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Bedford Central School District Kicks Off School Year with Superintendent’s Conference Day

Principals address staff during Superintendents Conference Day

Before students had their first day of school earlier this week, Bedford Central School District faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the start of the 2023-2024 school year during Superintendent’s Conference Day. The day started out in Fox Lane High School’s Mary Lou Meese Theater with what can best be described as a pep rally for faculty and staff.

Everyone was welcomed back, principals addressed and cheered on their school communities, and tenure and years of service to the district were recognized and applauded.

“Today, we get to hit the ‘reset’ button and start fresh,” said Amy Fishkin, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. “Learning from lessons of the past, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but staying present for the students in front of us, who are anxious and scared, nervous and excited, whose bodies are changing dramatically, whose brains are evolving, and whose future is open with possibility.”

After focusing on the achievements of the staff, and a nod to the work to be done this year, attention was turned to the reason everyone was there: the students.

“What inspires us in this journey is seeing the growth in our students — in hearing their voices as they share their learning with such tremendous confidence and self-awareness,” Superintendent Dr. Rob Glass said. “And that is what the rest of our time together this morning is all about.”

Fishkin noted that BCSD is special because “we recognize that there is not one path to success.” She expounded on that, saying “Our job is to clear the way, so that our students gain the necessary skills to tackle their challenges, discover their strengths, and find their own unique path forward towards success.”

Still, she noted, with the best of intentions, there is an essential question left: How do we know we are making a difference?

“Let’s ask the students,” Fishkin said. “Last spring, to celebrate the opening of school, we asked a few students about their unique stories in Bedford Central.”

She introduced two of the students featured in a video created to share student experiences, seniors Greg Ronel and Dayanara Naranjo.

Greg introduced the video, telling the crowd “You all are not only role models for us, but you are mentors who give us advice and guidance that we use for the rest of our lives and that shape who we are as people.”

Greg shared a story from last year when he learned an important life lesson from Fox Lane High School math teacher Matthew Kimmerle. After getting a grade he was unhappy with on an assessment, Greg turned to Kimmerle, who asked him two questions that completely changed his perspective: What would you say to your classmate if they were telling you what you’re telling me? and Why don’t you tell yourself that?

“Even though it seemed so simple, I never thought of employing a strategy like this,” Greg said. “Those two questions he asked me, embedded within a short conversation after class, taught me a lesson and a strategy that I will use for the rest of my life. That situation is an example of how important you all are to us, and how you can change our lives even with a short conversation.”

After playing the video, Dayanara also addressed the crowd.

“The video you just watched only captured a few students’ voices and experiences,” she said. “Imagine if the rest of the students in this district had a chance to speak, how many more amazing stories about amazing teachers and staff members we’d hear. I hope the video reminded you of how important you all are to BCSD students. It doesn’t take big gestures. It's truly the small things, like effort and eagerness that you bring to your class, that can genuinely make a student's day.”

Greg Ronel addresses staff
Dayanara Naranjo addresses staff

Thank you to John Morgan for his vision and editing of the video. In addition, thank you to Fox Lane alum, Karanja Elliot (class of 2011) who filmed the interviews and Tom Morgan (class of 2022) for the sound. Thank you also to Amy Pirro, Kristy Emery, Kelli Kinlen, and Melissa Oricchio for support throughout the filming process.