Sayville Preps Before Labor Day
PREPARING FOR STUDENTS,
ON CONFERENCE DAY IN AUGUST
If you had noticed all the cars at the school buildings on the last Thursday in August, you weren't seeing things. School season officially began for all staff before Labor Day this year.
Anticipating the arrival of students on September 4, the Sayville School District's administrators, faculty, and staff reconnected for the Superintendent's Conference Day on the morning of August 30 at the middle school. This year’s theme focused on Great Schools, Great Staff, Great Students, and Great Expectations. The staff had a full agenda.
- After a Welcome Back breakfast prepared by the Sayville Food and Nutrition Department, the program opened with a spectacular showcase of two talented All-State musicians from the Senior Class: Denise Natoli sang an exquisite rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Kieran Harrison performed brilliantly on his Alto Sax, rousing the audience of educators and staff to a standing ovation.
- Board of Education President Raymond Nelson greeted and welcomed the returning staff with brief words of thanks: “Thank you for doing what you do at such a high level of proficiency, high level of dedication, and an extremely high level of care. It’s evident. As I gave out diplomas last June for the 13th time in Sayville, I realize what our kids accomplish and they don’t accomplish it alone. It’s an effort that you all put in at every grade level, in every field and every subject matter, in every performance. The gifts that you have that you impart on the kids is evident.…Given that its 13 years, I feel uniquely qualified to say, ‘We have one heck of a staff in Sayville.’ And we are very, very proud…As a Board we know that everyone, from Dr. Schartner all the way down, is going to work together to get things done and move forward… with great proficiency….”
- In his address, Superintendent of Schools Dr.
Schartner enumerated the student outcomes of 2012 in his
welcome back address that included the following statistics: 97% were going on
to higher education, 94% graduated with regents diplomas. They earned over $3.1
million in scholarships, an average of $12,000 a student. “The music program
along with the visual arts, theatre arts robotics, scientific research programs
are all top notch, with the student performing extremely well,” Schartner said.
“The students continue to thrive. For an unprecedented FOURTH consecutive year,
all our 26 varsity teams are scholar athlete teams. Girls Softball won the New
York State Championship; Football won Long Island Champs and the Rutgers Trophy.
Boys Lacrosse won Suffolk County Champions as well as Girls Field Hockey and
the coed Bowling Team. Nine other teams won division or league championships.”
Dr. Schartner continued. “Our students do very, very well. Do they do well because of APPR? Do they do well because of DASA or RACE TO TOP? No! They do well because of you. They do well because everybody works in the best interest of the students and have them perform at their very best. From the kitchen workers, custodial workers, grounds keepers –our fields are among the best—clerical, SRP, teachers, administrators and the extremely supportive Board of Education in a community that is willing to sacrifice to keep these opportunities for our kids. We are very, very lucky at that.”
In closing, Dr. Schartner offered some positive thoughts to keep the district focused on its great expectations. “So when it comes time, and you’re jumping through all the new hoops that the state and federal government have put in front of you, and it starting to get at you, look at the faces of the children, whether they are seniors or kindergarteners. Think of what legacy they will leave in the long tradition of excellence of Sayville Alumni, many of whom you are. That, I know, keeps me energized. I am sure it will keep you energized. Welcome back. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it. We’ll even get better than ever.”
- For a second year, STA President Tim Southerton addressed the assembly. Mr. Southerton began by agreeing with Dr. Schartner that the national climate should not discourage all Sayville district employees from continuing to accomplish so much for Sayville students.
Referring to a Hans Christian Anderson story The Most Incredible Thing (which Southerton explained was retold many years ago by the legendary AFT President Albert Shanker to inspire public employees), Southerton described the contest for the princess’s hand. Only a person who produced a MOST incredible thing could wed the King’s daughter. When the suitor who produced a most magnificent and magical hand-carved clock was judged as the winner, another man stepped forward and destroyed it with a hammer. The surprise and shock were so great that his act was declared an even more incredible thing.
Equating the magnificent clock to public education, Southerton asked his colleagues to be united in realizing that, especially in Sayville, “we have built an incredible thing” that contributes to the amazing accomplishments of our students, and that we can prevent the shock of the hammer by pulling together to protect the “clock.”
Southerton echoed the sentiments of Board President Nelson and Superintendent Schartner; Sayville’s strengths can be found in the excellence “which happens regularly on our athletic fields, in our classrooms, on the stages, in our music performances—every single thing that’s going on here is so excellent.” Southerton also acknowledged this excellence is the result of the hard work and concerted effort by so many Sayville employees. He recognized all levels, from the clerical workers who make it easier for the teachers to do their job, to the buildings and grounds crews who maintain excellence in the district’s properties and the IT personnel who keep up with technology—“so many people working so hard for this precious gem of a clock.”
Even though the district’s approval rating and support from the community is still so high, the District must move forward in demonstrating that such high support is well placed by keeping the public informed about the “good things we do in Sayville.”
Expressing his awe at the great variety of accomplishments by our Sayville students, who often are recognized at board meetings, Southerton encouraged those colleagues who have not done so to come to a board meeting, attend a concert, go to an athletic event, go to a play. “It is remarkable what’s going on in this district. You owe it to yourself …. We need to see the fruits of our labor, because everybody in this room is responsible for those things.”
Offering ways to advance the mission of the school district through a variety of initiatives Southerton concluded, “I believe we can all be part of making things better… We need each other.”
- The morning program continued with Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sullivan Keck delivering a training session on Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) to all staff as mandated by NYS law. (This Powerpoint is available online under the Curriculum heading at the District Website.)
Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) went into effect on July 1, 2012 and protects students from harassment, discrimination and bullying by other students or school employees. It provides that no student shall be subjected to discrimination based on his or her actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, weight (or other physical features), sexual orientation, gender identity, or biological sex. DASA explicitly states that bullying, taunting, and intimidation on the protected grounds listed above are all forms of harassment; however, it is not limited to those categories. (Check the website for more information.)
- Additionally, Dr. Sullivan Keck set aside a section of Conference Day for administrators and teaching staff to learn more about the new APPR (ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW).
By the end of the day, Sayville was ready to welcome all students.