WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 18, 2022 | VOLUME 2 ISSUE NO. 13
I want to start today's brief with some important and wonderful news. This week we learned that our application to become a member of the New York State My Brother's Keeper Community (NYSMBK) was approved. We have accepted the challenge and are officially members of this important community committed to changing the narrative for boys and young men of color in our community.
MBK, a state and national initiative launched under President Obama, serves to support our focus, approach, and work to ensure boys and young men of color are on, and stay on, a path to success. This includes providing every opportunity for them to receive a quality education, to graduate with the skills and tools needed to complete college or training, and be prepared to enter the workforce. We also strive to keep our students safe and provide for second chances.
As you may remember, our district first launched an MBK initiative in 2018. Last February we publicly announced that we were advancing our commitment, including acceptance of the New York State MBK Community Challenge with a formal submission to the NYS Commissioner and an application to become a member of the NYSMBK network. At the time, we brought many community leaders together with a call to action for community support and participation in the success of our Black and Latino children. We also unveiled our district's MBK logo.
This work is critical because data shows that boys and young men of color are disproportionately at risk. Graduation rates for Black teens across the country are lower than their peers and and the dropout rate is higher. Average Black male achievement also falls far below that of White and Asian boys. While there are many factors that may contribute to these outcomes including poverty, trauma, and discrimination, the outcomes must change and as a community we can work together to do it. We must remain committed to doing everything we can to remove barriers, provide mentorship and support, and take measures to influence positive outcomes. MBK is certainly a significant initiative committed to this end.
As a NYSMBK Community, we are part of an extremely large network throughout the state with access to assistance in support, participation in MBK conventions, and eligibility for programs designated exclusively for NYSMBK Communities.
Our MBK program, which has included middle and high school students, has gained momentum. It is now expanding to grades 4-12. The program offers mentoring, academic and social emotional support, athletic opportunities and enrichment experiences. Students will establish a network of resources, including high school MBK alumni, and are guided and supported in the planning of student-centered events in school, at local colleges and in the community. We look forward to upcoming MBK events including All Pro Fathers Day, My Sister's Keeper, MBK Community Circle Summit, and MBK Commencement in 2023.
We currently have more than 100 students registered for the elementary and middle school mentorship groups. Three students are facilitating circles for BOCES Elevating Student Voice Summit. We are planning for MBK Parent Circles in December.
Led by the commitment and support of our families and the leadership of Principal Sitts and Mr. McCoy, our MBK program launched at Howe Elementary School this month.
I am proud of our acceptance into the NYSMBK network. I am also grateful and proud of Brian Ledbetter, our MBK Program Specialist, Dr. Carlos Cotto, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation, Equity and Engagement, and our MBK students for their commitment and dedication to this work. Our high school MBK leaders have been amazing role models and advocates to their peers and younger students. They share their stories and are incredible ambassadors when they talk to other students and members of our community.
We will keep you updated as we move forward.
If you are interested in joining MBK Schenectady, please reach out to Brian Ledbetter by emailing email@example.com.
This morning nearly 100 community members, representing various organizations, came together at Proctors for a SchenEQUITY: Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges community breakfast. This discussion, coordination, collaboration and action planning is part of our community work together to support and help young people and Schenectady families overcome challenges by uniting our expertise and resources, building bridges out of poverty, providing networks of hope and opportunity, and fostering a community of equity, inclusion, engagement, care, and unity.
This work is also aligned with other efforts in our district, such as community schools, better aligning resources across the city, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy, and what I just mentioned about MBK and our work to change the narrative of boys and young men of color. It is the work of the district and the community together that will truly affect change and make a difference.
Thank you to Philip Morris and Dr. Cotto for chairing this committee and the members of SchenEQUITY task force. I am grateful to all who were at the table today and for all who are committed to strengthening our community so that our young people have every opportunity to be successful. When we work together, we can build the bridge and make the difference.
Late last year, we made an announcement that we would be pursuing the community schools initiative. One of the benefits of community schools is building unity with our partners and fostering a network of resources. Partnerships are being formed and this work is in process. We look forward to sharing more about our community schools in the coming weeks.
Along the line of community schools and supports, I want to give a huge shoutout to MVP Healthcare and Lodge Department Store for the generous donation of more than 100 new coats for kids. The donation was made earlier this week at our schools and district office. Students who already received the new coats were grateful and excited. We have an amazingly generous community. Thank you.
I was extremely honored to be invited to sit on a nationwide panel coordinated by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Brown University School of Public Health. The symposium, made possible by The Rockefeller Foundation, was titled "K-12 COVID-19 Response Across the Nation: What Worked, What We Learned and What's Next," and was assembled to connect health and education leaders, researchers, and federal government partners, for a discussion about what we did, learned, what we are doing now, and how to prepare for future public health crises.
I sat on a plenary session panel with members of the CDC, White House, and National PTA, and others who addressed how school and district leaders, parents and health risk communicators decided on mitigation measure implementation, like school closings, to keep students and community healthy, while also addressing the potential effects on student social, emotional, and learning outcomes. It was incredible discussion and so important.
A book will be published to document how partnerships at the intersection of equity, education, and health are the backbone of resilient, student-centers, and community-supported schools, in times of crisis.
Earlier this week was School-Related Professionals Day, in acknowledgement of the contributions that school-related professionals make in helping to educate the whole student. Everyone who works in our schools plays a role in the education, safety, and well-being of our students. We are a team and all of the roles are pieces that fit together to make us the best we can be for our students. Thank you to all including our bus drivers, custodians and cleaners, secretaries, paraprofessionals, food service workers, teaching aides, support staff, nurses .... and so many more. I am grateful to all of our school-related personnel who work tirelessly to help our students thrive and Schenectady rise. #schenectadyrising
On Monday, history was made when our first ever Girls Wrestling Program launched their inaugural season with the team's first practice. The team is made up of student athletes from Schenectady and Niskayuna High Schools. I can't wait to see a match and watch this program grow. #schenectadyrising #patriotpride
Another first ... The Girls Boxing Club kicked off at Schenectady High School on Wednesday this week. The club is led by Jacki Kinnicutt-Sawyer who works for the Schenectady Ring of Hope as a coach, fitness instructor and administrative operations coordinator and Ornella Sathout, an amateur boxer, originally from Africa, with a PhD in Science. More information about the trainers , photos, and how to sign up is below.
Thank you to everyone who came out to our job fair and is interested in joining our team. We had an amazing turnout and have hired or are in the process of hiring to fill many of the positions. We can't wait to welcome you to our team. If you are interested and weren't able to make it, we still have some openings. You can take a look and apply online here.
The Schenectady Holiday Parade will be held on tomorrow evening beginning at 5 p.m. We have many groups representing our district. Please come out and cheer for them as they march downtown. The parade begins at SUNY Schenectady and continues up State Street to the corner of Lafayette and State Street. The parade main stage is located in front of Proctors. Free parking is available at the Schenectady Municipal Parking Garage on Broadway and various public lots within walking distance of the parade. Dress warm!
One last reminder that next week a short week. There is no school for students on November 23, 24 and 25.
Have a great weekend. I hope to see you at the parade. Relax, enjoy and unplug.
Anibal Soler, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
This week's featured alumnae, Shannon Mattice, is a 2016 graduate of SHS who currently teaches middle school in the Rochester City School District. She credits relationships with teachers from high school with inspiring her to become a teacher herself. "Mr. Ziskin was one of my favorite teachers in school and working with him closely throughout my high school career allowed me to grow as not only a future educator but as a caring human being. Every day he had some advice for me and every day I learned something new to look forward to. Mr. Z was someone who you could look up to and want to be like when you got older. My entire experience with BRTC shaped who I am and allowed me to build the public speaking skills I use everyday."
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.
Photo of the Week
On Thursday, November 10, students from Schenectady High School organized a Powderpuff Football game between each SHS cohort. Check out the photos and video clips on Instagram from this great event planned by SHS students with input from their peers.
Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Cleanup
The Schenectady Blue Jays are teaming up with our district, the City of Schenectady, and multiple Schenectady Youth Sports Leagues to clean up the fence line on Norwood Ave by Mont Pleasant Middle School on Sunday at noon.
Tay Fisher visits Paige
Tay Fisher, former Siena College basketball standout and Harlem Globetrotter, visited Paige Elementary School Friday to share his C.H.E.E.R character education program. The Paige Pandas had a blast. See video on Twitter here.
Girls Boxing Club
The Girls Boxing Club, led by Jacki Kinnicutt-Sawyer and Ornella Sathout, started this week at Schenectady High School. The club will meet every Thursday morning before school.
Students pictured: Alyssa Cook, Serenity Whittaker, Mariah Jacobs, Elizabeth St. Claire
More about the trainers
Ornella Sathout is a 35 year old female amateur boxer with a PhD in Science. She is originally from Africa and currently resides in Middlegrove, NY. "O" recently competed on the National Team for Ghana this summer and upon her return, she traveled directly to the Golden Gloves tournament out west, where she competed in the multiple day tournament and became Albany's 1st female GG champ EVER! O began boxing during college, as a way to incorporate mental and physical discipline in her routine. She is a strong advocate for the connection between education and fitness.
Jacki Kinnicutt-Sawyer works for the Schenectady Ring of Hope Boxing Club as a coach, fitness instructor and Administrative Operations Coordinator. Jacki is a USA Boxing Bronze Level Coach and USA Boxing Level 1 Official. She has been with the ROH for over 8 years in multiple different capacities and is looking forward to helping implement new programs and spread the word that boxing is much more than competition and is for everyone!
Girls in grades 9-12 at SHS are welcome to sign up for the club which takes place every Thursday morning in the high school gym from 7:30 - 8:15 a.m. Sign up here.
Van Corlaer 1st Graders Enjoy Field Trip
Van Corlaer Elementary School First Graders enjoyed a field trip to the Albany International Airport and Firehouse on Tuesday.
Operation Christmas Child
Eighth graders in Mrs. Penn's Class at Mont Pleasant Middle School assembled donations for the Operation Christmas Child Project. The class was able to send 28 boxes to children ages 2-14 throughout the world.
This month's Harvest of the Month, corn and an Aztec corn salad, was taste tested in our cafeterias. These monthly taste tests have been a big success with students providing positive feedback on our first two offerings that featured tomatoes (September) and apples (October). Speaking of apples, ReTree Schenectady and our local Soil & Water Conservation District have donated trees to Zoller, King, and Lincoln Elementary Schools. A variety of trees, including 10 apple tress have been added to the Zoller orchard. Hundreds of students have helped plant the trees on their campuses.
Our Farm to School logo contest is still open through the end of the month. Stewarts gift cards will be awarded to the artists of the top three selections. We would love to see student-created logos for our different projects. You can forward your artwork to Rebekka Henriksen at firstname.lastname@example.org or send hard copies to her c/o Zoller Elementary School.
As the holidays approach, we would love to feature your favorite family recipes in our school lunch menus. If you have one you would like to share that is kid-friendly, please email it to email@example.com. Recipes will be taste-tested and adapted to National School Lunch Standards.
Download Our Mobile App