19th WCA Schools Committee Meeting Minutes

April 9, 2024

Present: John Boutet, Jane Braband, Douglas Giebel, Josie McClary, Dr. Phyllis Moss, Sara Yaworsky, Bridget Williams

Dr. Moss opened the meeting by Zoom at 7:00 p.m and asked the members present to introduce themselves for the benefit of a new member, Bridgett Williams, who is the Parent Liaison for School 16.

Spelling Bee Phyllis reported on the Spelling Bee held on March 23 at Wegmans Hall on the University of Rochester campus. The Bee had a smaller attendance this year, but the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity did an excellent job of adapting to the situation.

Douglas reported that School 19 did not participate because of the extra workload it placed on the sponsoring teachers.

The Wilson Foundation Academy had two supporting teachers involved but failed to produce any 7th or 8th grade students interested in participating.

Nicholas Dapshi led the efforts of the fraternity in conducting the Bee, with Victor Gu, last year’s leader, also helping. All the students participating received a certificate for their participation, a tee shirt, and a $25 Walmart gift card. Mr. Glenn Cerosaletti, Assistant Dean & Director of the University’s Center for Community Engagement provided a welcome to the students, family, and teachers participating in the Bee. He also provided some welcome advice on helping the fraternity gain a more favorable date for the Bee next year.

School 16 Josie reported on the challenges that School 16 has been facing. The fourth-grade class has been without their regular teacher for 36 days and the substitute teacher has had no ELA experience. Nine staff positions have been removed and the school is severely understaffed, particularly with the emotional and social staff support removed. Support from community groups has provided some food and medical assistance.

Phyllis and Charlotte Giebel have submitted tutoring applications in anticipation of working with Mrs. Ernestine Brown to support teachers requesting tutoring help, but their applications have yet to be approved by Kelli Briggs. Mrs. Brown has requested as many as ten tutors to help meet the needs of the students.

Josie reported the True Impact tutoring program might also be of great assistance, with volunteers from St. John Fisher and Nazareth currently working effectively at other city schools. Josie reported some difficulties have been created by the teacher’s union discouraging teachers from taking ELA (Reading Teacher) positions because they are of short duration and may leave the faculty member without a position once that job is completed.

Plans for 19th Ward Schools Next Academic Year - Schools 16 and 19 will continue to provide learning for Pre-K through Sixth Grade students. School 10 will house a Rochester Public School Montessori program. School 29 will be closed. School 44 currently houses a Pre-K class and provides office space for public school teachers and staff. It may continue in that capacity next year.

Miscellaneous Discussion - Disappointment in the continued and rapid turnover of the school superintendents was expressed, along with the uncertainty of the plans and instability of staffing that this causes. Phyllis shared that she is developing an afterschool tutoring program called the “ROC Renaissance”. It will provide focus on reading and musical literacy. The program builds upon the success she has had in overcoming her son’s aversion to reading. Josie also mentioned the need for creativity and the arts in stimulating young students to become good learners.

Action Items:

  1. Phyllis will follow up with Mrs. Ernestine Brown regarding the implementation of tutoring at School 16.

  1. Douglas will contact the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity to gain a more complete report on the Spelling Bee.

Next meeting: Tuesday, 7 May 2024 by Zoom at 7:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Douglas Giebel Secretary pro tem

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