Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Trip to Rockefeller Center

On a very crisp, clear Thursday, December 23, 2010, 16 students, with teachers Ms. Juanita Ruano and Ms. Kim Sievers, traveled to the island of Manhattan to see Rockefeller Center. The trip is part of the English Language Learner program at McKee High School to help English Language Learners (ELL) improve their skills in acquiring English. Part of the experience is immersing students in cultural events and landmarks.

One of the best ways to immerse students in NYC landmarks in the center of Manhattan is to have a "treasure hunt," which ranged from taking pictures, indulging in NYC traditional cuisine, and working in teams to gain points for reaching certain landmarks a la "Amazing Race" style from one point to the next.

The next step will be to see student reflections about their trip to several landmarks in and around Rockefeller Center in 2011. By the way, how did we pull off a trip for ELL students on December 23rd, cooperation amongst teachers within the ELA Department.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ADL training at McKee

It is always so neat to see students participate in diversity awareness exercises in which they challenge their own judgments and perceptions. I had a chance to sit in the ADL session for 15 minutes (which is equal to 15 hours in human time). It was enjoyable to see the facilitator help the students draw conclusions from looking discovering and getting to know a piece of fruit is like getting to know and discover people in their community.

Pictures to come.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big Brother-Big Sister Train To Help Underclassmen

A senior looked around and reflected on all that it took to matriculate through McKee. s she talked about the idea with her peers, they urged her to follow through with creating a high school version of Big Brother - Big Sister, McKee's version of upper classmen helping underclassmen through the twists and turns of the high school social and academic experience.

Senior Victoria Caldwell approached me and said there were a number of upper classmen, willing to go beyond their comfort zone and strive to be committed, role models dedicated to community service, and more importantly, steering ninth grade students towards engaging in positive activities. Students from all of the different CTE programs as well as athletes from various sports showed up to the meetings to indicate they were willing to be their brother's or their sister's keeper.
The students developed a PowerPoint presentation, designed their business cards, practiced the speeches they would do in front of different classrooms. As in the beginning of all organizations, at the creation of any new group, the students went through forming, storming, and continue to build towards norming. Already teachers have placed recommendations of under classmen who need a big brother or big sister. Several Big Brother-Little Brother and Big Sister-Little Sister pairs have started to participate in community service activities such as turkey give-aways to food pantries, and panel discussions on education sponsored by the New York Urban League. Starting Wednesday, as the students do their presentations about the purpose of Big Brothers and Sisters to freshmen classes, we will be taking a purposeful step towards performing the central mission of the group.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 PSAL Cup Champions - MSIT

The MSIT Varsity Football Team are the 2010 PSAL Cup Champions.
The score was 22 - 0 against Petrides High School.
The game took place on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at the Midwood HS Athletic Complex at 10 AM.
Talk about an exciting game. Petrides Panthers are worthy adversaries. Click here to see the pictures.

Ray Woolford struck first with a touchdown barely minutes into the start of the game.
When I say minutes, I mean minutes. When I arrived at 10:10, I saw 6 points on the scoreboard.
MSIT scored most of its points in the first half. In the second half
In the second half, the MSIT defense was relentless.
The effort, drive, sportmanship behavior exhibited throughout the entire proceedings was wonderful to behold.
The core element of the MSIT Team was how each element, under the guidance of the coaches, combined for a united purpose.

The day was crisp which was a blessing to the more than 200 spectators in the stands.
Each team had their rah-rah section. I must give a shout out to both the students, faculty, parents who kept the energy up throughout the game.

I have no voice left. I am sure the students will smile over how quiet, relatively speaking, I will be on Monday, November 29. Of course, I will have a huge smile on my face and there are more ways than one to indicate my expectations.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Principal For A Day

So how was the Principal for A Day event on October 7th? Great. Ms. Contrino sat down with the executive board of the Student Council. Our central goal is to always upgrade our branding of the school. The term "branding" means to publicize the good works of the school so that the name of McKee generates a positive impression.
The PENCIL luncheon on October 7th was a blast. From left to right Maurice DuBois (Anchor, WCBS-TV - as if he needs identification) me, and Valarie Contrino (McKee's Principal For A Day).
I was a panelist in the afternoon session and contributed my two cents about the impact business partnerships have on the schools.
The central point was that establishing a specific, measurable goal is important along with just "being there" when promised. Students, no matter their age, hold adults to the standard of 'you said you were going to show up at the appointed time.'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ACE Mentor Program

Once again students from Staten Island high schools will have the opportunity to participate with an ACE team that has its home base on Staten Island. This memo applies only to students who want to be on the team that meets on Staten Island (other students can still chose to participate with an ACE team that meets off Staten Island).

To register students should go to the ACE website,, and click on the student section on the home page. That will take them to the section entitled Registration. Once there, students follow the directions to register either as a new student or as a student already registered on the ACE site.

Registration will take place at the first team meeting on Monday, Oct 25th at 4:00 PM. Students will be notified of the meeting site when they are notified about registration.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Lovely Saturday - Breakfast and a Game

What a lovely way to spend a Saturday. The morning was spent at the Welcome Back Breakfast hosted by the PTA. Ms. Manley, looked most presidential and introduced the parents to the executive board. In addition, members of the staff dropped by such as Ms. Mullen (Assistant Principal of English, English Language Learners, and Science), Mr. Velija (Assistant Principal of Organization), Mr. Guarnieri (Assistant Principal of Music). We also heard from Ms. DiMare (guidance counselor) about credits, college, and career opportunities, and myself, who showed off the school website: By the way, Mr. Cohen (History teacher) stopped by with his children.

After knoshing on bagels, coffee, and fruit with parents in the morning, next was attending the Varsity football game between MSIT and George Washington High School at the MSIT field. On the, blazingly bright sunny afternoon, the Soaring Seagulls flew to a 26 to 12 victory over a tough competitor. On top of that, MSIT Varsity Soccer team beat Susan Wagner High School 2-0.

On a more personal note, it was great to have a rare afternoon off where I was on top of my paperwork to be able to catch a high school football game. This is what comes of now starting my fourth year as a principal. Being a principal is a constant learning experience. While it is nice to see policies reinforced and implemented, it is also a part of the job to always tweak, fine tune, and incorporate changes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Process of Teacher Teams

Wednesday is the day that the staff at McKee chooses to meet for Teacher Teams. Right now, during the month of September we are in the capacity building phase. We are asking the tougher questions - well actually we are starting with really looking at the particular question: Can you justify a decision that you made in planning today's lesson that was based on a previous experience using classroom data?

What was the strategy? Ms. Mullen (AP ELA/ELL/FL/Science) and I commandeered the computer labs and split the staff in two groups. First we had teachers indicate what they thought were some of the answers. Next we had the had teachers log onto ARIS to understand the power of grouping students.

What were the growth points

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome Back Breakfast is On for October 2nd

Calling all Parents, Guardians and Caregivers! We cordially invite you to stop by and knosh on breakfast with members of the McKee Staff and administration.

Disney's Dreamer's Academy

Everyone knows Steve Harvey as a very funny comedian, with a popular morning radio show, who has written an enormously popular book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.

RIGHT NOW, you need to click here in order to nominate yourself to be considered for Disney's Dreamers Academy. It is a contest, sponsored by Steve Harvey in conjunction with the Disney Corporation to create a unique mentoring experience.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

McKee High School Website

For the latest information about all things McKee, click here to see the new McKee website.
For information about the start of school, the bell schedule, list of school supplies, click on the school website
To get information about each department's contract, and pedagogical strategies, check the school website.
To contact the teachers, check the school website.

This year's directive on the national, state and citywide level is to focus on teachers meeting together during the school week in order to critically look at student work. As covered in the news, NYC needs to improve the ability of the students to perform on the test results. The gauntlet has been thrown down - we must work together to help our students not only be proficient in the subject areas, but also to have the skills to matriculate through college. McKee High School's teachers voted in an SBO to have a professional development period called PDP we are going to be looking at the process of teacher teams throughout the year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Understanding Race To The Top

Let's engage in a digital think-aloud. New York State is one of the recipients from the Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative. It is also a great opportunity to look at the power of a writing style that students rarely are exposed to in secondary school: grant writing. In addition, it provides a great way for educators to engage students in understanding how to do non-fiction reading of a large document. Think college readiness when students are deluged with many texts, whether digital or hard-copy, that require they summarize, synthesize, and evaluate information. A key comprehension strategy is using the Table of Contents to skim and scan key points.

The Table of Contents lists 32 priorities.
Page 9 of RTTT lists the milestones New York hopes to achieve:
1. Teachers and principals will be evaluated using student growth data
beginning 2011-12
2. All schools will implement the new Common Core Standards by 2011-2012
3. Our assessments will be aligned to the Common Core Standards by Spring 2012
4. Our Education Data Portal will launch statewide in Fall 2012
5. There will be implementation of specific strategies to turnaround 147 of persistently lowest-achieving schools in 4 cohorts beginning September 2010.

Page 29 describes the anticipated timeline

Page 61 shows the professional development structure

Page 68 describes how New York has spent school funding in the past.

Page 246 describes the differentiated accountability measures.

Page 273 (Strategy 4: Expand Partnership Zones) describes the innovative Secondary School Model Fund also known as the IZone. 84 schools serving 13,000 students are part of iZone

Page 282 describes New York City's experience about school improvement.

Page 317 describes the approved Partnership zones: including Children First & iZone.

Page 356-448 shows the project by project budget summary, or how the $700 Million will be spent.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Learning a New Feature About PowerPoint

I am now painstakingly going over the links that I've created and the files that I've placed within folders. A family member who is very comfortable with computers has a sharp eye and keeps me on my toes. Most faculty members know that she dragged me kicking and screaming from the world of pen and paper into understanding various software programs.

The latest information page that I am trying to streamline is the whole notion of a print rich environment for high school so that it does not sound like an elementary school. For most secondary school teachers it's about space and organizing who copies the exemplary work, and the system used to update the work within the classroom. Ah - the key words, organization and consistency.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Using E-Chalk for the Updated McKee Website

Here I am, just learning how to upload files and links onto the E-Chalk site. I am not a natural at computers nor even at anything technical. I have to slog my way through the process. So here I am, at 10;55 PM, pushing myself to upload two of my favorite K-W-L charts onto the website. I finally did it. I also think that I am intoxicated with being able to link files to a website.

Here's a secret - it took me forever, and I mean several months before I even had the nerve to follow up placing anything onto the McKee website after the initial e-Chalk training. My brain just could not wrap around the concept. Finally, now that it is the summer, and I have enjoyed the best fruits of the summer, I decided to once and for all tackle the frontier of following the rules to input information onto the website. By the way, the new website is Welcome To The Home of the Soaring Seagulls. It's a bit long but I think it works.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 Young Heroes Award in Philadelphia

We have an inclusion program at McKee High School in partnership with District 75s Hungerford School.

7 students: Thurman Brown, Araed Diaz, Angels Fearon, Edgar Gbor, Micheline Johnson, Diamond Starks and Jalen Warren of the P721R/Richard Hungerford School Inclusion Program at McKee High School received a Young Heroes Award from the National Liberty Museum and TD Bank.

The Young Heroes Awards Ceremony will be held on August 5, 2010 at the National Liberty Museum, 321 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA. That's right, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Awards Ceremony begins with lunch at 11:30am, followed by a 12:30 program including the awards presentation, during which our winners will receive a medal, certificate and several mementos. Winners will also be photographed for inclusion in the National Liberty Museum's exhibit where the story of the Young Heroes' accoomplishments will be seen by over 60,000 visitors each year.

Congressman McMahon, upon hearing about the celebration in Philadelphia, felt strongly that the 7 students should be hailed on their home borough. He organized a local celebration for the 7 Staten Island students at the Hungerford School as covered here by New York 1 on Monday, October 4, 2010. Way to go.

What a delightful slice of cool news. By the way, the group of 7 students was selected for this special award as one of only 24 winners from the Delaware Valley and beyond.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

McKee Graduation - June 24, 2010

The students looked resplendent at the June 24th graduation ceremony at the St. George Theater. From the first strains of Pomp and Circumstance to the ending song of "Celebration" this years ceremony focused on the changes the students experienced, Click here to see the coverage of the ceremony in the Staten Island Advance.

The picture to the right captures the high spirits of Frank Festa (L) and David Canecchio (R). Graduations are part solemn tradition, and part good natured reflection on key points throughout the four years. Considering the extreme changes a cohort experiences in both the local, city, national and international stage, it definitely also includes a moment of acknowledgment of the range of issues foremost in the minds of the seniors.

The restoration of the architectural splendor of the St. George Theater is a wonder to behold. The particular photographer's shot of two seniors below, Dwight Briggs (L), and Miles Boyd (R) moments before they become seniors is symbolic. Note how the golden lighting encircling the chandelier represents the glow of peers, parents, and school family shining down on the students.OK - a bit too mushy. A high school diploma is just one rung on an educational ladder. The students will be moving on to encounter and wrestle with the next opportunity.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Presenting Mr. Domonique Jackson

Look at that 1,000 watt golden glow. The delightful young man, Domonique Jackson, will be a graduate from two schools. The Richard H. Hungerford School and the Inclusion Program at Ralph R. McKee CTE High School. He received his first diploma on June 11, 2010 at Hungerford in a joyous ceremony filled with tears, smiles and moving testimonials. Dr McInerney and her talented team embody and makes sure each child experiences the core values of "respect, professsionalism, sensitivity and excellence."
Next stop, McKee High School's June 24th graduation at the St. George Theater at 1 PM.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Principal's Meeting at the APPLE Store

I am still zooming from the enlightening Principal's meeting that occurred today at the 14th Street and 9th Avenue APPLE Store Headquarters.

So here are 5 key points that I learned that are way cool.

1. APPS is taking over the function of a browser. Plus there are so many APPS that are FREE.
2. ITunes has a University. This means professors are uploading their lectures and powerpoints from a wide range of colleges and universities, FOR FREE, at ITunes U.
3. Podcasts can be downloaded which is yet another way to be able to have access to stunning visual and audio material from an amazing range of shows. This is also - 95% FOR FREE.
---Audio books are a very easy way to reach a wide variety of learners.
---Set up a station with 5 -6 headsets.
4. Learning stations are the bomb-diggity. Students create products using pen and paper, or digital method - using video, pod cast, website or PowerPoint.
5. Students creating professional development about how to use technology is pithy, practical, and tickles the funny bone.

Stay tuned - I will be adding more to this entry.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SI Federation of PTA Scholarship Luncheon

Check out the young man in the second row to the right. His name - Timothy Johnson. He is the recipient from McKee High School who wrote a touching essay about the impact an English teacher, Mr. Nestlebaum, had on his writing.
In fact every single student in the photo won for their respective schools because of the singular impact a teacher had on their understanding of a subject area and/or about contributing back to society.
The recipients received their scholarship award at the SI Federation of PTA Scholarship Luncheon occurred on June 7th.

McKee Student Athletes Club Throws A Car Wash

Remember June 5th? It was a orgeous, hot, Saturday morning.
Here's a peak behind the scenes.
Get a bunch of eager student athletes who realize that they must be proactive in fundraising so that they will be able to work towards affording a mode of transportation to the many different practices during the upcoming school year. Throw in a brush, soap and water plus true grit. What do you get? A car wash.

Hats off to the 15 student athletes who showed up and scrub-a-dub-dubbed the automobiles. It was a many pronged enterprise that involved Mr. Sarno (the auto teacher), Mr. Thomas (the Academics In Motion Coordinator), Ms. Mullen (the AP of Physical Education/Security), Ms. Dow (the school nurse), and Ms. Manley and Ms. McVey (the PTA President and parent coordinator) - who provided cool refreshing water.
It was all business as the student athletes ran down the hill towards the cross section of Victory Boulevard or St. Marks Place to encourage the community to support the car wash, which they did.

What did the principal do? Facilitated.

Friday, June 11, 2010

McKee Student on Chancellor's "Remarkable" Graduates

How cool is this -Click here to see the news story about George Tarr, a student at McKee High School.

A little side note - I always looked at the tab under Chancellor's Remarkable Graduates. In the hurly-burly of the day, I am always taken aback at how children are able to thrive in dire circumstances. It is a testament to the indomitable nature of the human spirit that reminds me that it is of paramount important that we as educators ensure that our students are in an environment in which they have a myriad number of opportunities to experience learning that contributes to their growth.

Friday, May 28, 2010

2nd NHS Induction Ceremony at McKee

Here we are at the 2nd induction ceremony of the National Honor Society at McKee High School. The ceremony was at 1 PM on May 27, 2010. Carol Starkey, the new Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA). There was also assistance from Meryl Sheridan, our Forensics Science teacher who ensured that the students lined up and put their best foot forward. Darren Hoffman trained the Executive Board of the National Honor Society also served as the color guard for the event.

It is so cool when the students light the candle indicating that they now plan to uphold the principles of the National Honor Society: Scholarship, Character, Leadership, and Community Service.

Another neat point about the National Honor Society is that the students have to maintain and hopefully surpass their averages and other service aspects to stay in the organization. In my second year as principal, I thought I had an appreciation of what the words meant in the oath taken by the students, along with the rules and regulations as outlined by the National Honor Society. In my third year, I gained a new appreciation. I must say that this is a ceremony that will increase in resonance, for the students, parents, and for yours truly.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Women's Empowerment Seminar

The New York Urban League organized an amazing day of seminars, and workshops in which inner city high school female students had a chance to interact with professionals in the media, the arts, education, and literature.
Yes the students got to hear "real talk" about the challenges one faces along the path to achieving one's dream job. Whether visiting a news set, seeing the inner workings of various businesses,
or asking probing and clarifying questions and receiving forthright answers at a panel discussion, each young lady was confronted with the question, what is the cost of subjugating one's personality, and academic gifts just to fit in, or to accept the treatment of a "special someone."

The panel discussion that you see on the right included very real talk in which MJB, that's right, the MJB, asked questions that caused uncomfortable, knowing responses and deep, critical reflection.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Real World According to Patricia Alexander

I am sitting at my desk - wrestling with tons of e-work when who should walk in but a 2009 graduate, Patricia Alexander. Here are her words of wisdom.:
"I am at LaGuardia Community College. I will be graduating in 2011. I will then transfer to McAllister College where I will get another degree. I will get an Associate's Degree from LaGuardia for Science and the degree from McAllister in Occupation." The career path that she is following is mortuary science.

Wait - let me add this piece, Patricia took it upon herself to line up her internship. She knows that McAllister College will give her the content, but the real world experience for her to truly understand the business aspects of managing a funeral home required that she be proactive. She investigated, researched, and interviewed. She dressed conservatively, stated what skills she can bring to the internship, answered in complete sentences, and was courteous. The result - Patricia landed the internship.

Patricia admits that she "struggled to get out of high school." What she knows for sure: "Being committed is the way to go. College life is no joke. You can't go to college and act like you did in high school. Don't go there and be lazy because if you do, then you will fail. You can't act immature."


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 6th Career Fair

One of the most powerful methods of influencing students is to have pupils see professionals visit and talk - real talk, about the many pathways to a career.

18 representatives from across a wide range of professions visited McKee High School on Thursday, May 6th, to talk to students about education and the skills needed for the various positions they currently hold within their different organizations.
The first picture shows representatives from the Royal Press sharing details about their own level of education, the skills they regularly use on the job, and the typical work day, the challenges they face.

In Mr. Pane's drafting class students heard a panel discussion about different perspectives on the career of being an engineer. In this case Ms. Tsamis (in the picture on the left) shared some of the issues related to being a structural engineer.

Another really powerful visual message is when students are able to see graduates from McKee return and share their experiences in competitive apprenticeship programs. The young lady in green is Ms. Morales. She is a member of the SVA program, which is a highly regarded, extremely selective apprenticeship. SVA stands for Success Via Apprenticeship Program. It is a five year apprenticeship program in which participants get college level coursework, classroom internships, and industrial work experience. Ms. Morales will be able to become a city and state certified teacher.

The career day was successful in that students participated in meaningful career exploration discussions. Students focused on their career options. In addition professionals come into the school to encourage students and provide an opportunity to introduce pupils to networking opportunities.

Who was responsible for organizing this event - Ms. Joyce Ippolito, the guidance counselor, and articulation coordinator. Learning valuable lessons from the first career fair in January 2010, Ms. Ippolito accessed the resources and contacts of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers so that the event was one closely aligned with the CTE programs offered in the school.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Few More Pictures from the UFT Center

OK, I just can't help myself. Here are just a few more pictures from the Spring Conference that was at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday, May 8, 2010.
Here is Raphael Ortiz, Jr. explaining maintenance issues to keep a car in tip top shape for the summer.

Care to see a parafin wrap. It is a soothing experience for one's hands to make them feel ever so soft.Guests had an opportunity to experience just one aspect of a day spa. What a way to tone, tighten, moisturize, and in general, feel invigorated..

Thursday, May 13, 2010

McKee a Presence at UFT Spring 2010 Conference

10 representatives from McKee's Cosmetology and Auto program had a booth at the UFT Spring 2010 Conference. The students were excited, attentive and a hit with the visitors, particularly the students from Fashion Institute who turned to the Cosmetologists from McKee to enhance their fashion designs with the finishing touches of makeup and hair.

The teachers, Mr. David Sarno, Auto Instructor, and Ms. Buono, Cosmetology Instructor, chaperoned and watched over the students from 8 AM to 2 PM.

It is so heartening to see students demonstrating what they know. What is even cooler - is that another school comes over and trusts their hair, their very long hairto their peers in another school. Unlike the top styling salons which are "cut happy", the teens creatively used their skills to please the client.

Top brass from the NYCDOE stopped by like Chancellor Klein. In addition, Michael Mulgrew, President of the UFT, and Sterling Roberson, Vice President of the UFT visited the booth set up by McKee. This was our first year in which we had student representation at the UFT Spring Conference. Based upon the positive reaction, the students are revved to attend next year.

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