Friday, September 18, 2015

Kids These Days!

Kids these days...are awesome! There are so many amazing happenings in the Millville Public Schools but one recently stood out to me. During my schedule review with my dedicated assistant we reviewed the week to come. I noticed a meeting set for September 17th at 2:45 pm with Mr. Kyle Permuy (@varninja on Twitter). Not recognizing the name, I inquired as to what the meeting's purpose was. My assistant stated that a #MPS senior respectfully came in to set up a meeting with me to discuss an idea. I was immediately excited by the student's conduct.

He arrived 15 minutes early, (Coach Surace, my former football coach always said, if you are early you are on time, if you are on time you are late, and if you are late you are forgotten). His showing up early was only one of the many things that impressed me.  At 2:45 we sat down in my conference room and I asked him "what can I do for you?". He leaped into a well prepared and organized presentation about an event he would like to hold in Millville next May. (May 7th, 2016* tentative). The event essentially will bring high school students (9-12) from across South Jersey to spend a day coding their way to solving a problem, any problem of their choice. Kyle explained that this is called a 'hackathon' and there is lots out there if you are like me and plan to Google it after reading this. His excitement around a passion of his was simply contagious. I found myself smiling from ear to ear. Together, he and I spent nearly an hour brainstorming how best to make this event a success. We talked about how he could share his love for coding with our younger students by being a guest many possibilities simply because this young man was brave enough to take a risk and ask his superintendent for a meeting.

So the next time you hear, or read, about all that is wrong with #MPSWC or kids today, think about @varninja aka Kyle. Kids these days...are awesome!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Robotics & Algebra

Robotics & Algebra
Posted by David N Gentile at 4/15/2015 9:25:00 AM

A new approach to Algebra...
We are partnering with Rowan University to seek a grant opportunity. See below

Summary Below: 

CS-ACTION: Computer Science through Algebra and Computational Thinking Innovation and Opportunity Networks

Project Summary
CS-ACTION is an Exploratory Research proposal to investigate the efficacy of the integration of concepts and skills in computer science (CS) and college- and career-readiness (CCR) into a Common-Core aligned Algebra I curriculum at multiple low-income schools that serve populations of students who are underrepresented in computer science.

At the center of the CS-ACTION model is a sequence of innovative, integrated, and immersive curriculum units designed to provide students with opportunities to engage concurrently in learning concepts and skills in CS, mathematics and college- and career-readiness. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (CSTA), and the American School Counselor Association Mindsets & Behaviors (ASCAMB), the units will be designed as replacement units for those typically taught in Algebra 1 courses.

Designed to be implemented by partnerships between and among schools and higher education (HE) institutions, the model includes multidimensional, embedded professional development (PD) for teachers and school counselors who will work with HE faculty to implement the curriculum units and facilitate informal after-school activities, challenges, and extensions. The implementation of these units requires an informed, supportive network of teachers, school counselors, and HE faculty who understand and have skills in these areas.

Intellectual Merit
CS-ACTION proposes a solution to the problem of access to computer science courses and careers by integrating concepts, skills, and career-readiness in computer science into an already overfull high school mathematics curriculum. While both CCSSM and CSTA specify standards for CCR, few programs actively address them. The model includes significant PD and ongoing support for in-service teachers and counselors to ensure that they are well prepared to implement the units and informal activities. CS-ACTION builds on the PIs’ experience developing and facilitating highly successful comprehensive and developmental summer programs to assist underrepresented students in gaining understandings skills that support their pursuit of STEM majors and careers. Additionally, the PIs have 40 years’ combined experience delivering small- and large-scale PD to teachers and school counselors (both in-person and online), including (a) introductory concepts and skills in programming and computational thinking; (b) student-centered pedagogies within integrated STEM curricula; and (c) college- and career-readiness for first-generation and low-income students.

Broader Impacts

The results of this work will establish a basis for further integration of foundational CS and CCR concepts and skills throughout the K-12 math curriculum, preparing students for more advanced study and increased enrollment in computer science classes. The project goals and activities are aligned to CCSSM, CSTA, and ASCAMB, ensuring that the modules produced will be appropriate for adoption by other schools throughout the nation. Curriculum units and PD modules developed for this project will be widely disseminated so that other K12-HE partnerships can enact them. The school districts selected to partner with this study were chosen specifically because they serve underrepresented populations of students. Multiple cohorts of students from each school will be studied, including cohorts of under-performing students who have been required to attend summer-school following failing grades in Algebra 1 during the school year. Successful outcomes for these varied cohorts of students would be strong evidence to other K12 schools that such HE partnerships could prove effective. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Today was a challenging day for my community. I am truly at a loss for words. As a leader, you feel you should be able to guide your team through any storm. However, some storms just can't be avoided. Without going into details, I will simply say that we mourn the loss of a fellow Thunderbolt. Our motto is "its a great day to be a bolt", but today, just for today, it wasn't. Take comfort in each each one another! Life is precious - please dedicate your life to adding value and lifting up those around you. If you or someone you know is in pain there are people here ready to help. Contact the guidance office immediately if you suspect someone needs a little extra support!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is your "WHY"?

Spent my morning with the University of Penn - Penn Leadership Studies Group discussing the importance of Simon Sinek's work.

Interesting to hear and learn what drives others. My "why" is to help others develop a love of learning as well as learning how they learn best.

What is your why?

Friday, October 24, 2014

People Don't Like Change, Right?

Wrong! If people disliked change as a general rule... the clothing styles we would still be wearing would never change... imagine using pay-phones to communicate instead of your newest iPhone 6 plus...

It isn't that people dislike change, they dislike change they don't understand or see the need for. If they are negatively impacted by the change, people are more resistant. Leaders who adopt the belief that all people dislike change are putting themselves at a major disadvantage. Adopting this mindset puts the leader on the defensive with everyone from the start. Greg Shea, author of Leading Successful Change, says leaders who believe people don't like change build bunkers. They hunker down and brace in preparation for the resistance. This mentality causes the leader to miss out on opportunities. Opportunities to convey the vision of the change, the reasons why the change will not only move the organization forward but actually be good for the individual employee. Being on the defensive causes the leader to miss out on inspiring others to join in and help with the change initiative.

Being on the defensive also makes it easy for the leader to ignore feedback that could actually enhance the change initiative. They dismiss any resistance as simply, "people don't like change, what do you expect". If instead, the leader recognizes that people will tolerate change, some will embrace it, it changes their mindset to be open to any resistance as simply information to inform the process.

So, the next time you are leading a change initiative...monitor your mindset - avoid the bunker mentality.