Superintendent Update: Friday, January 12, 2024

January 12, 2024

Dear Batavia Families and Community,

With only 12 days into the New Year, activity at all of our schools has resumed, winter sports are in full swing, and we still have a few more winter concerts left to enjoy! Welcome to 2024!

In recent months, our school leaders, teachers, and the Board of Education have been part of a special project, along with several schools across New York. This initiative is known as the New York Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Project. I've mentioned this before, and now that we're halfway through, I'd like to tell you more about how it's going to help your child's education.

We’re joining a statewide effort to improve how we teach and manage our schools. Our goal is to make sure every student gets a fair chance at learning and succeeds. Here's what this means for our schools:

  • We're making sure that the subjects and lessons taught are necessary and can be achieved by all students.

  • We're developing fair and diverse ways to check on how well our students are understanding and learning.

  • We're working to remove any obstacles that might be holding students back and creating opportunities for those who need extra help or who are ready to learn more quickly.

  • We're focused on creating a welcoming and positive atmosphere in our schools for everyone.

  • We're ensuring that our grading system is fair and truly reflects each student's abilities, giving every child the right support and opportunities.

You might wonder what this looks like in your child's classroom. Let's take the idea of ensuring a “guaranteed and viable curriculum.” This means we are collaborating with our teachers to focus on teaching what's really important, effectively. As education expert Robert Marzano says, it's about making sure every teacher covers the essential topics so no student misses out on these key lessons.

This project is exciting and vital for our children's education. Our teachers are working hard, analyzing what needs to be taught and how best to assess our students' learning. I'm thrilled to be a part of this and will keep you updated regularly as we continue making progress throughout the year. Thank you to Dr. Molly Corey, our Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, who is leading this project, along with our dedicated principals and skilled instructional coaches at each school.

As you saw earlier this week, I had to send a special statement regarding a social media post from a local Facebook page this past Sunday night. Social media is clearly a valuable tool and one that I personally and professionally embrace—our school and district social media pages are always full of great updates for our community. However, I equate social media to a car. Quite simply, while cars have great value to us, if used improperly, they can be dangerous. The same applies to social media: if we respect social media and use it for its intended purpose—with common sense and respect—it, too, is a wonderful tool that has drastically improved communication. Please feel free to share this analogy with your children. That being said, I thank our Batavia Police Department for their partnership and immediate response when called upon. 

While it has been a mild winter thus far, I want to remind you of the “snow day protocol” update I sent in my winter weather letter earlier this year.

Speaking of winter, on a recent visit to John Kennedy last week, I came across these beautiful paintings of penguins in the hall created by some talented second graders that I wanted to share:

I always enjoy coming across student work in our schools and classrooms, and I hope you do too!

Our Director of Educational Technology, Brian Sutton, has developed a Digital Equity survey for families to complete that will be available on ParentSquare today, Friday, January 12, at 2 pm. The purpose of this survey is for the state to understand where digital infrastructure support is most needed. More specifically, this survey will provide information on student access to devices and internet access in their places of residence. Collecting accurate data regarding digital resource access for our students will greatly help educators to better serve their students and families. In order to accomplish this, the New York State Education Department is asking parents or guardians to complete the Digital Equity survey (for each student in the family) in grades Kindergarten–Grade 12. Please note, this form must be filled out for each child individually. Look for the survey on ParentSquare later today.

This week, re-launched our School Tool Parent Portal that will allow families of 6th-12th graders to view their children’s grades, attendance, and general student information. Detailed information, including a form, was sent to families via ParentSquare more information can be found here.

This coming Monday, we celebrate and recognize the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King provided inspiration to many Americans in a time of great tension in our country’s history. One of my favorite movies about Dr. King and his leadership is the 2014 critically acclaimed film “Selma,” and I would encourage you to make some time to view it—you won’t be disappointed. Our schools will be closed on Monday, January 15, in observance of the holiday. We look forward to seeing you back in class on Tuesday, January 16.

Finally, I promised you an answer to my Batavia history question from the last update: Who is General Emory Upton (the statue in downtown Batavia that separates Routes 5 and 63)? 

General Upton was a Civil War general, military educator, and reformer. He was born in Batavia and graduated eighth in the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of May 1861.

Welcome to 2024!

Go Bills and Blue Devils!

Jason A. Smith

Superintendent of Schools
585-343-2480, ext 1000