Summertime – ‘A Different Kind Of Busy’ At Area Schools

By Rebekkah McKalsen, Contributing Writer

FULTON, NY – School’s out, the last tests have been graded and the diplomas have been handed out. It’s time for the school administratiors to breathe a collective sigh of relief and go on vacation… right?

Well, not quite.

Instead, administrators throughout the area are “a different kind of busy” with summer tasks that are essential in preparing for the upcoming school year.

According to J. C. Birdlebough High School principal Gregory Molloy, in Phoenix, “There is quite a bit going on over the summer.”

He cited tasks such as putting together the master schedule and establishing staff assignments for extra duties as being some of the most pressing tasks for administrators to accomplish during the summer.

“We are still looking for a commitment for a yearbook advisor,” he noted.

While in the past years, hiring new teachers and orienting new staff has also taken up a great portion of the summer months, Molloy said, “That hasn’t been the case for the last few years. The budget has been reduced so much that we have to keep hiring at a minimum.”

Molloy said that there is enough day-to-day activity to keep the administrators busy throughout the summer months, but that it “is a different kind of busy” from the beginning of vacation to the end of it.

At the beginning and end of summer, administrators are “really busy with the master schedule,” whereas during the middle of summer, more time is dedicated to reviewing teachers’ plan books and to holding school board member orientations.

Brian Buchanan, principal of G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, also said that “administrators … revise student-parent handbooks, faculty-staff handbooks, safety plans, and duty rosters for teachers and receive vital training to stay current with changes in regulations (i.e. the new evaluation system for teachers and administrators).”

Summer is also the time for all of the classrooms to be inspected and for all retrofits, renovations and new technology to be completed and installed so that school can start smoothly.

Molloy said, “Whatever crisis hits [us] in the face, we have to deal with.” When pressed for more information, he simply said, “There are a few surprises a week around here.”

Buchanan said, “Planning for the opening of school includes orientation for faculty and staff members as well as a day devoted to orientation of freshmen students.”

Buchanan also noted that summer is the time to meet with students “to work on planning a successful school year … [especially] students who may not have been successful in the past.”

There are also opportunities given to teachers and other administrators over the summer for professional development as time allows.

“It [seems to] take attention away from the kids but in the end, it is necessary,”
Molloy said.

Donna Parkhurst, the principal of Fulton Junior High School, brought up the junior high’s six-week summer school program, which helps students make up material that they may have failed on the exams.

“We also hold an earth science prep class for students who need extra help getting ready for high school level science classes,” Parkhurst added.

In terms of other, less teacher-based work that must be done, she said, “We have to deal with a lot of changes that come from the State Education Department. August is always filled with training, workshops and meetings.”

Parkhurst said that there is still quite a bit of behind-the-scenes preparation going on at the school to ensure a good year for students, but that at the junior high, the atmosphere has been a little more relaxed this summer.

“I’m going to knock on wood, but so far it’s been a quiet summer. No surprises yet!” Parkhurst said with a laugh.