Superintendent’s Update: Friday, September 29

Dear Batavia Families and Community,

Happy Homecoming 2023! Between all the fun dress-up days (Adam Sandler Day at BHS was my personal favorite, along with Pajama Day at our other schools), the early morning handball and volleyball tournaments, and all the school spirit that will be on display today at this afternoon’s pep assembly, it’s exciting to see our Blue Devil pride come through loud and clear! I look forward to continuing the celebration at tonight’s football game! 

One quick and important reminder: Our first late arrival day for students will be Tuesday, October 10. We are following the same schedule we did last year, and further details will be released in the coming days. These early mornings provide our staff with valuable and dedicated time to learn and hone important teaching skills and modify our curriculum based on students' needs. We have reduced these late arrivals this year by one day, and we appreciate your patience and flexibility. These days are mission-critical to the overall success of our schools and programs, so thank you.

As I write this update, members of our Batavia educational community (us, Notre Dame, St. Paul’s, St. Joe’s, and the NYS School for Blind) came together with representatives from the Batavia Police Department to introduce a safety education program to our community. We posted information about the program here, but essentially, law enforcement and our schools have come together to launch a unified approach to school safety—specifically, easier and more efficient use of terminology related to safety protocols (i.e., lockdown, lockout). During a crisis, it can get very confusing, so we are encouraged by this updated approach. You can review a guide to the new terms here

I mentioned this at our last Board of Education meeting, but our leadership team and some of the instructional coaches are on an important journey this year to study and address four fundamental questions about BCSD:

  1. What do we want all students to know and be able to do?
  2. How will we know if they learn it?
  3. How will we respond when some students do not learn?
  4. How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

These questions are part of a larger and important educational concept known as Professional Learning Communities. As I said, this work is mission-critical to our district and is the heart and soul of what we are about; everything we do as a school relates to these four questions. We’ll be introducing these questions/findings during our professional development time on October 10. 

A simple way to explain these questions can be applied to learning an athletic or musical skill: 
  • How do coaches adjust their game plan?  
  • How do music teachers identify the key aspects of a song or musical skills?
  • How do coaches scout the opposition, and what adjustments do they make?
  • How do music teachers challenge an already proficient flute student? 

I use music and athletic examples because that is perhaps a bit more relatable to most of us than, say, high-level physics or math. But here is the “secret:” No matter the subject, we want our teachers to adjust their instruction and planning just as we see coaches do on game days.

An essential part of our daily operations is how we infuse technology into instruction and the related supports that make sure technology is working effectively for all. Last year, I provided our Board of Education with some key findings from a technology review we completed last fall. Under the leadership of Brian Sutton, our Director of Educational Technology, we are actively addressing those recommendations—including proper inventory control. We have also made some improvements to our infrastructure, and our Board of Education will be briefed on these important items (and more) in October, so stay tuned.

Time for a brief and uplifting story: In a recent conversation with one of our employees, I learned that one of our new-to-Batavia students proudly shared with his class how successful he has been at Batavia and how he has been overwhelmed with the support, encouragement, and kindness he has encountered. We often hear these stories like this, but they never get old (I love to share them), and they are a true testament to our entire BCSD team: leadership, faculty, staff, and students.  

Just last week, the senior members of our Girls Volleyball team recognized teachers who had a positive impact on their lives:

I visit our schools and events often, and in this week’s journey, I had the great fortune of visiting our Girls Tennis team as they celebrated their seniors and kicked off Homecoming Week. Congratulations to all our seniors at BHS as they celebrate their final Homecoming, and may this picture below serve as a deserving tribute to our seniors and those who represent our school so well:

Thank you to the leadership of the Genesee Economic Development Council and GLOW With Your Hands for the fantastic opportunity our students had this past Tuesday, where they were able to learn about some important careers in the agriculture and manufacturing fields. I truly enjoyed seeing our students’ eyes open as they learned from these talented professionals.

Finally, I will leave with a bit of Batavia history, as I promised I would do last time in these updates:

On October 27, 1984, the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation of Genesee County dedicated a monument in honor of Paolo Busti, an important agent with the Holland Land Company, whom many of our early settlers had to interact with to purchase land.

Have a great weekend, and Go Blue Devils!

Thank you.

Jason A. Smith
Superintendent of Schools

585-343-2480, ext 1000