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CONNECTIONS The Official Publication Of Southern Westchester Board Of Cooperative Educational Services

Fall 2009

School Districts Share Lessons Learned from the Budget Process

The often contentious yearlong process of building a public school budget and getting it approved can be fraught with obstacles: skeptical taxpayers, activist parents and, in recent years, a recession that has enforced cuts and tough choices across the board.


ow to handle these stumbling blocks by reaching out to the community and keeping the budget process transparent was up for discussion recently at a half-day session for superintendents, staff and school board members: “Engaging Your Public in the Budget Development Process: Lessons from Public Agenda and Westchester-Putnam Communities.” The program, attended by more than 95 school officials, was jointly hosted by Southern Westchester BOCES, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES and the WestchesterPutnam School Boards Association at Manhattanville College on Oct. 30.

In his keynote address, Dr. Will Friedman, chief operating officer of New York-based Public Agenda, a public opinion research and public engagement organization, shared stories from the field Dr. Will Friedman, COO, in which Public Agenda Public Agenda partnered with school districts across the country in community engagement on issues such as low-performing schools, parent involvement and college readiness.

From left: SWBOCES District Supt. Robert Monson, PNWBOCES District Supt. James Langlois, and Lisa Davis, Executive Director of Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association.

Much of Public Agenda’s work with school communities centers around the formation of focus groups with parents, and framing dialogue “to figure out what we’re trying to accomplish,” Dr. Friedman said. Any issue can be framed in small, diverse conversations moderated by trained facilitators. Issues need to be defined and talked about in a common language and an end put to an “us versus them” mentality, he said. As an example, Dr. Friedman pointed to his work in the 1990s with the multicultural San Jose, Calif., school district and its commitment to engaging the public around raising educational standards and graduation expectations. In the case of San Jose, which has a high Hispanic population, breakout sessions in Spanish also were held. Continued on page 2


Opposites Attract: Students Choosing Non-Traditional Careers

If there’s one lesson the shifting economy has taught us, it’s that there are no rules when it comes to career choices. Layoffs and unpredictable job markets have forced both men and women to ignore stereotypes and train for jobs they may never have considered because of their gender. It’s not unusual now to see male nurses, teachers and librarians, or female electricians, carpenters, welders and mechanics in the workforce.


tudents who are exploring career options fully understand the concept that “anything goes” in today’s world, says Linda Suarez, director of the Southern Westchester BOCES Career Services Center. “They aren’t hung up on the idea that jobs are gender-specific. It’s just not an issue for them.” BOCES students, in fact, can spend their Continued on page 4

C O N T E N T S Youth Detective on a Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Technology Funds Available to Educators . . . . . . . .6 Noteworthy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Nurses Make Everything All Better . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Student Gets a Taste for Medicine . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 SWBOCES Awarded $700K Schools Grant . . . . . .12

BOCES Southern Westchester

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School Districts Share Lessons...

The city of Bridgeport, Conn., became a shining example of how to “embed public engagement processes in communities,” Dr. Friedman said. In 1996, the Bridgeport Public Education Fund (BPEF) participated in a national demonstration to explore public dialogue possibilities about education reform with various stakeholders. Led by Public Agenda and the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), the project ultimately led to a culture of public engagement for the city that broadened into a statewide effort – the Connecticut Community Conver-sations Project – in 1997. Bridgeport since has become known for its community conversations and for its adoption of the public engagement model. “The more you engage the public before budget time around educational issues, the more legitimacy you’re going to have,” Dr. Friedman concluded. “You need to build a friendship and a partnership” and work on the premise that “we’re tackling a budget squeeze together.” The conversation around public engagement continued in four breakout sessions, where the New Rochelle City School District, Scarsdale Public Schools, Bedford Central School District and the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns shared their own budget development and communication processes.

as many different perspectives” as possible to assist in the 2009-2010 budget preparations, said Susan Wollin, a long-time Bedford resident and president of the Board of Education. The Board needed to set goals for the budget, to incorporate printed materials, the Web and broadcasting to engage and inform the public and to be available to address school staff questions and concerns, “remembering that the goal was to pass a budget,” Ms. Wollin said. “Transparency on Steroids”

The result was “transparency on steroids,” Dr. Hochman said. Community meetings held at libraries helped the Board test the waters and learn whether they were on or off target with the budget, a 24-member Advisory Committee met twice a month and later broke off into a sub-committee to look at the best practices of school districts across the country, and an e-mail system was set up for members to submit questions to Mr. Betz to respond to. The Board worked on the assumption that an educated public was not necessarily informed. “Opening up to the community is what got us to the finish line,” said Dr. Hochman. Dr. Howard W. Smith, superintendent of Tarrytown public schools, shared some of the successful approaches used to address the challenges the district faced during the budget process, namely economic conditions that imposed limits on growth in

spending while trying to preserve existing programs and services and minimizing staff reductions. Key to the process was the Parent Teacher Association, whose members organized a Get Out the Vote campaign to reach parents and others inclined to support schools. The PTA also arranges to pick up parents at the train station and drive them to the polls on vote day. “It’s about a vigorous phone campaign and poll watching,” Dr. Smith said. The district also reaches out to people who will not be negatively impacted by tax increases. Among them are retirees at a local non-profit retirement community and families living in subsidized housing. Dr. Michael McGill, superintendent of schools in Scarsdale, explained how his district took a three-pronged approach to examining programs, curriculum and budgetary issues in 2008-2009. And Richard Organisciak, superintendent of the New Rochelle City Schools, explained how that district managed to pass a 2008-2009 budget by more than 60 percent in the midst of intense contract negotiations with its various labor unions. Dan Burns and Rod Wright of UNICOM-ARC of St. Louis, shared their firm’s 20 years of experience in pioneering community engagement programs with school districts around the country.

A Perfect Storm

Bedford found itself in the midst of “a perfect storm” following two budget defeats in 2008, said Superintendent Dr. Jere Hochman, who was hired for the 2008-09 school year. This change in leadership, combined with a controversial bus transportation issue, stalled CSEA negotiations, the selection of new legal representation, a vocal, established tax opposition group, and one of the worst economic crises in recent history, culminated in a budget process where it was “unclear how it would be carried out,” Dr. Hochman said. The issue that ultimately resulted in the budget defeat was a decision to cut bus transportation for students living less than half a mile from school. In its attempt to make cuts “as far away from the classroom as possible,” the decision prompted an uproar, particularly from households where working parents would be unable to drop off and pick up their children from school, said Assistant Superintendent Mark Betz. With five diverse towns and a strong antitax lobby, Bedford knew it had to “bring in

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Saving Kids, One Classroom at a Time Frank Kolarik is a man with a mission: saving kids.

As a Youth Detective with the North Castle Police Department, Det. Kolarik’s job can be a mixed bag of good days and bad: bad when he has to arrest a young person who has committed a crime, good when his teaching in school classrooms pays off and kids take his positive message to heart.


he message goes something like this: “Make good choices, stop and think before you act, walk away from fights, value your life, stay on the straight and narrow path to achieve your goals.” It’s the same message parents and teachers have been drilling into children for ages, but it’s always worth hearing one more time, especially when it comes from a uniform-wearing policeman, someone at-risk kids generally try to avoid. From his office in the North Castle police station in beatific Armonk, where it’s impossible to believe a misdeed could ever occur, Det. Kolarik runs a one-man crime prevention campaign at schools in his jurisdiction. One of those schools is Southern Westchester BOCES’ Rye Lake Campus, where he works one day a week with middle and high school students using the WhyTry? program, a contemporary curriculum designed for at-risk youth by a social worker from Utah. In use worldwide, WhyTry? teaches social and emotional principles in a multi-media presentation that incorporates visual analogies reinforced with music and physical activities. The major learning styles—visual, auditory and body-kinesthetic—are all used so that any child can readily connect with WhyTry? Ultimately, WhyTry?’s messages aim at giving young people hope that they can overcome poverty, violence and failure. As the New York State DARE coordinator (DARE is a substance abuse prevention program) and a certified WhyTry? teacher, Det. Kolarik makes use of either program depending on a school’s needs. But at Rye Lake, WhyTry? seems to work best, especially with the younger students. High schoolers, on the other hand, prefer to discuss topical issues such as violence and peer pressure and how to deal with it. What’s most important is gaining the students’ trust. Now in his second year working at Rye Lake, Det. Kolarik says he can go to the campus, “walk up to the kids, shake their hand, ask them how

Youth Detective Frank Kolarik

they’re doing, and they’ll be okay with that. Before, they would never talk to a cop.” And that’s just the point. If kids can just confide in a trusted adult like Det. Kolarik, or even recall what he’s taught them in the classroom in a tough-choice moment, a lot of problems can be headed off at the pass. “Instead of the kids seeing me in a negative situation because I’m only around when someone has messed up,” he says, “they can get to see me in a proactive setting, in a place where I can bond with them, create a relationship with them, and have them come to know a police officer in a positive way.” As Det. Kolarik sees it, it was the divine scheme of things that landed him in his position as North Castle’s Youth Detective. Before becoming a police officer 16 years ago, he survived two combat deployments in Central America while in the Army. When he came home, he entered the Dutchess County Police Academy and, after graduation, worked 3

for two years in Wappingers Falls before joining the North Castle force, where he became a member of the department’s scuba unit and was on the SWAT team. But it was a film on the DARE program that he happened to see while in the police academy that captured his imagination. “It was a pretty moving clip. It looked like a neat program,” he recalls. When he arrived at North Castle, Det. Kolarik mentioned his interest in the DARE program to the chief. As luck would have it, 18 months later the current DARE officer was promoted to sergeant and Det. Kolarik took over the program. He got further training as a youth detective and school resource officer, and the position grew from there. In addition to his prevention work in schools, Det. Kolarik runs a Youth Police Academy for graduating high school seniors. The six-week unpaid internship is akin to a bootcamp and includes four weeks of rigorous physical training, law classes, and field trips to prisons, jails, courts and other police departments. During the last two weeks, the students go on ride-alongs in police vehicles. “I have kids tell me they’ll never forget their experience,” Det. Kolarik says. “They come back and say they’re taking academy civil service entrance exams, or tell me they got hired as a park ranger with the county police for the summer.” It’s an opportunity Det. Kolarik would like to see his Rye Lake students have, too. “It’s so easy to forget everything WhyTry? teaches once you get back into your home environment,” he says. And that’s where parents can make all the difference—by bolstering their children with positive reinforcement. Parents, he says, have to remember one thing: that their kids absorb who they are. “They see what you do, they see how you act. They become like you. That’s my experience with my own kids, and that’s what I’ve seen in my years working with students. Apples and trees…you know how that works. Parents are the ultimate role model.” Learn more about WhyTry? by visiting:

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Opposites Attract: Students...

first week on campus sampling different courses until they find one that fits. If a female student starts out in cosmetology, but discovers that she’d rather train in carpentry after sitting in on a class, she’s free to shift gears. Likewise, a male student who realizes his artistic skills are better suited to creating garments for the fashion industry can opt out of a traditional course like auto mechanics. Parent support key to student success It’s important for parents to support students, especially girls, who are interested in a non-traditional career path, says Ms. Suarez. Many girls get the message from anxious parents that their BOCES training is “something they can fall back on.” That’s a mistake, she says, because if a girl’s choice is trivialized, she may never go the distance in her career. Men, Ms. Suarez notes, tend to be more serious and take their career training to the next level or use their skills to start a business, while women sometimes stop short of their career goals to marry and raise a family. “Women need to take ownership and see themselves as a whole package and a brand, and move forward from there.” She adds that historically it’s been easier for men to become successful in non-traditional careers. Society has accepted male hairdressers, chefs, and fashion designers (think Paul Mitchell, Gordon Ramsey and Valentino), but women are still considered something of a novelty in non-traditional career settings. People still tend to take a second look if they spot a woman working on a construction crew, for example, or raise eyebrows over a female carpenter on a television design show. Slowly, but surely, non-traditional careers for men and women are becoming, well, normal. Ms. Suarez points to herself as an example of a woman working in a non-traditional career role. Twenty years ago, she says, a man would have held her position as director of the Center for Career Services. “Women leading schools was a rare thing, so we are making progress. The whole idea of traditional jobs is probably going to die with my generation. Everything’s an option now. Everything’s open.” Here’s a look at three SWBOCES students who have chosen to explore a non-traditional career path:

Arielle Young

Arielle Young: Future Auto Designer

Looking at Arielle Young, you’d never suspect the Alexander Hamilton High senior was into cars. Standing only 5’2” tall, it’s even more impossible to believe she knows how to operate a multi-ton frame straightening machine used to realign car frames set askew in accidents, or wield a welding gun with deft. But Arielle, dressed in a pair of dusty blue coveralls, knows her way around the BOCES auto body shop, and points out the biggest, noisiest and most dangerous pieces of equipment around. “Once you know what those clunky sounds are and how the machines work, they’re not as scary as they look,” she says. In addition to the crane and welding machines, there’s a metal cutter and a drill press, which uses mega-sized drill bits to create holes in metal, and the paint booth, where autos go in for a makeover. What would inspire a self-confessed girly-girl, who loves having manicures, to want to spend time in what looks like a wonderland for boys? Her father. As a youngster, Arielle and her dad, who designs aircraft radar products, would “drool over” auto magazines together, looking at the expensive sports cars – Porsches and Maseratis were favorites – he couldn’t afford. That didn’t stop them from dreaming. 4

Arielle had a talent for drawing, and for fun invented her own luxury sports car designs on paper. It occurred to her that there had to be a way to combine her love for sports cars and drawing in a career. She found out about the BOCES auto body course from a guidance counselor, but wasn’t interested at first. “Getting down and dirty wasn’t something I was into,” she says with a laugh. She visited the shop anyway and a lightbulb went on. “It struck me that cars are not just beautiful to look at, but that they have a function,” she says. “I realized that I could use my understanding of their technical function and combine it with my love of art to design cars.” One of the most important things she has learned after working with different metals during the first year in the program, is that some of her fantasy cars would never make it to the assembly line simply because the metals wouldn’t work for the design. “I put too much creativity into the designs,” she says, pointing to the fancy grill work on one of the drawings in her portfolio. “You can manipulate a design (on paper), but it may not work in the physical world.” With dreams of designing luxury sports cars for German manufacturers Audi or Porsche because “they’re awesome,” Arielle says she will enroll in a university industrial arts design program. She also hopes to enter the SkillsUSA competition in the spring. Continued on page 5

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Opposites Attract: Students... Jen Pineda: Electrician in Training

Jen Pineda is up on a ladder turning a screw driver. She’s trying to make a switch connect to a light bulb. “It’s a really good feeling when the light goes on,” the 11th grader from Mamaroneck High School says with a pleased smile. She is enrolled in the BOCES Electrical Construction program, where students focus on learning electrical layout, and the installation and maintenance of residential and commercial wiring. Jen, a

Jen Pineda

first-year student and the only girl in the class, works alongside her male counterparts in “rooms” constructed of lumber frames, where the students practice their wiring and cabling skills to the thumping beat of techno music coming from a set of overhead speakers. In this pretend house, students have an opportunity to learn how to do everything from getting a blub to light from a single switch to rigging it so that it can be controlled from multiple locations in a house. More difficult jobs, installing cable and reading blueprints, come along as students increase their skills. “I just wanted to do something different. I couldn’t see myself doing cosmetology or anything like that,” Jen says in explanation of her choice to explore the electrical field. Trades run in the family: an uncle is an electrician and her

step- father is a mechanic. Both men, and a male family friend, have supported her decision. Jen is practical-minded and says that no matter what she ends up doing for a living, she’ll always have a high-paying skill in a field that is short on women. “I think everyone should have electrical skills. It’s like replacing a tire. Everyone should know how.” Victor Perez: A Feel for Flowers

It’s not just the girls who are taking the road less traveled. Victor Perez, a senior at Sleepy Hollow High School, enrolled in the Ornamental Horticulture program two years ago after a summer job he held at Tarrytown Florist, a position he applied for through his school’s Project YOU (Youth Opportunities Unlimited). While girls and women are most often associated with being the recipient of flowers, passionate gardeners, and floral industry designers, Victor feels that’s a sexist point of view. “Flowers are for everyone,” he says earnestly. He’s also an equal opportunist when it comes to favorite flowers -they’re all his favorites. “I like them all because they’re pretty and they smell good. My mom is always happy when I bring flowers home,” he says. At the florist shop, Victor learned how to cut and wrap fresh flowers, make funeral wreaths, and create seasonal and holiday floral arrangements. He was able to transfer his experience to class, where he and his fellow students have been learning to identify different flowers, clean and cut them properly, design and package bouquets and arrangements for birthdays and weddings, and make funeral and hospital floral arrangements. They’ll also gain an understanding of the wholesale and retail aspects of the floral business by the end of the course. But it’s the artistry that goes into his 5

creations – like the autumn wreath he recently designed for class (see photo) – that best showcases Victor’s passion for all things floral. “He’s a great designer. I’d love to see him get into the field,” says his teacher, Cory Magarelli, who notes that Victor has a natural instinct for making use of just the right materials to make an arrangement work. He’ll have plenty of opportunity to experiment further as he and his classmates design items for Career Services’ annual holiday crafts sale. The students will make fresh and silk holiday wreaths, table and fireplace arrangements, and other pieces to decorate the home. Throughout the course, they also will get to create floral pieces for weddings and other events that customers request.

Victor Perez

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will transform education. According to Dr. House, New York State is already well positioned to receive Race to the Top funds because it allows for charter schools and is one of several other states receiving a $250,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to help write the applications, which school districts and states must work on collaboratively. However, districts must be “bold and innovative” in their approach, she said, and willing to create new strategies for boosting student achievement and high school graduation rates.

Districts Urged to Apply for Technology Funding Local educators were urged to apply for additional funding under the second phase of the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during a special webinar hosted by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center’s Model Schools Program.

A number of controversial proposals have been associated with this fund, including linking student performance to teacher pay. Dr. House suggested that listeners be aware of the new national core standards, the first draft of which is currently on the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site. Districts hoping to receive Race to the Top funds will need to implement these new standards.


uring the one-hour “Technology Funding with Dr. Jenny House Webinar,” participants were urged to be “bold and innovative” and to wisely determine what they need for the future. “You have two years to get this funding and you must be able to report to the public on what you spent it on, why you spent it, and what decisions you made in the process,” said Dr. House, founder and principal of RedRock Reports, a California-based consulting firm that helps districts avail of federal funding.

Districts that fall under the Title I School Improvement Fund category will receive significant aid, said Dr. House. One of the government’s stipulations is that Title I schools provide a new curriculum that motivates students to learn. Dr. House said that can be done if districts use Avid products to engage students that teach the basic skills in reading, writing, math, and science through video, film and sound media. Approximately 40 percent of the Title I funding from the ARRA is being devoted to middle and high schools, she added.

Chevy Martin, a senior analyst with the firm, also participated in the webinar that outlined specifically how Avid Technologies, a digital audio and video technology company, can work with school districts to meet the funding guidelines of the ARRA. Schools are eligible for more than $100 billion in grants and bonds over the next two years through the ARRA, which is an historic infusion of funding for K-12 schools and higher education, noted Dr. House. A good portion of that money is now available, but with application deadlines approaching in a variety of states and funding areas, Dr. House said it was imperative that administrators act quickly.

Other funding streams that were discussed include the Enhancing Education through Technology grant, which is intended to improve student achievement through the use of technology in both elementary and secondary schools; state fiscal stabilization funds, which will help stabilize state and local government budgets in order to minimize and avoid reductions in education and other essential public services; qualified school construction bonds; qualified zone academy bonds; the Workforce Investment Act; and the Investing in Innovation fund.

The educational goals of the reinvestment act as it relates to education are to enhance teacher effectiveness and the equitable distribution of effective teachers; improve collegeand career-ready standards, in addition to providing high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; provide pre-kindergarten to higher education data systems to meet the principles set out in the America COMPLETES Act; and provide intensive support and effective interventions for the country’s lowest-performing schools.

Otherwise known as i3, the Investing in Innovation fund has given U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan the most discretionary spending power to date, said Dr. House. The $650 million fund largely will go toward school districts and non-profit organizations, as well as colleges and universities, turnaround specialists, charter schools, companies, and other stakeholders.

Dr. House drew attention to a number of different grants, including the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, an ambitious reform initiative that the Obama Administration hopes

To find more information on ARRA funding, visit or 6

NOTEWORTHY Art Student Builds Portfolio in Summer Course

Integrated Art student Jake Saporito is one step closer to entering the career world, thanks to a Portfolio Prep course he took over the summer through Westchester Community College.

in which students gain job experience volunteering and working in community businesses. “It’s a very pragmatic program based on using life skills in the community,” says their teacher, Ed Illiano, who helped them secure the position. The YMCA is located across the street from St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on Mamaroneck Avenue, where SWBOCES holds AIIM classes, so the guys don’t have far to go to get to work every Monday and Friday.

Jake Saporito

Students participating in the class, held at Westchester County Center, were given five unique assignments to help them build a well-rounded portfolio while developing and stretching their skills. The projects taught Jake new techniques for shading and adding value to a drawing using charcoal pencil, and gave him experience in drawing from life rather than solely from the imagination.

Volunteer Position “Working Out” for Two AIIM Students

Jake, a senior at Mamaroneck High School, says he was initially interested in a career in forensics, but was encouraged by his mom to pursue art because he was always good at drawing as a child. “I could make up designs in my head and draw them,” he says.

Meet Jake Koocher and Justin Bobinski, two young men who (their peers would probably say) have a dream job. Both men volunteer twice a week at the YMCA gym in downtown White Plains – where they also get to work out and swim for free.

In Integrated Art, Jake and his classmates are learning how to use various media (pen and ink, charcoal) to draw, and will move into digital photography and using Adobe software applications, including Photoshop and Illustrator, as the course progresses, in preparation for jobs in art, graphic design and photography.

Jake, 18, and Justin, 20, are enrolled in the Southern Westchester BOCES Project AIIM (Applied Intensive Intervention Model), designed for students with autism spectrum disorders. The young men are participating in Project AIIM’s transition and career awareness program,

Jake Koocher


Jake and Justin share responsibilities with other volunteers, which include cleaning the workout equipment, keeping the weight room organized, tidying up around the facility and polishing the brass handrails throughout the 110-year-old building. Their

Justin Bobinski

hard work benefits the customers, but the big payoff comes with pleasing the boss. “We can always use an extra hand around here,” says YMCA Wellness Director Kenia Velez, who interviewed Jake and Justin for the volunteer spots. “They’re great guys. They’re learning the job well. They listen and they always try to do what they’re asked.” Continued on page 8

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This isn’t Jake and Justin’s only job experience. In the summer, Jake flies out to Nebraska to work at a family friend’s truck stop, where he cleans out trucks and busses tables in the restaurant. He also has bussed tables at Friday’s restaurant in Tarrytown, the same eatery where Justin has worked as a busboy for the last three years. Keeping customers happy wherever they work is their main goal, both men say, but it’s the feeling of self-worth that comes from taking on the responsibility of a job, and having an opportunity to gain customer service experience and socialize with others, that makes volunteering at the YMCA especially satisfying for them. Oh, yeah. And those free workouts.

Tools Trade Fall 2009

If there’s one lesson the shifting economy has taught us, it’s that there are no rules when it comes to career choices. Layoffs and unpredictable job markets have forced both men and A Publication of the Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Career Services women to ignore stereotypes and train for jobs they may never have considered because of their gender. It’s not A Message from the Director unusual now to see male nurses, Dear Friends: teachers and librarians, or female The 2009-2010 school year is in full swing and our electricians, carpenters, welders and students are hard at work towards achieving their educamechanics in the workforce.

e of th

tional and career goals. We at Career Services are here to support them from every direction, starting with an outstanding curriculum and guidance from our highly qualified teachers and counselors.

The doors of opportunity are always open to our students, with events like the annual Career Day, where they can learn about a wide range of careers first-hand from people working in the field, and from campus visits throughout the year from representatives of some of the best postsecondary colleges and technical schools in the country. A few things I’d like students and parents to keep in mind as they plan ahead is that students are in a unique position to not only learn life-long transferable skills, but to earn academic, career, and technical credit, college credit, to participate in internships and job shadowing opportunities, and to prepare for entry into the workforce. This is a place where practical, hands-on skills work in tandem with academic and career pursuits. This issue of “Tools of the Trade” offers stories that may give you some food for thought as you read about several students who are exploring non-traditional career paths and two who have participated in programs that gave them a leg up on their chosen field. We look forward to a great year and to working with each of our students to help them reach their academic goals and make their career dreams come true. If you have any questions about the Center for Career Services, please contact me at 914 -761-3400.

Southern Westchester BOCES Recognized for Excellence in Communications

The Southern Westchester BOCES Office of Public Information has been recognized for outstanding achievement in educational communications by the New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA). Award-winning recipients in NYSPRA’s 30th Annual Communications Awards were honored Oct. 16 at the annual NYSPRA Awards Luncheon held in conjunction with the 2009 New York State School Boards Association Conven-tion in New York City. Southern Westchester BOCES received one award of Excellence, one award of Honor and one award of Merit in the contest, which continues to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation. With more than 400 entries in 14 categories from across New York State, the 2009 contest was a closely drawn competition. Colette Connolly of the SWBOCES Public Information Office received an award of excellence in the category of Excellence in Writing for her story, “Newbies at the Academic Bowl,” which

Students who are exploring career options fully understand the concept that “anything goes” in today’s world, says Linda Suarez, director of the Southern Westchester BOCES Career Services Center. “They aren’t hung up on the idea that jobs are gender-specific. It’s just not an issue for them.” BOCES students, in fact, can spend their first week on campus sampling different courses until they find one that fits. If a female student starts out in cosmetology, but discovers that she’d rather train in carpentry after sitting in on a class, she’s free to shift gears. Likewise, a male student who realizes his artistic skills are better suited to creating garments for the fashion industry can opt out of a traditional course like auto mechanics. Parent support key to student success It’s important for parents to support students, especially girls, who are interested in a non-traditional career path, says Ms. Suarez. Many girls get the message from anxious parents that their BOCES training is “something they can fall back on.” That’s a mistake, she says, because if a girl’s choice is trivialized, she may never go the Continued on page 2


CONTENTS Campus Green Committee Formed . . . . . . . . .3 Student Orientation Sessions . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Air Brush Artist Visits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Student Gets a Taste for Medicine . . . . . . . . .5 Back to School Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Art Student Builds Portfolio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Linda Maria Suarez Director, Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Career Services

For more information about Project AIIM and other special education programs, visit:

Opposites Attract: Students Choosing Non-Traditional Careers


followed SWBOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and teachers as they competed in the nationwide contest. Ms. Connolly also received an Award of Merit for producing "Alliance", the quarterly newsletter of the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center in Elmsford. Evelyn McCormack, SWBOCES public information coordinator, received an Award of Honor for her work on “Tools of the Trade,” a quarterly newsletter she produces for the SWBOCES Center for Career Services.

Educators Pilot New Solar Workshop

The Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Professional Development and Curriculum Support ran the first “Focus on Solar” workshop for teachers on Nov. 4 at its location at 2 Westchester Plaza in Elmsford. The free workshop, which falls under the Center’s new Math Science Technology Institute curriculum, is offered year round for grade 5-12 teachers and community educators through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The workshop focuses on such topics as energy forms and sources, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Geared toward helping teachers in all disciplines integrate solar energy education into lesson plans, the course gives a rundown of the “what, when, where, why and how” of solar energy and demonstrates the role photovoltaics (PV) – solar electrical systems – can play in providing clean energy. The 27 middle and high school educaContinued on page 9

“This year’s winners should feel especially proud of their awards which recognize excellence in school communications,” said Marcia Kelley, NYSPRA President and School Information Officer of the East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District. “Entries were judged by a distinguished panel of professionals from around the country. The judging was very competitive, with only one-third of all entries receiving awards.” NYSPRA is a chapter of the National School Public Relations Association. As a statewide group of professional school communicators, members are committed to the development and dissemination of communications designed to engage parents, staff, community residents, partners in education and other stakeholders. 8

Energy educator S. Lee Cabe’s course helps teachers integrate solar energy education into lesson plans.

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tors and administrators in attendance received engaging hands-on instruction using free solar/PV materials and went home with a solar/PV car kit to take back to the classroom. They also earned six staff development hours, and were given complimentary curriculum correlated to the New York State Learning Standards in Math, Science, Technology, Social Studies, English/ Language Arts, and Family and Consumer Science. Curriculum materials included an assortment of lesson plans, posters, reproducible worksheets, kits and supplemental materials for students. Follow-up “Focus on Solar” workshops will be offered in the near future, says Rosemary Lee, coordinator of health and safety for SWBOCES Professional Development and Curriculum Support. For more information, call Rosemary Lee at 914-345-8500 and visit: SWBOCES Launches Solar PV Course at its Elmsford Campus

The Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Adult and Community Services launched its Introduction to PV Technology program Nov. 3. The 40-hour, six-week course is held at the Center’s campus at 85 Executive Blvd. in Elmsford. Photovoltaic, or solar electric systems, are the alternate energy source of the future and use the energy carried by sunlight to produce electricity. The BOCES course is offered in collaboration with Ulster BOCES and through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The Introduction to PV Technology course will help students understand the various types of solar electric systems available, in addition to teaching them about the history of solar electricity, current markets for solar energy, basic electrical theory, and other aspects of solar electric systems. Participants in the course must have taken courses in electricity and basic electronics. After completing the introductory program, students can enroll in the PV Installer’s Course, which will help them gain the knowledge and practical skills

required to install on-grid and off-grid PV systems. Students who successfully complete the installer’s course are eligible to sit for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners examination. Campus Green Committee Formed

A “green committee” has been established to look for opportunities where green-oriented projects and programs can be put in place around the SWBOCES Center for Career Services campus in Valhalla. The group met for the first time in September and reconvenes every other week on Thursday. Members of the committee, chaired by Colleen Murray, supervisor, Introduction to Career Trades, include teachers Greg Battochi and Tom Burgess; supervisor Clement Ceccarelli; and teachers Richard DeStefano, Rick Grizzutti, Chris Kincart, Frank Mascetta, Joe Passaretti and Richard Thomas. Staff and faculty members are encouraged to join the committee and to submit ideas to Ms. Murray. Ideas that came out of the first session include: • teaching three green-oriented lessons in every course; • building wood boxes for classrooms for garbage, paper and bottle recyclables. The boxes will be built by students in the Building Maintenance program and painted by Integrated Art students; • installing 30-gallon receptacles for plastic oil bottles left over from auto classes; • publishing yearbooks online rather than printing them to save money and reduce paper use; • initiating a program for recycling used cell phones and using money collected to support the SkillsUSA program; • growing an herb garden for use by Culinary Arts classes; and • repairing and reusing the campus green house.


Nurses Make Everything All Better It’s a bright September morning and Rye Lake students are getting off their yellow buses, some escorted to classrooms by teachers and aides. School nurses Debbie Ryan and Nadine Jules watch the familiar scene from their office window, waiting expectantly for the students they know will stop in to see them before class.


earing a white medical jacket, a blue top and black jeans, Debbie runs a hand through her short blond hair and adjusts her glasses on her nose. “Every day is just a little bit different,” she says. Nadine, also casually dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved pink shirt, nods in agreement and absent-mindedly reaches out a finger to touch the leaves of a windowsill plant basking in the late summer sun. Caring with Compassion As the scene outside continues to unfold, voices can be heard in the hallway. It’s 8:45 a.m., and one of the expected students -- an 11-year-old girl -- has arrived with her aide to have her blood sugar level tested. It’s a daily ritual the little girl isn’t looking forward to this day, the aide warns the nurses. Debbie soothes the stressed child, playing with her long brown hair, patting her on the back and telling her that everything will be all right. She leads the girl by the hand over to a counter, where Nadine stands ready with a stick used to prick the fingertip and draw a tiny drop of blood for testing. As she gently pries open the girl’s small hand, Nadine speaks softly in an accent filled with the musical tones of her native Haiti. “Come on now. You know this is not going to hurt,” she tells her patient. In less than a minute, it’s all over. The girl turns and clings to her aide’s side while Debbie leafs through the pages of the communication notebook, which the aide uses to share notes and instructions with the nurses about the girl’s daily care. Debbie reads through the list of planned snacks for the day (apples, oranges and humus), which have been carefully selected to balance carbohydrate and Continued on page 10

is experienced with school nursing may not always be available. “We are literally all over the county,” says Debbie. “We have BOCES students everywhere. And to have enough people to oversee all of that to the extent that we need to is hard.” A Nurse's Touch

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Nurses Make Everything All Better...

insulin levels. It’s a typical start to the day for Debbie, a registered nurse, and Nadine, a licensed practical nurse, two of the 10 nurses who work at various campuses around Westchester County that serve Southern Westchester BOCES students. Debbie and Nadine are in charge of the on-site healthcare of Rye Lake’s 100 middle and high school special education students, Intensive Day Treatment (IDT) participants, and the children and young adults enrolled in the campus’s Therapeutic Support Program (TSP). Performing blood sugar tests, dispensing medication, monitoring diet and exercise programs, overseeing tube and pump feedings, and administering inhalation therapy to those with breathing difficulties are all par for the course, as is tending to the bumps, bruises and bellyaches typical of childhood.

Rye Lake nurses Debbie Ryan and Nadine Jules

at the red splotches on the boy’s t-shirt. Coping with Challenge

Nadine has been busy sorting through a survey of students who have received – “And it’s anything that might have hapand not yet received – their physical and pened on the bus,” Debbie adds. “Who dental exams. An immunization survey threw up? Who has buttons coming off? of all students is scheduled for October. Who has a big scratch or an injury that Chasing down student medical and happened over the weekend? We take immunization records is one of the nurscare of it all.” es’ biggest challenges. They also must have three emergency contact phone Minutes later, a teacher’s aide comes in numbers for every student, medication with another student and points out a orders, and permission slips on file for small cut on the boy’s forehead. Debbie school trips, emergency room visits, phochecks the wound, sees that it’s on the tography and participation in a pet theramend and sends the student back to py program. At the beginning of every class. Shortly after, the next emergency arrives: a boy with a bloody nose. Debbie school year, the nurses say, it’s 90 percent paperwork and follow-up phone calls to blots away the blood with a tissue and parents to get required documents. sees that it’s actually coming from a scratch above his lip. “Does he have There is also the struggle at times to find another shirt?” she asks the aide, wiping substitute nurses on short notice. If a nurse at one BOCES location is out sick, another nurse may have to leave her usual campus to cover that site. And although BOCES works with a nursing agency to One-of-a-kind thank you cards made by SWBOCES students adorn a wall fill gaps, a in the nurses’ office. sub who 10

Debbie and Nadine’s office is comfortable, large enough for two desks, computers, patient chairs, and a countertop lined with tools of the trade: stacks of pill cups, and glass jars filled with cotton balls, tongue depressors, Q-tips and syringes. Debbie pulls open a deep drawer filled with tubes of ointments and lotions, and sachets of moist hand towelettes and alcohol prep pads. She rips open a towelette sachet and cleans her hands. On the big bulletin board beside their desks hangs a collection of oversized cards carefully crafted from construction paper and adorned with tissue paper flowers, all hand-made in class by BOCES students over the years to thank the nurses for their care. A coffee cup doubling as a pen holder that sits on Debbie’s desk reads: “Nurses Make Everything All Better.” The office is housed in the Decagon, the 10-sided building where TSP students engage in arts and crafts, reading readiness and music classes, life skills lessons, and different forms of physical and sensory therapy. TSP students have varying degrees of cognitive and physical disabilities, and most have speech problems, making communication with them extremely difficult, if not impossible. “I think the biggest, most prevalent frustration is that they can’t tell you when something is hurting,” Debbie says. “Maybe you’ve got a child with an earache who’s banging the side of his head with a fist because he can’t tell you his ear hurts. Or another child who just sits in a chair rocking and screaming because he’s got stomach cramps.” Correctly diagnosing a problem often Continued on page 11

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Nurses Make Everything All Better...

comes down to guess work. “You check vital signs, take their temperature, and ask a lot of questions,” she explains matter-of-factly. “When did they last eat? Are they thirsty or hungry? Maybe they’re just coming down with something. I may call their parents to see if they slept much the night before or weren’t feeling well. Maybe all they need to do is lay down and rest for a while.” Between them, Debbie and Nadine have more than 30 years of nursing experience. Debbie worked as a hospital pediatric nurse and in a doctor’s office before coming to Rye Lake 17 years ago. Nadine, who was a BOCES classroom aide for 15 years, graduated from the BOCES nursing program in 2003 and has worked at Rye Lake for the last five years. She plans to continue her studies to get a registered nurse’s license. A True Calling Both women agree that without a doubt, nursing is their professional calling, but a tragic accident also played a hand in influencing Debbie’s decision. When she was 20, her brother was hit by a car five days shy of his eighteenth birthday. The accident left the tall, strapping young man, who dreamed of a career in architecture, a quadriplegic. Although Debbie was in college in Connecticut, she helped care for her brother when she came home to visit. “I was always able to see past disabilities,” she says. “You see past the things that a person can’t do to the things that they can.” Conversely, growing up in Haiti, Nadine says it was rare to see someone with any kind of disability in public. “It was kept hidden,” she says, adding that she was “shocked” the one and only time she did see a boy in a wheelchair. Overcoming her feelings in a job that can be emotionally challenging took some time for her, but Nadine now sees all of the TSP students the same way she sees any other child. “They are no different than anyone else to me,” she says firmly. A diverse student population like Rye Lake’s has groups with unique problems that require not only the specialized clinical care the nurses provide, but patience, tolerance and a dose of love. “It’s not just about giving out Band-aids and lollipops,” Nadine says with a wide smile. Children “just need to know that somebody loves them, that they’re warm and safe and dry, and that nothing hurts,” Debbie says.

Leadership Forum Gives Future Pediatrician a Taste for Medicine

During the Forum, students learned about educational requirements for entering medical school, career options, and the ethical and legal issues facing medical practitioners today. Chantia also participated in a team debate on sex selection for babies, and worked with other students to create a hypothetical public health program they named the Veteran’s Debriefing Psychiatric Evaluation (VDPE) plan. The VDPE would give returning soldiers free psychiatric treatment before resuming civilian life. The students included fund-raising efforts and lobbying for government support in their proposal.

Since she was 8 years old, Chantia Wallace has known exactly what she wants to be when she grows up: a pediatrician. One glimpse of her healing smile would convince anyone that Chantia was born for the job. “As a youngster, I was always Some other outstanding good with little kids,” Chantia Wallace experiences Chantia had says the senior from include learning suturing New Rochelle High School. techniques on banana peels, which “They’ve always taken to me and have a similar thickness to human skin, practicing taking blood pressure, and I’ve always seen myself as a gaining experience with triaging (prioriguardian of children.”


o test her commitment to both children and medicine, Chantia, 16, took part last summer in the National Leadership Forum on Medicine, which introduces promising high school students from across the country to the world of medicine over a 10-day period.

Chantia was nominated for the program by Hanifah Muhammad, who teaches Southern Westchester BOCES’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program. Chantia is a second-year EMS student and says she passed on taking chemistry and physics at her home school in lieu of learning valuable hands-on life saving skills and earning a certificate that will allow her to become a first responder. Up to 400 students attend a Forum, held in eight different cities in July. Chantia attended the program in Philadelphia, sharing a dorm room with other girls at Villanova University and getting a taste of independence and university life. Their days started with breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by Medical Education Discussions (MED sessions) on a broad range of medical topics, visits to hospitals and clinics, and talks with medical professionals, educators and patients. 11

tizing) pretend patients according to their condition. An AIDS patient also spoke to the students about her life and treatment.

On some days, the students toured hospitals and attended rounds with doctors to evaluate patients and decide on treatment plans. On one such occasion, Chantia was able to visit a neo-natal intensive care unit, where she spent time with premature infants and got a taste of her future work as a pediatrician. “Some were the size of a soda can,” she says of the babies. The highlight of the Forum was watching doctors perform knee replacement surgery on a patient, who spoke to the students about why the operation was necessary. The students watched the surgery via video cameras placed in the operating room, and listened in as the doctors and nurses introduced themselves and talked about the different instruments that would be used to perform the surgery. The Forum experience, says Chantia, gave her an invaluable insight into the medical profession and reinforced her resolve to become a pediatrician. “There are things you say you want to do, but seeing it all first-hand really helps you make that final decision.”

BOCES Southern Westchester 17 Berkley Drive, Rye Brook, NY 10573 914 -937- 3820 w w w. s w b o c e s . o r g Board of Education President Georgia Riedel Vice President Joseph Wooley John DeSantis Nancy Fisher Richard Glickstein Beverly A. Levine James Miller District Superintendent Robert Monson, Ph.D. Deputy District Superintendent Sandra A. Simpson Assistant Superintendents Raymond Healey, Ph.D., Special Education Nancy A. Jorgensen, Ed.D., Human Resources Marcel Vales, Business and Administrative Services Connections Editor: Suzanne M. Davis Contributing Writer: Colette Connolly Office of Public Information The Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services, its officers and employees, shall not discriminate against any student, employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, marital status, gender, age, handicapping condition or sexual orientation. This policy of nondiscrimination includes access by students to educational programs, counseling services for students, course offerings and student activities, recruitment, appointment and promotion of employees, and employment pay and benefits, and it is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended and then promulgated thereunder, not to discriminate in such a manner. SWBOCES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

“The Mission of Southern Westchester BOCES is to collaborate with school districts and communities to meet their educational challenges by providing regional leadership and cost-effective, high-quality services.”

Title IX Coordinator Michael R. Gargiulo, Director of Human Resources Section 504 Coordinator Thomas DiBuono, Director of Facilities & Operations

SWBOCES Awarded $700K Educational Grant to Benefit Local Schools The New York State Education Department named Southern Westchester BOCES and the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center the recipients of a competitive educational grant, which will be used to raise student performance in math and English Language Arts, and eliminate achievement gaps among middle school students in a number of local schools.


he Enhancing Education Through Technology award, which is close to $700,000, will benefit the Bedford, Brewster, Elmsford, Greenburgh Central 7, Haverstraw-Stony Point, Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Nyack, Peekskill, Port ChesterRye, Ossining, Ramapo, Tarrytown, Tuckahoe, and White Plains school districts. St. Anne’s School, Ossining, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, Elmsford, and Sacred Heart School in Mount Vernon also are recipients. The initiative will help districts wade through the multitude of test results and other data that come out of state, district and classroom assessments, and builds upon an initial grant that BOCES received two years ago to improve the academic performance of middle school students by using technology and formative assessment tools intended to enhance both teaching and learning. Eight of the above districts were participants in the initial round of the grant. Support from the LHRIC Model Schools Program, particularly in the use of instructional technology to support class-

room teaching, also is part of the grant. In September, the latest grant recipients received all of the focused data team and leadership training opportunities that were made available to the original beneficiaries, including extensive training on the LHRIC data warehouse resources, coaching in the use of Data Mentor, a web-based student assessment tool, and support for the creation of data teams within middle schools. Returning districts also will be offered workshops on formative assessments to enhance classroom instruction based on the work of Rick Stiggins, founder of the Educational Testing Services Assessment Training Institute, which provides professional development for teachers and school leaders. The BOCES partnership with SunguardPerformance Pathways, a provider of assessment software, and with Pearson Digital, the developers of the NovaNet and SuccessMaker software for classrooms, also will be available to schools throughout the school year.

We're on the Web! For more information about Southern Westchester BOCES, please visit our Web site at: 12

Connections Fall 2009  

Quarterly newsletter distributed to school superintendents, principals and school staff in Southern Westchester County, New York.