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SCHOOL SCENE TAKE ONE FREE

A look at BOCES

A Special Supplement to the Sullivan County Democrat

SECTION S

APRIL, 2017

CALLICOON, NY


BOCES

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

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BOCES

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APRIL, 2017

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BOCES Deputy Superintendent Susan Schmidt, left, confers with administrative assistant Donna Bright in the administrative offices in Liberty.

Jobs, jobs and more jobs: BOCES serves role in economic growth STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY

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notice on the Sullivan BOCES website spells it out: “Substitutes Needed, All Positions,” for classrooms in Eldred, Fallsburg, Liberty, Monticello, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley school districts and in BOCES classrooms too. “The need for substitutes is so great,” said Susan Schmidt, Acting CEO and Deputy Superintendent at Sullivan BOCES. “Here, we hire from

our own pool of substitutes, whether it's for clerical, teaching or administration positions, and then our substitute pool is hard to backfill. Ninety to ninety-five percent of the subs we hire go on to full-time employment.” A dearth of good candidates for the important fill-in spot, and potential job openings for other school district positions, spurred BOCES to host a well-attended Jobs Fair at the Liberty Elks Lodge in March. Eighty people showed up, delighted to net-

work with school district officials from all over the county on the possibility of netting good jobs close to home. “With St. Peter's (Regional Catholic School in Liberty) closing, we might hire individuals from there,” offered Schmidt. Collaboration with and responsiveness to the needs of the community and its school districts undergird BOCES' education-related services, from special education classes to teacher training, from adult edu-

cation programs to the high school classes that teach career skills to students who want or need more than traditional academics.

BOCES AND THE CASINO With the Montreign Resort Casino due for completion in 2018, BOCES and SUNY Sullivan are linking with the Center for Workforce Development – which concentrates its energy on economic growth – to forge a career “ladder” for students. CONTINUED ON PAGE 4S


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Montreign, on the site of the former Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, is expected to need 1,400 individuals in the areas of marketing, security and surveillance, culinary arts, front-of-house hospitality, finance, information technology and gaming. At BOCES, a Career and Technology Hospitality Program for 11th and 12th graders is in the planning stages. Once it's up and running, most likely in 2018, the BOCES course can jumpstart students who have learned basic work-related skills at the Center for Workforce Development into the Hospitality and Tourism Management AAS degree program at SUNY Sullivan. Beginning next fall, BOCES will offer its own Essential Hospitality/Customer Service Skills program for adults. Participants will learn how to “sell” themselves as working professionals who can communicate, problem solve and serve as part of successful teams. “It's really about customer service in any industry” as well as giving adults a leg up on securing a job in the casino, noted BOCES Communications Director Donna Hemmer. A second adult course, Math Skills for the Gaming Industry, will focus on the arithmetic required in casino gaming jobs as well as in guest service, food service and cashier positions. BOCES will host an information session at the St. John Street Education Center in Monticello on Thursday, April 6 from 5 to 6 p.m. for those interested in either of the adult education courses.

districts and state and federal governments. This year, a newly-hired facilities manager, Stephen Lewis, works for both BOCES and the Liberty School District on operations and maintenance. Another new hire, Heather Bonnell, is a shared human resources manager for Liberty and Sullivan West school districts. Farther from home, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which, in 2015, replaced the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is set to take full effect during the 2017-18 school year. New U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has ordered states to keep going with their ESSA plans. New York, as well as other U.S. states, must submit plans to the federal Education Department outlining the education goals for their k12 students. The goals must address student proficiency on tests, English-language proficiency and graduation rates. In New York State, the 37 BOCES are in charge of seeking input from stakeholders to make sure ESSA is rolled out in the best advantage for students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community. The State Education Department will then gather the information and work with the Regents of the State of New York to put together the plan. Sullivan BOCES has gathered data from two ESSA workshops, one in October and another in March. One big issue continues to be the varied student populations, culturally and economically, in Sullivan's eight school districts. “People need to have an understanding of local and regional needs,” said CEO Schmidt, “and still push for students to increase in achievement so that they can succeed.”

Participants will learn how to “sell” themselves as working professionals who can communicate, problem solve and serve as part of successful teams.

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SCHOOL DISTRICTS' PARTNER BOCES also collaborates with school districts to help save money, and serves as a key link between the


SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

APRIL, 2017

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Science teacher Edward Ehrenberg piloted the Robotics program last year. He has taught earth science at BOCES for more than 25 years.

Robots charge ahead STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY

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uman-invented automation goes back to ancient times when the Greeks and Romans created simple “robots” to use as tools and toys. Jump ahead to the 21st century, where robots assemble parts on a factory production line, engage in search and rescue work, conduct military operations, and explore space. At BOCES' Alternative High School program at the Rubin Pollack Educa-

tion Center, students are making their own history by creating robots that move, perform tasks and say words. Along the way, they are boosting their knowledge of technology and engineering. They are working on their science, math and art skills. “It's great,” says student Ishmel Woods, speaking of the Robotics class taught by veteran BOCES science teacher Edward Ehrenberg. “We get to put our pencils down and work CONTINUED ON PAGE 7S

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APRIL, 2017

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BOCES

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

APRIL, 2017

Nathan Honorato and Kenneth Stretch work on their LEGO robot in a class at the Alternative High School.

with our hands and computers.” “It's something new to me,” adds student Kenneth Stretch, as he manipulates the robot he created along with teammate Nathan Hono-

rato. Ehrenberg teaches Robotics to the class of seven as they learn to build and program the small machines to perform specific tasks. “The challenge for the class,” said Ehrenberg, “was to build and code a robot that would go back and forth,

SCHOOL

Two teams of two students each succeeded, and the team of Stretch and Honorato showed off their robot's exploits to a visiting reporter. As it should, the robot traveled down the length of the table, which was clad in white for easy reading on the part of the 'bot. At the construction paper, it made a quick turn, approached the crimson-colored paper and said “Red” in a monotone voice. It moved on, turned at another piece of paper, and said “Yellow” Amazing! Robotics not only teaches technical reading, math measurement and engineering design, but students polish their deep thinking skills and problem solving strategies. And they learn to collaborate and respect each other's ideas. “The students are into it,” said Ehrenberg, who has taught at BOCES for over 25 years. “They get to play with LEGOS and at the same time work with robotics systems that are very advanced.” “It's a useful thing for the future,” agreed Nathan Honorato. “Technology is moving so quickly – it's good to learn how to program now.”

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identify a particular color, and say it out loud.” LEGO robots are popular in classrooms across the nation, and Ehrenberg turned to the time-honored toy manufacturer for his students. Using LEGO Mindstorms EV3, they were able to access the hardware and software to create a programmable robot, along with a “brick” computer that controls the system, a set of sensors and motors, and the LEGO parts. After building the robot itself, the challenge was for the students to then code the robot, or to write commands that run as a set, one after another in proper sequence (also called the software “string”) – in order to make the robot perform its mission. “They had to learn the sequence of coding,” Ehrenberg explained. The aim was to create a robot that could travel the length of a 12-foot by 4-foot science table top. Along the way, the robot would head for four tablet-sized pieces of construction paper, stationed in different places on the table top, and all in different colors. The robot would touch the piece of paper and name the color out loud.

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BOCES

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

APRIL, 2017

Grab your helmets, the sparks fly in new welding program STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY

arter Harman has found his future. “After high school, I want to go into a union and become a steamfitter,” said the eleventh grader. “Then I plan to go to Alfred State University for two years, get my certificate and take an apprenticeship for five years.” Harmon, a Liberty High School student, is gladly engaged in his first career step. He is enrolled in a new welding course at BOCES that teaches him and others the intricacies of various types of welding. His teacher is a welding pro: Pennsylvania native Michele Robbins. Robbins grew up in the construction industry, so choosing sheet metal fabrication as a profession was not a far-fetched idea. “My mother was a carpenter and my father was a crane operator,” said BOCES' newest teacher. “That's what I knew.” After serving three years in the U.S. Army, Robbins worked for years in the construction field, a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union with jobs mostly in the western U.S. states.

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Veteran welder and teacher Michele Robbins instructs BOCES new welding course for high school juniors and seniors.

But after suffering a torn rotator cuff, she segued into teaching, eventually earning a Master's Degree in Education with a focus on literacy. She was a professor at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, and taught at BOCES programs in Elmira and Rochester before arriving at Sullivan BOCES. Welding is a smart field for students to explore, Robbins said – the demand for welders remains high and the salaries excellent. “Right now, baby boomer welders are retiring at the same time as infrastructure across the U.S. is being remodeled, restructured and rebuilt with welders needed,” Robbins said. “Welding is a vital mainstream in life,” she said. “You cannot walk more than 10 feet without experiencing something that's been welded – chairs and tables, car frames, airplanes, skyscrapers, spaceships.” And teaching welding – which encompasses knowledge of math, science and literacy – is satisfying in itself. “Students learn a whole new language – the vocabulary in welding is extensive,” she said. And they write: as seniors, they must write a five-paragraph summary on each form of welding: oxyfuel,


APRIL, 2017

stick, MIG and TIG welding. “Welding is hard, and kids can get irritable at first,” she said. “But when they finally get a weld, and do a bend test with no cracks, they're walking around showing it to everybody. I like to see them succeed. ” Robbins says she's enjoyed the non-traditional nature of serving as a woman welder and teacher. According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, women make up only about four percent of working welders. In the end, Robbins just relishes doing what she does. ”You put your helmet down and you're all by yourself. You are the one with the knowledge that a particular blueprint is right or wrong.” Plus, she said with a grin, “I just like making sparks.”

Carter Harmon of Liberty learns the basics of welding at BOCES' Rubin Pollack Education Center on Ferndale Road.

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BOCES

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BOCES

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Eighth grader Seraphim Stoutenburgh dons sterile gloves to search for the presence of bacteria in her classroom, part of the science lesson for the day.

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eraphim Stoutenburgh relishes science class with her new

teacher, Adam Malfetano. “It's cool,” the eighth grader said. “I'm learning a lot about cells and stuff and how they work. Mr.


SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

student-centered, Malfetano likes animals, learning by doing, and I want to work in aniproject based.” mal science. He's never His is no ordinary boring. He's talking and science room. A live moving around all the iguana lives in style in time.” a large glass terrariSeraphim pulled on um, and students can blue rubber gloves as she pick him up carefully prepared to wield a cot- Adam Malfetano after donning thick ton swab to check the Teacher | gloves. desk, the doorknob and Malfetano believes the table for the presence in art, and a print of Van Gogh's oil of bacteria. At Rubin Pollack Education Center masterpiece “The Starry Night” has a on Ferndale-Loomis Road, prominent spot on one wall, along Malfetano teaches science in the with a student portrait of another Middle School Special Education famous artist, Leonardo DaVinci of program. He's engaged now in Mona Lisa fame. “I want to expand their horizons,” teaching the Kingdoms of Life, which include Plants, Animals, Protists, said Malfetano. “These kids are Fungi, Archaebacteria and pegged as special ed, not smart, not capable. It's not true.” Eubacteria. New to Sullivan BOCES, Malfetano Typically, “science has been mostly handouts and book work,” said Malfetano. “But I like hands-on. It's CONTINUED ON PAGE 12S

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Science is never static in the classroom of BOCES Middle School teacher Adam Malfetano.

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is in his 17th year of teaching special education. He studied at Cornell, majoring in chemistry and psychology. Science and math were his forte. But he loves art, cooking and sports as well. His lessons always involve the kids doing something. “I pre-teach just enough to have good questions and get them thinking on their own. Then they work on the project, and then I fill in the knowledge gaps.” “Working on projects throughout the year is especially important as they move on to high school,” he said. “They'll be taking the Regents, and they will need to be prepared for homework assignments and project work.” His goal is to dispel the idea that learning is dull and boring. He keeps the class on its toes by striding across the front of the room, asking questions, soliciting responses. Recently, the engagement was about the vernal equinox in March when the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt towards the sun and day and night are nearly equal. “Science is the ability to explore the unknown,” he says in a quiet moment. “Things are constantly changing, they're never stagnant or static.” Nor is his own energy. “I'm excited about what I teach, passionate about what I do. Sharing that passion is the reason I teach. “I believe learning should be active and evolving,” he said. “Teaching that way requires a lot of work, of planning, but the kids respond to it amazingly. Since September, the level of engagement is off the charts. They inspire me to do more.” Science tedious? No way, says Mr. Malfetano: “You just didn't have the right teacher.”


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APRIL, 2017

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BOCES

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Special education teacher Jennifer Brock works with student Evan Miller, who is earnest about learning at White Sulphur Springs School off Route 52. Brock's class of eight children also benefits from the expertise of teaching assistant Susann Yupanqui and teacher aides Laura Crowley, Adel Maldonado and Jessica Metcalf.

It’s as simple as ABA for youngest students in need STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY

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ach day, 53 Sullivan County children with the social skills, behaviors, and speech and nonverbal communication issues that characterize forms of autism and developmental disability find a caring, skilled setting at BOCES' White Sulphur Springs School. One of their teachers is Jennifer Brock, whose classroom includes eight youngsters, all of whom are six or seven years old. Aided by a teacher

assistant and three teacher aides, Brock uses a number of techniques to advance the learning skills of her students. “Many of our children are speech and language impaired,” she explains. Some don't know the meaning of the word “where.” Others don't know the difference between the words “he” and “she.” Some don't know how to play with toys. Others do not understand what it means to answer a question posed by the teacher. A number of Brock's students use

sign language to communicate even though they are not deaf, because the words they try to communicate are almost indecipherable. Many of the children enter the classroom in September on the learning level of 12- to 18-month-old toddlers. But Brock's classroom is full of hope and educational growth. Working one-on-one with an adult, a student will repeat words out loud, learning through sight, sound and touch. Toys, games and computers are employed in the learning process.

Children learn expressive language, which is the ability to convey thoughts into words with meaning; and receptive language, which is the understanding of what is being said to them. Each child's daily progress is tracked using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program, called VB-MAPPING. The language and social skills assessment tool and curriculum guide provide a clear picture of the child's abilities, language and learning barriers across three levels of typ-


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APRIL, 2017

ical development: 0-18 months, 1830 months and 30-48 months. Brock also uses the techniques of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills like reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective. Since the 1960s, ABA principles have encouraged positive change in student behavior, making it possible for them to learn. One important ABA technique is positive reinforcement, which works to create useful behaviors on the part of the child versus those actions that may cause harm to themselves or others. Children on various points of the autism spectrum are often prone to acting out physically when they are frustrated or faced with unexpected change. For instance, the word “No” directed at them might send them into a bout of screaming, yelling, or hitting. But the ABA response is to say “no” numerous times per day, coupling it “with the second best thing,” said Brock.

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She'll say, “No, you can't get on an iPad – but you can go on a computer with me.” That mollifies the student, and he or she begins to learn that “no” does not have to be a trigger point for negativity. “You desensitize the child to the word 'No,'” Brock said. “You train them to accept ‘No.’” The Carbone Clinic, based in Rockland County, is an invaluable asset, said White Sulphur Springs Principal Megan Becker. The agency provides services for children and adults with autism and related disabilities. “The Carbone Clinic gives my staff ongoing training in the methods that they use and have found that work,” Becker said. “They visit once a month and observe classrooms, helping to fine-tune staff's techniques and approaches with their methods.” The ability to chart each student's daily progress via VB-MAPPING is also important, the principal said. “The VB-MAPP approach is a significant part of our program – our staff uses it and our students' growth shows it each and every day.”

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Sullivan County BOCES School Scene 2017  

Serving all eight public school districts within Sullivan County, our local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) renders servic...

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