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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs High School Hall of Distinction inducted David Hyde Pierce and Pia Carusone for their extraordinary professional accomplishments at the 2015 Academic Awards and Hall of Distinction Recognition Night on Wednesday, May 20.
The Hall of Distinction was established to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding graduates of Saratoga Springs High School who have made exceptional contributions and excelled in their chosen fields.
Current students received awards for their academic achievements from the Rotary, including scholarships and a variety of department awards.
Emmy, Tony, and Screen Actors Guild Award winner David Hyde Pierce is the son of George and Laura Pierce and, along with his brother Tom and sisters Nancy and Barbara, he grew up in Saratoga Springs. He graduated from Saratoga High School in 1977, attended college at Yale University, and then moved to New York City, where he made his professional and Broadway debut in 1982 in Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy.”
He went on to work extensively on and off-Broadway, in regional theatre, television and film. He is perhaps best known for his role on TV's iconic comedy, "Frasier." He was also awarded the Isabelle Stevenson honorary Tony Award in 2010 for his work with the Alzheimer's Association.
Pia Carusone heads up The Campaign Group’s Washington, D.C. office. After years of winning tough campaigns, Pia served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and was recognized on the floor of Congress for her leadership after the Tucson shooting.
Carusone is a former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security and the first Executive Director of Giffords' gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions. She has given hundreds of TV, radio and print interviews. She was recently named one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch." She’s also the co-founder of a craft vodka and bourbon distillery called Republic Restoratives Distillery.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs City Council, which met May 19, passed a new city ordinance effective immediately that requires street performers to stay within ten feet of the curb, among other changes including noise limits and performance times. Critics cited existing ordinances as sufficient, and after weeks of discussion, the “busker rules” ordinance passed Tuesday with fewer changes than originally proposed.
Police Chief Gregory Veitch was invited to present at the meeting to address concerns raised in the community and at previous meetings regarding minor violations such as loitering and open containers. Veitch assured those present that the department will not be making mass arrests, and clarified that such violations must be seen by an officer in order for an officer to make an arrest. If witnessed by a civilian, that person must go to the station and file a form. He spoke about striking a balance between Constitutional freedoms and violations, saying officers will certainly uphold the new ordinance but cannot be carrying a measuring tape. He encouraged continued communication between all parties as a positive course of action.
Other City Council business highlights for the evening included the appointment of Jim Gold to the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, and the retirement of Chief Water Treatment Operator Tom Kirkpatrick was announced. Greg Johnson will be promoted from within the department to replace Kirkpatrick.
Mayor Joanne Yepsen also provided an update on the centennial celebration and the City’s recognition as a Walk Friendly Community. Commissioner Michele Madigan led the finance discussions, which included the NYS Tax Freeze Credit Program, which potentially allows for homeowners to be eligible for a property tax rebate, and the City’s Government Efficiency Plan.
The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority Five-Year Plan was discussed, and the Council approved the Housing Authority Salary. The City Council also voted to refer the Zoning Text Amendment to Include Golf-Clubhouse Definition to the Planning Board for an advisory opinion, which is nonbinding.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore’s 104th Commencement ceremony featured two distinguished guests: Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm ’69, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Julian Bond, a longtime activist in the civil rights, economic justice, and peace movements who is on the faculty of American University.
They addressed approximately 640 members of the Class of 2015 and received an honorary degree at the Saturday, May 16 ceremony at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Mehmet Odekon, Tisch Family Distinguished Professor at Skidmore, was selected by the class to also address the graduating students.
Chisholm majored in biology at Skidmore, but was not planning to pursue a career in the field until her academic advisor encouraged her to apply to graduate school and earn a Ph.D. degree. Her decision to follow that advice was life-changing for her. A pre-eminent biological oceanographer, she has long studied the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the sea. Her findings have revolutionized scientists' understanding of life in the world’s oceans. Those studies have taken her to MIT but also to the White House, where she was presented with a National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Teacher, author, and activist Julian Bond has been a civil rights leader for more than 50 years, involved in such issues as voting rights and engaged with such groups as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He served as president of the Atlanta branch for 11 years, and 12 years as chair of the NAACP board. Bond also served as an elected official four terms in Georgia’s House and six in its Senate. His poems and articles also have been published in The Nation, Life, and The New York Times.
Bond’s recognitions are numerous and include the 2002 National Freedom Award and being named a “Living Legend” in 2008 by the Library of Congress. He holds 25 honorary degrees and currently teaches in American University’s Department of Government.
Work-Life Balance and Access to Capital: Tough to Crack, but Not Impenetrable
According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, women-owned firms have grown by one and a half times the rate of other small enterprises in the last 15 years. Corresponding trends in support systems for women in business have been slower to materialize. Two areas needing support are work-life balance and access to capital.
Casey Sacci, owner of Creative Corks 1107 Ellsworth Blvd. in Malta, knows full well the risks for a woman with a family starting a business, but she did not let that stop her.
“It all happened so fast,” said Sacci. “I had this idea while trick-or-treating with my kids last Halloween, and here we are – the ribbon was cut May 14 and we’re open for business.”
Creative Corks is an instructional art studio with a beer and wine bar. The studio offers classes in painting, metal tooling, sketching, creative writing, scrapbooking, among others. Creative Corks also provides birthday or private parties and fundraisers for local charities, and offers Budding Artist classes for children, working collaboratively with Plum Dandy located next door.
“I feel like everything has gone so great so far,” said Sacci, “I even decorated the envelope of my liquor license, in a turquoise and royal blue envelope with rainbow-colored Sharpies, plus gave them a nice thank you letter. I got the license pretty fast, so going the extra artistic miles must have worked.”
Sacci says her biggest challenge was finding a balance between work and life. She had been working from home for her father’s restoration business, which worked well while raising her two daughters, now eight and six years old.
“I’ve been such a hands-on mom,” said Sacci, “and not being there to tuck them into bed has been a difficult change. We do have to find that balance of being there for them and still being here for myself and my husband, who is super supportive. We cut back summer activities, and I realized that my girls are actually happier to have free time.”
Sacci said she worried about how having a business would affect her daughters, but it has worked out better than she thought. She feels a solution to work-life balance is to involve the family. Her children picked out the paint and were there for many of the discussions in setting up the facility.
“We’re always talking about perseverance in our family,” said Sacci, “but now we’re showing it to them. You work for something; you work through it, and persevere. All those nights and questions about ‘what do you think about this or that’ turned into ‘look at what we did’ and the light bulb went off. It was really something to see, how their faces lit up and with realization.”
Sacci’s advice for women who are considering starting a business is to have a well-thought-out business plan. “It’s key to know what you are getting into,” she said. “And, time management is essential, including time for you.”
For Good Morning Café owner Nancy Holzman, access to capital was her primary challenge because traditional lenders are wary of lending to start-ups in the food and beverage industry. She rolled up her sleeves and stepped in anyway, into a business with a lot of overhead.
“In this business, you have to find the capital,” said Holzman. “The cost of doing business in NYS is high and this business is influenced by weather and the economy. But I know that if I hadn’t done this, someone else would have. Find what you love, prepare, and jump in with both feet.”
Good Morning Café on 2100 Doubleday Avenue, Ballston Spa, is a breakfast restaurant featuring locally-grown, organic, and fair trade ingredients with minimal processing. Holzman also created an innovative give-back model she built right into the menu, with a motto of “Eat Good, Do Good, Feel Good.”
After careful research for capital, Holzman decided to take her confidence, a solid plan, and experience to the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, a nonprofit that provides nontraditional financing for, among other things, women-owned businesses.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Holzman. “They could see the concept right away, and they provided me with not only funds, but so much support in the expert advice and trainings they offer, and here I am in my third year! I am incredibly grateful to them.”
Holzman’s advice to someone thinking about opening a restaurant is to spend time shadowing someone and asking questions about day-, week-, and month-to-month experiences. She shadowed someone in Maine, and says it was invaluable. “You need to experience all the pieces of the puzzle on some level before you commit,” said Holzman.
There are several resources for women to help them find solutions for business challenges. The Saratoga County Chamber’s Women in Business Group, sponsored by Key4Women, meets on the first Tuesday of every month, usually at the chamber in Saratoga Springs. The group provides informational and education sessions covering topics like working with the media, creating a healthy work environment, and more.
Saratoga Women in Business (SWIB) is a new resource locally. The social group is for women leaders and executives to meet and enjoy the company of other women leaders with the idea that social interaction leads to trust which can lead to business. Its inaugural meeting was held Wednesday May 20, hosted by sales manager and mortgage loan officer for HomeBridge Financial Services, Inc., Heidi Ives, and her two co-founders, Rachel Spensieri, a freelance writer and editor, and Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, owner of DRB Business Interiors and Saratoga CoWorks, a shared workspace for professionals.
“Men get out and do business while playing golf,” said Ives. “I think women like to do business that way, not necessarily on the golf course, but it’s natural for us to be social, get to know each other, and build trust.” She says that contact with other women in business helps address everything from work-life balance to raising capital to finding new clients.
Over 500 Expected at Memorial Day Ceremony at GBH Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery
SCHUYLERVILLE — On Monday May 25, the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery at 200 Duell Road in Schuylerville is expecting more than 500 people to attend the touching and inspirational Memorial Day ceremony planned for 11 a.m. This year, the event has special meaning as May 8 marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), celebrating the end of the Second World War in Europe.
Cemetery Director Howard Porter, Jr., who will be providing the introductory welcome to the event, encourages people to come early. “That way they can avoid some of the traffic,” he said. “There was a nice crowd on Veteran’s Day, so I’m sure there will be many more for Memorial Day. We’ll have chairs set out, but people are also welcome to bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on.” More than 225,000 veterans reside in the Albany/Saratoga area.
About 250 volunteers will be arriving Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to place 13,000 12”x18” flags on the graves in preparation of Monday’s event. Porter, who retired after 22 years from the U. S. Army as Master Sergeant (MSG), expressed his gratefulness for the numerous volunteers participating in placing flags on the graves this Saturday, most of whom are members of one or more of these organizations: Veterans of Lansingburg; Tri-County Council; Operation Adopt a Soldier; Marine Corps League; Patriot Guard Riders; Time Warner Cable; AUSA; and Blue Star Mothers.
“We really count on our volunteers for these events,” he said. “It will take them about two hours, and they will return to do it again on Tuesday to remove the flags.”
The Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery is New York State’s sixth national veteran’s cemetery and the 116th in the National Cemetery Administration. There are veterans, spouses, and children buried in the beautiful 351-acre site, and flags will be placed at all headstones, whether or not they are a veteran. “Because the spouse supported the veteran,” said Porter.
There will be a national moment of remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time on Monday, but before then the National Cemetery will ring with song, speeches, a rifle salute, and the the USS Saratoga bell.
Visitors can expect a beautiful program, guided by Master of Ceremonies Josh Gilheany and including the national anthem sung by the Shenendehowa United Methodist Church Youth Choir led by Director Lauri Nair. Cassidy Sheehan, eighth grade student at Stillwater Middle School, will read “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Robert Gibeault, Chaplain, American Legion Post 490, will lead the Invocation.
For the second year in a row, two Stillwater High School Students will read essays they wrote about Memorial Day and the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
Joseph Stewart, Jr., is a junior at Stillwater and an Eagle Scout in Troop #4035. His grandfather was in the Navy and he has a cousin in the Army and another in the Marines, as well as two great-uncles who served.
“I can understand the level of commitment given in service through stories I’ve heard from my family,” he said. “Events like this are important in letting soldiers and their families know everyone appreciates them.”
Stewart is interested in a career in engineering, and is weighing several options in the field, including nuclear engineering possibly through the Navy.
Seth Marshall is a sophomore and a Life Scout in the same troop as Stewart, which is sponsored by Post 490 of the American Legion. “I like writing,” he said. “My essay is about paying tribute to veterans. I love that I’m an American. I’ve had family in the military, and it means a lot to me to express what a great service they’ve done.”
Marshall’s grandfather served in the Army, and one brother served in the Air Force and another in the Nation Guard Reserves and served in Afghanistan. In future he is considering becoming a physical therapist in a veteran’s hospital.
The ceremony will include the posting of the colors, pledge of allegiance, and the Governor’s Proclamation which will be read by New York State Division of Veterans Affairs representative Paul Stote .
The guest speaker will be George Covel, President of the Northeast Chapter of Korean War Veterans. He served in the 8th US Army Band and the Honor Guard as a SGT-E5 and was stationed at Seoul for a year. He was a Bandsman and a high-speed radio operator in service, and became a court reporter after discharge. He is a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service award, the Korean Campaign Medal, and the UN Medal.
Senator Kathleen A. Marchione, District 43, will say a few words, and following her, John Meehan, a former major in the Air Force who served 20 years and is currently chair of the National Cemetery Support Committee, will recognize special guests, including those who are in the first few rows of the chairs set for the event, which will be reserved for disabled veterans, former prisoners of war, and other veterans.
The Saratoga Honor Guard Association will fire a rifle volley, followed by Taps, a rendition of God Bless America and Gibeault will return to provide the Benediction. Then there will be a retiring of the colors, which will conclude the ceremony. Guests are invited to place fresh flowers at the headstones of their loved ones at that time. Artificial flowers are not allowed.
Schenectady Composite U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol and the National Cemetery Honor Guard assisted by the Grand Commandery Knights Templar will post, place at half-mast, raise and lower the colors during the ceremony. The Auxiliary members will also station themselves around the cemetery after the ceremony to be available throughout the day for questions and answers by visitors and family members.
“The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat The soldier’s last tattoo; No more on Life’s parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead.” Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O’Hara
Schools and County Prepare for Worst Case Scenarios
BALLSTON SPA — On a perfect blue May day, a school bell rang and over the loudspeakers a voice floated across a still playground and quiet fields, “This is a lockdown. The school is under lockdown.”
A couple dozen guests, most from other schools in the region, silently observed as drill leaders prepared for the next steps in the evacuation drill of a school-shooting scenario which took place Friday, May 8, at Gordon Creek Elementary School, involving all three elementary schools on the Wood Road complex of the Ballston Spa Central School District.
[Photo caption: Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D., is taken to the drill command center. Staff photo.]
A communicator crackled, and another voice was heard saying “Buses on route, do you copy?” A few minutes later, the communicator informed law enforcement that there was a single victim with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and there was one shooter inside. Within minutes, several emergency and law enforcement vehicles arrived, and the onlookers watched as the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department special operations team jumped out of a truck and into action. Shouts were heard from inside the school building as they entered with a medical professional under their protection, calling “Clear, clear, clear.”
There was an eerie quality to the level of reality in the safety exercise. The observers watched as a female “victim”, (Tina Knapp, a cleaner in the school who volunteered for the role) was carried out of the building and into a waiting emergency vehicle with quick and silent efficiency. On one side of the complex, 2,000 students and staff who attend Gordon Creek Elementary School, Milton Terrace North Elementary School and Wood Road Elementary School were being evacuated to safety off-site, and on the other side a helicopter was landing to take the “victim” to a trauma care medical facility.
According to school officials, just planning in detail for an emergency evacuation of three schools has already provided district staff and local emergency responders with improved protocols and communication after examining the many logistics involved with safely relocating approximately 2,000 students and staff.
Although this particular scenario drilled for an armed intruder, the lessons learned that Friday morning are part of emergency management planning to prepare for a multitude of conditions including security or safety threats; severe weather issues; or unexpected facility conditions, like loss of power, that would require the district to evacuate buildings and transport students to meet their parents at secure remote locations.
In New York State, all public schools, including BOCES, charter schools, and county vocation education and extension boards, must develop, review, and annually update school safety plans at the district and building level. As a result of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, New York State passed the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act of 2000 to assure there would be plans in place to define how each school district and all the buildings in the district would respond to acts of violence and other disasters through prevention, intervention, emergency response and management.
“It shouldn’t take an incident like that to plan and practice for the safety of our school students and personnel,” said Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D. “This drill with its super inter-agency coordination helps prepare us for anything – weather incidents and potential hazards from rail incidents. The safety and security of students and staff are and will always remain a top priority for the school district.”
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said this drill would not only provide good information for the schools, but also important procedural and tactical information for law enforcement and other emergency responders. “We will observe, watch, debrief, and go over how the execution went,” he said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the school district – and the weather – for today’s exercises.”
The Ballston Spa schools were not the only district to benefit from Friday’s evacuation drill. According to Stuart Williams, Coordinator of Community Relations for Ballston Spa Central School District, drills like the one held on May 8 are open to all school districts, public or private, who would like to observe. After Friday’s safety exercise, visiting school officials who had gathered in the playground to observe the proceedings were invited to debrief with the Ballston Spa school officials, a meeting that would be of invaluable help with emergency planning in their own schools.
Although private schools are not bound by the SAVE Act, they regularly work with law enforcement and other emergency responders on school safety plans and drills.
Ken Goldfarb, Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said “Schools of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany follow all state regulations when it comes to fire and evacuation drills. They are all encouraged to work cooperatively with all local police and fire departments with regard to these matters. They all conduct at least four lockdown drills each year, and are expected to follow all the same procedures and practices that are required of the public schools.”
[Photo caption: Law enforcement personnel debrief after the drill. Photo provided by Ballston Spa Central School District.]
According to Jim Cultrara, Director of Education for New York State Catholic Conference, those efforts could use more support from the State. After the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the New York State Legislature increased funds for equipment and other protective measures for schools, initially leaving out funds for private schools. Parents and private schools had to lobby the State to get funding that first year and every year since.
“The State education budget provides $4.5 million in funds for safety for nonpublic schools,” said Cultrara, “which averages to about $9 per pupil. Private schools can’t levy a bond for school safety initiatives. The State needs to keep in mind that senseless violence and natural disasters are indiscriminate and can happen anywhere, not just in public schools.”
Fortunately, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s office understands that all too well, and the observations gained at Friday’s drill will help responders be better prepared and equipped for all schools anywhere in the county. “Law enforcement is available for both public and private schools for walk-throughs, emergency plan review, and other services related to emergency planning,” said Zurlo.
Michael E. Pizzingrillo, MS Ed, PD, superintendent of schools for the area Roman Catholic Diocese, said he valued the support of local law enforcement and other emergency responders in their safety planning and exercises.
“Our schools take the safety and well-being of all students as paramount,” said Pizzingrillo. “We work closely with local officials and I conduct annual school visits to each school, reviewing safety plans. Especially in light of school shootings elsewhere around the country, schools have made great advances in safety and security while still able to maintain a welcoming environment, not losing that personal touch that students and parents have come to expect from our schools.”
This was the first time the county had conducted a drill of this size, involving roughly 200 state, local and regional law enforcement, fire safety, and emergency responders in collaboration with the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services and the Ballston Spa Central School District.
Welcome to the 2015
Teacher of the Year!
As you turn the pages you are going to meet some fantastic educators who are helping to shape the future of America. Whether nominated by students, parents, or fellow educators, they all have one thing in common: A commitment to children and the willingness to go above and beyond on a regular basis.
As we made our way to the various schools (elementary, middle, HS) we burst into the classrooms or auditoriums to announce the news. The looks of surprise (and embarrassment) on the teacher’s faces was priceless. But I have to say it paled in comparison to the reaction of the students who were hooting, hollering and hugging their teachers. Their reaction made it perfectly clear how special these individuals are.
We couldn’t have done this without our partners SaratogaMama.com or LocalLivingIn.com.
And a big thank you to our sponsors who stepped up to the plate and provided great packages for each winner. Thank you to Adirondack Trust Co., Northshire Bookstore,Target and A.C. Moore.
And to all the teachers who are out there every day making a difference, Thank You.
How it all happened...
Last year, Saratoga TODAY pitched the idea of a county-wide contest to find the most beloved teacher in the area… everybody was on-board and the buzz started… great idea, the kids and teachers will love it, what do we give them, when do we hold it, how do we promote it, when will we announce the winners???
Luckily we have great media partners that helped promote it, and local businesses that were willing to be sponsors. Saratoga TODAY, along with LocalLivingIn.com and SaratogaMama.com kicked off the first ever “Saratoga County’s Teacher of the Year” contest, and it was quite the hit!
This year’s contest was conducted the same way with the nomination period during the month of March, and voting during the month of April.
Another year came and went with heartfelt nominations and the task of narrowing it down to the top four in each grade level, to be voted on by the public.
The school support was wonderful… promoting it in-house, helping us pull this off without the teachers knowing and having a wonderful school spirit that inspired the students and teachers to nominate and vote.
We SURPRISED the winners at their schools on Monday, May 11th and in case you were wondering what the teachers received in each of their gift bags…
An engraved crystal APPLE and a framed certificate from us, a $25 gift card from Target, a $50 gift card from Northshire Books and a $250 DBA gift card from the Adirondack Trust Company – thank you to all of our very generous sponsors!!
-Chris Vallone Bushee
St. Clements Regional Catholic School
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Into a quiet classroom of diligently working young fourth graders came balloons, the school principal, and a second group of children, excited and not sure what was about to happen, but from the infectious smiles they could tell it was something good.
Elementary teacher Becky Stauffer received, in happy surprise, the 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year Award in front of two classes of cheering fourth graders at St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School located at 231 Lake Ave in Saratoga Springs.
“I was stunned,” said Stauffer. “So happy and just, well, stunned.”
Jane E. Kromm, principal of St. Clement’s, was wreathed in smiles for her teacher. “Congratulations to a very dedicated teacher who really sees her job as a vocation,” Kromm said. “I know she has touched many lives over the years that she has been a teacher.”
Teaching is a second career for Stauffer, her first being motherhood. She decided to raise a family after earning her college degree, and after that, at the age of 40, became a teacher. She has been teaching for 23 years, mostly second grade and recently began teaching fourth grade.
“Mrs. Stauffer was every bit of what she is rumored to be---an exceptional teacher with high expectations, but with enough love and guidance to allow any child to blossom to their own potential,” was one of the comments in the nominating letter.
When she is not teaching, Stauffer loves to garden and play golf. Her garden includes a variety of flowers and vegetables. Her best crop, she says, is her students and children.
“Teaching in a Catholic school is very rewarding,” Stauffer said. “My faith and love of children brought me here, and I see it almost as missionary work. Teaching is an opportunity to positively touch the lives of children.”
One of her children, Tim Stauffer, is a professional baseball player, formerly with the San Diego Padres and recently taken on by the Minnesota Twins.
Mrs. Stauffer’s nominating letter:
I am the mother of 4 children whose ages range from 10 to 15 years old. My children have been blessed to attend St. Clement’s Regional Catholic School for all of their pre-school and elementary years. Mrs. Stauffer has taught all of my children. Initially she taught 2nd grade but switched to 4th this year. My boys had her first. It was evident when we first had her assigned to our oldest son, Cameron, that Mrs. Stauffer was every bit of what she is rumored to be---an exceptional teacher with high expectations, but with enough love and guidance to allow any child to blossom to their own potential. Cameron needed extra coaching with becoming organized. Alec needed nothing extra, but excelled under her teaching. My daughters are twins and had her first for 2nd grade and we were excited to know that they would again have her this year for 4th grade. She is nurturing and feels like an extension of home. She gives the students loving stories that they come home and tell us. These stories clearly engage the children. Mrs. Stauffer’s son is a famous baseball player— Timmy Stauffer. The kids love to hear what he is up to! She gave them all baseballs with his initials. Mrs. Stauffer personally selects a special book to give each student at Christmas. She obviously takes the time to listen to them and to get to know their personal likes and characteristics. Mrs. Stauffer always takes the extra time to speak with us parents to make sure that we are aware of any slight challenges that may be happening with our child. For instance, my daughter, Madeleine, seemed to add a vowel prior to the start of any new sentence when reading aloud, but she noted that this was only when she was reading aloud to the entire class and that this didn’t happen when she was alone with her. She brought this to our attention. Although it was a small little concern, she clearly takes the time needed to see these little tiny things in each child. She is warm, happy, uplifting and is simply an amazing teacher!!!
— a mom
Galway Central School District
The auditorium of the Galway Junior/Senior High School at 5317 Sacandaga Road in Galway erupted into spontaneous applause as music teacher Gary Barrow was presented with the 2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year award.
For 22 of Gary Barrow’s 23 years of teaching, he has been teaching music in Galway. For him, music is so much more than instruments and sheet music.
“We teach music, but it has to go beyond that a little,” he said. “There are some great life lessons gained through music, and hopefully I have a positive influence on students toward their life after high school.”
Galway’s school principal, Mike Healey, believes he does. “So many teachers teach their subjects,” said Healey. “He lives it. He’s passionate about music, about his own instrument, and kids respond to that. We have an exceptional band program in large part due to him.”
Barrow teaches band to well over one hundred students in grades four through 12. Aside from lessons, he holds full band rehearsals regularly; three concerts a year; coordinates the marching band and all the local parades. He is also a professional trombone player in the area, typically performing with the Empire Jazz Orchestra out of Schenectady County Community College.
Barrow was surprised when the crowd with balloons walked in with his certificate and prizes. “I’m honored,” he said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in the Galway community, it’s a second home. Thank you to the students, parents and Galway for their continued support, and to all the sponsoring organizations who – through these awards – acknowledge the hard work of teachers.”
“If anybody deserves this award, it’s Mr. Barrow,” said Healey. “He’s one hundred percent dedicated to music and the arts and his students.”
Mr. Barrow’s nominating letter:
Mr. Barrow teaches band to many different grade levels in Galway Central School District. My son had the pleasure of taking band from him this year. The amount of improvement I have seen in my own child as well as seeing the amazing display of talent and skill shown by students during the winter concert shows me what a capable teacher Mr. Barrow is!
— a mom
Schuylerville Central School District
SCHUYLERVILLE — Ronald Hayes, mathematics teacher at Schuylerville High School at 14 Spring Street, turned in surprise from the display of equations in the front of his 11th grade class when the door opened to several students, teachers, and balloons all suddenly piling into the room.
Hayes, who has been teaching for 25 years, was selected as the 2015 High School Teacher of the Year.
Assistant Principal Aaron Grady said, “Ron is a phenomenal teacher. He can certainly bring a higher level of teaching to kids, and still has the ability to connect with those that need a little extra help. He can break down processes to make them understandable for students.”
Hayes recognizes that many students initially approach math with wariness and even dislike, but he is more than up for that challenge.
“Math has always been easy for me,” he said. “I consider it a puzzle. I like that you can approach the same problem from more than one way.”
For students who do not find math as much fun as he does, he recommends they go ahead and push themselves to trudge through it. He says that the accomplishment at the end makes the work well worth it, which is true for any job that must be done. Hayes understands that it is an important life skill to be able to push through and complete tasks, whether or not they are enjoyable.
“I think Ron approaches teaching with such humbleness. He goes about his daily work and quietly builds relationships with the students,” Grady said. “He has an exceptional ability to connect, and he is very passionate about what he does. It’s a great honor for him to be recognized for that.”
Grady added that Hayes is well-known throughout the school as an approachable teacher, and students are comfortable speaking with him on any topic, not just math. Hayes believes his fondness of the subject has made him happy in his work.
“It’s important to me to do what I love. You don’t want to live with regrets,” he said.
Life has been especially difficult for this dedicated teacher and his family. His 13-year-old son, Parker Hayes, lost his battle with a rare form of cancer in February.
“It’s been a hard year, but everyone has been so supportive, not just Schuylerville, but Saratoga, Glens Falls… everyone,” Hayes said. “Teaching helps me get through this.”
Grady believes the school and students are fortunate to have him. “He’s one of those teachers that kids will remember for years after graduation.”
Mr. Hayes’ nominating letter:
Mr. Hayes is my daughter’s pre-trig teacher. I am impressed by his enthusiasm for math, a subject that can be difficult for some students. He takes the time to make sure that each student understands the concepts, making himself available after school if necessary. More importantly, I am impressed with the life lessons he has imparted. Mr. Hayes’ son recently lost a battle with cancer and Mr. Hayes has shown my daughter and her peers how to face adversity with dignity, that family is of utmost importance, and that you can teach more by example than by words. I am grateful my daughter was in his classroom this year. I only hope Mr. Hayes knows how much he is loved and appreciated by his students and the community of Schuylerville.
— a mom
GANSEVOORT – After 23 years, Community Care Pediatrics has moved across the street into the former campus of Adirondack Community College at 6 Mountain Ledge Drive in Gansevoort.
“We are just delighted with the new facility,” said pediatrician Dr. Jami Hawthorne, M.D. “It allows us to grow the practice and provide more access for patients. It’s fresh and bright and cheery, overall a better patient experience.”
“We sat with an architect and design person from our corporate office to come up with the best configuration for the space,” said Diane Ethier, Practice Manager. She laughed and added, “We went through quite a few drafts, but we finally got it just right.” The corporate office is Community Care Physicians based in Latham, NY.
The entrance to the facility is in the back of the building, convenient to the large parking lot. Patients walk in to a double check-in area that provides greater privacy than the previous facility. There is a large screen monitor there with scrolling messages highlighting events or providing flu shot reminders and other tips for waiting patients. There is also a prominent disabled access entrance on the side with two exam rooms in close proximity with lower tables and other features to ease the visit experience for disabled patients.
The facility now boasts two separate waiting rooms for sick and well visits, both decorated with large, colorful displays of animals and sea life. The Safari Room is the waiting room for well visits, and the Sea Room is the waiting room for sick visits. The overall feel is very kid-friendly, with bright colors and large windows.
Bubba, a patient-favorite for more than 10 years, is currently located in the Sea Room, but even he is getting a new home. The South African blood parrot cichlid will be swimming in a six-foot 125 gallon tank as soon as a stand suitable to the tank and water weight is installed.
Pediatrician Dr. Anne Marthy-Noonan, M.D., said “I was at the old office on the first day it opened, and I thought it was beautiful then. Things have changed quite a bit these last 20 years in the way we practice medicine, and this new facility is perfect for providing the best care to our patients.”
There is a new conference room that doubles as an education room. “We hold Prenatal Night there once a month, when expectant parents can meet with providers,” said Ethier. “Overall, everything is roomier for the patients, for support staff, and practitioners. We have an expanded lab, too. We’ve almost doubled our space.”
There are nine providers, seven pediatricians and two nurse practitioners. Typically, four or five of them are available seeing up to 150 children altogether each day. Staff has been with the practice for an average of 20 years. There are 21 comfortably-sized exam rooms plus a treatment room where a patient can receive allergy shots or nebulizer treatments while waiting for an exam.
Like the facility, walk-in hours have expanded, too. Patients can be seen as walk-ins Monday through Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and Monday through Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Appointments and walk-ins are on Saturdays, too, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Community Care Pediatrics is holding an Open House for the public to view the new facility on Sunday, May 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Children are invited to bring their favorite toy for teddy bear checkups, and there will be several kid-friendly activities, including a bounce house obstacle course, face painting, and giveaways. Snow cone and popcorn machines will be on site and refreshments will be served by the Saratoga Pediatrics team. Open for both patients and non-patients looking for a kid-friendly activity for the day. For more information, please visit www.communitycare.com/SaratogaPediatrics.
Annual Law Day Celebrates Mock Trial Students
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga County Bar Association held its annual Law Day luncheon at the Canfield Casino, Saratoga Springs on April 30. The event celebrated the seven local high schools that participated in the NYS Annual Statewide Mock Trial Competition, the largest mock trial competition in the nation.
At the event, the Saratoga County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award was presented to Code Blue Saratoga, an emergency homeless shelter serving the needs of Saratoga County. The organization was nominated by Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, who also presented the award.
Code Blue Saratoga Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parant accepted the award on behalf of the organization. “We’re grateful to have the recognition of the [Saratoga County] Bar Association for what we’ve done for the community and for people who would have otherwise gone unsheltered in winter,” said Murphy-Parant. “And it was terrific to receive the award in a room full of these great students and have the opportunity to let them know what Code Blue is.”
The keynote address was provided by attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr., Esq., who was introduced by Karen E.S. D’Andrea, Esq., President of the Saratoga County Bar Association.
The teams represented Saratoga Springs High School, Saratoga Central Catholic High School, Shenendehowa High School, Corinth High School, Augustine Classical Academy, Schuylerville High School and Waterford-Halfmoon High School. Competition is co-sponsored by the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Citizenship and Education, The New York State Bar Foundation, the New York State Education Department, and local bar associations.
The mock trial competition was held throughout the months of February, March and May. Saratoga Central Catholic High School won the competition to become the Saratoga County Champion.
BALLSTON SPA – The Ballston Spa Central School District hosted an underwater tournament for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) on Tuesday May 5. Middle School students on SeaPerch teams from throughout the Capital Region tested their skill at guiding the ROVs through a course in the Ballston Spa High School pool while completing several tasks. Ballston Spa’s Team Phish placed third overall out of 17 teams. First and second place went to teams from Niskayuna.
SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program developed by MIT and the Office of Naval Research that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater ROV in a classroom or afterschool setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic skills in engineering with a focus on ship and submarine design.
“We’ve seen over the years that STEM enrichment activities tend to lead students to higher level math and science classes in high school and beyond,” said Diane Irwin, Science Coordinator for the Ballston Spa Central School District. “Tuesday’s competition is a prime example. The students were not only creating the robots, but were working with skilled engineers. It’s an incredible opportunity for them.”
The SeaPerch program is funded through a grant from the Bechtel Foundation and led by a team of staff and volunteers. Several Middle School teachers serve as advisors while Engineers from Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories (KAPL) engineers serve as mentors for the Ballston Spa teams of 3 to 4 students each. They have been meeting after school and constructing their own underwater ROVs with the goal of participating in the underwater robotics competition.
This is the third year that the school district has participated with SeaPerch. To learn more about the program, visit www.SEAPERCH.org. For additional information on robotics initiatives in Ballston Spa, contact Diane Irwin through the school district at 518-884-7150.