Weekly Feature



2011-12-08 / Front Page

BOE recognizes director, staff of Communtiy Ed

by KIMBERLY MCDOWELL Editor

A letter that West Seneca Central officials recently received had sung the praises of the district’s Community Education coordinator as well as the efficiency of operations for its before- and after-school program.

The program is six-years strong with an average of about 380 students enrolled each year, according to Charles Lehman, assistant superintendent of Pupil Services. Its mission is to provide affordable and quality programs that enhance the community.

Lehman publicly recognized Director Teresa Brancato at Monday night’s West Seneca Board of Education meeting for initiating the program.

“When we first began to think about it, we were thinking of a service that the parents might need in the district ... we’d gotten some complaints from some teachers and parents about the existing after-care programs,” Brancato said, “So we thought that this might be a good area that we could expand into.”

West Elementary was the pilot school to implement the before- and after-school program, which offers enrichment and educational opportunities for students, allows time to do homework, and provides breakfast in the morning, among other aspects.

Winchester was next to implement the program, followed by Allendale, Clinton, East Elementary and Potters Road. The decision to go with just six schools was due to the one other school, Northwood, having an after-school YMCA program at that time, the director said.

“So in essence,” added Lehman, “It was for service, for opportunity, for economics, for families, and the school district itself.”

No tax dollars are used toward this program; it is entirely self-sustained.

A major component of the Community Education operation is to integrate students from the district’s Academy of Education program. These students are expected to create lesson plans, design activities and play with and care for the youth, as well as be subject to evaluation by district staff.

“We get more interns each year,” said Brancato. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve given a lot of good students some really good experience before they’ve gone off to college.”

Many of those interns are able to find jobs and remain within the West Seneca community, both officials said. The current supervisors of the East Elementary and Winchester programs are former Academy interns.

Superintendent Mark Crawford added that Brancato, whom he had called a role model, has “professionalized” the program.

“Because of your leadership, I think we do a much better job of delivering a service for our very young children and also for their parents,” he said.

The director also introduced two of her “right-hand” staff members, Matt Melski and Stephanie Wright — the latter will fill in as substitute director during Brancato’s leave of absence, which is for personal reasons.

The board approved this appointment Monday night and set Wright’s rate of pay at $25 per hour, effective Dec. 6.

Also Monday, English as a Second Language teacher Theresa Haungs was presented with a certificate of appreciation for her facilitation of communication last month when a group of Chinese delegates visited the district.

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