even more apparent that we must make it a major goal of our schools to teach our students to assess and analyze information.


During our superintendent’s conference days on September 1-3, teachers will have an opportunity to collaborate, plan together and learn. There is an open lab time planned when teachers will go into our labs and spend time planning for lessons with 21st century skills. They can get help on everything from Office 2007 to Data Mentor to updating their websites to setting up RSS feeds or Moodle, Ning and YouTube.

In an effort to share my own learning, I want to direct readers to some of the authors who influence my thinking on a daily basis as I read their posts through my own bloglines account, along with the Buffalo News, Post Journal, CNN and the NY Post.

Will Richardson always influences my thinking in a big way and is largely the reason I’m always thinking about the use of technology tools for changing student learning. He explains it best in his post “Willing to Be Disturbed” which you can read here.

I always enjoy thinking about what Seth Godin has to say, both in his books and on his blog. Read what he says about education in “Education at the crossroads”.

And then there’s David Warlick’s post, “Where Obama is Getting Education Wrong”. The last part of his post will keep me thinking long into the night. Warlick writes,

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that we are continuing down the same dumb path of thinking that we need high school and college graduates who know the answers to old questions.  This is wrong!

It’s new questions that will define our future.  Today, we need graduates who can invent answers to the “new questions.”

Who Are You?

I’m replicating Lisa Rosendahl’s idea from her blog post, “Hey There, How’s it Going?” Lisa is in human resources so it’s no surprise that she is deeply interested in people. In this case, she’s looking to learn more about her readers than what the stats counters tell her.

I’m also curious about who’s reading this blog now. I know the audience has changed as the blog has transformed into a means of communication for Randolph Central. We’re starting to have more conversation here and so I’m hoping people are becoming more comfortable with this format. Blogging includes some amount of planning on my part and thinking about what it is that readers most want to know should make it more beneficial for all of us.

If you would be so kind, please leave a comment and tell me who you are. Your name, of course, if you’re comfortable or if not, tell me what your connection to the school or to this blog might be.  Any future topics you’d like me to cover but also something unusual or interesting about you.

And as Lisa offered,

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Where are you from?
  • What are you most proud of? Link to it if you can!
  • Some little tidbit about yourself.
  • Do you blog? If so, include your website address so we can check you out!

Can’t wait to learn more about you–plus it will be fun for readers to see who else is reading and from where they hail.

High School’s New Face 2009

What’s it mean to be literate today? David Warlick was the keynote speaker at this year’s HSNF and this idea really hit home for me. You think of reading, writing and arithmetic, right? Or you may have thought of speaking, reading and writing effectively. Warlick delivered his keynote in a way that made every participant really think about what literacy means today. If our students are going to be literate NOW, then we have to consider what it is that they’re reading and where.

David talked about reading on-line and redefining literacy. I don’t know about you, but my first stop in looking for additional information when I’m researching is either google or the NYSED website. My main sources of news are the RSS feeds in my bloglines account and have been for about three years now. As we teach our students to ask questions, we’ve got to teach them to consider the source, to dig deeper and to investigate everything.  Warlick says it takes the following.

Exposing What’s True,

Employing the Information

Expressing Ideas Compellingly

I guess it depends upon what you do for a living, but I can say those are three of the skills I most need to be successful every day in my work as the superintendent. They’re definitely skills that every effective teacher must employ and if we want our students to be successful, are we teaching them these literacy skills through the work that we ask them to do each day in our classrooms?

Warlick’s keynote alone was worth the price of admission. Have to also give a shout out to our very own Randolph teachers, Chad Skudlarek, Jessie Perison and Lauren Carnahan who took a risk and shared their own skills by teaching at High School’s New Face. This is the kind of collaboration we need to see within our own district–like we’ll be doing in our Thoughtful Classroom learning clubs next year. Which got me to thinking. . . what about a learning club where teachers meet after school to share the use of 21st century skills with student based projects to teach our content? Mr. Skudlarek, Mr. Perison and Mr. Carls as teacher leaders and participants sharing ideas. . . hmmm. Stay tuned, much more to follow.

And last, I have to say that the Leadership session offered by Neil Rochelle, Sushma Sztorc, and Bonnie Smith also provided some great ideas. We took NYS learning standards from all of the content areas and easily matched 21st century skills to the standards. So if you read the last paragraph and thought “I don’t have time! I have to teach my content and that means standing in front of the room and telling them all that they need to know” then you absolutely should be the first in line to learn more about 21st century skills and learning today. If we don’t change while everything around us is, we’ll be obsolete and irrelevant. What’s the use in that?

BOE Retreat Tonight

In about 30 minutes, I’ll be leaving for the BOE retreat that we’ve scheduled for tonight from 5:00-9:00. We are meeting off campus to provide us with a clean slate, relaxed chance to meet and talk about our governance. We’ve invited in Lynda Quick, Assistant Superintendent from Catt/Alle BOCES to facilitate. This gives us an opportunity for our own professional development. How often do BOE members get a chance to stop and learn/self-assess when they aren’t also conducting business for three-five hours? In my experience, seldom, if ever.

I’m excited about tonight’s session for several reasons. It’s the start of a new school year and that always provides a fresh start for everyone. Teachers return renewed, students get to start with 100% in all of their classes, and energy is high. Why not for the BOE and me too? We have a new BOE member, Janet Huntington, and a new BOE president, David Adams. Tonight’s retreat allows us to talk about how we function as a team, the Board members and the superintendent–followed by how we interact with all of our other constituencies–taxpayers, parents, administration, faculty, staff and students. I’m hoping to gain insight into what’s working well from their perspective and what could be better.  I’m also excited because this is our first step toward goal setting and strategic planning. We’ll have the chance to talk about how our committees function and how we can improve. We’ll be able to analyze, reflect and plan for the future.

As a district, I hope we continually focus on the idea of “yes, this is good but how can it be better?” This is a great first step as our BOE members and I step forward to ask that about ourselves. I hope every teacher asks that same question about the classes that she teaches or the way he interacts with students. I also hope that every staff member here at RCS thinks about it and that no one accepts “it’s just the way we’ve always done it” as a reason to continue a practice. And most of all, I hope every student returns asking “how can this year be better than the last and what can I do to make it happen?”

Headed to Catt/LV

The latest on our DOT inspections for the buses? We’re headed to Cattaraugus/Little Valley. Thanks to Superintendent Peterson and his BOE for allowing his transportation director to host us for our inspections. And thanks to Superintendent Rinaldi and his BOE at Gowanda for considering the same as a back up for us. After traveling to Falconer for about two years for our inspections, they’ve decided that enough is enough. That led me to ask our neighbor with an excellent DOT passing rate and a brand new facility to allow us to bring our buses to his garage–starting July 20 and agreed to for one year at which time they’ll review the pros and cons.

Readers will remember that the Department of Transportation inspects our buses and have been unwilling to inspect here at Randolph due to our unsafe lift and inadequate space to get around the bus. That leaves me asking neighboring superintendents for help like the poor orphaned child no one wants who travels from relative to relative. I especially dislike this position because I was raised by a father who said things like, “don’t ask people for favors Kimberly because then you owe them.”

We’ll be paying a pretty price too, $250 per day to use the lift/bay 20 miles away. On July 20, we transport seven of our buses back and forth for the inspections. That will be a full day with my mechanics tied up, the cost of gas, and the cost to use their space. In addition, we’ve been servicing our vehicles at other garages when it’s anything we can’t do ourselves so there’s that expense.

So we continue to contemplate the problem, consider any and all alternatives, and plan for the future. And every time I think about it (daily) and we discuss it as a BOE/superintendent, we circle back to the same best solution. The project we put up in May that went down by one vote. A $1.4 million project that would replace the roof on the entire storage facility, build two mechanics bays with a new lift, handicapped bathroom (required by SED with the construction) and gain two more storage bays by repurposing the current mechanics bays. At no cost to the taxpayer with 83% building aid and the money the BOE already designated from our reserves.

The real kicker? Word is that SED is likely to stop providing state aid on storage facilities. Makes me wonder if we wait much longer if they’ll even aid the roof since it’s on a storage facility (the bus garage). Everything we have to do now actually costs our taxpayers more. How do I not put our best solution up for another vote? Especially when it’s at no cost to our taxpayers and we only lost it by one vote? And how long do we want to be in this position instead of taking care of our own problems? The Randolph community has always shown so much pride in this facility and who we are as a district—how did we end up looking to our neighbors for handouts?

What Are We Focused On?

Imagine if all of the money and attention that we spent on this nonsense were instead spent to give Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, the troops and resources he needs to get the job over there done right. I’ve seen stories claiming that this Michael Jackson tribute cost the cash strapped state of California between $2.5 and $5 million. If you’re wondering why it would cost them anything read what Leslie Gornstein on E Online says,

And just what kind of city effort are we talking here?

  • At least 1,400 police officers to keep the peace
  • Workers from the Department of Transportation to arrange and enforce street closures
  • Still more workers from the Department of Public Works to keep the area clean and operating
  • Fire and rescue specialists, just in case too many rabid fans moonwalk into one another out in the streets
  • This is what our country focuses on? I’m so disgusted by the constant media coverage of Michael Jackson while every day we have men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, too often sacrificing their health or lives, while we focus on the death of a man who made music. A man who has had a questionable past and most likely died of a drug overdose. Please. If we continue to focus on entertainment and ignore the real issues of our times, we will continue to be the same fools who focused too much time and attention on Anna Nichole Smith, OJ Simpson and Monica Lewinsky. Our collective intelligence ought to be put to better use than that, don’t you think?