19th Ward Schools Committee

7:00 pm., October 4, 2022

Present by Zoom: Dr. Phyllis Moss, Lee Loomis, Jane Braband, Sarah Yaworsky

Introductions were genial as everyone was familiar.

Lee Loomis gave an update on the status of the tutoring program he is administering for School #10 on behalf of the Rochester Engineering Society. There is difficulty currently in communication with school staff and he is patiently reaching out to invite the site coordinator to indicate their preferred channel for timely communication. Past experience points to tutoring getting started not before about the 3rd week of October, but it is somewhat problematic that communication is not in place yet. Patience and persistence is indicated which Lee is undauntedly managing. As it is still early October, optimism is expressed that students will be able to benefit from tutoring soon.

Douglas and Charlotte Geibel generously submitted a written update for the meeting: “Report on the Spelling Bee for the October 2022 Schools Committee Meeting:

We have purchased an enrollment with Scripps once again this year, providing us with word lists, pronunciation guides and definitions of those words which are being used for this year’s National Spelling Bee. From these word lists we have constructed lists for each grade level we plan to include, grades three through six for the elementary schools 10, 16, 19, and 29; and potentially grades seven and eight from the Joseph C. Wilson Academy, on Genesee Street. The addition of Wilson Academy is being made possible through the efforts of Dr. George Larkins, a retired Rochester Public School principal and now an RIT education faculty member, who has come forward to secure funding from RIT-related sources to cover the costs of adding these two junior high grades. We have distributed these word lists to the four elementary schools mentioned above, and Allyn Walters, School 10; and Yarritza Delgado, the new Community Site Coordinator for School 19, have agreed to coordinate the Spelling Bee at their respective schools. We are expecting Lynn Paris to continue to do so for School 29. Joan Cowles has energetically supported School 16’s Spelling Bee efforts but is now retired so we are still seeking a teacher or staff person to coordinate the Spelling Bee for that school, and Dr. Larkins is looking for a support person from the Wilson Academy.

George Murphy-Wilkins, the coordinator this past year for the University of Rochester’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity’s support of the Bee, has reassured us of the fraternity’s assistance in conducting the practices and hosting the participating families on the campus on the day the Bee is held. He will inform us of the coordinator for this year once the fraternity’s elections for this position are completed.

This year, plans are being laid for an April, 2023 Bee held on the university campus, with Zoom and in-person practices held on Saturday mornings at the Arnett Library beginning in January, 2023. Our present challenge is to purchase all the needed supplies and resources before the end of this calendar year to be able to make full use of a supporting grant provided by the Monroe County legislature.”

The committee is grateful for all the progress indicated in the report through the hard work of Douglas and Charlotte.

CET Meeting Updates: Lee shared that #10 has been holding remote CET meetings with PowerPoints that convey data regarding student achievement and learning that he has been attending since the CET team was formed several years ago. John Boutet also attends these meetings. Lee indicated that this is currently his best source of information regarding the ongoing challenges and activities at #10. Recognizing that there are so many schools and limited school committee members to attend meetings, Dr. Moss is in the process of compiling a list of CET meeting dates for the schools in our neighborhood so that committee members and/or volunteers can more efficiently cover the meetings without duplicating coverage unnecessarily.

Community Updates:

John Boutet went above and beyond his usual extraordinary efforts and submitted a written update for today’s meeting: “As you know we have been pushing for Local Busing for ten years now and I think we are getting closer. My notes from the SWCC Education Committee on Sept. 28th have a good summary of the latest on the busing issue. Please check link: https://location19.org/group/sw-education-forum/forum/topics/swcc-education-committee-minutes-2022-09-28?xg_source=activity. Contacting all the NYS Assembly and Senate reps from this area and telling them how important 1/2 mile busing is, should be done by all. With all the violence we have in Rochester now it is hard not to point to that as a justification for pushing 1/2 busing reimbursement. (He included contact info for local State Legislative members.) When contacting Legislators stress the need to increase participation in local Community Schools to strengthen neighborhoods, make travel to & from school safer, and get more parent involvement. Please share this by all means possible.”

The committee is grateful for this information and all John’s hard work.

Open Discussion: Dr. Moss invited discussion to help the committee look at where we should direct our efforts moving forward as we look at past priorities that have largely been accomplished or moved into another phase. What else is the committee interested in addition to ongoing efforts to recruit tutors?

She shared a conversation with the Wilson Foundation school principal, who expressed interest in having support in updating their community room. Lee shared that food, backpacks, school supplies and clothing are made available at #10 as an example of community resources that could be available in such a room at other neighborhood schools. Phyllis offered that it makes sense to ask schools what they would like help with and also to identify what schools are within the purview of the 19th Ward community association. To give more time to consider this, the topic was tabled, and will be continued in the discussion at the next meeting.

She also offered the hope that the committee could submit items to the 19thWCA newsletter each month to raise awareness and interest in the activities of the schools committee and the needs of our neighborhood schools. She also noted that with already successful collaborations for the spelling bee and tutoring with the Engineering Society, can we be seeking out more such collaborations? Lee noted these can benefit schools in receivership (affecting several in our neighborhood) as such collaborations are counted positively in the receivership progress evaluation. Thus, can this committee partner with other community organizations and programs, even at a small scale, to provide more resources to our schools?

The committee agreed that answers to these questions offer exciting possibilities for positive change in the neighborhood.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 1st at 7:00pm.

Submitted by Sarah Yaworsky

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