Schenectady teachers returned from summer vacation to
begin the 2012-2013 School Year, many heard the words of
Superintendent Larry Spring for the first time.
But it took only a matter of seconds to learn what his
expectations are and what his message to staff was and
will continue to be.
On opening day, Spring
had 148 chairs in the Proctor's Theatre roped off.
Those chairs represented the students who dropped out of
school last year and who won't be seated in that same
theatre on graduation day. While he emphasized
that the district dropout rate must decrease and the
graduation rate increase, he spoke optimistically and
told his teachers that he believes in all of them.
Almost two months later, the teachers and administrators
continue to buzz about that huge empty block of chairs,
and admit that actually seeing the empty chairs roped
off had a huge impact. Many say they can't get the
visual out of their minds.
On that morning,
Spring spoke about the challenges that the teachers face
and soon after sent them on their way - back to
their schools and classrooms with a challenge to tackle.
One that, in the end, would not only make a huge
difference to one but would add up to a huge difference
for many. He encouraged each of the 1,300
educators, administrators and other staff members in the
auditorium to focus on moving one student from below
standard to standard. He told the teachers to
think about the one student that is hard to like and has
built a wall. "Think about reaching him or her," said
"We are about to write
the 2012-2013 school year," Spring added. "Be the
hero. I call all of you to be the hero of the
Some schools have
accepted the challenge and are already tackling it head
on. Hamilton Elementary School, for example, began
an afterschool mentoring program in which teachers
remain after school to work with and serve as mentors to
low achieving students. According to Principal
Michelle VanDerlinden, more than 30 teachers answered
the call and are serving as mentors to students.
The Daily Gazette recently printed an article and a
follow-up editorial about the school's efforts.
is on a quest to find our schools' heroes and let them
know how much he appreciates their work.
Throughout the school year, he will be recognizing
district employees who do something a little special, go
above and beyond and is casting him or herself as a
On October 31, he
surprised Pat Johnson, a paraprofessional at Hamilton
Elementary School and Laurie Leone, nurse of Woodlawn