Baker: BOCES staffers make a difference in Weedsport | Lifestyles | #education | #technology | #training

Our district is fortunate to have so many wonderful people working within its walls and throughout his halls. We are also fortunate to have individuals from the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES join us within our schools on a weekly basis.

These individuals provide services that are purchased by our district. The BOCES staff is shared by numerous districts within the BOCES region.

In this article I will highlight those providers:

Margaret Colella is the lead eLearning specialist, who received her BS and MS degrees in vocational education from SUNY Oswego.

Her duties are many. She manages online learning programs in which students can take online courses to earn high school credits. Additionally, she’s a regional trainer who trains teachers how to use platforms within their classrooms to enhance instruction. She also coordinates virtual field trips, which help to enrich the instruction for students.

When teachers are in need of digital support, Colella assists in that area. With the ever-changing demands inherent within technology, she helps us keep up with those changes as we incorporate them and the use of technology within our classrooms.

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Colella enjoys hiking, playing pickle ball and board games, and watching Hallmark movies! She told me that spending time with her family is by far the absolute best time spent!

On a bit of a personal note, BOCES instructional technology integration specialist Jonathan Schillace is the son of one of my late mother’s most beloved students, John “Poodie” Schillace. The full circle to all of this has such special meaning for me.

Lynn Cheche Baker

A University of Buffalo graduate, Schillace received his BA in mathematics with a minor in philosophy, and his EdM in mathematics education for grades five through 12.

For our district, he provides training and professional development in regard to the use of technology. Additionally, he creates brochures, which provide tips on how to use technology/STEM and STEM products. He also supports Makerspace and STEM/STEM initiatives within our district.

In addition to all of that, he works as a liaison for BOCES services, New York State model schools and other statewide initiatives. Schillace also helps us with districtwide projects that use technology.

When I asked him how he feels his position helps to support students and teachers, he told me that, “It increases faculty and staff capacity to integrate instructional technology in meaningful ways, while providing engaging experiences that use technology as a tool to meet authentic learning outcomes.“

In his spare time, Schillace enjoys hiking, gaming and food in general!

Jodi Burnash is the curriculum coordinator in the professional development unit at BOCES. She is also the current representative of the New York State Staff and Curriculum Development Network for ELA framework groups.

A graduate of both St. Lawrence University and Syracuse University, Burnash has her BS in child psychology, her MS in special education and English education, and her CAS in educational leadership.

Within our district, she provides onsite professional development, coaching and mentor services to stakeholders based on district needs and goals.

With an extensive list of how she supports our district, she works with grades three through eight as we work through our new CKLA Amplify reading program.

Additionally, she helps grade level teams prioritize curriculum, while aligning that to the New York state standards. She also helps to mentor new teachers, with partnerships with SU in training for inclusive instructional practices.

A 21-year veteran in education, this is her first year as a coordinator for BOCES.

Burnash told me that in her spare time she enjoys traveling, singing in her band, freshwater swimming and waterfalls, in addition to visiting good festivals or taking road trips.

Burnash also said, “I am very excited to be a part of this partnership to empower schools through both immediate and long-term planning and delivery of evidence-based practices that increase student engagement, improve student achievement, and build teacher capacity.”

Karen Schaub is an instructional technology integration specialist. With her undergraduate degree from SUNY Geneseo and her masters from CU Denver, she holds a BS in biology, and an MS in secondary science curriculum and instruction.

She serves our district by helping staff with the integration of meaningful technology. She provides district wide training, working with departments and grade level teams, and she supports individual teachers.

Committed to delivering her very best, Schuab told me, “I hope my work within this district will continue to drive student engagement and promote learning that is authentic and meaningful.”

In her spare time she loves to spend time with family and friends, while running, traveling, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.

Amber Wildenstein is a behavioral excellence coach at BOCES. She received her BS from SUNY Oswego in childhood education, and an MS in literacy from SUNY Geneseo. Additionally, from SUNY Buffalo, she has an extension in students with disabilities, and from Nazareth, an annotation in autism. Lastly, she received her CAS in education administration from SUNY Oswego.

Wildenstein supports our district in a consultation role working with administration and school teams to support staff wellness, build multi-tiered system of support frameworks, and provides social and emotional learning.

While supporting administrators, teachers and support staff, she incorporates behavioral supports and interventions to help alleviate behaviors that are challenging, while building student involvement.

Recently married, she loves to complete DIY projects, bake and have bonfires with her husband and friends.

I have personally had the distinct pleasure of working with each individual mentioned within this article in some capacity. They have helped to do much to enrich my delivery of instruction for my students, for sure.

It’s nice to see how wonderful they all work together to produce a quality product within our district for our learners.

In closing, I wish each of you the happiest of Christmas holidays, and a wonderful New Year. May each bring the promise of love, health, prosperity and memory-making experiences along the way.

Lynn Cheche Baker is currently a third-grade teacher within the Weedsport Central School District and is the owner and instructor of the Successful Steps Tutoring Service in Auburn. She can be reached at (315) 253-0750.

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