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Local educators receive professional development
across 11 sites through Herkimer BOCES event

Oct. 17, 2017




John Brennan speaks to school counselors and social workers
Herkimer County Family Court Judge John Brennan speaks to local school counselors, guidance counselors and social workers on Monday, Oct. 16, at Frankfort-Schuyler High School as part of a Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Regional Professional Development Day.



It’s all about helping children.

That’s what Herkimer County Family Court Judge John Brennan said on Monday, Oct. 16, to local school counselors and social workers during one portion of a Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Regional Professional Development Day, as he discussed local efforts to establish earlier intervention to assist children who are missing too much school.

“That’s what we focus on. That’s what we’re invested in,” Brennan said, noting that he knew he was preaching to the choir. “You care. You all want the same thing.”

Herkimer BOCES professional development staff, in cooperation with the Mohawk Regional Information Center and Mohawk Regional Teachers Center, organized a massive professional development day in partnership with most of the Herkimer BOCES component school districts for the Superintendents’ Conference Day on Monday, Oct. 16.

The Herkimer BOCES School To Careers program worked closely with the Herkimer BOCES professional development office and Frankfort-Schuyler staff and administration on the mental health event that took place at Frankfort-Schuyler.

The Regional Professional Development Day took place across 11 locations in the Herkimer BOCES region:
  • Central Valley Academy: Librarians and art, music and foreign language teachers met – including training on new art and music standards.
     
  • Dolgeville Elementary School: Prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers focused on early intervention programs and teacher-to-teacher sharing of best practices.
     
  • Frankfort-Schuyler High School: School counselors, guidance counselors and social workers participated in a mental health themed day, which included multiple agencies and partners from the community and focused on mental health awareness and sharing resources.
     
  • Herkimer Elementary School: Teachers of grades five and six focused on mindfulness, technology integration, and teacher-to-teacher shared practices.
     
  • Herkimer High School: Special education teachers, assistants and support staff focused on topics facilitated by staff in various areas relative to special education needs.
     
  • Little Falls High School: Math and science teachers for seventh grade through 12th grade concentrated on new standards, integration of technology in the classroom and more, as business teachers collaborated to share best practices.
     
  • Mount Markham High School: Physical education, health and family and consumer sciences teachers participated in development coordinated by regional educators.
     
  • Owen D. Young Central School District: Teachers of grades three and four had teacher-to-teacher facilitation in the areas of math, reading and writing.
     
  • West Canada Valley Elementary School: Teachers of grades one and two participated in professional development with an emphasis on differentiated instruction and next generation science standards.
     
  • Richfield Springs High School: English language arts and social studies teachers explored a range of topics during teacher-facilitated sessions.
     
  • Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex: Teaching assistants, aides, nurses, secretaries and career and technical education teachers focuses on mindfulness, instructional technology support and re-certification.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to showcase our teacher leaders,” Herkimer BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Laurie Hedges said. “This day is for teachers by teachers. The level of collaboration across the districts has been truly remarkable.”

Liane Benedict, staff development coordinator for the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation BOCES in Oswego County, led mindfulness sessions at Herkimer BOCES. She said stress, depletion and low to medium grade anxiety are becoming the new norm, and students often follow adults when it comes to the atmosphere.

“That’s why it begins with us,” she said.

Benedict then showed participants relaxation techniques she does with students because of the importance of staff feeling more relaxed and helping set the example. She asked attendees to pull their chairs away from their tables and sit in a relaxed, mindful posture. She then had them move around and relax parts of their body starting with their feet and then things, lower back, shoulders arms and neck.

Next, Benedict played a video of a candle flame and calming music. She asked participants to spend a couple of minutes breathing in and then breathing out in a way that would make a candle flame flicker and dance but not go out.

Following the relaxation technique, she put up a cartoon featuring someone trying to go through a similar exercise who keeps letting other thoughts in such as “Am I in the moment?” and “I’m hungry.”

Benedict, however, said that thoughts such as those aren’t a problem.

“The whole point of mindfulness is to notice the thinking; not get rid of the thinking,” she said.

Over at the Frankfort-Schuyler mental health day, Trooper Brian DeRochie, of school and community outreach for the state police, gave advice during one of the breakout sessions about what to look for when dealing with students or parents with issues related to drugs.

The first portion was about heroin. Sometimes, people have to be saved from their reaction to heroin on multiple occasions, DeRochie said.

“There are a lot of individuals out there who know, ‘I could die if I do this today,’ and they do it anyway because they can’t help it,” he said.

DeRochie also covered signs and symptoms for methamphetamines, prescription drug abuse, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, e-cigarettes, syrup and more.

Prior to that, Brennan’s keynote speech started off the mental health day at Frankfort-Schuyler.

Brennan detailed how earlier intervention before students get to family court can help students. He worked with county services and school officials to make sure steps are taken starting when students have had five or six or more unexcused absences by Columbus Day. Students who had absence issues the previous spring are also checked in with.

“Immediately, I saw a drop,” he said.

Some situations could be resolved quickly when parents hadn’t known their children were missing school – such as parents who left for work before their children went to school or parents who would drop their children off at school and not know they would go in one door and out the other, Brennan said.

Later, they started checking again in January with students who developed absence problems during the school year.

There are instances of good students who have no drug or alcohol issues but stop coming to school. Sometimes, the reason is as simple as that the student started staying up until 4 a.m. playing video games, Brennan said.

“Those ones, we can figure out real easy,” he said.

Other times, the absences are from LGBTQ students or students dealing with bullying, shaming from sexting or issues with social media, Brennan said.

“Those are things that concern me,” he said. “I know they concern you every day.”

Following Brennan’s speech, Frankfort-Schuyler Superintendent Bob Reina, said he was pleased to host that portion of the Regional Professional Development Day. He comes from a school counseling background, and it has a special place in his heart, he said.

Reina thanked the attendees for the service, support and dedication to students in the community.
“I truly do appreciate the work that all of you do,” he said.



Herkimer County Family Court Judge John Brennan speaks to local school counselors, guidance counselors and social workers on Monday, Oct. 16, at Frankfort-Schuyler High School as part of a Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Regional Professional Development Day:

John Brennan speaks to school counselors and social workers

John Brennan speaks to school counselors and social workers

John Brennan speaks to school counselors and social workers


Liane Benedict, staff development coordinator for the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation BOCES in Oswego County, leads a mindfulness session on Monday, Oct. 16, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES as part of a Regional Professional Development Day:

Liane Benedict speaks to school staff members at Herkimer BOCES

Liane Benedict speaks to school staff members at Herkimer BOCES

Liane Benedict speaks to school staff members at Herkimer BOCES



Trooper Brian DeRochie, of school and community outreach for the state police, speaks to local school counselors, guidance counselors and social workers on Monday, Oct. 16, at Frankfort-Schuyler High School as part of a Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Regional Professional Development Day.

Trooper Brian DeRochie speaks to school counselors and social workers

Trooper Brian DeRochie speaks to school counselors and social workers



Frankfort-Schuyler Superintendent Bob Reina introduces Herkimer County Family Court Judge John Brennan on Monday, Oct. 16, at Frankfort-Schuyler High School as part of a Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Regional Professional Development Day.

Frankfort-Schuyler Superintendent Bob Reina speaks during the mental health portion of the Regional Professional Development Day




Participants in mindfulness training at Herkimer BOCES:

Participants in mindfulness training at Herkimer BOCES




Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH Principal Brittany DerCola and mentoring program Coordinator Sarah Trunfio present about autism at Herkimer High School:

Sarah Trunfio and Brittany DerCola at Herkimer High School








 
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