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COVID-19 Closure Update:
March 22, 2020
Message from the Superintendent
To all of our Ken-Ton School District families and community members, I hope this finds you and your families well. Earlier today, in a message to our staff, we shared updates on activities that have taken place in the Ken-Ton School District since schools closed beginning Monday, March 16 due to COVID-19. We wished to share these with you, too, so you could see some of the many, many ways our teachers and staff are meeting this challenge and striving to serve our students and families during this closure.

Last week, the first week of the shutdown, we experienced the creative and dedicated powers of our staff on full display. Teachers and building administrators have risen to the challenge of educating our kids under these trying circumstances. The Technology Department has been hard at work making sure we have the resources we need to stay connected. Our food service workers, custodians, bus drivers, and administrators are ensuring that our families are receiving meals. The Family Support Center is staying in touch with families. The list goes on and on, and there are many I have not mentioned but who deserve equal praise.

As I'm sure you are aware, we have a great deal of information related to the closure on our district website at www.ktufsd.org/covid19 , and we are communicating important updates using every tool at our disposal in order to keep our community informed. The website is a great resource for information and includes a way to reach out to us if you have any questions or need assistance during this time.

The way we have come together as a school district community in the face of this unprecedented challenge is inspiring and humbling as the vital work of educating and supporting our students continues. To the entire Ken-Ton School District community, I am grateful for your efforts and support, and hope you all stay healthy and safe.

- Steve Bovino,
Superintendent of Schools
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Supporting Families During the COVID-19 Closure
At schools and the Administration Building early in the week, a multitude of staff worked extremely hard to organize, print, assemble, and then mail home instructional resource packets for all students in grades K-7. These will provide an opportunity for all families to reinforce skills and learning during the closure.
On Tuesday, March 17, food service staff began offering breakfast/lunch services at three locations: Franklin, Holmes, and Hoover Elementary. With the help of other staff and administrators they began serving hundreds of families at these three sites, preventing many students from going hungry during the closure. Staff are also using the opportunity to provide books to families as well.
Beginning Friday, March 20, two additional sites were opened to serve students and families: the Sheridan Parkside Youth Center and the Northtowns Boys & Girls Club. Meals were transported to both locations by bus.
The Technology Department and the Instructional Innovation Support Specialists have been hard at work supporting teachers and families through the closure and guiding them through this transition. The Technology Department is providing Chromebooks to families of Kenmore East, Kenmore West, and the Big Picture Program students who need a device at home. They are supporting families at home and helping them connect with a multitude of online instructional resources. They are also broadcasting Wi-Fi into the parking lots of most district buildings as well as Adams and Crosby fields to increase community access to broadband internet during the closure. Meanwhile, Technology staff and the Instructional Innovation Support Specialists have been conducting professional development and providing direct support to teachers to help them connect with and engage students and families during the closure using a variety of platforms.
Teachers & Students: 1st Week of Closure
Staff at the Family Support Center led by Janet Cerra have been making “caring check” phone calls to all of their clients to support them during this extended closure. Reaching out and talking to families, giving support, and sharing information and resources is a way to keep the community feeling connected. They also have counselors who can conduct online counseling with families in need if the family has an internet connection. For those families who do not, they have been relying on good old-fashioned phone conversations. The Family Support Center will continue to support our families remotely through this difficult time. Anyone who wants to talk can call the Family Support Center at 874-8510 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
On Monday, March 23, two students at Kenmore West High School, Krish Patel and Gerald Rott , are planning to launch a comprehensive online tutoring and academic support resource for students across Western New York. The initiative, called JK Education, will provide free remote tutoring through platforms such as Google Hangout or Zoom and to help students prepare for the upcoming IB, AP or Regents Exams. More information to come!
At Franklin Elementary, Mrs. Brydalski and Mrs. Tracey took advantage of a professional development session offered Friday morning by Phil Jarosz and Joi Chimera on Zoom and then went ahead and created a joint video update "live" from Franklin Elementary, which they posted to Youtube. Check out their finished product here:
Kenmore East High School IB and Earth science teacher Ralph Critelli never ("never never") thought he would ever create a Youtube video of his lessons, but that's exactly what he has been doing this week to continue teaching to his students remotely. His videos aren't scripted, rehearsed, or polished, but they are informative and entertaining for his students! You can see his first lesson on weathering and erosion here:
Lindbergh Elementary School families were treated to a fun and creative video entitled “Where is Everyone at Lindbergh Elementary?” It follows Principal Ann Maccagnano as she tours the empty school building. Check it out here:
Lindbergh teachers have been busy creating a variety of materials and resources for students and families during the closure. Here are just a few examples:
Kenmore West High School social studies teacher Timothy Knight has transformed his basement into a virtual classroom, broadcasting lessons to his students via Youtube. See one of his economics lessons here:
Hoover Elementary School special education teachers Madison Rainey and Kristy Barrett have started a virtual “book club” using Zoom. They are able to record videos together as well as individually. They've changed the background to pictures of their classrooms so it looks like they've never left. They’ll be sharing videos of them reading the book "Wonder," then students will respond to questions on Classroom Dojo.
Hoover Middle School teacher Katelyn Greiner wanted to maintain a touch of humanity and social interaction with her students, so engaged them in a weekly “3-2-1” reflection on Flipgrid. Each Friday, students record a video of themselves reflecting on the past week: 3 things that they did, 2 things that made them smile/happy, and 1 goal or positive thoughts that they have. She also records a video and responds to each student video with comments. She wants them to remember that we're all in this together and it's important to focus on the small achievements and keep a positive mindset!
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Edison Elementary School students in Risa Klee’s class were creating leprechaun traps at home and sharing photos of their amazing creations on Class Dojo.
Edison Elementary School building-based substitute teacher Jamie Keller has taken to Facebook to share ideas and tips for families on what to do at home during the closure. One thing she encourages families with younger children to do is to incorporate everyday chores and household activities that they will one day have to help out with on their own. Not only does this teach them everyday life skills, but it also encourages them to help out around the house during this time – everything from properly doing the laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning/organizing to balancing a checkbook, setting up a meal plan, and cooking (a great opportunity to teach math and fractions). For the four students she tutors privately, she has been conducting remote sessions and, for one of her pupils whose mother is a nurse, has continued in-person sessions at their home.
Dr. Denise Grandits’ seventh-grade ELA students at Franklin Middle School have been meeting three times each day via Zoom to check in with each other and to continue to learn about ELA topics. Using interactive application Pear Deck, they are beginning an exploration of poetry. The team’s co-teachers, Mrs. Amy Pygon, Ms. Char Rizzo, and Mrs. Carley Panepinto have joined in the learning. They have even had guest appearances by school counselor Ms. Amy Zimmer and by team content teachers Mrs. Cheryl Hughes, Mrs. Rachael Lozo, and Mrs. Kristen Molinaro .
Lindbergh Elementary School teacher Lisa Mitchell enlisted her daughter to help her set up a new Youtube channel. She started using the channel to read to her students and bring in some special guest readers. She has also been sending families messages daily on ClassTag with sample schedules and additional information. You can find her Youtube channel here:
Franklin Middle School sixth-grade math and science teacher Brett Moore has been engaging the students in a variety of math activities using BrainPOP. They have already covered Adding and Subtracting Fractions and Equations with Variables, and will soon be tackling Geometry, Surface Area, Types of Triangles, Comparing Prices, Percentages, and Ratios. He is being flexible with assignments, offering the students the chance to take a photo of their work and send it to him or submit it in Google Classroom or a Google Doc if they are able to. He is also planning on using Zoom to engage his students directly.
Jane Benz, a Big Picture Program junior, commissioned to create an infographic entitled "5 Ways to Help Your Community While Under Quarantine.” For example: Give local businesses a boost by writing Facebook and Google reviews for all of your favorite stores, restaurants and establishments, and liking/sharing their social media posts. Click here to view it:
Franklin Elementary science teacher Hannah Dean is sharing videos with her students for science lab. In the first video, she guided students through an experiment in which they first dipped their hands in water with pepper to demonstrate how germs stick to their hands. Next, she had them do it again, but after dipping their hands in soap. In this way, they could see up close how soap repels germs. It was also a great reminder about the importance of washing hands with soap.
In the Sunday, March 22 edition of the Buffalo News, a "My View" column was published by Hoover Middle School special education teacher Diane Hyzy . Although the op-ed, entitled "In time of uncertainty, hope can sustain us," has not yet been posted to the Buffalo News website, you can find it in the print/digital edition of today's paper, and you may also be able to access it here:
Franklin Elementary School Principal Kia Evans asked families to share photos or videos of their children engaged in activities at home on Facebook. Many families were excited to share what their children have been up to during the week. Check out the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Ben-Franklin-Elementary-School-108203100528902/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Hoover Middle School Gr. 5 math and science teacher Katie Wood created a couple discussion boards using Padlet. They are observing the changes in the moon, looking for signs of spring/the change of the seasons, and just commenting and staying connected.
Hoover Middle School Gr. 7 Spanish teacher Wendy Haseley was engaging her students via Quizlet Live to review Spanish vocabulary.
Franklin Middle School business and computer teacher Giovanella Pelligra has been promoting game-based learning review activities such as KAHOOT! Although they had to troubleshoot with all the different devices that were being used, she and her students were still able to interact and play in KAHOOT! on Friday. She also created a separate Google Classroom for game-based participants to chat and for her to post information about the game-based learning activities.
On Youtube, Edison Elementary first-grade teacher Maria DiStefano recorded a read-aloud for Edison families, talked about perseverance, and included directed-drawing options for students to draw the giraffe from the book she shared. She is also communicating with her students and families using Google Classroom, and students are also beginning to use Flipgrid as a way to communicate with her and each other. You can see the Youtube video here:
On Friday, Kenmore West High School science teacher Jennifer Gazdovich completed her first lesson on Google Meet with her AP students and it was a big success. They could see her screen and she could write on it like it was the board. They could also ask questions as they went through the notes. She didn't have a stylus pen at the time, but she didn't let that stop her! She looked up how to make one on her own so they could read her work better as she presented.
Families of Franklin Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tracy Wilson’s students have been excited to share photos of their children engaged in a multitude of activities and their work at home during the closure.
Franklin Middle School teachers Mrs. Beers-Rubin, Mr. Moore, Mrs. Donhauser, Mrs. Lach , and their students have been communicating together via Zoom.
A Lindbergh Elementary School student and family were featured in a Buffalo News article on March 19 featuring tips for parents/guardians during the closure. Read the article here:
On Friday, Kenmore East High School science teacher Daniel Yox had an hour-long Google Meet session with his AP Physics students. He is also using Google Classroom to send materials and links that will assist in keeping all of his physics classes up to date. He asked his students to send a picture of their work space or of themselves while studying at home. He is going to put together a montage to share privately with the students to help them stay connected, and he is looking forward to learning about the multitude of ways his colleagues across the district are engaging and connecting with their students.
The Kenmore East High School Counseling Office came together virtually to wish all of their students and staff a happy Friday. They decided as a department to follow standard Friday procedures and dress in Kenmore East gear and apparel even when they couldn't be at work!
An Edison Elementary School student of Risa Klee was practicing his power goal (long vowels) at home.
Holmes Elementary School teacher aide Michael Hochulski recently launched a Facebook page for Holmes Elementary and has been engaging families daily with a wide variety of activities, resources, even daily jokes. You can find the page at https://www.facebook.com/HolmesKTUFSD
Franklin Elementary School special education teacher Samantha Rajski set up a spot in her home to film herself and then sends the videos to her families. She has been reading to them, giving them different assignments, and encouraging them to share photos and videos through Class Dojo.