Superintendent's Brief


Good afternoon and happy Friday,

I know you are excited and ready for the break ahead. Stay with me for just a few minutes as I have a few highlights, updates, and reminders to share before you head off to enjoy winter recess.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, students in the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Schenectady program are busy this month. Last weekend, we hosted a Super Bowl "Football Sunday with the Fellas" with our MBK members and Belmont Pop Warner Football at Schenectady High School. We had a great turnout and everyone had a great time discussing and playing football, enjoying snacks, winning prizes, and just spending time together on a Sunday afternoon. Thank you to Schenectady High School Principal Dennis Green, other administrators, coaches, faculty and staff, Dr. Cotto, Brian Ledbetter, and the members of the Office of Innovation, Equity and Engagement including our community schools team, for the coordination and facilitation of this fun event. Thank you also to Belmont Pop Warner. This is another example of community partners coming together to offer opportunities for our students.

Photo:  Football with the Fellas on Super Bowl Sunday

Photo:  Football with the Fellas on Super Bowl Sunday

Photo:  Football with the fellas on Superbowl Sunday

Photo:  Football with the Fellas on Super Bowl Sunday

Today and tomorrow, our MBK Fellows are participating in the New York State My Brother's Keeper "Stand and Deliver Leadership Workshop" in Albany. With the guidance of their mentors and supporters, MBK Fellows give their TED-style talks on what they are learning and living in MBK. Today the fellows prepared 90-second speeches on "Living and Learning: My MBK Story."

Johnathan James, a Schenectady High School Senior, and Khasier Morton, a Schenectady High School Junior delivered their speeches to a captive audience including mentors, leaders, and other fellows from across the state. Johnathan and Khasier will be mentored by Jason Beanitiz, Vice President of Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, and Carl Williams, Schenectady City Council member, respectively. Thank you to both Mr. Beanitiz and Mr. Williams for stepping up and serving as role models and mentors. We know that it is important for our young people to be inspired and mentored so that they recognize that they can achieve their dreams and goals.

Click on the video below to hear Johnathon speak.

The fellows will also be attending the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators (NYSABPRHAL) Youth Conference on Saturday and the "New York State My Brother's Keeper: Delivering on the Promise and Potential of Our Young Men." In the afternoon, our own Dr. Cotto, will participate on a community schools workshop panel designed to elevate the community schools strategy.

This workshop and conference is an exciting opportunity for our MBK Fellows to learn from one another, represent our district, network and build brotherhood with fellows from other areas across the state.

I am proud of our MBK Fellows, the work that they are doing, and the members of our team leading these efforts and seeking opportunities for our students to thrive and shine.

Photo:  MBK Fellows at a conference

Photo:  MBK Fellows at a conference

Photo:  MBK Fellows at a conference

Photo from MBK event

Dr. Carlos Cotto, Johnathan James (SHS Senior, MBK Fellow), Khasier Morton (SHS Junior, MBK Fellow), Devon Wimberly. Front Row: Carl Williams (Mentor), Jason Beanitiz (Mentor)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Spectrum News was at Hamilton Elementary School to learn about community schools and the work that is underway to develop this model. The story featuring Hamilton debuted yesterday and gives a terrific overview of some of things we are doing to provide access and opportunity to our families. Our team at Hamilton did a great job showcasing the school's community room and all it has to offer. Great work. Thank you for making us shine. Click here to watch the Spectrum News story.

Link to  Spectrum News Story on Community Schools

February 15 was National School Resource Officer Appreciation Day. In our district, these officers are referred to as Community Engagement Officers (CEO). I'd like to give a huge thank you to our three CEOs who have become our partners and important members of our school safety team. They not only build bridges with the school community but they also strive to change the narrative by building positive relationships and serving as resources and supports to students and their families. Thank you to Sgt. Plowden, Officer Rivera, both of whom are Schenectady High School graduates, and our newest CEO Officer Kopczynski, for their partnership and all they do to engage, support and help our students and families.

Card recognizing our Community Engagement Officers

Earlier this week, the Times Union did a feature on the changes we've made to culture, climate and safety, including the the popularity of the "Red Shirts." Thank you to reporter Paul Nelson for taking an interest and reporting on our safety team and all of our culture, climate and safety efforts. Everyone working in one of these roles works as part of the team. This is what leads to an improved culture and enhanced safety. I appreciate the dedication, passion, and care that the members of our safety team have become known for. I love how so many of you light up when you talk about working in our schools and making a difference. You are appreciated. Click here to read the Times Union story.

Photo of Safety Team

Yesterday we had the honor of joining Mayor McCarthy, Schenectady County Legislators Richard Patierne and Richard Ruzzo, Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority Board Chair Haileab Samuel, and Christine Serafini of Miranada Real Estate Group to announce new homebuyer resources for public employees in Schenectady. The new program, Schenectady Saves will be offered to all City of Schenectady, Schenectady County, and Schenectady City School District employees who are buying a home. The new homebuyer would receive 20% of the commission as a rebate. Thank you to Dr. Cotto and Ms. Rutnik for representing us at City Hall for the announcement. Thank you also to Mayor McCarthy, Mrs. Serafini, and all who are making this possible for our employees. This is another example of community partnership that provides opportunity.

Photo from Press Conference announcing homebuyer program for public workers

There were two presentations at the the Board of Education Work Session held Wednesday evening.

  • Dr. Chisolm, Dr. Mason and members of their teams presented and Second Quarter Academic Update. The presentation can be downloaded here.

  • Ms. Tote-Freeman and members of her team presented on the Office of Student Support Services. The presentation can be downloaded here.

    The Office of Student Support Services Second Quarter Newsletter is available here.

    You can watch the presentations by clicking below or here.

The next Board of Education Meeting will be held March 1. There has been a change to the location. It will be held in the Schenectady Room, located on the second floor of Mont Pleasant Middle School. The updated schedule is here.

I want to give a shout out to students in the Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy CAD program who made plaques for this year's spelling bee winners. These are another example of student creativity ... and kindness. I'm sure our spelling bee winners are excited to receive such a thoughtful and personalized gift.

Photo:  Plaques that CAD students made for spelling bee winners

Photo:  Plaque that CAD students made for spelling bee winners

Photo:  Plaques that CAD students made for spelling bee winners

We will continue to celebrate Black History Month. I know there are activities and celebrations taking place in our schools through the end of the month. We will share out highlights and photos.

District offices will be closed on Monday in observance of President's Day.

Warm wishes for a restful winter break. Take some time to renew and recharge. I look forward to seeing you back in school on February 27.


Anibal Soler, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools


ALUMNI PROFILE:  Andrew Healey

This week's featured alumni is SHS class of 1999 graduate, Andrew Healey, who practices law in Schenectady. Andrew credits his time on the varsity basketball team with helping him hone the skills he used as an attorney. 

"While I never took a class from Gary DiNola, he was my basketball coach. While I was a member of the 1998 State Championship Basketball team, Coach D, had a profound impact on all of us (and many more students and athletes over his decades long career). After our season concluded, Coach D made it known to this team, while we might have been State Champions, our record was again 0-0 and what we did with our education and careers was more important. This team was inspired and all twelve members obtained college degrees and have given back to the communities we live in."


Would you like to be featured?

If you are an alumni of SCSD and would like to be featured, let us know by completing this online form.

You can view Alumni Profiles here.

Photo of the Week

Staff and faculty at Woodlawn take a Zumba class, led by ENL teacher Aly Nielsen 

Photo:  Staff and faculty Zumba class at Woodlawn, led by ENL teacher Aly Nielsen

Valentines for Vets at Zoller

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara kicked off the "Valentines for Vets" campaign Monday morning at Zoller Elementary School. More than 6,000 valentines were delivered to area veterans this year. Zoller's banner and cards went to the 109th Airwing. News Channel 10 ran a story. Watch it here.

Photo:  Banner for Valentines for Vets

Photo:  Zoller Valentines for Vets

Photo:  Zoller Valentines for Vets

Photo:  Zoller Valentines for Vets

Spring Sports Registration is now open


Scrabble-Rama will take place on April 22 in the Schenectady High School cafeteria. Teams of 2-4 will compete in a Scrabble Competition to benefit the Reading is Fun program. Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 teams and breakfast provided for all competitors. 🔗 http://www.readingisfun.org


Child Care Assistance Program

This is official correspondence from the New York State Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) regarding the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP helps eligible families with some or all of the cost of child care. Click on the link for more information on the program. More information and FAQs can be found at the CCAP website https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/ccap/

Pre-K Lottery Applications

Pre-K Applications will be available in April

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PREVIOUS BRIEFS: For the index of Volume 1 and Volume 2 Briefs, click here.