Happy December! We have SET our GOALS; we are AWARE of where we stand; we have made plans on how we will GET our GOALS--the natural next step on our journey towards our 2020 vision is COLLABORATION!
COLLABORATION is the art of teaming up to access solutions. Each one of us is the sum of our own experiences, education, training, talents and weaknesses -- a unique puzzle piece that protrudes in certain areas and dips in others. Just like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, we must find ways to interlock our strengths and weaknesses on our path to achieving our goals.
Ideally, each piece slips together seamlessly, but it's not always a comfortable process. As I wrote in last year's Navigator, many people misunderstand COLLABORATION, equating the word with visions of harmony, rainbows and warm fuzzies for all.
COLLABORATION is the shedding of ones own ego and self interests in order to become laser focused on the goals at hand.
It is not a "meeting in the middle." If we meet in the middle of the path, and then we don't reach our destination, what did we accomplish by meeting in the middle anyway? "Meeting in the middle COLLABORATION" leads to frustration, disagreements and poor morale.
- Know that they won't be right all the time
- Thrive on feedback
- Strive for continuous improvement
- Are focused on results
Don Tapscott gave an incredible example of what true COLLABORATION looks like in his presentation, "Four Principles for the Open World" when he highlighted the starlings of Edinburgh. Each of these birds alone is hardly a force to be reckoned with -- but together, they become an unstoppable force, swooping and sailing in formation to ward off predators, find food and survive. Instinctively, these birds know that the collective mission trumps the individual each and every time.
Parents as Partners
In education, true COLLABORATORS never neglect the most important relationships that we have in the journey to student success: our families.
Parents are our partners. We must begin to develop that rapport and relationship with each one of our students' families from the moment the bell rings on the first day of school and continue to nurture these relationships throughout the school year. The first interaction you ever have with a parent or caregiver should NEVER be to deliver difficult news -- family COLLABORATION is proactive, never reactive.
When a crisis arises, our parents should be our first line of defense. A student should not even have time to walk back to the classroom before a parent is contacted, informed of the situation and asked, "What do you need from us?"
I know that many of our dedicated, innovative professionals are probably reading this with their heads cocked to the side, thinking, "Well, OBVIOUSLY -- how could you think that we don't collaborate with our families as a matter of practice?"
In the past week, it has come to my attention that unfortunately, not all of our staff has been fostering these critical relationships with our parents.
If you have not yet begun to plant the seeds of a relationship with the family of each student in your care, or you're looking for ways to reinvigorate those relationships, I challenge you to do the following this month, as we reflect on COLLABORATION:
- Every day, send home ONE note with a student highlighting one of his/her positive attributes.
- Make a list of parents who you have not yet had a personal interaction with this year make contact with each one of them to introduce yourself before winter break is upon us.
Remember, for 180 days out of the year, parents send a piece of their heart into our buildings, entrusting us with the safety, well-being and educational growth of their most precious treasures.
Snapshots of MCSD: November
Attendance matters! Strive for less than 5!
Attendance matters! We need to be HERE if we expect our students to learn and our students need to be here if they are to learn. We've SET our GOALS: we strive for less than 5 absences, which equates to less than a 3% absentee rate, and we continue to work towards GETTING our GOALS, in part, by staying AWARE of where we currently stand:
November Absentee Rates:
Staff Absentee Rates:
Student Absentee Rates:
Remember, that five absences roughly equates to less than a 3% absentee rate. Where are we now?
Clearly, we still have some work to do as we strive towards five.
Our December Spotlight features Monticello team members who are COLLABORATORS! These fine folks, as described by their leadership team, know that COLLABORATION is the key to GOAL-GETTING.
Ann Van Etten and Patricia Yorks, Emma C. Chase Elementary School
"Ann Van Etten and Patricia Yorks are the two Leveled Instruction for All (LIA) teachers at Emma C. Chase elementary school. As such, both Pat and Ann collaborate a great deal with all of the classroom teachers, the teaching assistants, the literary specialist, and the other service providers.
The first critical step is purely logistical. Ann and Pat schedule working with students at times when classroom teachers are not instructing core instruction, when students are not scheduled for a special or lunch, and at a time when some students receive other services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling. This may sound simple until you realize they each do this with about six sections of students at three different grade levels. Collaboration is key :)
The second step is to collaborate with assessment resources and the classroom teacher about the specific skills each student and/or group of students need. Academic intervention work is not doing more of the same work being done in the classroom or completing work or homework that was not finished. Academic intervention work needs to focus on skill gaps students may have as revealed by broad assessments such as the NWEA, state assessments, class work or other diagnostic tools. This work may not have any direct correlation to the specific lesson work happening in the classroom; but the underlying skill development will be critical for increasing student ability in all areas of future learning.
This collaboration with assessment resources and classroom instructors is another critical process that Ann and Pat make happen for the benefit of all of our students," - Chase Leadership Team
Julia Zanger, Pupil Personnel Services
"Julia Zanger is a master Speech Pathologist. She goes beyond fulfilling her role of Speech Language Pathologist at Kenneth L. Rutherford. Aside, from working to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, and communication deficiencies she develops individual and group programs to address speech problems. Julia has a very professional presence and works closely with her educational team. Julia knows the true nature of collaboration and knows that no tool on its own can solve the problem. Julia spreads her extensive knowledge and her understanding of the unique strengths and needs of the students she serves through her collaborative efforts. Above all, Julia is flexible and lends exceptional support wherever needed. Julia works continuously to create a linguistically rich environment and adds to the structures of many classrooms while providing language tools. Julia’s positive relations with students and fellow members of the faculty is admirable. Julia has created a visual, academic vocabulary flash card set for each first grade classroom to enhance their comprehension of the academic vocabulary used in daily instruction (math, ELA)and on test formats (NWEA, Superkids). Julia has collaborated and consulted with the first grade teachers. Julia created a visual vocabulary set for each Kindergarten classroom to pair with the anthologies studied to enhance and build student vocabulary knowledge and use. Julia knows the power of collaboration and works well in a team toward a common goal: growing our students’ language and communication skills," - Pupil Personnel Services Leadership Team
Carolyn Rojas and Kelly Olsen (a.k.a. Team ROLSEN), Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School
"The duo of Carolyn and Kelly work daily with their class to teach kindness and helping your fellow man. Since the start of the school year they have worked with their class to raise money for the survivors of Hurricane Michael, a storm that devastated the Florida Panhandle. The students of KLR, led by Team Rolsen, raised over $247 dollars for United Way Worldwide.
Also, Carolyn and Kelly are running the Rutherford Elementary Backpack food program. Our Backpack program helps ensure students have access to healthy meals during the weekend and return to school ready to learn. On Nov. 10, their class held a food drive at ShopRite of Monticello. They raised more than $130 in donations and two cartloads of groceries for our families. These two ladies work hard to make sure our students understand the value of community and kindness. Thank you both for helping the lives of children," - KLR Leadership Team
Veterans, Robert J. Kaiser Middle School
"In the wake of Veterans Day, we show our gratitude to our RJK staff members who have served our country in the armed forces. From left to right: Juan Genovez, seventh-grade math teacher (Marine Corps), Brigette Nesteroke seventh-grade special education teacher (Army; 9 years), George Grobusch, eighth-grade social studies teacher (US Army in West Germany 1984-1986, US Army Reserve 1986-2007, Operation Iraqi Freedom II 2004-2005), Angelique Corona, main office secretary (Army National Guard 2013- present); Peter Jockel, network technician (Air Force 1978-1982).
RJK Middle School and the MCSD know full well that veterans are the ultimate collaborators, working together to keep our country safe and secure and we thank them for their sacrifices," - RJK Leadership Team
Kim Rock, Monticello High School
"When it comes to juggling many tasks and working with others to get things done Kim Rock is an example of resolute determination. Kim collaborates with a multitude of people within the building and district while also ensuring effective collaboration with our educational and agency partners. Kim is trusted to follow through on accomplishing difficult and complex tasks because she will always collaborate with others if she needs assistance. Kim's distinguished voice is well known as she courageously and tenaciously collaborates, coordinates, and communicates with others to support our mission of graduating our students Life Ready," - MHS Leadership Team
Joana Dutcher, George L. Cooke Elementary School
"Mrs. Dutcher is the Spot Light of George L. Cooke for December. Collaboration is a key element in success. Mrs. Dutcher is an excellent collaborator. She is present in the lives of the students in her class and in the entire building as well as in the lives of her colleagues.
Mrs. Dutcher is a fierce advocate for her students and colleagues. She brings possible solutions to situations that arise and looks for ways to improve the lives of everyone in the district. She does this as a member of the Cooke School faculty and as a member of the district CDEP team. Mrs. Dutcher is passionate about wellness. She is bringing wellness activities and information to the faculty, staff and students of George L. Cooke through workshops that will include Cornell Cooperative Extension discussing Diabetes and Sugars, Essential Oils, Chair Exercises, Healthy Snacks, and Yoga for the Classroom. To help insure the wellness of many, Mrs. Dutcher began the Cooke Backpack program a while ago and it is still running strong! She collects non-perishable food items that can then be distributed and sent to those in need.
If you need a warm, supportive smile or a kind word to increase your wellness, please engage in a heartwarming conversation with Mrs. Dutcher!" - George L. Cooke Leadership Team
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Liberty, Special Programs Department
"The Special Programs Administrative Team is spotlighting its collaborative partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Liberty. Cornell Cooperative and MCSD began collaborating on Monticello hosting a Math and Movement Night back in the spring of 2018. Over the summer, Ms. SueAnn Rita Boyd of Cornell informed MCSD that we had a sponsor, Dryden Mutual Insurance Co. This was great news because with a sponsor, Monticello could host the event for all of its elementary schools in one location for students and their families to attend. It was a great collaborative event that required much planning and several teacher volunteers from the different elementary schools including Maryann Swensen, Tamara Coney and Julie Furman of Chase and Barbara Bitjeman, Christine Foster and Kathleen Mabee of KLR. Between the leadership and collaboration among the Special Programs Administrative Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the teachers at MCSD, children from all three elementary schools and their families enjoyed a night of Math and Movement. It was a great time had by all!," - Special Programs Leadership Team