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;

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