Tag Archives: Schlegel Road Elementary School

Going back to school — sort of

3 Sep

This has been a very weird start to the new school year for me.

The first day of school for students isn’t until Wednesday, but teachers and support staff were already back all last week, setting up their classrooms, reconnecting with their colleagues, and basically preparing mentally and physically for another unusual school year.

But I’m not there.

Having retired from my job as a library teaching assistant from the district in June, I’m watching from the sidelines for the first time in 20 years. It’s definitely a little weird, and a little sad. But thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I’ve been able to vicariously enjoy those back-to school meetings and strategy sessions.

I saw photos from State Road Elementary School, for example, where staff members held their opening circle outside in the parking lot and playground. Facebook photos from Plank North showed all of my former colleagues clumped up in very familiar discussion groups. Some schools are posting their staff photos, where everyone is packed on risers and clearly grinning broadly behind their masks with opening-day excitement. Others, like Webster Schroeder, had their teachers hold personalized signs indicating how long they’d been in the district.

I even got a special invitation several days ago from Schlegel Elementary School principal Francine Leggett to join my former colleagues when they took a field trip on Wednesday to Jack’s Place playground in Webster Park to explore and reflect upon this year’s theme of “We are crew.”

In short, the idea of “being crew” is that everyone (students and staff) is working together towards the same goal, helping each other achieve and be successful. On their field trip this week, teachers and support staff actually took an important first step toward connecting with their student community by taking a bus ride through every one of the neighborhoods the school serves, before arriving at the playground.

I don’t miss all the meetings, but it was nice to see many of my old colleagues in photos and on the playground. Here are a few photos from that day at the park.

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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 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

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Thanks for the love, PTSA!

4 May

When I arrived at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School yesterday morning, I found a scene that just made my whole being smile.

Colorful pinwheels and hand-lettered thank-you signs lined the walkways into school, and half a dozen thank-you messages were scrawled on the walls. The messages were almost certainly the work of the Schlegel Elementary School PTSA, no doubt assisted by students, and they marked the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week.

I’m certain this scene was duplicated at every elementary school in the district yesterday morning, and that we at Schlegel were not the only ones treated to danish, donut holes and coffee in the faculty lounge.

This has been an especially difficult year, and there are a lot of people out there who actually think it’s been a cake walk for teachers because kids were only attending half days. When you’re on the front lines like I am, it’s easy to see how off-base that perception is.

Our teachers and staff members are doing an amazing job, especially given the hoops they’ve all had to jump through. They know that. But it’s always nice when others recognize that, too. Because our schools are chock full of superheroes.

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Schlegel and Plank North staff members are running around the Great Lakes!

28 Mar

Well, not really. They’re talking virtually running, and it’s actually only around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. But still, it’s a pretty big challenge.

The event is being called the “Tour Around the Lakes,” a virtual race designed to promote teamwork and community, while encouraging everyone to get out and exercise and have a little fun.

The idea is based on the many virtual distance races that have been organized during the pandemic. In those, racers would track their daily miles over a period of several weeks in an effort to travel a pre-determined route — like, for example, from Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park or around the Ring of Kerry. For the Tour Around the Lakes, over the next 11 weeks, racers — working in teams of seven or eight — will try to log enough miles by running, walking or cycling to virtually circumnavigate Lakes Ontario and Erie, a distance of 1100 miles. Progress will be updated every week on the Tour Around the Lakes bulletin boards posted at each school.

The race began last Monday and will continue through June 11. Schlegel Rd. Elementary is fielding six teams, and Plank Rd. North has four. The competition was fierce from the start. It started heating up even before the race started when word got out that bonus points were being handed out for the first teams to come up with team names and photos. The schools will not be competing against each other, but only within their buildings … or at least that’s the plan right now. (An inter-school rivalry might be an extra incentive, however.) I expect much trash-talking will ensue.

The team names already show how much fun everyone is having. The Schlegel teams are Sole Sisters, Fueled by Caffeine, Chicks With Kicks, Ready for Anything, Not Fast Just Furious, and Are We There Yet? At Plank North the teams are Green and Bold, Sore Today, Strong Tomorrow, Heart and Sole, and Get Me an Uber.

The Tour Around the Lakes is similar to an event both schools participated in last spring, a virtual relay. For that challenge, everyone who wanted to take part first signed up for a half-hour relay “leg.” Then on one day April, you would run, walk or bike during your appointed time, and “hand off” the virtual baton to the next relay participant via a text or phone call.

It was a great way to keep staff members connected after the schools shut down in March. Everyone had a terrific time and appreciated having an excuse to get outside and get a little exercise. This year’s Tour Around the Lakes should be no different.

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Snow day at Schlegel!

6 Feb
School administrative assistants Sharon Nairy and Debbie Jackson with their Covid snowman

What’s a bunch of Covid-weary school staff and teachers to do on a beautiful, sunny, 40-degree February day? Go out and play in the snow!

That’s what happened a few days ago at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School, on that glorious Thursday we had (remember all that sunshine?). The idea was the brainchild of Schlegel principal Francine Leggett and Assistant Principal Kate Hesla. They’d heard about another school giving their teachers a chance to strap on some snowshoes and get outside for a little exercise. So they put out a school-wide snowshoeing invitation for Thursday during the time between the morning and afternoon class sessions.

As word got around, they learned that the P.E. department only had child-sized snowshoes. Undaunted, Leggett borrowed more than a dozen sets of shoes from Willink Middle School, and the play date was back on. (“Mr. Lamonica saved the day,” Leggett said.)

Perhaps 15 or 16 teachers and staff members took advantage of the snow day, and one teacher brought out her whole class for a stroll. Several people strapped on some snowshoes and lumbered around the front lawn. Others built snowmen or just took a long walk through the parking lots. It’s possible a snowball was even tossed through the open main office window.

The time to head back inside came too soon. But in the meantime, much fun was had, laughter happened, and there were a lot of smiles under the masks. It was a well-earned and well-deserved break.

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Things are looking good this COVID school year

3 Oct

So we’ve made it to October.

We’re several weeks into the new school year and things — at least from my perspective — are going pretty well.

I’m sure I’m not the only one pleasantly surprised that we’ve gotten this far before having to shut down again due to the virus. I credit that success to the behaviors I have seen in the two elementary schools I work at.

When classes move through the halls, often times the children have their hands out in front of them to maintain social distancing. They are paying attention to the little spots on the floor which tell them where to stand when they’re waiting in line for the restroom. They don’t seem to mind sitting widely spaced from their friends while they’re in their room.

But I’m particularly impressed by the way young students have come to accept the need to wear masks.

The teachers have done a wonderful job making the need for masks seem normal, incorporating it into their class songs and bulletin boards. I haven’t heard about any pushback from the students about the masks (even though the pre-K and kindergarten kiddoes often have to be reminded to pull it up over their noses). Clearly, putting on a mask for school has become as normal for them as bringing their backpack. (Thank you also to parents for supporting that!)

There have been some rough spots, of course. Elementary school arrival and dismissal procedures were rather inefficient for the first week or so as schools tried to streamline their procedures for the large number of children being dropped off and picked up by parents. But things seem to be running pretty smoothly now, allowing teachers their maximum opportunity to be with their morning and afternoon classes.

I understand that accommodating the large number of remote students at the middle and high school levels has also been a challenge which we’re still trying to work through.

Most definitely this year has dealt some very real difficulties to our Webster CSD families, especially those with very young children. But, given the circumstances, I think everyone is doing the best they can.

We just have to keep doing that for as long as we need to. We will weather this storm together.

Schlegel Elementary School staff members rocking their masks for a group photo on opening day.

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Schlegel teachers and students reconnect at drive-by

22 May
Even Whiskers, the Schlegel Rd. mascot, came to the event. Here he greets students with Schlegel Assistant Principal Robin Jennings,

Last night was a really fun night.

The administrators at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School got permission from the district Powers That Be to hold a drive-through event at the school so that staff members and students could reconnect.

The event officially began at 5:30, but staff members started showing up a good hour early to festoon their cars with signs and balloons and set up bubble machines and music. By the time families started driving in, cars were lined up around the school’s parking lot and bus loop. More than 80 staff members were there, representing pre-K through 5th grade, OWL, custodial staff, paraprofessionals, band and orchestra, secretaries and district sentries.

Everyone practiced proper social distancing — parking at least 6 feet apart and staying with their cars — and everyone wore masks. The masks made it hard to see all the smiles, but the distance didn’t damper the excitement at all as family cars streamed by for a full hour and a half.

Schlegel is one of the two schools where I work as a library teaching assistant, so I got to be there. Let me tell you, it was a delight to see all those little faces again in person (not on Zoom) and it was heartwarming to see those faces light up when they saw us.

It was a perfect way to ease the ache in our hearts from not seeing our students every day, and was something that both students and teachers desperately needed.

The slideshow below doesn’t capture the party atmosphere completely, but you get a good sense of how many people were there and how much everyone misses everyone else.


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Virtual relays keeping schools connected

14 May

craig

Plank Rd. North principal Craig Bodensteiner heading out for his relay leg.

A little while ago I posted a blog about a fun way we Barry’s Runners found to stay connected during the pandemic. It was a 12-hour virtual relay, based on 24-hour relay organized last month by Rochester Running Company.

The idea was simple: sign up for a half-hour relay “leg,” run or walk or bike during your appointed time, then “hand off” the virtual baton to the next relay participant via a text or phone call.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Every single runner commented about how they appreciated the excuse to get out, to be a part of something greater than themselves, and have a purpose.

The following week, my Plank Rd. North principal Craig Bodensteiner asked if anyone had suggestions about how to keep the staff connected as the pandemic dragged on. I immediately knew that a virtual relay was perfect.

We ran our Plank North Virtual 12-hour relay on Tuesday, April 28. Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., 40 staff members, plus a lot of family members and furry friends, logged more than 105 miles.

robin

Even the Schlegel mascot, Whiskers, joined in the fun with AP Robin Jennings.

I’ll bet you know where this is leading….

We had SO MUCH FUN, I then suggested to my Schlegel Rd. principal, Francine Leggett, that we also have a staff relay. That one was even more successful. On Thursday May 7, more than 70 Schlegel Rd. staff members — plus a lot of family members and furry friends — logged an amazing 223 miles.

Everyone at both schools sent me a photo of themselves, or their sneakers, to mark their accomplishment. I put them all together in videos. If you have students at Plank North or at Schlegel, they might like to watch them and see all their teachers!

Click here for the Plank North video

Click here for the Schlegel Rd. video

And stay tuned. Teachers had so much fun and liked the idea so much, you might actually see them organize a virtual relay for their students!

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