Friday, January 23, 2015

OMG - Private Sebastian Lopez

When I saw Sebastian Lopez walk into my office today, I almost fell out of my chair. I squealed loudly because that is what happens when I am surprised by graduates, who return to visit McKee. Plus, I will just say it, Sebastian was an energetic, rambunctious student who pushed several major nerve endings. I wondered how he was going to make it in the military when following directions was a challenge. Well now - here is Sebastian's post secondary success reflection:

Private Sebastian Lopez
McKee 2014
United State Marine Corps  
I was a loud and silly person who rushed to do everything at the end of the semester by turning in classwork, homework, and projects.  I barely passed classes at McKee. I am not going to lie.

I wanted to be in the US Marine Corps since I was 5. Being at McKee, and seeing the recruitment station, which was down the hill, made me interested in going to talk to the representatives. When I spoke to the recruiter, I could sense a difference in the way he spoke, his deportment, his character, and his confidence. The whole package made a very strong impression. He talked about the Marine Corp, about the physical fitness, and the benefits.

I did Basic Training in Paris Island, South Carolina.  I was motivated to stay the course. Motivation is the biggest key because I wanted to make sure that my parents were going to be proud. I also wanted to be able to come back to McKee and say, “I am a Marine.” I also wanted to show that even the loudest, and laziest kid that scrambled to do everything in the end could do something as hard and as disciplined as the U. S. Marine Corps. Being able to say that I am a United States Marine is something no one can take from you. I’ve even influenced some people to join as well, some who are students at McKee.

My advice to McKee students is the following - If you are going to go to college, try to find out about tuition assistance NOW. All that good help that is being offered at McKee, like scholarships – DO IT.  Don’t leave it to the end.  If you’re legitimately going to join the military, then there are three points to consider.
1.    You have to have motivation. You need to have something to keep you in a state of mind through the tough times, and there will be many tough times in Boot Camp. You need an internal voice that says, “This is why I am here, I am doing this.”
2.    Keep your body physically fit. You have to be fit, for any branch of the military, especially if you are joining the Marine Corp. When I was at McKee I weighed 215 pounds. Getting out of boot camp, I weigh 145 pounds. I run 3 miles in 20 minutes.
3.    Be prepared to have a loud voice to scream back at your drill sergeant that you fully hear his/her commands; especially, if you are in the Marine Corps.

Finally, have a back-up plan, even if you join the military. As for me, I am heading off to deployment in North Carolina and looking forward to the future.

McKee Grad Now Apprentice Graphic Arts Teacher

Michael DiMartino stopped by McKee today. He will be apprenticing as a Graphics Design teacher with Mr. Gordon starting February 2nd, 2015. Here is Michael's post-secondary success reflection:

Michael DiMartino
McKee 2011
Pratt Institute, AB 2013
Success via Internship Apprentice: Graphic Design Teacher

The behavior that was crucial for me to constantly apply in order to matriculate through McKee was that I never procrastinated. It is very easy to get backed up with work in high school.  I came from a private grammar school. I graduated with 17 students. When I entered McKee I initially felt overwhelmed. The staff is amazing at McKee. Once I started talking and making friends I realized I was not alone. I realized many people felt the same way. Acquiring that knowledge will help you make your way through McKee.
Show initiative! One should go and ask “What more can I do?” You have to show the teachers that you are willing to go the extra mile. What also pushed me at McKee was that my brother attended the school and achieved great grades. He landed a successful career after high school.  I could see that my brother was rewarded for his great effort. My brother’s successes helped to motivate me when I attended McKee and continue to be a source of inspiration.
You are going to notice that I am starting to build up many degrees. More degrees, and more training equals having more choices and building a stronger career.  A stronger career leads to money. I realize while money is not everything; it gives you power and decisions. Ever since I was young, I have embraced that I care. I am willing to say to my employer, “What can I do to further enhance the business?”
My advice to McKee students: always be professional.  When you think someone is not looking, realize that someone is ALWAYS looking. I know from personal experience, people look at your conduct, hear your conversation, and scrutinize how you present yourself with the general public.
Your teachers can be your biggest advocates – particularly when you need that recommendation letter for jobs and for colleges. Those people, the teachers, your instructors, are the ones that will take the time to write that important correspondence if you have make consistent, distinctive, positive impressions showing that you care about your grades, attendance, and life choices, throughout your stay at McKee.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Roller coaster of Leadership

Today was a roller coaster of leadership. I learned in the morning that 5 students from the Software Engineering Program at McKee High School would be involved in the NYC Department of Education Pathfinders Mentorship Program.  Only 28 students were accepted into this mentorship program in the city. The students will be exposed to a 6 week job shadowing experience.

Sending out a congratulatory email to the teacher and offering kudos to the students is the feel good portion of today's entry.

Here's the plummeting off the first hill of a roller coaster - I also learned that one of my students made a very poor choice, which will have consequences not only for that particular student but for the family as well.

What to do?  For all  principals, always contact counsel in the legal division.  In addition make sure the senior counsel and the Safety Division Officer are in communication with one another so that all speak with one voice and a streamlined piece of advice.

As an educational leader, reach out to the family so that they are brought into the process. The big insistent push - break through the wall of "I have to go to work" of the family members and the wall of toughness projected by the student. Simply and quietly state the truth of the consequences.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ortega and Simas, McKee Graduates of 2014 Share Their Post Secondary Reflections

Adriana Ortega, 2014 graduate from McKee High School, visited with Kayla Simas on Thursday, January 16, 2017. Here's Adriana's post secondary reflection.
Adriana Ortega
McKee 2014
Cosmetology NYS Exam

          Being responsible and having good communication skills were the habits that I felt and still feel are important to get through high school. In Cosmetology, you have to be able to talk to clients and be a good listener. I had Mr. Marelli for four years as my AVID elective teacher. He helped to guide my path through McKee.

          I want to build my knowledge and education to be a certified makeup artist. Later on I want to move from New York City and work in California to widen the client base.

          My advice to all McKee students would be to stay motivated and determined about what you want to do with your life. Since I knew I wasn’t going to college, I knew I needed a Plan “B”. My Plan “B” is first, get my license. Second, go to Beauty School and continue working at a salon so that my thinking and skill set becomes even more professional and marketable. Manhattan – here I come.

 Kayla Simas, 2014 graduate from McKee High School, stopped by, Thursday, January 16, 2017. Here's what's happening her post secondary reflection:
Kayla Simas
McKee 2014
Mercy College – Homeland Security

          I think having teachers and staff that push you to head for college is very important. Mr. Marelli, my AVID teacher, focused on college since freshman year which guided me towards the type of college I am presently attending. Another person who stood out was Ms. Pezzolo. From her making the class repeatedly writing essays, I found that I gained the capability to complete the written assignments from the college professors. In fact, one of my professors wanted me to join his writing class in the fall.

          To get through the AVID program, I would advise all students to actually pay attention and focus. I majored in Drafting/Auto CAD at McKee. I changed my major in college when I found that I was interested in Homeland Security: Counter Terrorism.
          The skill set I learned in AVID was organization which is invaluable in college. I learned that you have to turn things in on time. Students have to realize that when you get into college, you might have a professor, like I did my first semester, who if you turned in an assignment one minute late, docked you 5 points. Let’s just say I have a GPA of 3.93 – which is all A’s and one A-. The A- I received was from the one professor, who penalized anyone who was late.     

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Probation Officer Edward March - Post Secondary Reflection

Check out the post secondary success story of Edward March, a graduate of McKee High School in 1984.

Edward March
NYC Probation Officer
McKee ‘84
Southern Conn. State University, BS 1988

The activity that helped me through McKee was being on three sports teams: football, basketball and baseball teams when I attended McKee High School. I made Daily News All Star and SI Advance All Star in football. I learned that you have to be disciplined, and focused on passing the grades.
       I had an athletic director, Mr. Bob Steele, who made me focus on my academics. He made me study, and made me responsible towards following up on my grades. He made me go to tutoring. I had to pass the writing exam in order to graduate high school.
       I had several offers from different colleges. My football coach, Kevin Gilbride, who became the offensive coordinator for the NY Giants, wanted me to do well. He had a saying, “what happens when the cheering stops. You have to have your education. You have to focus on life after football.”
       I knew that I was going to college ever since I was 5 years old. One of my biggest supporters in my family was my aunt.  She always wanted me to be the first one to graduate college from my family. She was my inspiration to keep striving. When she passed, although I was sad, I was determined to accomplish the goal.
       I have been working as a NYC probation officer for 22 years. I am proud to be a McKee Seagull. McKee is the school that helped me to get my scholarship, which was the first step towards my career.

McKee Students Quoted in SI Advance Article: Passion or Paycheck

There is an article in the Staten Island Advance by reporter, Ms. Lore, quoting Ms. Pecora (college adviser), and a few of our students as to the paths the pupils plan to take after secondary school. Check out:…/passion_or_paycheck_todays_stu.html…
I appreciate the positive spin for the students. I also wish that when people hear Ralph R. McKee CTE High School, they realize that our students have a “passion” for both CTE and academics in order to excel in their post-secondary careers.

Friday, January 9, 2015

1st Place Winners at 2015 GNYDA New York City Competition

(From left to right: Nicholas Harripersad, Brandon Colvil, Mr. Dave Sarno, and Thomas Marron)

For the 2nd year in a row, little old McKee High School came in 1st at 2015 GNYDA New York City competition. Kudos to the students. Congratulations to Mr. Sarno. Also a big shout out to Harley Davidson on Bay Street for their support of our internship program.

Check out the neat article in the New York City CTE Council online newsletter;

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kelly Sosayaz - Operations Specialist - Post Secondary Success

I so enjoy when students stop by to indicate where they are now in their lives. Operations specialist Kelly Sosayaz.

Here's her story:

Kelly Sosayaz
McKee Class of 2014
Operations Specialist – U. S. Navy

I used to spend all of my time in Mr. Gordon’s class. He was the one that would help me out with finding a successful way out of high school. He would make me stay for HAI so that I wouldn’t be in the streets doing inappropriate activities.

I wanted to become independent. I joined the Navy. You can make your own decisions and not have to depend on anyone else. The Navy provides a career that I can follow. The learning that I received from McKee High School provided hands on training and that is useful as the Navy provides hands on training.

My ability to follow orders is making me successful in the Navy. I study and dedicate my time to school so that I can graduate. I want to make the Navy my career. In fact, I plan to earn my Masters, for free, through the Navy. Right now I have 15 college credits that I earned from participating in Basic Training and School.

My advice to seniors: “don’t mess up.”  Listen to the advice people have to give you. Find something that you want to follow as a career and go for it.  Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing what you want to accomplish. The worse thing in life is to waste your talent.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Antrico Forbes - Post Secondary College story at SUNY Cortland

Antrico Forbes, McKee Class of 2011, will graduate from SUNY Cortland on May 2015. Antrico stopped by McKee High School. I corralled him to share his post secondary story: 
College: SUNY Cortland
Geographic Information Systems Major
Graduation Date – May 2015

Swimming is the habit that I developed in high school. It’s the reason why I got into SUNY Cortland. My grades were not always the best. Lord knows I was in Ms. Henry’s office –often. The grades part is just as important as sports. Swimming got me in the door for college. I was undecided my freshman year at SUNY Cortland. I took architecture at McKee. I could not draw manually. I always had an ability to know how to apply computer applications. Learning Auto CAD was useful. Using that application is coming back as at SUNY Cortland, we are making 3-d Google Earth models of the campus. We are also using Google Sketch Up. It is an online drawing application to make houses. Consider it architectural modeling.
A high school diploma is not enough. You need a bachelor’s to get a foot in the door for many places. I will be starting my job search January 2015 and I have a significant head start due to the internships and connections I have made.
I decided to go away to college because many older people said that it would be the best four years of my life. I think going away was crucial. I also joined a fraternity, Theta Chi. I, of all people, am part of the Greek system. The amount of connections one will have later on down the line is instrumental. I have matured a lot. Mom and Dad are four hours away. I can truly say I found myself at college. Your room mate is not going to wake you up for classes.
This past summer, I interned for the city of Cortland. I digitized their complete water and sanitary systems. The town’s mayor was my mentor. The internship I now have is with SUNY Cortland. There were only four positions available. 40 students applied. I landed one of the four positions. Once again, making a proper impression and connections, plus knowing information technology was and is crucial. One thing leads to another. When I finished and presented the project for the town of Cortland, I was spotted for another internship for the town of Virgil.
I look forward to May 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

DANA Ford of Staten Island Drive-A-Thon Contribution to McKee

Two snaps up to DANA Ford Corporation of Staten Island. They presented a check from the funds raised from the DRIVE-A-Thon to David Sarno, auto instructor at McKee High School.

Any principal will tell you that when a company decides that they are committed to helping a school throughout the year, it puts a skip in one's step and a leap in one's heart. We offer our heartfelt gratitude, a letter expressing our thanks, and of course, a plaque. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thank you notes from Pathway to AVID class on 11.26.14

This was a busy Wednesday. As I was busily bustling about the office, and the halls, and answering emails, I see one of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teachers, Ms. Gorgolione, enter the outer office asking for scotch tape from the secretary.  I almost always have my door open, so I assumed (don't say it - I know the rule about when one "assumes" but I did it anyway) that she was posting a note on her door in order to direct students to report to the computer room.

Later when I hear the bell ring for the next period class and I check on hall passing and step through several offices checking on "stuff" I come back to the front of my inner office and this is what I see:

On a positively bleary, slick, rain and sleet - filled Wednesday - her Pathway to AVID students wrote thank you notes for a presentation I did earlier in the week. AVID is a "magnet" program at McKee High School, The students travel as a class to each course and have an additional elective course which helps provide them with critical thinking and problem solving skills to advance their abilities to be college ready. Pathway to AVID is a step program for those students who have literacy and numeracy issues and therefore did not have the grades to get into AVID program yet their parents wish for them to have exposure to the same methodologies through incorporating an even wider range of pedagogical strategies to capture the students. Here's a peek at some of the contents from the thank you notes.



A neat way to start the Thanksgiving Holiday. Happy Turkey Day to all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mir Ali's Post Secondary Reflection

Mir Ali, McKee Class of 2014 stopped by Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014.
He is at CSI majoring in Business Marketing. Check out his post secondary reflection:

I took AP English in my senior year. All we did was write essays.  In college, all we do is write essays. Due to Ms. Mullen, essays are easy in college.  It is as easy as making cereal. The lowest grade that I have received is a B. The rest of my classmates at CSI complain and they came from other schools from around New York City.

Due to the fact that I have essay writing down pat, it gives me more time to study the other courses in college. It gives me time to study for Accounting and Calculus. My approach to tackling those courses is to be part of a study group.  I have to be around other people who help me think and deal with the content in those courses.

        A success story that I can share that recently happened in college was when I got a score from a Calculus test. I was nervous. I remembered how good Mr. Ringer was as a teacher. I used the information from his notes, and I took good notes in Mr. Ringer’s class. The result - I received a B on the Calculus test.

        My advice to all seniors – go for the scholarships. Apply to them. Network yourself so that you have access to the internships.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

SEP Hackathon at McKee HS - Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

McKee High School had its first ever Software Engineering Program Hackathon on Saturday, October 25, 2014. The time was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mr. Pedersen was the ring-master as he is the instructor for both SEP classes. He communicated with SEP, followed the instructions to set up the Hackathon. The students received detailed instructions in their respective inboxes as to the rules, parameters, rationale and programs to use to address the central topic - create a superhero who can solve the social ills and/or diseases of mankind.

That's Mr. Pedersen in the middle as students are winding up the last of their points for their presentations.

Mr. Pedersen was assisted by two of his colleagues, Ms. Laura Mahlooji (l) and Mr. Dom DeFilippo (r). They not only co-supervised the 25 students but also served as judges. The focused level of energy as the students went through the paces of trying to create a game, a powerpoint and web site in which a superhero of their own creation has the ability to heal mankind of social ills and/or diseases.
Ms. Mahlooji was on the left and Mr. DeFilippo was on the right waiting for the students to do last minute touch ups to their projects and presentations.

Friday, October 24, 2014

AVID Tutorial on October 24, 2014

It is beautiful to see young exercising their gray cells to grapple with academic subjects so that they can problem solve how best to comprehend the content.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Visit by Joshua Lindeman - Local 1 Plumber Apprentice

It was PSAT Day today, Wednesday, October 15, 2014, and Joshua Lindeman, a 2013 graduate visited the school. I am engaged in the process of having faculty, administration and staff respond to one or more of the following prompts:

  • a. Share a habit or activity that made you successful in high school so that you were able to go to college/post-secondary institution. How did that habit or activity help.
  • b.Share a turning point that helped you decide to go to college/post-secondary institution.
  • c. Share a college/post-secondary institution success story.

 It is amazing how students grow in the span of the year. Here's his picture:
I think the young man grew an extra foot. Here's his reflection in response to the prompts on post-secondary success: 
Joshua Lindeman
Local 1 Plumber

What habit made me successful in high school? I just had good friends. They pushed me to do better and to get higher grades. We had a competition to see who could get the highest grade on a test. It is just not my personality to hang out with people who do not have a plan for their life. I always surround myself with people who want to succeed.
I am in Year 1 of the Construction Skills 2000 apprenticeship program.  It involves a great deal of blueprint reading. There are many opportunities in the construction industry to become a drafter to create the plans for the hanging of pipes, waste and vent lines.
I work on Tower 3 in the World Trade Center. We are currently on the 8th floor and Tower 3 is 82 stories high. My boss, my foreman, and journeyman, do not compliment often, but when they do, it resonates. When the time comes for them to downsize, for example they had 3 apprentices and they decided to keep only one and I am the one that they keep, one’s self-esteem goes through the roof.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Turn To Your Partner Poster

There's nothing like having teachers generate their posters to remind themselves and the class about a quick student engagement technique called TTYP or Turn To Your Partner.  Check out Ms. Estephan's poster from the Science Team Meeting on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

SEP Hackathon on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 at McKee High School

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sharing Road to College Stories To Build a Post Secondary Culture

I wanted to use an idea that I got from the September AVID Newsletter about jump-starting the school year by having staff wearing college and/or post-secondary swag. When I tried getting a group picture of the teachers in their college swag - the idea went over like a lead balloon.

Ever intrepid, and hard-headed, I decided to promote the fact that every Thursday, I am encouraging teachers to wear college/post-secondary swag so that students can ask about the steps it took to go from high school to college. It creates aculture of exchange information about the path to post-secondary options. I then emailed the staff to take a "selfie" and respond to three prompts:  
a.  Share a habit or activity that made you successful in high school so that you were able to go to college/post-secondary institution. How did that habit or activity help?
b.  Share a turning point that helped you decide to go to college/post-secondary institution.
c.  Share a college/post-secondary institution success story.
Email your reflection and selfie/photo sporting the swag to me so that I may post it on the bulletin boards.

To jump start the process, I took pictures of 2 faculty members who were sporting college swag and captured their responses to the prompts. I then posted it on a bulletin board outside my office.  
As the bulletin board builds, I will share what is said - of course I'll make sure to get permission to share before posting.  

By 2 p.m., several faculty members were reading the bulletin board and were composing their responses.  I look forward to seeing what happens.  I also want to see how this becomes linked to students responding to faculty, administration and staff reflections.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Power-up Article - 1st African American Woman to Head ABA

Time to check in on role models for young ladies. Check out Paulette Brown by clicking here to read an article.  

One can also check out this article - worth a read:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Big Apple College Fair

The Big Apple College Fair is fast approaching. There is a new service available to help students and their parents get to the fair this year. There will be a shuttle bus that will stop at several locations throughout the city to pick up students and their parents and bring them to the fair. Attached is an informational flyer for students along with the Big Apple College Fair flyer:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Costa's Levels of Questions - Effective Explanation

Every day is a day for instruction. The APs and I make 5 minute pit-stops to coach. The feedback sessions are quick and informal. The goal - to jump start the implementation of rigor in the classroom through (W)riting, (I)nquiry, (C)ollaboration, (O)rganization, and (R)eading.

2. Set the ground rules for how to use Cornell Notes. 
   You do it-the students watch. 
   You do it-the students help. 
   Students do it - you help. 
   Students do it - you watch and evaluate. Rubrics are needed:

or copy and paste it in your browser for a 5 minute explanation about Costas Levels of Questions. 
The video is for the teacher to view and NOT the class. 
The video provides a clear explanation about the three levels of questions. Students comprehend the three levels of questions when it is connected to a reading you are doing in the classroom.

   You the teacher, have to follow it up with a reading selection in which you have preplanned level 1, 2 and 3 questions. It works when the text is challenging - which most texts are written 1-2 years above grade level. The reading selection can be a page, a paragraph from a newspaper, video with short reading selection or internet site. Modeling is key.
          --> You do it-the students watch. 

          -->You do it-the students help. 
        -->Students do it - you help. 
          -->Students do it - you watch and evaluate. 
Once again rubrics are needed:

Friday, September 5, 2014

ACT - SAT Information

Calling all McKee Juniors and Seniors - 

Check out the ACT. One must score a minimum of a 24 for the colleges to flock to your door at:

Need information on the SAT - then move your mouse to the following link:

Need a refresher on the topics in the ACT and the SAT, here are two great sites:

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Click here for the 1st day bell schedule for students - Thursday, September 4, 2014.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Support PTA Fundraiser - Team Weeks

Help earn money for the MSIT teams by shopping at Modells for back to school items.

Click here to bring the flyer with you so that you can earn get a great discount and the MSIT teams can earn funds.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

They Loved Your GPA, Then Saw Your Tweets

Click here to see a great article that offers advice that all students need to know and recognize. 
The short version: always watch what you post or you will jeopardize your college admissions and career prospects.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014-2015 Bell Schedule at McKee High School

Regular Schedule
Mon, Tues, Thurs., Fri.
Minutes in Class

Bell Schedule A
Minutes in Class




43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
46 min.

32 min.
43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
43 min.

31 min.
1:51 PM
43 min.

31 min.

75 min.
*Teacher Team Meetings / PD Every Wednesday: 1:35 PM – 2:50 PM

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