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From the Principal's Desk: Middle School Has Many Ways to Pitch In

Albany Middle School Principal Peter Parenti shared his community letter with Albany Patch. Click the green "Keep me posted!" button below for an alert when we post future messages from the principal.

Every community member deserves a school they can be proud of. But how do we develop that sense of pride? Whose responsibility is it to create a system of which we can be proud? 

On my way to work each day, I drive by several other schools. They’re clean and the people outside are happy as they enter the campus. I’m sure those are nice schools. But honestly, I don’t have any sense of pride for those schools. The school I feel proud of is the one into which I put my time and energy. My sense of pride comes from the contributions I make toward its success, the hard work I do every day, and the relationships I build with people.

Ask yourself, “What have I done today to make me proud of Albany Middle School?” If you can answer the question, it’s probably because you have made a contribution of your own. This month, I’ve noticed many parents and community members who have taken action. 

Here are just a few examples:

  • At last week’s AUSD board meeting, the community recognized and . These are parents who serve and lead for school improvement. They support us by providing for additional staff and programs that help children learn. Their response to opportunity makes them proud.
  • The met for the first time last week.  New leaders took the positions of president and vice president. They set a meaningful agenda that outlined multiple opportunities for parents to get involved. They established a detailed operating budget that focuses on programs that help student learn. Their responses to opportunity make them proud.
  • Individual parents are managing the blue lunch cart every day, supervising and assisting in our school-site recycling programs, serving as volunteers in our school library, and helping us with large-scale events such as Picture Day, fundraising assemblies and after-school clubs. They contribute in subtle yet important ways that make them proud.
  • Robert Menzimer and Peg Healy, current leaders for the program are working very hard to raise funds, recruit and train volunteers, and coordinate hundreds of people so that every eighth grade AMS student will have a writing coach this coming spring. Their responses to opportunity make them proud.

The first month of school has almost passed. We have accomplished so much already and we are successful because so many of you are responding to opportunities. As this next month begins, we will continue to depend on parents and community to help us make our students successful. Remember that the examples listed above are just a few.  There are many more. If any of them pique your interest, please call.  They are already organized. They know what their goals are. And they know how you can help.

Getting involved as an active member of our school community doesn’t have to require an intense commitment of time, money or energy. Each person can contribute in meaningful ways that make sense for them.  It’s a great way to make you feel proud.

Sincerely,

, Principal

This letter originally appeared in Albany Middle School's Cobra Clarion and has been reprinted here with permission. Learn how to sign up for the middle school email newsletter , and scrolling to the '"schools" section. Click the green "Keep me posted!" button below to receive an alert when we post a new message from Principal Parenti.

Ross Stapleton-Gray September 16, 2011 at 04:33 PM
I've been an Albany schools parent for eight plus years, and active in the schools; last year's enactment of the new (or on-the-books-for-a-year-but-only-now-enforced) volunteer policy was a big jolt, and, I suspect, will significantly impact the willingness or ability of Albany parents to be involved in the schools. I'd hope that the principals will keep track of whether or not this is the case (e.g., comparing last year's and this year's visitor logs for aggregate hours committed, though that's likely a sketchy measure) and push back on District administration, toward the least burdensome policy. I've send off for my DMV record, was fingerprinted (!) last year, but still have yet to get TB tested...
Jon Meyers September 16, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Pat Low's recent school board notes indicated that an upcoming board session will include discussions of the volunteer policy. In my opinion if you don't like the current policies an important step would be to attend the meeting and be heard loud and clear.
Liwen Mah September 16, 2011 at 10:20 PM
October 4, I have heard. Both parents and staff have expressed an enormous level of frustration with the existing policy, especially since it does not appear to be well tailored to the purpose of really protecting our children. Some of the issues are summarized at http://tinyurl.com/4xc7vjz and http://tinyurl.com/3lmtoj5. We have seen the unfortunate effects of the policy already—a significant drop in parental participation and enthusiasm and a concerted movement away from off-site field trips to avoid having to deal with the policy. Parents and staff would much rather spend their time and effort helping our schools and children than expending lots of energy and political effort fighting the existing policy and jumping through needless bureaucracy.
Liwen Mah September 16, 2011 at 10:21 PM
As a related note about the inefficacy of the TB policy, there is new World Health Organization guidance (http://tinyurl.com/3cydx8k) repudiating the use of blood tests for active TB: "The use of currently available commercial blood (serological) tests to diagnose active tuberculosis (TB) often leads to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health.... WHO is urging countries to ban the inaccurate and unapproved blood tests and instead rely on accurate microbiological or molecular tests, as recommended by WHO.... Overwhelming evidence showed that the blood tests produced an unacceptable level of wrong results...." This is consistent with NIH findings that the most common TB test has up to a 20% false-positive rate among the overall population, and that false positive readings from the TB test disproportionately affect people who have lived in countries where use of the tuberculosis vaccine is common. Ironically, those people are least likely to have TB (because of the vaccination) but are more likely to test positive. See Kumar, Vinay; Abbas, Abul K.; Fausto, Nelson; & Mitchell, Richard N. (2007). Robbins Basic Pathology (8th ed.). Saunders Elsevier. pp. 516–522 (about 80% of the population in many Asian and African countries test positive in tuberculin tests).
Copper Hat September 17, 2011 at 01:09 AM
I can find nothing in our codes (H&S, EC) that requires TB testing for parent volunteers. TB incidence is low in Albany. As far as I determine it has been low for many years, the majority of TB cases in Alameda county come from a few locales (not near Albany), and the typical profile (old, recent immigrant) doesn't have a huge overlap with our parent volunteers. Casual exposure is not a significant risk either. I suspect the current requirements (AR 1240) came from copying a template from Gamut Online without much editing. And since enforcement was delayed by years, no one took the time to analyze or rationalize the requirements. My guess. Also, I gather that there is a significant bottleneck at the district in processing those diligent folks who have completed the TB & fingerprinting requirements. Apparently they are busy re-registering folks. Another story.

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