Friday, June 19, 2020

School's Out

We have made it to summer! In addition to hopefully having some opportunities to reconnect with family and friends, the summer is the best time to dive into some good books. I am happy to share with you our annual “Summer Reading” information. There is no project or assignment attached to a summer reading book. We simply ask students to just read at least one title over the course of the summer. But it would be outstanding for students to read all of them! And then read some more! 

We know that the most significant factor related to student achievement is reading. Nothing else can take its place. Time with text (books, magazine, newspapers) does two important things which play essential roles in developing students who possess advanced literacy. The first is that reading builds vocabulary and word knowledge. Because students gain new vocabulary over time, it is important to read something every day. The goal is for students to have an extensive bank of words available for speaking, listening, and writing. This becomes especially important as they head to the high school.

Building background knowledge is the second important role reading plays. When students read across genres (fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, poetry, human interest stories, science articles, current events) they have a strong foundation on which to make connections to new learning. In fact, overall reading comprehension depends on a student’s background knowledge. The more you know, the more connections you can make.

Summer Reading Lists 
The grade 9 reading list is available for our rising freshmen.

The grade 6 through grade 8 reading list is available for our middle school students.

If you would like to borrow a hard copy of one of the summer reading books at any point this summer, we have all of them available. Please email me at sdunham@westgenesee.org or our School Librarian, Mrs. Chemotti, at jchemotti@westgenesee.org and we will arrange to either drop it off to your house or for you to pick it up at school.  

School Supply Drive
For 11 years the West Genesee District Council has been providing school supplies to students in need. Please see the flyer for more information to register your student.

West Genesee Facilities Study
West Genesee's Strategic Planning Committee has begun working with the consulting firm of Castallo and Silky, LLC to conduct a facilities study. The purpose is to answer this question: "How can the District maintain and enhance the educational opportunities for West Genesee students in its tradition of excellence while continuing to ensure efficient and effective utilization of staff and facilities as well as fiscal responsibility for the District's taxpayers?"

Meetings are monthly and open to the public. For more information, click here!

Looking Ahead
Nothing would be better than to to have these halls filled with our students again in September. We will certainly know more about what the fall looks like in the coming months. In the meantime, continue to check your email and the West Genesee homepage for any updates throughout the summer. Be safe. Stay healthy. Have a wonderful summer!

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Monday, June 1, 2020

History Has Its Eyes On Us

If you're like me, you are not only thinking about what school might look like in the fall, but what our country will look like in the fall. This is an unbelievable period of significant turmoil, loss, stress, anxiety and division. You can't possibly read or watch the news and not realize that the seeds of change are taking root.

This is obviously a very emotional time tied to a long history of racial injustice in our country. Like any other social issue in our community we are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. As a parent and an educator I have been too quiet and too passive in relation to racial injustice in our country. I need to be more vocal and more out front. We all need to be more vocal and more aware. Our students are depending on it. And if anyone doesn't think we have an obligation to learn more and be more engaged then they are out of touch with what's happening.

Here are my thoughts that I want to share:

"I’m a white male. I’m a parent & an educator with the incredible privilege & power to influence young minds. I don’t know what it’s like to experience racism. But I do know injustice when I see it. I know discrimination when I see it.  I can’t watch the video of George Floyd being killed and not think about what is going through the minds of every black student, and every other person in the world who sees themself or their son, father, brother or friend lying on the ground with a knee on their neck. How can you not feel outrage? 

Right now I’m at a loss because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to make things better. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless. I do know that I have an obligation to my own children and my community to be a part of positive change. I do know that we need  to be having open & honest conversations with our students, staff and school community about racism, about bias, and about discrimination. We don’t do that enough. Often, we don’t do it at all. That’s part of the problem. 

I know that this incident and the others that have received national attention over the last few months have been traumatic for many people and for many of our students. They are confused. They are worried. They are scared. They are reaching out to us. We need to support them. To listen to them. To hear them. 

It’s not enough to just send sympathy. It’s not enough to ‬just see the injustice. It’s not enough to just feel outraged. It’s not enough to say or think, “I’m not racist” or “that’s not my community.” It’s all of our communities. When racism and injustice happens to anyone it happens to everyone. Our society is diminished as a result. It’s time for us to be loud with our actions and words to call racism out when we see it & hear it. Inaction at this point is support for a system that allows racism to perpetuate. Backing leaders that promote and legislate intolerance is support for a system that allows racism to perpetuate. 

It’s time for us as educators to do our part. We need to clearly define the action steps needed for schools across the country to take in order to elicit positive change. Hatred and racism are learned behaviors fueled by ignorance. We  need to fight that ignorance. We need to do more to explicitly and overtly teach acceptance and educate children that differences do not make you right or wrong. Our differences make us stronger together. 

We talk a lot about ‘The Power of WE.’ 
WE means all of us. 
WE have a lot of work to do."

Steve Dunham

Friday, May 29, 2020

Closing Out The Academic Year 2020

Dear WGMS Families: 

I hope this message finds you healthy and doing well. As we finish the month of May and head into June I would like to update you regarding some important information on how we will be finishing the school year regarding grading and classroom assignments. 

Last week of class assignments: 
Teachers will assign the final assignments for the school year the week of June 8th. 

Last day of on-line classes: 
The last day of on-line classes for middle level will be June 15th.  All assignments must be submitted by this date.  

Marking Period 4 (Pass or Fail):
Students will receive a Pass (P) on their report card for the 4th Marking Period if 50% or more of the assignments have earned a “Complete.” Students will receive a Fail (F) if less than 50% of the assignments have earned a “Complete,” which means they were scored as “Missing” or “Incomplete.”

Final Course Averages: 
For full year courses, the average of Marking Periods 1-3 will determine the Final Average for the course. For 2nd semester courses, Marking Period 3 will be used as the final average. 

High School Course Credit
(CFM, DDP, Studio, Algebra 1, World Languages):
There are no final examinations. 

For these credit bearing courses only, if a student’s average for Marking Periods 1 - 3 for full-year courses or the Marking Period 3 average for a second semester course is between a 58 and 64, the Principal will review the student’s marking period averages and performance in Marking Period 4 to make a decision about awarding course credit. If, after review of the marking periods, the Principal determines that a student will be denied course credit, recovery may occur through the completion of work based on essential Standards for which a student has not attained. 

Final Report Card:
The final report card will be available for viewing in Schooltool on June 26th.

As always, thank you for your continued support of our students and staff. If you need any support of any kind as we wrap-up the school year and head into summer, please reach out and we will help. We are here to help not only with the academic achievement and growth of our students, but also their social-emotional well-being. Please contact me should you have any questions or need anything at all.

Stay healthy. Stay positive. Finish strong.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms