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February 2018: Video Instructional Coaching, TIG training, annual budget and strategic planning, and character education

As we head into the spring season, I’d like to thank our parents and community for their support of our many programs that take place throughout the year. Also, a reminder: concerts, musicals, athletic events and more will be occurring between now and the end of the school year. Please consider attending these events as a way to support our students and our schools. These dates can be found on the district’s calendar posted on our website.

As superintendent, I have the opportunity to visit and spend time in each of our schools, witnessing the powerful instruction and learning occurring in our classrooms on a daily basis. Our schools have a warm, caring, child-centered atmosphere that fosters deep thinking; stretching our students to acquire new information in an engaging way. There are amazing things happening right now, in our schools and our classrooms.

We have emphasized the importance and improvement of technology in both of our schools, placing new equipment in the hands of our staff and students so that they have the tools needed for a relevant 21st century education. One of the ways we are doing this is through our use of Video Instructional Coaching (VIC).  VIC gives the teacher and their coach a perspective on the classroom that cuts through perceptual errors and allows teachers the opportunity to continually improve on their delivery of instruction. Currently, approximately 80 percent of our teachers are using Video Instructional Coaching. It’s easy and powerful, and once a teacher starts to use it they may wonder how they ever made progress without it.

Our schools are a primary resource for our children, offering continuity, safety, information, and support for their growth and success. Many students at Byron-Bergen turn to trusted teachers or other school professionals for support and help in understanding challenging events in their lives. School personnel are often a front-line resource for children experiencing, trauma, illness, death and loss—both at the time of immediate crisis and in subsequent years.

For this reason, we have recently had several staff members trained in TIG—The Consortium on Trauma, Illness, and Grief in Schools, managed and supported through the Monroe County Office of Mental Health. Our staff were given training, support and resources to better handle the challenging life circumstances that can, and have, impacted our students, families, colleagues, and school community. By being knowledgeable and informed, we are better prepared to respond and intervene effectively during these times of crisis and to support resiliency.

Our classrooms are a kaleidoscope of students, all with ongoing needs for recognition, self-worth, empathy, and belonging. Because of this, the District makes every effort to continually review and support a strong character education program built on its core values: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Accountable, and Be Your Best Self. Too often, schools can get caught up in the constant pressure to raise test scores and not have an inherent character development component in their curriculum. Not so at Byron-Bergen: we strive to ensure that our youngsters become the kind of quality, trustworthy human beings we all want them to be.

At a district level, we are keeping a careful eye on the finances of the State of New York. The economic condition of the state will have an impact on all school districts if revenues are reduced and/or eliminated. This makes our work extraordinarily challenging as we rely on state revenues for approximately $13.5 million dollars in our annual school budget. The Byron-Bergen Central Schools Administrative team and Board of Education are taking proactive steps in order to plan ahead for any shortfalls.

We also look toward the future with anticipation as we prepare for a new strategic planning process. The current strategic plan was authored in 2015 and was designed to come to a close at the end of the 2019-20 school year. We have achieved its goals earlier than expected, and will begin the planning stages, “The Blueprint," of a new Strategic Plan for Byron-Bergen Central School District very soon. As we plan, we will look to include students, parents, community members, Board of Education members, and administrators in the conversation as to what goals our district should and could be setting to ensure that the education afforded our students is world-class. We take the responsibility of educating our children seriously, so as we plan for the future, we should be planning only the best for them.

As our Vision Statement declares, this is a school district that "Prepares Students for Excellence."
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