April 13, 2018
By Michael Sylvester, Senior Accountant, Dairy Farmers of America
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Education Day is here. It was a long haul, and a lot of work for the design team, but it was worth every minute of preparation. The design team welcomed the LGS Class of 2018 to OCM BOCES to start our day. Our theme of the day was Connecting Communities Through Innovative Education. OCM BOCES sponsored our class day. Dr. Jody Manning, District Superintendent and CEO of OCM BOCES (LGS 1996 graduate) welcomed the class with a brief introduction to what BOCES is about. BOCES stands for Board Cooperative Educational Services. There are currently 37 BOCES incorporating all but 9 of the 697 school districts in New York State, which includes 23 districts in Central New York. BOCES offers a different approach to education. It involves hands on learning for their students in a variety of different fields. Our agenda did include a tour of the BOCES facility which took place later in the day.
Our first speakers of the day were Dr. Donna DeSiato, Superintendent, ESM Central School District, and LGS graduate from the class of 2005, and Jim King, AIA, Partner, King & King Architects LLP. Donna and Jim spoke to the class about how education has evolved over time, and about advancements that have been made. Both Donna and Jim stated that education begins with vision, and the importance of how families connect to that vision. One of the best quotes of the day came from both Donna and Jim. Instead of parents asking their children, “what did you learn today”, maybe the question should be, “what question did you ask today”. This lead to a discussion of how education can’t do it alone. There has been a shift in the paradigm from an Industrial model to an Innovative model. How are students being prepared for the real world? What skills are employers looking for? Employers are looking for critical thinkers, those who can think “outside the box”, problem solving ability, and the ability to make decisions, none of which are currently a part of the curriculum. There have been tremendous strides, but there is still more that can be done.
The class loaded onto a bus and headed to the WCNY studios where we were greeted by Robert Daino, President and CEO, WCNY. Robert gave an overview of WCNY and its educational mission. WCNY broadcasts 5 digital channels to more than 1.8 million people. It offers 3 digital music stations, including a Classic FM station, Jazz and the Oldies, all of which are available for online streaming. In 2013, WCNY launched Enterprise America, a hands-on learning center for students. The center is a small city, with businesses and service companies. Students run the businesses and service companies as part of their curriculum. The facility is expecting to service around 2,000 students this year. Two students, Gavin Wandersee and Chris Costello gave us a tour of WCNY. Throughout the tour, we learned a lot about what WCNY does. WCNY often starts students in radio, where they will learn organization, and communication skills. A few fun facts about WCNY: all rooms are named after Sesame Street characters, with cookie monster being the most popular, the walls are glass for transparency, and 50% of PBS content is out of the Syracuse office.
We loaded on the bus and returned to BOCES for an amazing lunch prepared by the culinary students. As stated above, BOCES offers a different approach to education. It involves hands on learning for their students in a variety of different fields. After lunch, the class was divided into groups and toured the facility. We saw the Health Occupation class, where after 2 years of participation, students can take the CNA exam and become a Certified Nurses Aid. We saw the Early Childhood Education program, where students learn about child development, and learn CPR and how to operate an AED machine. We saw the Electric Apple room. Students can order food, eat in the room, or have it delivered. Other rooms visited were Cosmetology, Automotive Technology, Welding Lab, and the Construction Shop. In the construction shop, students are building a house, which will be auctioned off, and the proceeds used to buy the materials for the next house.
The class loaded back onto the bus and headed to Henninger High School, where we met with Ed Blasland, the Vice Principal. Henninger is one of the high schools in Syracuse that offers the P-Tech program. Syracuse Pathways to Technology (P-TECH) is a collaborative partnership between the Syracuse City School District and MACNY. This partnership offers students the opportunity to combine elements of high school with college and career training. Students are given a mentor, take college classes, and gain professional work experience during their high school years. Students who successfully complete the program, receive a Regents diploma, Technical certification, and a no cost associates degree from Onondaga Community College. The class was divided into groups and Henninger students gave a tour of the P-Tech program. We visited the journalism class, where students put out a monthly publication. We visited the Medical Assistant class. For this class, 10th graders learn about the medical industry, 11th graders learn administrative responsibilities, such as checking patients in and out, and insurance, and 12th graders learn the clinical aspect working hands-on with doctors. We saw a lab where students learn how to do different types of blood and urines tests. Finally, we met with a student who did a presentation on her budgeting project. It consisted of getting a job, figuring out her bills, and learning how to survive in the real world by budgeting her salary and expenses.
Our final stop of the day was to Dr. Weeks Elementary School. We met with Michael Collins, Director, Syracuse Northeast Center, and Patricia Sawmiller, Program Supervisor, Dr. Weeks Elementary School. Dr. Weeks Elementary School opened in 1978. It is the first time in New York State that a community center was combined with a school. In addition to its regular schedule, Dr. Weeks offers programming starting at 7am for families that need to get to work early. There is a pool where students can receive swim lessons. In addition to being an elementary school, Dr. Weeks offers programs for older adults, and will also provide transportation to and from for lower income older adults. Dr. Weeks offers a School-Based Health Center where your child can be treated with no out-of-pocket costs to parents. The community center provides a food pantry which operates every Wednesday. There is also a mobile food truck on Mondays. The call to action for the class was to bring personal items and/or new or gently used sneakers, all to be donated to the community center at Dr. Weeks.
Our design team really enjoyed putting this class together for our class. We want to send a special thanks to OCM BOCES for hosting our class day, all our speakers, the students who gave us the tours, the facilities’ themselves for opening their doors to the class, and to our bus driver who drove us around Syracuse to our various locations. We hope the class found the day, informative, thought-provoking, and fun. See you next class!