Shelly Episcopo, a parent in East Syracuse-Minoa School District, was upset with what she saw as a decline in the school's status as one of the best in the area. So on a sunny evening this past September, Episcopo joined other parents and community members for a catered dinner with school officials called the Community Caf (c) to voice her concerns. Episcopo and the others brought with them the vision they had for the future of ES-M.
The event, sponsored by the school administrators and board of education, involved teachers, parents, community residents and community leaders discussing how ES-M can maximize the quality of education and student performance. But the dinner was just the first step in the process of forming a strategic plan that will take the remainder of the school year to complete. ES-M is finishing the data collection phase and will be moving to actually write the strategic plan in January. And once the plan is finished, it will direct ES-M's policies the next five-plus years.
"I think it is a necessary thing," Episcopo said. "It's a great idea that they are finally getting the community and the educational staff together to discuss what they need to do to update their curriculum."
ES-M Superintendent Dr. Donna DeSiato addressed the crowd gathered at the Sensis Corporation building to explain the importance of setting a roadmap for ES-M.
"This world that we live in is changing and changing rapidly," DeSiato said. "Unless we educate our children the right way, they will not be prepared for the future that lies ahead."
The Community Cafe forum allowed people ranging from board members to teachers to residents with no children in the district a chance to voice what they wanted to see happen in ES-M. A similar style forum was held with students to gather their feedback as well.