Tuesday, June 26, 2012

McKee HS 2012 Graduation

Click here for the article in the Staten Island Advance about the June 25th, 2012 McKee HS
graduation. Click here to see photographs of highlights from the ceremony. Click  here  to see individual pictures of our graduates.

The graduation ceremony was lovely. Our guest speaker - the head of the New York City Department of Education - Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the key note speaker, Duane Felton, a McKee alumnus, made cogent remarks that indicated life lessons as well as future strategies to cope with life's demands.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eric Jensen's Tools for Maximum Engagement

I read Teaching with the Brain in Mind about 8 years ago. The book was fascinating and insightful. Click here to see Eric Jensen explain the central concepts. Towards my final days as an assistant principal, I would try to incorporate some of the techniques mentioned in this book. I thought I experienced some success using a few techniques out of the many indicated in the book.  Well - my friends - I am here to say I barely, minutely scratched the surface.

I recently went to a two day seminar by Eric Jensen, famed educator, noted author, and amazing workshop facilitator, entitled "Tools for Maximum Engagement." The take aways:
1) A person's "states" affect his or her learning.
2) Brain-based compatible learning activities are a blast.
3) Treat your mind and body to one of Mr. Jensen's seminars.

As I continue to experiment and work with teachers and my class I will try to share my understandings. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Congratulations to Maliyah Greene who was accepted into the competitive internship program: Girls Who Code. Only 20 young ladies are accepted into this program. "Founded in February 2012, Girls Who Code educates, inspires, and equips under-served girls aged 13-17 with the skills and resources to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Girls Who Code program is an eight-week summer program in New York City designed to introduce high school girls to basic software development skills and is accompanied by yearlong outreach initiatives, mentorship programs, and internship opportunities to realize each participant’s potential."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

McKee In The News About High School Graduation Rate

McKee High School was covered in the Staten Island Advance about our high school graduation rate. Click here to see the story. Every percentage point was due to the effort of every single member of the McKee school community hawking and stalking our students to reach their potential. It's making sure that we work as a faculty to find many ways to reach and engage students so that they are able to handle more sophisticated tasks, texts, and technology. Each class is different. Already our faculty, and staff are looking at the rising seniors, class of 2013 and pinpointing areas that need to be addressed. The work continues - - - but not before there is a little vacation time to revitalize.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Senior Prom Pictures 2012

View Senior Prom 2012 pictures taken at the Vanderbilt on June 7, 2012. Click here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reflections from the 6-8-12 Hungerford School at the Jerome Parker Campus

You're going to have to wait a couple of days before I am able to post pictures to accompansy this post. Why? I was too emotionally caught up in the sights and sounds that I saw at a graduation. I went to the Richard H. Hungerford School today at the Jerome Parker Campus on Staten Island. McKee High School has an inclusion program with the Hungerford School. Four of the students that attend both Hungerford and the inclusion program at McKee graduated from the school. One of the students Jalen Warren was a recipient of the Staten Island Federation of PTA scholarship. By the way, another recipient of a scholarship from the Staten Island Federation of PTAs was Juan Ayllon, a quiet, resolute general education student Okay, back to the Hungerford graduation. I was told that I would be either sitting up front or on the stage, which was fine. I got all fancied up in a nice business suit, slapped the war paint on and was ready. Here are two facts you must know. The Hungerford School graduation is very emotional because one sees students with a range of extraordinary physical, learning, and psychological challenges stand in their truth to walk, or roll with the assistance of a paraprofessional, on stage for graduation. Second, there is always a slideshow which captures the high points of the year, such as the trips and the prom. Normally I just pop in to catch the central portion of the event, to yell and cheer from the back of the auditorium, with my handy box of tissues at the ready for the emotional points. I'm from Brooklyn so I've seen a great deal in the educational field. I also know that I'm a crybaby. I'll well up with tears at a Hallmark card commercial. You can guess what happens when I see the processional at Hungerford and the slideshow. So this year, I had prepared myself for the fact that I would be on the stage. Heck I've gone every year, and every year I seem to get stronger in not crying through the entire ceremony or doing the "ugly cry." You know the ugly cry that Oprah always talks about, where one gets a headache, one's stomach and face is in a knot, and one's makeup runs. The ceremony starts, the processional happens. Okay, only light misting in the eyes. I'm pretty good. A young man is rolled on by his paraprofessional and he is beautifully dressed. His shoes are like mirrors. It's heartbreaking in terms of the level of pride and care shown in how this child and every child is dressedo n the special day. Next there is a motivational speech by one of the students, a Cristin Keller. She is a small round bundle who walks with a halting limp to the podium. She takes out a device that looks like a cell phone. She presses a button which sounds like a metronome and then she holds it to the microphone. She then proceeds to give a compelling speech, intermittently punching a button to deliver her oratory about how she has experienced growth at Hungerford. She was not able to walk or talk but through the supportive, intensive atmosphere of Hungerford, under the leadership of Dr. McInerny, she knows that her possibilities are limitless. Heavy misting in the eyes. There is a standing ovation by the entire audience. Next moment from the graduation that stuck out was the introduction of the saludatorian. A tall young man who was also the Prom King. The next moment is the introduction of the valedictorian, Thurmon Brown, part of the inclusion program from McKee. Lovely surprise. Medium misting of the eyes. Makeup still holding strong. Thurmon talks about holding three jobs, one of them in the bike shop of Hungerford School. He thanks his aunt for taking him in when his grandmother passed away. The speech is thoughtful, said with feeling, and one can see that Thurmon has practiced with the help of the master teacher Ms.Montvilo. I'm just so proud that this young man has flourished at both Hungerford and McKee. I have a smile on my face and I am enjoying the moment. Another inclusion student at McKee is called up to the microphone. Thurmon presents flowers to both of his principals: Dr. McInerny and me. Pools of water collect in my eyes. It's a miracle I didn't bump into anyone. I hug Thurmon and Araod and quickly say thank you to the audience and sit down. Medium misting of the eyes. Next comes two representatives from the Veteran's Association. They are brothers. One of the brothers organizes the New York City Veterans Association parade. Prestigious. Both brothers recently visited Ground Zero and raised and lowered two American flags. One flag is presented to Dr. McInerny, wonderfully well deserved. The second flag is presented to the young man who, in the words of one of the brothers from the Veteran's Association indicated that he wanted the bikes that he fixes "to go to the children of the wounded soldiers." They presented Thurmon Brown, a wonderfully kind young man with an open generous nature, an American flag that was raised and lowered at Ground Zero in a special ceremony. Yeah - we are talking I'm standing. I'm yelling, "Holy Cow. This is amazing. Oh my, how wonderful." I can feel my mouth and hands trembling. I bring my hands to my face and do full scale ugly cry. Yep. I cried like a baby. Wait. Thurmon realizes the enormity of what he is about to receive from the Veteran's Association. Thurmon, who is 6'3" reaches down to hug a very round, short elderly Caucasian gentleman and tears slide down his face. The whole audience was wiped away. The two assistant principals on either side of me from the Hungerford School,they teared up. Went through a half a box of tissues. Eye make up - destroyed. The ceremony was beautiful, compelling, filled with captured sweet memories and humor. I also returned back to McKee with a headache from the emotional well spring that was released at the graduation. Don't get me wrong. The ceremony was beautiful. It was also filled with a lot of tears. Thank goodness next year I'll just be part of the audience, sitting in the seats, able to blend into the background. Click here to read the article in the Staten Island Advance about the Hungerford School graduation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The SkillsUSA Awards Ceremony occurred today, Wednesday, june 6th, 2012. It was almost entirely student run. I said three lines which mainly was welcome and congratulations to members of the audience. From that point on the Skills USA officers entered and put the members through the paces of conducting a meeting. The faculty who attended are my witness. It was fascinating. The student officers were dressed in red blazers, stated the purpose of the meeting, indicated it was a time of celebration, presented a PowerPoint highlighting favorite moments from the regional conference, citywide competition and statewide competition. This was the first time that I saw what the students do in a formal setting. I'll tell you how deeply moving it was to the parents. At the end of the ceremony, after the officers thanked the four advisors, gave them plaques, and the last of the awards were distributed, the parents sat quietly staring at the empty stage. One of the McKee advisors went onto the stage and dismissed the audience. The proceedings were deliberate, thoughtful, effective, and thorough. It will be fascinating to see how this particular group grows in the upcoming school year.

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