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Superintendent's Blog: April 2, 2008, Tricky Tray Time

Posted April 2 at 9:11am

Last Friday, I had an opportunity to see Minisink Valley at its best.  Parents, many of whom are faculty and staff members, got together and hosted a very impressive fundraiser for the all-night, alcohol and drug-free party that the parents put on the night of graduation for our graduating seniors and their friends.  They raised over $10,000 with their Tricky Tray held in the high school gymnasium.  It was literally the best organized event held here in years.  Two families, the Averys and the Hamiltons, organized an army of volunteers that included students, parents, faculty and staff to solicit gifts, collate, present and wrap donations, set up tables, sell food and 50/50 tickets, and keep everything moving. So many people walked away happy, carrying their gifts, and talking about how smoothly everything went.  The best part about it?  Even though it was a lot of hard work, everyone had fun.  As I said, Minisink Valley at its best.  A big thank you to the Avery family, the Hamilton family, and everyone who helped them!

Superintendent's Blog: March 11, 2008, Machine Learning

Posted March 11 at 9:52am

          There is a growing shortage of software engineers in the United States which is causing companies like Microsoft to look elsewhere to meet their needs.  Bill Gates announced that his company will be looking to developing countries like China to get the talent they need to stay competitive and even ahead of the curve. The IT giant taps into a global market for its technical talent by setting up development centers in multiple locations around the world.  This should be of great concern to us as educators.  It’s more important now than ever before that we continue to give our students the skills they need to be competitive in this new Age of Information.  We want these technical, well-paid jobs to go to our own kids.  

          We should be doing everything possible to make sure our students have what they need to go after one of these jobs if they so choose.  It’s one of the reasons why we continue to move forward with programs that rely more and more on technology, both to deliver instruction and to demand an understanding of its applications.  Our Mandarin Chinese program is delivered via video conferencing.  Several students in our high school are taking courses online through our new Virtual High School program.  Our teachers, throughout our K-12 program continue to emphasize thinking and making connections that go beyond the standard, basic curriculum.  Literacy (reading, math, computer skills) are emphasized throughout the school year.  

          The current shortage of IT high-tech workers needs to be reversed right now in our own schools.  At a recent speech at Carnegie Mellon University, Bill Gates encouraged the students there to pursue computer science and other related fields if they want to be part of the IT future.  “Researchers are dealing with so much information that…the need for machine learning to figure out what’s going on with that data is absolutely essential,” Gates said.  That “machine learning” can’t start at the university classrooms.  It has to start in our elementary schools.

Superintendent's Blog: February 18, 2008, Presidents' Day

Posted February 18 at 2:31pm

          Presidents’ Day is a time to honor all those who have served as President of the United States.  However, on this day we are more likely to recall the best known of our presidents:  George Washington, the Father of our Country, and Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator.  Washington never imagined himself leading the new country which he and his Continental Army fought so hard to preserve.  After the war, he wanted to spend his life on his estate at Mount Vernon.  However, after the Constitution was ratified, Washington was unanimously elected president, then reelected for a second term.  By the time he left office, the U.S. financial system was well established and treaties with Spain had enlarged U.S. Territory.

            Possibly the most widely quoted of all presidents, Abraham Lincoln had a way of getting to the truth and stating it simply.  When he said, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” People believed him.  His signing of the Emancipation Proclamation eliminated slavery in the U.S. and set a new social standard for the country.  A peacemaker and a collaborator, Lincoln had a talent for bringing people together.  In 1862, he said, “We can only succeed by concert.”  His belief that the country had to be held together was instrumental in the United States becoming one of the most powerful countries in the world.

            It seems to me that we can learn a great deal from both men, things like courage and compassion, and standing by our beliefs.  We must be sure to tell our children their stories, especially during this month when they are honored.  This is more than just a day off.  It’s a day to remember those men who made this country great.  A day to reflect on what we are doing keep this country great.

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