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New administrators excited for outdoor classroom

September 14, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

The first week back to school is always an adventure for students, especially for new kids. Sherman Central School District superintendent Michael Ginestre and principal Bryna Booth can attest that the same is true for new staff.

Ginestre accepted the position of superintendent on July 1 after Kaine Kelly left to become superintendent of the Randolph school district. Before that he served as Sherman's K-12 principal for four years.

Booth was chosen to succeed Ginestre as principal. Before that, she served as Committee on Special Education (CSE) Chair and curriculum coordinator at the school for the past two years. Prior to that position, she taught fourth grade and 5/6 English Language Arts at Sherman.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
An outdoor classroom was one of many new things that Sherman students found on the first day of school. This picture was taken just one week before the first day of school.

Ginestre began his first school session as superintendent with great zeal and enthusiasm. "I feel very fortunate to be at SCS in any capacity," Ginestre said. As superintendent, I knew I was inheriting a staff that's sole focus is on the well-being of our students. I knew when this opportunity presented itself, I had the chance to lead an organization that I love being in."

New principal Bryna Booth echoed Ginestre's sentiments. "I am excited to serve a district that I have had the honor of teaching in, as principal," Booth said. "I've always wanted to be a principal and I cannot imagine a better opportunity than in a district I already love and understand. "

The first week of school was an overwhelmingly positive experience for the new superintendent and principal. Ginestre credited the teachers and staff with working hard during the summer to make sure that students felt welcomed when they returned.

"We feel very confident that the hard work our staff did to prepare school has paid off," Ginestre said. "Buses ran smoothly. Students knew their schedules. The opening day assemblies went off without a hitch, and after I walked the halls this morning, there was learning taking place in each classroom."

Sherman teachers and staff met for two days of in-service just prior to the beginning of school. Enthusiasm ran high, Ginestre said. "They were ready to get started and their questions focused on how they can improve outcomes for students. It was so nice to have them back and talking school again."

Booth said that it was the work of teachers, guidance personnel and department heads enabled her first week to go smoothly. "The first two days with staff were focused on the amazing work teachers are already doing and letting them share that work with their colleagues," she said. "Teachers have been in the building, our veteran guidance staff worked tirelessly, and our department heads have been in constant contact throughout the summer."

The students responded very well to their new superintendent and principal. Of course, they were familiar faces. "I knew many of the students and have built strong ties to them when I served as principal," Ginestre said. "It seemed like they saw me as Mr. Ginestre and not as the superintendent, which is exactly how I hoped it would go."

However, there were a lot of new faces among the students as a result of Sherman's new tuitioning policy which drastically reduced the cost for out-of-district students to attend the school. Even though the district held an orientation session before school began, not all of the new students could attend. Ginestre said his first challenge as superintendent was to make these students feel welcome.

"Our administrative team stood in the hall to greet everyone," Ginestre said. "It was so nice seeing new faces in the building and to welcome them to Sherman. We are so happy and humbled they decided on Sherman for their education. We will work tirelessly to ensure they get the very best experience."

Booth said she has gotten to know many students through her work directing Wildcat Weeks, the district's summer program. She said she hopes to foster these relationships as principal. "A personal challenge for me is to spend time in every classroom in the district during this first week," she said. "I want our students to get to know me and our teachers to be very used to seeing me in their rooms and in the hallways."

One very new aspect of Sherman is the construction of an outdoor classroom in front of the school building. Both Ginestre and Booth said they were excited to see it in use. "I know the staff absolutely loved the idea of having this space," Ginestre said. "We expect it to be used frequently, weather permitting of course."

As far as plans for the future, Ginestre said he hopes to continue to focus on the use of new technology in a way "extend the reach of the classroom" and foster learning at all times.

Booth agreed. "Mike and I are very aligned in our goal to support teachers and students in utilizing technology to open up the walls of our classrooms. I want to help make Sherman a small school with a huge impact in the world," she said.

Ginstre said that it is Sherman itself that makes his job so rewarding. "Our community is so proud of this school and we appreciate it on so many levels. It really is what makes Sherman so special when you know you have an entire community supporting what you do, unconditionally," he said. "My hope for the coming year is that we continue and expand on the great things we do at Sherman in every aspect of education...academically, socially, emotionally, and physically."

Booth said her first experience as principal was everything she hoped and more. "I got to walk down the hall on opening day and know that I have the best job in the world," she said. "I will remember greeting students as they entered on my first opening day as principal for the remainder of my career."I'm working with a Superintendent who has mentored me for two years, whom I respect and know I can go to for support. I'm leading a building of teachers I love, students I adore, in a truly special community that is unlike any other. It's a dream come true."



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