Rotella Offers Experience and Balanced View on School Board

As each academic year nears its end, the Board of Education and District staff celebrate the more than 100 business and not-for-profit partners, as well as parents, grandparents, and other volunteers, who take an active role in students’ education year after year.  At the annual Parents and Partners Dinner Celebration, we honor these partnerships, which provide unique resources and opportunities; Niagara Falls is a leader is seeking out and maintaining these relationships.  This year’s dinner will be held on May12, 2016 at Niagara Falls High School.

One of these partnerships is with Niagara University, which provides professional development for staff, academic summer camp for young students, student teachers, as well as a collaborative relationship in working with District staff to design a Pre-Kindergarten through college, vertically aligned, cohesive curriculum plan. This “Pre-K to16” model helps us assure that each student graduates prepared for college.

Our STEM program has drawn on the knowledge and creativity of multiple partners, like Roswell Park Cancer Institute, which connects teachers to expert technicians and researchers in the field of cancer study.  These experts work with teachers to engage students in research on the biology and genetic basis of cancer and cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

The University at Buffalo has assisted in similar ways in the field of engineering; Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center plays a similar role with respect to biosciences, and National Grid has played a key role in advising on curriculum, while DuPont has funded STEM opportunities for younger students.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center also partners by providing the services of Tony Surace, who works as an athletic trainer with students and assists NFHS sports teams when injuries occur.

New partners, too, like Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, have come on board in a strong way, providing incentives for reading programs and attending Family Fun Nights at multiple schools. Other restaurants, like Pizza Hut, have provided parent groups with fund raising opportunities, and many donate to the Post Prom Party.

The Niagara Falls Housing Authority partners in many ways, too, offering the Advantage After School Program, participating in the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, and more.  When the school year ends, NFHA’s commitment to students does not. The Niagara Falls Housing Authority collaborates with the District to offer a very popular Summer Camp program at Niagara Falls High School, which keeps students engaged and entertained during the summer months. Last year the City of Niagara Falls was also a participant.

Not for profits, like Community Missions, provide another valuable experience for students: the chance to volunteer and to see firsthand the need in our community.

The time and dedication each partner contributes is secondary to the real gift they offer: encouraging young people and demonstrating a commitment to their development. These partners make it clear to our students that young people matter. They provide wonderful role modeling for students by demonstrating being part of a community means taking a role in it.

As a Board member, and a retired teacher, I know how valuable these partnerships are; we owe our Adopt-A-School Partners, as well as all our volunteers, our gratitude. They make a difference in the lives of our students.

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