Friday, November 18, 2016

What has School Board been up to?

This week board members, administrators and supervisors representing the Vermilion Schools attended a portion of the Ohio School Boards Association annual conference.  The Ohio School Boards Association is a recognized and respected voice in public education.  Their mission is to be a leader toward educational excellence by serving Ohio’s public school board members and the districts they represent through unwavering advocacy and creative solutions to the problems faced by public schools.

Capital Conference is the second largest education conference in the country, attracting school board members, superintendents, treasurers and other education professionals from Ohio and beyond.  The conference is not only a place for educators and Board members to gain knowledge about current trends and laws that impact education, but it is also a celebration of student learning, a spotlight for educational technology, and a chance for schools to share cost - cutting strategies.  Workshop topics include school board development, career education, community relations, facilities, finance, school law, technology, human resources, social media, student achievement, 21st century education and more. 

The enormously successful Student Achievement Fair, which highlights educational innovations of 100 public school programs from around the state, is a popular event at the conference.  Each year teachers from around Ohio submit applications and are selected to share innovative education programs they are using in classrooms.  Vermilion teacher Lisa Murray was selected in 2015.  Lisa and her students were featured at the conference and received statewide recognition for their use of inquiry and deductive reasoning to locate classrooms around the globe.  You can learn more about the 2016 teacher and student participants by visiting the Capital Conference website.

Keynote presenters at the conference this year included respected broadcast journalist and author Jane Pauley; engineer, educator and two-time space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin; author and educational media expert Dr. Milton Chen, who shared the most innovative models of K-12 teaching and learning in the digital age; and former State Senator Nina Turner, a professor at Cuyahoga Community College who has made it her mission to empower individuals, institutions and communities.  All of these individuals have made an impact on education, and brought messages of support or innovation to the conference attendees. 

In today’s ever-changing world it is imperative that school board members and administrators stay abreast of not only the newest trends in education and technology, but also changes in state and federal laws that impact how we do business.  Conferences like this one provide us with a wealth of knowledge that we can bring back to Vermilion and use to improve our schools.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nominate your favorite bus driver

This school year, the Vermilion schools welcomed a new transportation supervisor, David Johnson. Johnson has been working in the transportation department since 1986, and was very excited to take on the new role. One of the first things he mentioned he would like to do is create a program to recognize drivers for their hard work, focus on safety, and dedication to the children they transport.

With that in mind, he has created a “Driver of the Month” program. Each month, one of the district’s bus drivers will be recognized for the work they do. This will include recognition in the Vermilion Photojournal and a goodie bag with small gifts provided by local businesses that support this recognition effort.

Johnson has requested input from the community and parents. He wants to hear from parents; who is your child’s favorite bus driver? How has your child’s bus driver gone above and beyond? This can be specific incidents or an overall level of care. He wants to hear all of it. For community members without children on the busses, have you witnessed a bus driver being exceptional? He wants to hear from you too.

Johnson can be reached at 440-204-1700 ext 141 or at

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Students Help Focus on the Positive

It has been a true blessing to have been in the education business for 30 years.  The adage that ‘you won’t work a day in your life if you truly love what you do’ has certainly meant more to me than just a mere cliché.
Being around young people and witnessing their optimism and pure joy for life is something I get to enjoy every single day.  Not everyone gets this opportunity, and it has been a pleasure and honor to be part of the lives of these students.  I sincerely thank the Vermilion community for this privilege. 
A recent conversation at a football game with sophomore student Devan DeWitt reminded me of how fortunate I am to be around young people who have so much enthusiasm for life and already have some of the most important qualities and virtues that will make them exceptional.  Devan is an example of what is great about our city and country.   He told me that he loves history and has a passion for reading, researching and studying the subject.  He said his love for history was inspired by teachers Mr. Duray and Mrs. Lutz, but he enjoys all of his other teachers as well.  Because of their example he has a goal of becoming a teacher himself.  When he made that statement I could tell he was speaking from the bottom of his heart.  I couldn’t help but feel pride in the job our staff is doing to make Devan feel and believe this way about the possibility of becoming a teacher. 
As the conversation continued we talked about the steps Devan would take to accomplish his objective.  He told me the plans he has to reach his goals and I have no doubt that he will make it, because he believes he can.  I am sure that he will also have countless teachers, staff and community members who will be there to help him realize his dream. 
Devan also talked about our city.  If anyone could be appointed ambassador for Vermilion he would certainly be on top of the list of candidates.  His exact words were, “Vermilion is the best place on the planet to live! I would never want to live anywhere else! It would be my dream to get my teaching degree and come back to teach in the town I love.”  He has evidently captured some of the inspiration and “service above self” mentality that is so unique to Vermilion. 
Devan has been a team manager for the basketball team since 7th grade.   He takes on this job with enthusiasm and a determination to be helpful.  Head basketball coach Kurt Habermehl described Devan as “one of the most positive people” he ever met.  Coach Habermehl said that Devan takes his job seriously.  He comes prepared for each and every practice and game.  He makes it hard for all the coaches and players to stay down after a loss because he always has a smile on his face.  He reminds them, “Don’t worry, you did your best and it will be better next time.”  Coach Habermehl looked at me and said, “How can you be upset when you have someone like him around?”  He also said that Devan’s team members are fiercely protective of him because of what his positive influence means to them as a team. 
This was not my first conversation with Devan, and without exception I have found him to be positive and kind.  Each time I observe him from a distance he displays these qualities.  It is not just an act he puts on only for adults.  He is sincerely kind and polite with everyone he meets.  It is a terrific benefit of my job to be associated with students like Devan.  It is also comforting to know that he, like many of our other students, has a positive outlook and is focusing on the things that really matter. 
Prior to publishing this article I thought it would be appropriate to call Devan’s home for permission to share my thoughts about him.  The conversation with his grandmother left a deep impression, as I could feel the love and respect that she has for her grandchild.  She told me that Devan and his grandfather, who died of cancer last year, had a very special relationship.  Devan was always the “co-pilot” when they traveled in the car, and was a great help to his grandfather.  It is inspiring that, even with the difficult experience of losing a loving grandparent, Devan still remains positive and looks forward to a bright future. 
At this time of year, when we have a presidential election that seems to focus on negativity, it is encouraging to know that there is good teaching going on by our valuable teachers, and learning exists not only in core subjects, but also in the values that are equally important in life. After having conversations like this with students I believe there is reason for optimism that our country is still in good hands.  I invite you to witness this for yourself by visiting our schools for a tour, joining students for lunch, or attending any of our special and extra-curricular events.  You will see that your support of public schools is money well spent.  You help teachers, staff and students who are working hard. The lessons learned in our schools are not just the fundamentals of science, math and English, but also positive life skills that will stay with our students as they become the future leaders and lifelong learners of our community.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fire Explorer Program to be Offered to VHS Students

Sunday, October 9, the Vermilion Fire Department will have an open house from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at both stations in town. At these open houses, students interested in the new fire explorers program will be able to pick up information and learn more about the program.

The explorer program is under the umbrella of Boy Scouts, but is run as a separate program. Interested students would need to apply to the program and be accepted.

            Qualification include:
·        Open to male and female students
·        Students in grades 9  through 12
·        Be able to follow directions in stressful situations
·        Good physical condition
·        Willing and able to attend at least 50% of all scheduled meetings and training
·        Maintain at least a “C” average
·        Written permission from a legal guardian

The program will be limited to 10 students. This makes the group manageable and provides for more intense training. There will be a waiting list available for students that are interested but don’t get in the first round.

The program will in no way interfere with school, and the safety of the explorers will be the highest importance throughout training. There are a wide range of rules and regulations regarding explorer involvement in training and emergency situations.

Explorers will go through different levels of involvement starting with a probation period of three months and on up to a Level 3 Explorer, who are allowed to participate in exterior fire suppression. Each explorer level the students go through involves intense training and study. They will learn all the traits and skills of a firefighter.

All volunteers will have completed youth protection training. It is a co-ed program, and if female students are in the explorers, female advisors will be provided. The first year, there will be a cost of $24 per student for them to be included under the Boy Scout’s insurance. There is also a $40 charter fee for the group. Financial assistant will be available for student for any student that would have a hardship with the financial requirement. The Vermilion Local School District wants to ensure any student with an interest has the opportunity. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

District Teachers Awarded VEF Grants

The Vermilion Education Foundation was founded in 1986 by a group of parents and community leaders concerned about the possible loss of valuable programs due to ever tightening school budgets.  The original foundation members began this endeavor believing it was important to fund art opportunities, cultural events, field trips, and projects that would enhance the traditional curriculum.  This fundamental philosophy, belief and commitment has continued to grow stronger over the last 30 years. 
Each year teachers from Vermilion Schools and St. Mary’s Elementary are invited to submit grant applications for projects or materials that will enhance and supplement learning opportunities for students.  While the VEF committee can fund a limited number of grants each year, they provide an additional opportunity for grants to be funded through their annual fundraising dinner.  The event provides attendees with the opportunity to learn more about grant applications, and choose to donate to projects of their choosing.  Many additional grants are funded through the generosity of our local community members.  
Since coming to the Vermilion School District in 2008 I have been impressed by the diligence and volunteerism displayed by this group.  It is indicative of the type of community we have.  Volunteers from all walks of life come together to support children and education each year.  We are proud to say that many former teachers and administrators continue to support education through their membership on the Vermilion Education Foundation Board. 
To the entire VEF Board and volunteer committee, we thank you for your service to our community.  To the donors, both past and present, we thank you for your generous donation and your belief in our children and teachers.  We look forward to future years of working together to offer supplemental learning opportunities for all Vermilion students.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Check out what Sailorway is doing on Youtube

Although Sailorway Middle School has had a Youtube channel for some time, it hasn’t been fully utilized until recently. Parents can now subscribe to the Youtube channel in order to get updated videos as they are made available.

Principal Brian Zeller had the idea to use the channel this year to leverage their technology to share with parents the great work being done at SMS throughout the week. The goal is to post new video newsletters on the first day of each week.

Principal Zeller shared, “We also felt that recording informative videos for open house would allow our parents who couldn’t be there to get information. For any parents who did miss the open house, those videos remain available and are filled with helpful information.”

As of now, the videos are not student driven. Mrs. Bartlome and Mr Zeller take the photos as they circulate the building.  “While I am the primary person who has done the videos, I have a lot of help from Mrs. Bartlome and Mr. Caudill in making the video newsletter happen. We also had a ton of help in making the PBIS video with our staff taking on the role of people not meeting our expectations” Principal Zeller stated.

 You may recall that Mr Caudillreceived that Innovative Educator Award from WVIZ/PBS Ideastream last school after creating a green screen recording room accessible to students at the middle school. The ability to create videos has been integrated into a wide range of different lessons throughout the science curriculum.

Click on SALORWAY YOUTUBE CHANNEL to check out the videos posted so far and to subscribe, so you can be updated as new videos are posted.

Principal Zeller is up to some amazing things over at Sailorway Middle School

Thursday, September 29, 2016

With a Little Help from Our Friends…

I’m sure you’ve all heard about it and most of you have probably already seen the new scoreboard at the Vermilion High School football stadium, and this is a little late coming, but I wanted to take a moment to thank some area businesses that helped to make the new scoreboard possible.

Pat O’ Brien Chevrolet donated the cost of the scoreboard.

Sattelight Electric donated a generous portion of their services towards the installation of the scoreboard.

Hull Builders Supply donated material towards the installation of the scoreboard.

The support we receive from local businesses and residents helps us to provide the very best for our students.

The new scoreboard was certainly needed as the old scoreboard had intermittent electrical problems, which made it highly unreliable and hard to read during games. However, the new scoreboard also opens up advertising opportunities for the athletic department that can bring more revenue into the district.

If you have not had the opportunity to see the new scoreboard, please do. It is impressive to say the least. Also, please support these businesses that have done so much to support us.