Archive | June, 2021

A few personal WCSD staff notes

24 Jun

I’d like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to my friend and Plank North colleague Heather Balsamo, the school’s outstanding assistant principal. A Plank North family member for 15 years, on July 1 Heather will begin a new position as UPK Administrator for the district.

Heather has been an integral part of the growth and development of the UPK program, and is the perfect person to fill this new position, as the district’s UPK program expands to all seven elementary schools.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Heather for the last five years. Her door was always open, she always made time to help out when you needed something, and she always respected her colleagues as unique individuals rather than just another staff member.

Heather will be sorely missed.


And now, a very personal note.

Yesterday marked my last day as a teaching assistant in the Webster Central School District. After 20 years — 15 at Webster Thomas and the last five split between Schlegel Rd. and Plank North — I am retiring.

I started my WCSD career almost by accident. My eldest daughter was in 8th grade at Thomas Middle School, and I came in one day as a volunteer to help out with a project. I was assigned to the library, where I helped students navigate some computer challenges.

The Thomas Middle School librarian, Trish Warren, liked how I worked with the kids and invited me to come back and volunteer at any time. Which I did. A lot. By the end of the school year, Trish and I had become good friends. She suggested I get myself established in the district and then apply for the library teaching assistant position at the new Thomas High School when it opened in 2001.

I was fortunate to land a position as a part-time Phys. Ed. teaching assistant at Plank North, where I worked for one year. The following year, as planned, I interviewed for and got the Thomas Library T.A. job, working again with Trish.

Trish and I worked together for 15 years. I enjoyed my time at Thomas very much and loved coming in to work every day. I grew very close to my collagues and fondly remember each and every one of them. Deep down, there is still — and forever will be — a part of me that will always be a Titan.

As I set my sights on retirement several years ago, however, I decided I wanted to finish my career in the elementary schools. So when a spot opened up for an elementary school library teaching assistant, I jumped at the chance. I was hired, splitting my week between Plank North and Schlegel elementary schools, a position I’ve held for the last five years.

Working in the elementary schools has been as much fun as I expected it to be. I’ve read picture books to preschoolers, dressed up as Gerald the Elephant (and a yam, a Butter Bear, a grandmother and a half dozen other characters) for read-alouds. I have played soccer and kickball, danced, painted, made crafts, played board games, and created some entertaining “races” for my colleagues. I’ve worked with three terrific librarians and have made so many good friends.

But mostly, I was able to play an important part in the lives of children at a time when they still love reading.

The time has passed much too quickly. I will miss the kids and my colleagues a lot. But rest assured, I will be returning to Plank North and Schlegel as a substitute, and probably a volunteer. Because I know I’m not going to be able to stay away from two of my favorite places in the world.

(And who knows when Gerald might need to make an appearance for a command performance of Elephant and Piggie.)

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A beautiful, floral welcome to our village

23 Jun

Just outside the east edge of the village, next to the gas station at the corner of Phillips Rd. and Ridge, sits a little house. If you’ve ever had the occasion to walk, ride or drive by, I’m sure you’ve noticed it, because it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens in Webster.

I do pass by the house regularly, and have long admired the gardens. They always make me pause, especially when I see something new. I’ve often stopped to literally smell the roses (or lilacs, depending on the time of year). I would occasionally see the homeowners outside watering or weeding or planting, and wave a friendly hello. Finally, a few weeks ago when I saw the Mrs. outside again, I stopped and introduced myself as her gardens’ biggest fan. Her name is Maria; she was kind enough to give me the full garden tour and agreed to let me write about her, her husband Pedro, and their amazing gardens.

Maria and Pedro Blanco have been Webster residents since 1980, when they moved from their home in the city (which didn’t have much in the way of gardens). When they purchased their Phillips Rd. home, evergreen bushes stretched all across the front of the house.

It didn’t take before they’d removed those bushes, and little by little, Maria started to create her garden paradise. She’d tend to the gardens after work every day, and early in the mornings. Then of course, after retirement she could really start focusing on what has become her lifelong hobby.

Through the years, those front gardens expanded to the back yard and both side yards, plus two dozen hanging baskets and more potted annuals than I could count. She has so many different varieties of annuals and perennials, shrubs and vines that she has trouble remembering what they’re all called.

The ones that she could remember included: lilacs, Rose of Sharon, Stella D’oro, guara, daisies, daylilies, roses, sweet Williams, maelstrom, clematis, canna lily, brown-eyed susan, black-eyed susan, buttercup, phlox, hibiscus, hydrangae, and miniature morning glory. Everywhere you look there’s something blooming or about to bloom. Fanciful flower pots and decorations, many crafted by her very artistic daughter Glenda, make the entire scene even more beautiful.

Maria in her back-yard oaisis

In the backyard, hidden from view, Maria and Pedro have created their own little peaceful oasis: a small canopied patio which insulates them from the busy and noisy roadways that surround them. Pedro’s contribution to the gardens is there, too: a small vegetable patch with tomatoes, peppers and lettuce.

I’m not the first to bring attention to Maria’s gardens, by the way, and I might not actually be their biggest fan. She said that others have stopped on their runs and walks, or slowed in their cars to admire them. And in 2019 she even won an award from a local garden club.

Maria’s passion has remained strong through the years. Weather permitting, she’s out working on her gardens “all my free time,” she said.

“Sometimes I don’t go inside my home for hours.” After she’s done all the watering and weeding and transplanting that needs to be done, “I sit out under the canopy and start admiring my job. Then I get up to change something.” She doesn’t even like to leave home for any length of time because, “No one can take care like you do. When I come back, everything is a mess.”

“The plants are my babies.”

So next time you’re heading south into the village via Phillips Rd., take a look to the west just before you hit the intersection with Ridge. It’s a beautiful, floral-ific welcome to our little town.

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A shout-out for some great teachers (part 3)

22 Jun

Today I present the third — and final — installment of my teacher shout-out series, highlighting some great teachers and the amazing job they did this year. (Scroll down the page a bit or click here to see Part 1, and here to see Part 2.)

Thank you to everyone who sent in submissions. I’ve gotten some very nice emails from some of the teachers who’ve been recognized, and I can’t put into words how much your comments mean to them. One teacher wrote, “During a very challenging marathon of a school year, your blog … hugged and resuscitated my fatigued heart.”  

She was very kind to say that. But really, it’s YOUR sentiments and YOUR gratitude that are making the difference to these fine educators.

Teaching more than just the ABCs

We would like to recognize a huge asset to WCSD, Teresa Johnston. She was my son’s AMAZING remote kindergarten teacher, and constantly showed her commitment to and for 5 and 6-year old students through her loving nature. She filled the screen to engage students and teach foundational life-long practices that go beyond phonics and adding (though she did this too!). We are forever grateful to her for the big and little lessons that she taught, and hope that she knows what a big impact she has made!

— Jen Liberatore

A “Broadway performance”

Due to medical reasons within our family we made the decision of remote learning for our first grader. To be honest, we went into the start of school not expecting much learning and the first day was filled with tears of regret…. until we met his teacher.

Mrs. Wagner is a once-in-a-lifetime teacher. Her personality absolutely beamed through the screen. She took on one of the hardest positions a teacher could have…remote teaching. She had the kids engaged and excited to learn every day! My son Blake LOVED remote learning! Each day I was in awe of her and how she was able to keep the attention of such a young age group.

He was also receiving the remote support of literacy specialist Mrs. Zieser. I was in awe of how Mrs. Zeiser could not only keep Blake’s attention but had him excited for his extra reading learning time. Our son was thriving beyond our wildest dreams and on the last remote day there were tears of absolute gratitude.

When school changed to full-time we were given the medical clearance to send our first grader to in-person learning. While excited to be back in school, our son was very nervous for his first day. Until he got off the bus and one of his “superheroes” was there to greet him.

Klem North P. E. teacher Mr. Carpenter is also a once-in-a-lifetime teacher. He was standing outside of Blake’s bus as it pulled into Klem North and greeted our son with a loud and excited “HI BLAKE, WELCOME BACK!” He said his fears were gone and Mr. Carpenter even showed him how to get to his new classroom.

I could send you many more stories highlighting not only the teachers but the staff there as well. From the secretaries Mrs. Pixley and Mrs. Cucchiara and Nurse Peters checking on him his first few days, to his new teacher Mrs. Bourchard welcoming him to the in-person learning experience and supporting him on the experience of being in school. I would often ask how he was doing and she would always respond with how “he” as a child was doing, not just the benchmarks of learning.

There were lunch staff members who came over on his first day of school when “his leg couldn’t stop shaking” and made him feel better. Per Blake, “the custodial staff members were always waving and making the kids feel safe vs. scared.”

Klem North is known as Klem North Stars and that’s truly what these teachers and staff members are. I could take up your entire article with the many stories that Blake would come home and tell me about the teachers and staff members creating an environment of fun. Never once did he say that someone looked frustrated or upset. This year was like a Broadway performance and they all deserve a standing ovation because when that curtain went up each day, they stepped into the spotlight with a smile and excitement and that these kids so deserved. We are forever grateful.

— Jaime Richey

P.S. Music class became a family bonding opportunity. Every time Blake’s little brothers heard it was music time they would run to the computer and join along. Sometimes hidden in the background and sometimes full face in the screen. Instead of it feeling stressful and “inappropriate,” Plank North music teacher Sarah Mossey would greet them with a big smile and hello and make them feel welcomed. They listened, they learned and they got to experience some musical magic! 

This last submission, from Penfield, is a long one. But the story is one that many of us have experienced, and it captures the essence of the amazing job our teachers are doing with our kids, and why we are honoring them.

A thanks to Ms. Heinsler from a grateful grandparent

On Monday, my six-year old grandson, Finn, kicked his teacher. On Tuesday, he did it again. On Wednesday, his parents thought it best if he take a break from school so he spent the day with me, his grandfather. Finn is a beautiful boy; bright blue eyes, with long eyelashes a brilliant smile, even if he’s missing a front tooth, and a curiosity that is boundless. He’s very smart, intuitive, and creative. He has a hard time controlling his outbursts of emotion. Finn is a behavioral health needs child. On that Wednesday I asked him, who are the most important people in the world?

“The presidents,” he said.

“No,” I answered.

“The firemen?”

“No, not the firemen, not the policemen, not the doctors or the nurses, the most important people in the world are the teachers.”

Finn said nothing, but I could see he was mulling this over.

“Without teachers, there would be no firemen or policemen or even the president. Everyone of them had teachers.”

Finn has history. He’s been removed from four day cares and two summer camps. He bit around fifty children in three months. At home he could be very difficult. He kicked out the screen on his bedroom window and went out onto the roof. He emptied shampoo bottles and toothpaste for no apparent reason, and stuffed things in the bathroom drain. He’s knocked the thermostat off the wall twice. If you have a special needs child, then I understand the permanent knot in your stomach. I have it too.

Enter Nichole Heinsler, kindergarten teacher, Scribner Road Elementary School. If you are lucky enough to find a teacher like her for your child, you weep with relief. Yes, she is the same one that he’s kicked, but he loves her, and she loves him. She could have given up on him throughout this very difficult pandemic year. (He’s pulled over bookshelves, and stood on his desk, refusing to do any work he didn’t want to.)

She could have said he’s beyond the scope of her ability or willingness. We’ve heard that before. She could have used any excuse at all and no one would have found fault. She didn’t.

Nichole Heinsler’s positive attitude, her professionalism, and her love for her children make her a miracle to our Finn. She sent home daily reports on Finn. They were honest, both the good and bad. She has become an integral part of Finn’s “team.” And now, one school year later, Finn has an excellent grasp of math, and he’s sounding out words. He now plays restaurant with me and on his pad, he sounds out my order. It’s astonishing to me. Yes, he still has special needs and the work will continue, but thanks to Ms. Heinsler he has a good start, and he’s on par with his peers academically. From a boy who had no interest in learning schoolwork, he now tells me about symbols.

“Did you know, Grandpa, that the eagle is a symbol of strength?”

“Yes, I knew that.”

“And the White House is a symbol of the president?”

“Yes,” I said,” I know that too.” I had to turn away so he wouldn’t see the water in my eyes.

Thanks you Ms. Heinsler. May you live forever.

— Grandpa Joe

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A shout-out for some great teachers (part 2)

21 Jun

I’m pleased this morning to present Part 2 of my teacher shout-out series, highlighting some great teachers and the amazing job they did this year. (Scroll down the page a bit or click here to see Part 1.) I’ll post Part 3 — the final installment — tomorrow, so you still have time to get your submissions to me! Email me at missyblog@gmail.com.

(These passages have been edited only slightly for punctuation and grammar. The sentiments are otherwise unfiltered, and straight from the heart.)

I’m going to start with the only submission I got from a high school…


Providing the right tools for success

I would like to highlight Kristen Hubright, Earth Science teacher at Webster Thomas.

Mrs. Hubright spent an immense amount of time preparing take-home interactive lesson plans and recording video lessons that really helped my son, who is in her Integrated Co-Teach class, become more independent in his learning process. In fact, her science units were designed so well that he was able to work on them without any intervention on my part.

As a science educator myself, having varied resources to offer is an important key to turning out well prepared students. Being able to pause when needed to catch up with note taking, and being able to go back to help understanding are fantastic tools to offer to students across all levels, but especially to provide an equitable space for special ed learners.

— Jenny Hryhorenko

(photo courtesy LinkedIn)

Teaching is her passion

My name is Melissa Orr and my daughters (Arya & Teagan) go to State Rd Elementary. I want to Nominate Mrs. Smith (kindergarten teacher).

This is my second year with Mrs. Smith. My oldest daughter also had her and that was the year that I really got to know her and her love and passion for ALL of her students.

When my oldest started kindergarten, she was very shy and just wanted to be in her own bubble. Mrs. Smith quickly got down to her level and showed her how much fun it was to make friends and explore a whole new world. Now this year my youngest daughter has her and I was over the moon excited when she called me to tell me that she had her in her class! This year brought so many obstacles and challenges and I just wanted one thing familiar for her.

I don’t even know where to begin with her. Mrs. Smith has such an outgoing, fun, loving personality and she clicks and bonds with every single student that walks through her door. The way that the students look at her and she looks right back at them is enough to melt your heart. She connects with each student in her own way and makes her students feel like they are the most special in her class.

To this day my daughters come home from school to show me what they made Mrs. Smith! They talk about her all the time. Sometimes I think they think she is their playmate and not their teacher!!! Her way of teaching these little minds and getting down to their levels is absolutely magical. She takes pride in everything she does. She never gives up, never gets frustrated and most of all is always looking for the fun in everything she does and teaches. To hear my kids come home from school to say to us, look what Mrs. Smith taught me, or showed me, made me and my husband the proudest parents we could ever be.

Without Mrs. Smith none of this could be possible. Watching our daughters grow has been one of the best blessings we could ever ask for. This is why in the Orr household, we love and cherish Mrs. Smith!

— Melissa Orr

Jamie Palmer and friend

A great education is a team effort

We have a whole team to nominate and they are all a very important piece to our puzzle!

My daughter remained remote through out this school year and her whole team was absolutely amazing at working to keep the kids engaged and learning! Her team has worked so well with her that she has grown so much academically this year!

We wouldn’t be where we are without her teachers Erika Bellenger, Deena Fairchild, Marissa Echevarria, Jennifer Scalzo, Rachel Dolan, Lisa Freida, Megan Vos, Ms. Palmer and Mrs. Rosenberry. My child really grew to love reading this year and she absolutely beamed when it was time for Ms. Palmer’s March Madness and then the read-alongs. She was even excited when Mrs. Rosenberry would make an appearance on the screen as well!

We are so blessed to have such amazing teachers, therapists and librarians in our district!

— Kelly Clancy

Prepping young minds for kindergarten

I want to give a shout out to Joanna Sero, the UPK teacher at Klem North. She has worked so hard to make this year as normal as possible, and her efforts have definitely been appreciated. She provided regular communication about what’s happening in class, and posted pictures on Seesaw daily, showing us all the awesome things our son was doing with his new friends. She is so loving and supportive, and we really saw growth in our son this year. He is definitely ready for kindergarten, and she has spoiled us for all upcoming teachers.  

— Sandi Brindisi Johnville

Like an extension of the family

Amanda Plato

I wanted to give a huge thank you to Ms. Brayley and Miss Plato at Plank North for making this year so exceptional for our girls.

Miss Plato was the third teacher to step into this second grade classroom. She is and has been so extremely patient, loving, and kind. As a parent who truly values a child’s emotional well being (especially with the year we’ve had), she has brought so much joy into our daughter’s life. Thank you, Miss Plato!

Ms. Brayley provided a classroom environment that felt like a family. Ms. Brayley provided structure, routine, and a sense of normalcy. We are so thankful Ms. Brayley is available to listen (often times during recess) and have conversations with our daughter about life and activities outside of school. Thank you, Ms. Brayley!

We feel so fortunate to have had to amazing teachers for our daughters this year!

-Anonymous

Substitutes are great teachers, too

Julia had Jaime McKnight as her long-term sub for the first part of the year (at Klem North) while her current teacher, Kelly Wojciechowski was out on maternity leave. Both teachers have been absolutely wonderful both in the classroom and communicating with parents on the outside.

— Linda Meyers

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At the final bell, a shout-out for some great teachers

20 Jun

I think you’ll agree with me that our teachers are superheroes.

I mean, recall that a year ago March, on a week’s notice, they were asked to finish up the year by going completely online. Then came this school year, and they’ve had to juggle Covid restrictions, remote lessons, and half days or half weeks, all while doing their best to deliver as much learning and critical socialization as possible. And despite all those challenges, they’ve persevered and done an amazing job.

There’s been so much noise and bluster on social media recently about how our teachers have been sliding by. But most of us know the truth. Webster teachers are the best. So I wanted to counter all that noise with some of our own making. That’s why I asked parents to send me stories about some great teachers who have touched their childrens’ lives.

I’m pleased to present the first installment of that list today, and will post a second tomorrow. Feel free to continue to send me your stories (with a photo of the teacher if possible) and I’ll add them to the list!

(By the way, these passages have been edited only slightly for punctuation and grammar. The sentiments are otherwise unfiltered, and straight from the heart.)


Remote teaching excellence

Due to remote learning, I was able to see firsthand how awesome the Klem North music and band teachers are. 

Tiffany Polino has more passion and more energy than any teacher I’ve ever known. Her music classes are engaging, encouraging, and full of student participation. She states her CARE expectations in positive ways, always with a smile on her face. During one fifth grade session she asked the kids to name some topics they were interested in exploring. My son mentioned he was interested in learning how to play the guitar. So, Tiffany dedicated one session a week to the small “guitar cohort.” I was amazed she was willing to put aside her original plans to tailor lessons to student interest. 

Diana Mee eats, breathes, and sleeps her love of band instruments. She makes amazing assignments that go above and beyond the normal “practice your instrument for 20 minutes a day.” She also assigned songs based on student interest. My son learned how to play Disney songs for his little sister and Taps to commemorate Memorial Day.

Diana encourages students to email her with questions and responds to the emails right away. She always speaks positively and sought ways to engage her band students even though they could not play together in person during remote learning. 

Both of these teachers are doing an amazing job at promoting a love of the arts in Webster. 

— Courtney King

A heartfelt mid-year welcome

Barbara Sykut is my twins’ third grade teacher at Plank South! We bought a house here in November and they joined her class in the midst of the year. She was so happy to have them and has been absolutely amazing! She is retiring after this year and we feel so lucky to have had her before she leaves.

Thanks for everything Ms. Sykut!

— Skylar Bethany

Making kids the priority

I have a son who attends fifth grade at State Rd. During the pandemic he was remote. When Webster announced schools would be opening we got word he may have to attend a different school. My son Richy was scared and wanted to stay remote if that was to happen. The principal (Christine Noeth-Abele) said she was trying to get all the kids back and would do her best. She’s awesome.

Then I found out that a teacher was coming back from retirement just to help out. Mrs. Feeley. She is amazing. She came back just for the kids and to make sure they were able to attend their home school. I am so grateful and so is Richy. She has been awesome making sure they get what they need and making sure the extra things they were missing being remote were taken care of. She makes snacks for the kids and is always kind and Richy tells me he wished he had her since day one.

That’s a great teacher to come back from retirement to just help out the kids.

— Nikki Johnson

One classroom, two great teachers

My son Tanner is in kindergarten at Schlegel in Miss Eckert’s class.

Miss Eckert

Miss Eckert and Miss Goodness, the TA, have been absolutely amazing.Tanner has had a hard time adjusting to school and has had a really hard time managing his emotions and understanding what is appropriate at school. Both of these incredible women have gone above and beyond to help Tanner and make his kindergarten experience positive.

All school year, Miss Eckert and Miss Goodness supported Tanner in his journey and tried many different things to help with his behaviors. It takes a very strong, companionate, determined, and patient person to work with these small children and help them learn new routines and manage emotions and just show them how to feel good about themselves and the people around them. We were so lucky to have two of those people this year. They never gave up on Tanner and I am so grateful for them.

— Caira Kinnear

Providing stability during a difficult year

I would like to recognize Brianne Cipura at Klem North who chose to teach a grade level she never taught before in order to loop to first grade with her kindergarteners. By volunteering to stay with these kids, she gave parents peace of mind entering this bizarre school year. Regardless of what choices administration made, we knew her class would be a welcoming and safe place for our kids.

My family is very grateful for her.

— Kelly Prato

Over and above during shutdown

My daughter Gabriella wants to send a shout out to her fourth grade teacher from last year (at Klem South).

Elizabeth Karlof Coene was able to build and sustain relationships with her students that transcended the COVID-19 school closure, and certainly went above and beyond to ensure that my daughter felt that connection before, during, and after the shutdown. She is a treasure!

(The photo is Mrs. Coene with Gabriella at the beginning of fourth grade.)

— JoAnna Joy

Finally, this submission from a student

Mrs. Dupont is the best teacher. She lives near me and she plays with us at school. I like seeing her at soccer. I like that she teaches me everything.

-Raelyn (plank north kindergartener)


Part 2 of my teacher shout-out series will be posted tomorrow. Please continue to send me your submissions (with pictures if possible), and I will keep posting them as long as I get them!

Email me at missyblog@gmail.com

mail me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

More good food coming our way this summer

19 Jun

I got a few emails the other day about some upcoming grab-a-dinner events that didn’t make it into my recent mailbag, so I wanted to feature them today.

The first is a fun event being hosted by the Webster Girl Scouts Service Unit on Tuesday, June 22. It’s a Food Truck Rodeo, held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Willink Middle School on Publisher’s Parkway. As you can see on the flyer, the event will feature four food trucks — Kona Ice, Macarollin, Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza and Stingray Sushifusion. But for added fun, several local entrepreneurs and businesses will also have tables for you to brouse. They include:

  • Color Street
  • Crowned Free
  • LulaRoe
  • Pampered Chef
  • Perfectly Posh
  • Tastefully Simple
  • Thirty-One Gifts
  • Simmons Custom Creations

And (this is exciting) if you didn’t get your fill of Girl Scout cookies earlier this year, they’re going to be sold as well, so you can stock your freezer.

All proceeds from the Food Truck Rodeo will go directly to Webster Girl Scouts to support their community service projects, STEM projects, camping, and more.

What an excellent way to celebrate the last day of school: go out to dinner and support a good cause all at the same time. Bring your lawn chairs!


I don’t often get calendar notices from the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, so I’m especially pleased to pass this news along to you.

The church will host a drive-through Taco Dinner Event on Friday, July 9 from 4 p.m. until gone. Customers will have a choice of beef and chicken Birria style street tacos along with rice and black bean sides. The meals, priced at $12 for the first one and $11 for each additional meal ordered at the same time, are prepared by Tacodero, of Rochester. Its owner and chef, Cordero Rivera, has worked as a private chef cooking for hip-hop artists and NBA players in NYC before moving to Rochester where he was recently profiled in the Democrat & Chronicle.

Orders can be placed when you drive into the event. Proceeds will support the church’s outreach efforts in the Webster community and the greater Rochester area.

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd is located at 1130 Webster Road (Rt. 250) at the corner of State Rd.


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Kindness, delivered

18 Jun

Two examples this morning about how Webster kindness spreads throughout our community — and our world.

Yesterday, Schlegel Rd. Elementary School students received a special delivery from the Webster Thomas CARE Club: 228 brightly decorated, laminated bookmarks. Schlegel librarian Jamie Palmer will distribute the bookmarks to students at the beginning of next school year.

Some of the 228 bookmarks created by the Webster Thomas CARE Club

The hand-colored bookmarks were delivered to Schlegel by CARE Club representatives Ayah Silmi and Delaney McDonald, accompanied by club advisors Craig Johnville and Denise Warren. Delaney, a junior, is the club’s co-president and Ayah, a sophomore, is club secretary.

The Webster Thomas CARE Club is a group of about 15 Thomas students dedicated to spreading kindness and making our community better through community service projects. They do two or three projects a year, especially focusing on helping out those schools whose students feed into Thomas.

Other recent club projects have included assembling paint kits and Virtual Bingo supplies for Klem North Elementary, and making cards of encouragement for students at Willink Middle School. Check out the club’s Twitter page to learn more about the great things the Webster Thomas CARE Club is accomplishing.


Thanks to a donation from Dancing With Denise students and families, several mini-wheelchairs are on their way to Algeria (yes, that’s Africa), courtesy Webster-based Bella’s Bumbas.

The students presented the donation — more than $1,000 — to Bella’s Bumbas owners Rebecca Orr and Marty Parzynski at the school’s annual recital held on June 5. The donation covered the cost of building several of the pint-sized Bumbas wheelchairs to benefit children with mobility issues.

And now that kindness is touching young lives in Algeria.

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Webster community mailbag

16 Jun

A few of the items in today’s mailbag are reminders about events happening this weekend. But first, a note that the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market is officially open for business for the summer.

This early in the season, you’ll mostly find specialty items like syrups and honey, flowers and crafts. There were a couple of fresh produce stalls last weekend — opening weekend — with some beautiful strawberries. But the number of vendors and selection will expand every week, so make sure to check back regularly. And there was a food truck as well, which organizers have said will be a regular feature.

The market is located in Webster Towne Center plaza, in front of Old Navy and near the gazebo. It’s open every Saturday through November from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


St. Martin Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Rd., will hold a huge garage sale this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday (June 17-19). Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds will benefit the church’s local missions and neighbors in need.

The Webster Thomas Players will present their spring musical, Cabaret live and in person this year at the Penfield Amphitheater, 3100 Atlantic Ave., in three shows June 17 to 19.

The production will be PG-13, but the subject matter is most appropriate for mature audiences, addressing issues around anti-Semitism and political fanaticism. Audiences will recognize many legendary musical numbers including “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe this Time,” “Money,” and of course, “Cabaret.”

Cabaret will be presented in three shows:

● Thursday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.
● Friday, June 18, 7:30 p.m.
● Saturday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.

The rain date for all shows will be Sunday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Reserved seating tickets are available for $12 in advance, and can be purchased online here. On the day of the show, reserve tickets will be $15 (if available). General admission “bring your own” lawn chair ($10) or blanket ($25) options are also available. You can see more details about these options on the website (websterthomasplayers.com).


It’s Sidewalk Sale Weekend in the Village of Webster.

Five village shops will be setting up some tables outside their stores this Friday and Saturday and offering some great bargains both outside and in.

At Yesterday’s Muse Books for example, all items outside will be 50% off, and inside everything is buy two get one free. The Village Quilt Shoppe will have lots of fabric, patterns and kits for 40% off. You’ll also find some great deals at Nest Things, The North Bee and Lala of Webster.

So take a stroll downtown this Friday and Saturday and meet some of our very friendly small business owners.


Webster doesn’t have an Independence Day parade, but you don’t have to go very far to enjoy one.

Penfield’s Independence Day Parade will be held Saturday July 3, beginning at 10 a.m. It steps off at Penfield High School, proceeds south on Five Mile Line Road to Route 441, east on Route 441 to Baird Rd., and north on Baird Rd. to end at the Penfield Community Center.

The town is dedicating the parade to all the people who helped the town’s resisdents make it through a very difficult 2020, and who may still be helping them cope. Help came in many forms during the pandemic: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial and more.

Penfield residents who wish to contribute a name, or names, to the banner may submit them on the Town of Penfield website at www.penfield.org. Names may also be submitted via phone at (585) 340-8655, option 0. The audience at Penfield’s Independence Day will also have the opportunity to add their heroes’ names to the banner as it is walked through the parade.

The banner will be displayed in a prominent location after the Independence Day festivities, so the heroes can be recognized beyond the holiday.


Here’s this month’s Webster Museum History Bit:

Now and Then: Webster Baseball

Today’s baseball in Webster differs from the early days in so many ways.

Ball fields are all over town now. There are school fields and town fields and park field and fields owned by philanthropic organizations and pick-up games in empty spaces. There are many varieties of bats, balls, mitts, caps, helmets, uniforms and protective equipment, many of them tossed on grassy fields while players wait their turns.

Nineteenth century Webster baseball teams were loosely organized, equipped with one homemade bat and one hard rubber ball (that’s it!) and used the underhand swift pitch. Games were played on borrowed private property for at least ten years before the first organized high school game was played in 1888. Since then, Webster has fielded many excellent school teams and a number of players who went on to careers in professional baseball.

In the 1890s local businessmen organized teams and rented land now bounded by Lapham Park, Park Ave., Dunning Ave. and Elm Street. They fenced it and added a grandstand and ticket office. Uniformed and equipped, the teams from the town and from Nine Mile Point played teams from Rochester, Brockport, Parma and Penfield.

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Remember to tell me about some great teachers

14 Jun

As this weird and very challenging school year draws to a close, I would really like to send some shout-outs to some of the teachers who made the best of a really stinky situation.

As I wrote in my blog a little more than a week ago,

Tell me about a teacher who has made a difference in your child’s life. Someone who has gone above and beyond to make sure this unusual school year was the best it could be. Perhaps it’s the science teacher who spent an extra hour after school to help your daughter finish a tough lab. Or the fourth grade teacher who has a knack for getting to know each student in his class on a personal level. How about that remote teacher who somehow made virtual learning FUN?

Ask your kids who they think their best teachers are, and why. Or better yet, have your kids write to me themselves. It doesn’t even have to be a teacher they had this year. I’d love to hear from seniors who remember their favorite elementary school teachers.

Email me your thoughts and I’ll post them sometime next week. I haven’t heard from many people yet, which is a little disappointing. This year more than any other, I think we need to show our teachers how much we appreciate and respect the job they’re doing.

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Loving life in the village

13 Jun

I love living in the Village of Webster. The people are friendly, the streets are extremely walkable, there are parks within walking distance, and great restaurants and pubs just around the corner. We live on a street, but feel like we are part of a neighborhood.

Saturday (June 12) was a great example of what’s to love about Webster. For starters, that afternoon our Park Ave. neighbor Doug Pucci hosted his second annual Village Block Party, featuring two food trucks and a free concert by his Red Hot and Blue Band, playing from Pucci’s spacious porch.

Everyone in the village was invited, and more than 100 answered the call. Adults spread their quad chairs across the lawn and closed-off street and listened to the music, or stood in small groups visiting with neighbors. Children chalked in the street, played with bubbles and danced in the grass.

It was the perfect opportunity for long-time neighbors to reconnect after a long pandemic. It was also a chance for new residents to meet their new neighbors and start to to know the feeling that they are part of the village community.

It was the quintessential village experience.


Earlier in the day, I was riding my bike and happened upon a woman setting up chairs and a table in the lawn of the apartment complex near my house. She was taping some kind of sign onto the table. Curious (and being who I am), I stopped to find out what was going on.

Her name was Jennifer Martinez, and she explained that she was setting up the table for her son and his friends, who were going to hold a Free Lemonade stand later that afternoon.

Apparently every year since her son Emilio was very young, Jennifer’s mother Gail had held a garage sale. And every year during that sale, Emilio would set up a lemonade stand. This year, Gail wasn’t able to hold her sale, so Jennifer suggested that Emilio simply set up his stand outside their home instead.

In years past, Emilio had charged for his lemonade. But not this year. When I asked Jennifer about that, she said that the idea to hand out the lemonade for free was “just to be kind.” Then, after giving it a bit of thought, she added, “It’s nice to be among people again.”

Emilio and his fellow business owners Will Brunswick and Owen Knapp, all 7th-grade friends at Spry Middle School, were enthusiastic lemonade hawkers, even though they weren’t earning any cold, hard cash. They stood out on the sidewalk yelling “free lemonade!” to all the cars driving by on busy South Ave, and any time a biker, walker or runner got within 50 yards of the table, one of them (usually Owen, wearing a flag cape), would chase them down “selling” their wares at full volume.

At first the salesmen were only getting a lot of honks and waves from passing cars. But while I was there (getting my free lemonade), they were able to wave down a passing FedEx delivery truck, whose driver gratefully accepted the refreshment. And if yelling to someone didn’t work, they would take the lemonade to their customers, at one point skittering across South Ave., two-fisting cups of lemonade, to deliver them to people who were setting up for the block party.

The highlight of the day was probably when the boys were able to attract the attention of a passing police car. The officer didn’t stop, but she did come back a few minutes later and invited another colleague to join her. So at one point two Webster police officers were standing at the table enjoying some lemonade.

The kids even earned a little money after all. Some patrons couldn’t resist throwing a dollar on the table, and one family brought them some fresh-picked strawberries.

A friendly neighbor who didn’t mind at all a random stranger stopping to chat. Free lemonade and kids having fun doing something other than sitting in front of a screen. Just two more things I love about village life.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.