Sunday, January 31, 2010

On COSAs and Chaperones and Senior Trips

I have got to take a moment to express my gratitude to the COSA and chaperones who bound up the steps of the tour bus to watch over the seniors on the annual senior trip. Basically, a principal gets to see teachers who are young at heart, with an amazing amount of energy volunteer to stay awake for the length of the trip - 72 hours. They watch over a bus load of seniors excited to bound through the snow at the Hudson Valley Resort.

While I sit safely in the warmth of my apartment over the weekend, I get a daily phone call as a check in that the students have arrived safely, eating (which is what teenagers do, remarkably well) and are enjoying falling down in the snow. It says snowboarding and skiing but what it comes down to is students finding new and improved ways to making snow angels. The senior trip gives city kids a chance to giggle with glee and it's positively cool.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Students Excited About Math - Check it Out

I just looked at this amazing video about a competition that combines gaming with math. Click here to see the video clip.

Here's the low down:

NYC Mega Bowl Overview

The DimensionM Mega Bowl is a student tournament featuring Tabula Digita’s immersive video gaming software (a tool to increase student engagement in math and generate school spirit, team-work and excitement). The tournament will be held at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall, on Friday, March 12, 2010 from 10 am – 12 pm. A boxed lunch will be provided at the end of the tournament for students to take with them. Schools will be responsible for transportation to and from the NYC Mega Bowl event. .

Mega Bowl winners will be awarded various prizes such as Nintendo, iPods, gift certificates, and additional DimensionM™ licenses, thanks to the generosity of our event sponsors.

Getting to the NYC Mega Bowl: Participation in the 3rd Annual NYC Mega Bowl will be based on the frequency of DimensionM™ online use, either team-based or individual, for the pre-qualification period of February 1-28, 2010:

  • Individual Competition - the two (2) top elementary(grades 3-5) and the two (2) top middle schools (grades 6-8) in the five geographic DOE boroughs (Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn North, Queens & Brooklyn South/Staten Island) with the highest online frequency will be invited to send individuals to compete in the Meltdown II multi-player math game.
  • Team Competition - the top two (2) middle schools (grades 6-8) and the top two (2) high schools (grades 9-12) with the highest online frequency will be invited to send a five-member team to compete in the Swarm II multi-player pre-algebra game.

Schools are welcome and encouraged to send students from Mega Bowl participating classes to support the competing students.

Note that qualification will be based on use of the new DimensionM game, version3. You may request a copy of the new game by contacting Elissa Seto at: .

Next Steps
  • Schools to increase their game usage to qualify for the Mega Bowl
  • Schools to begin planning for transportation, should they qualify (sample permission slip and media consent forms are attached and are required for all participating students)
  • DOE & Tabula Digita announce participants and the specific math skills to be covered in tournament by March 3rd.

Support: Should you have any questions regarding the NYC Mega Bowl tournament, please feel free to contact Valrie Edwards at for assistance. We look forward to your participation in this wonderful event.

Principal For A Day - Opening New Horizons

I had a chance to speak with the school's PENCIL Partner, Ms. Valarie Contrino, who is the CEO of Contrino Travel, Inc.

I tell you it is a wonderful shot in the arm when a school is able to exchange ideas with a business person. Ms. Contrino is presently in the early stages of collaborating with other business women to create a network that focuses on business opportunities as well as community service options.

Stay tuned as this principal learns a thing or two or three about the power of networking through observing Ms. Contrino.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Career Day - January 7th at McKee High School

You see several pictures from our Career Day, which happened on Thursday, January 7th.

In the 1st picture, Mr. Akil Kamou, from the Staten Island Urban League is talking to the young ladies in the Cosmetology class. Seated is Ms. Rita Walsh, a union tile setter, who also spoke to the Cosmetology students.

So what does it take to organize a meaningful Career Day? 1. You have to have a committed professional, in this case, Ms. Brigitte Watson, from Legal Momentum, who is part of a team from the company to help recruit more young ladies into Career and Technical Education schools.
In the 2nd picture, Ms. Elaine Huffman is on the left, also in construction, and Mr. Dennis O'Connell is to the right and is McKee's Construction teacher.

2. One must have a committed professional inside the school who is a willing to be the liaison between the outside organization and the school, and is the contact person that speakers are able to reach. We were lucky to have Ms. Joyce Ippolito, our guidance counselor.

In the 3rd picture both Mr. Chiarelli and his daughter, a student at Duke University, spoke to the 9th grade AVID class.

3. In continuing the story of organizing the Career Day, next, one must look at the structure of how the speakers will reach the students. We decided that it would be more effective if the students stayed in their class and the speakers travelled to the different classrooms. Speakers were asked to encourage and provide inspiration to 9th grade through 12th grade students to show the link between education, choices, and achieving the career.

In the 4th picture, here are the early arrivals, from left to right Ms. Bartholdus (speaker, construction manager), Student Council Members, Mr. Agostino (in the back, speaker, Automotive Technology), Ms. Walsh (3rd from right in the front - tile setter); Mr. Chiarelli (speaker, Pre-Engineering), (Ms. Chiarelli (speaker - Duke University student), Student council member.
The student council members escorted the speakers from room to room.

In the 5th picture, Mr. Agostino, is talking to Mr. Coppi's math class. He also had a chance to talk to the students in the Automotive Technology program.

Career Day on January 7th was about having students see presentations about career options and the path needed to achieve success in those career options. This is just one step in the path to helping the students see the connection between what they learn in school and the paths they take toward fruitful experiences both during and after secondary school.

Dressing for Success - January 7th Career Day

Looking at these photographs just warms this educator's heart. Check out students who took the challenge to Dress for Success on the January 7th, 2010 Career Day at Ralph R. McKee High School.

The Career Day took a month of planning. Let me tell you, there is a big shout out to Ms. Joyce Ippolito, guidance counselor and Career Day coordinator and Ms. Brigitte Watson, Legal Momentum lawyer.

Who are the ladies on the top right. They are members of the 12th grade cosmetology students who embraced "Dressing for Success.

Teacher and student buy in is a must. What was important was connecting Dressing for Success to the event: Career Day. A select group of professionals would travel to different classes and do a presentation linking their life's journey to their chosen career.

Ms. Zambrano's English class took the challenge to heart. Ms. Zambrano is standing to the far left. The two young men next to her in suits made a very significant impression on a construction manager who gave them her business card.

The whole point of the Dress for Success Day was to inspire students to realize that impressions are made in 15 seconds. The point is to be a CHAMP - Confident, humane in how one treats others, attitude - positive, academics - keep it high, motivated, and prepared.

This was the first time that the school did Dress for Success. We indicated for 4 days prior to the event the importance of making an impression. As you can see the color scheme was white and black. Why? Everyone has a white shirt and a black pant or skirt.

Writing an I-Search Paper

We are involved in a 9th grade Writing Initiative.

Rita Kelly, our intrepid UFT Coordinator has created a powerpoint that has step by step directions. As we continue to brainstorm how we will make the project an interdiscplinary event, we will log our efforts and products both on the school blog and on ARIS.

Click here to see the site.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day of Service for MLK Day

Day of Service for MLK Day on Monday, January 18, 2010.

Save the date for the eighth-annual Grow Involved on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 18, sponsored by Children for Children and the Hands-On Network. Join us and more than 2,500 volunteers at two Manhattan locations for a day of service and giving that honors Dr. King’s legacy of community activism. Children, teens, families, and school groups are welcome. The event is free and open to the public and engages volunteers of all ages in hands-on service projects that benefit our community and those in need. For more information, call 212-850-4170 or e-mail

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