School board moves forward with ‘test to stay’ strategy
Sat, January 15, 2022 7:00 AM
By Alice E. Gerard
The Grand Island School District is moving forward with the “test to stay” strategy, which the district has been piloting since Dec. 6.
At the Grand Island Board of Education meeting on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Brian Graham said, “Strategy is important to individuals. It gives parents another choice for their children to come to school, instead of being home during quarantine.
He said that from Dec. 6 to Jan. 10, the district administered 296 tests, with 293 negative and three positive.
“That equates to 1,758 hours of instruction that students have access to, instead of being home and needing to self-quarantine,” Graham said.
He explained, “The Erie County Health Department has met with all private, public and parochial schools to announce that the New York State Health Department and the County Health Department of Erie will now support the “test to stay”. As of this week, 17 school districts and 11 private schools are participating in the “Test to Stay.” For students who are in the “test to stay” program, a significant change is that students do not have to test every day. During this five-day period, they will be tested at least twice, possibly on day one and definitely on day five.
Students in the “test to stay” program will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, Graham said. “New York State prohibits all schools—private, public, and parochial schools—that have children in the ‘test to stay’ program from extending their day with extracurricular activities. New York State, the ‘test to stay’ is only for class hours when students are in school. So that’s very disappointing. We’re moving in that direction, and that’s going to be the next advocacy focus. for superintendents, at least here in Erie County.
In other news
•The Board of Education also recognized the achievements of a 13-year-old drag racer and a sixth-grade teacher.
Mary Howard, who teaches sixth grade at Veronica Conner Middle School, recently became a National Board-certified teacher. Certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond the required state credential that is necessary for teachers.
Howard said: “The process can take up to five years to become a nationally certified teacher. During the process, you develop four portfolios with information about yourself. You record yourself teaching two different lessons in two different content areas. You must prove that you are an effective and thoughtful practitioner. You need to talk about how you use data to drive your instruction. You use this data to modify the instruction you give in class.
“Undoubtedly, the journey is one of introspection. It’s absolutely one that lets you look at your teaching practice and what you do with your pedagogy, and grow with what you’ve learned about yourself. The path is not easy, and my path has not been easy. I didn’t manage to go all the way on the first try. There was a fail and a rejection, and I had to try again. In the end, the journey is worth the rewards. It was a really great process, and I’m glad I got to do it.
Howard was certified as a mid-level generalist. Other areas of certification include the Special Needs Teacher Certificate in Special Education, Individual Subjects, and Career Counseling.
The process is designed to take several years, said board chair Ashli Dreher, who is also a nationally certified teacher.
“It’s really designed for teacher growth, multi-year learning, and it’s hard work,” she said. “It says here that there are 2,179 teachers in New York State who are nationally certified. We have approximately 300,000 teachers in New York State. It is in fact a small percentage of teachers who have earned this distinction. It’s a very rigorous process. »
•Dreher also featured Peter J. (PJ) Marston III, who is nationally ranked in drag racing.
“He had nine wins. He is the 2021 Lancaster Drag Racing Champion and the National Drag Racing Champion,” she said. “It says no one has ever won those two track championships simultaneously in any division, so he’s the only one who has. There are only two tracks sanctioned by the IHRA (International Hot Rod Association) in New York State. Peter won both, making him the state’s No. 1 among junior drivers. He won a Gamblers race in West Salem, Ohio, against 60 or more of the top junior drivers from New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And he traveled to and competed in the World Finals in Memphis, Tennessee, and was selected as No. 9 on the list of top 10 drag champions for all junior pilot divisions across the country in the 13 to 15 age bracket.”
She also pointed out that PJ can qualify for junior dragster status for three to four years before having to upgrade to a full-size race car.
“Most junior drivers don’t experience this level of success in an eight-year career, let alone a year, and he has several years left before he moves on to his full-size race cars,” Dreher said.
PJ said his interest in drag racing started when he and his dad went out to “race his little sled. So I went out with him. And then we watched the juniors one night. I told him we had to have one. Then we just started doing it. It has become more and more of a thing.
He described his drag racing winning season as “pretty fun” and said he looked forward to continuing to compete.
“It’s going to be tough to do (it) again, so we just want to do the same thing we did this year,” PJ said. He added that he has received a lot of support from his parents, Pete Marston Jr. and Sue Marston, as well as sponsors such as Pinto, Island Pet Lodge and Chasson Racing Engines.
Dreher told PJ, “We are very proud of you. There are a lot of students over the years, whether it’s baton throwing or drag racing. I think we had someone in boxing, but that’s quite an achievement, and we’re so proud of you for going out there and representing us well. Your parents must be very proud, but we are also proud of you in the Grand Island community and being part of the national scene. Representing your hometown means a lot to all of us. Thank you very much and congratulations.