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Weekly Roundup – Adirondack school visits, Comprehensive Planning, Forest Preserve Education, and a brief walk down memory lane

July 11, 2009

Last week Bruce and I visited Keene Central School and chatted with Superintendent Cynthia Ford-Johnston and fourth grade teacher Joanne Whitney. It is a pleasure to visit schools with such enthusiastic teachers and such a clear vision and interest in an interdisciplinary approach that capitalizes on their local environment.

We also got to visit with Jim Donnelly Superintendent of Lake Placid Central School. I met Jim when he attended Richard Louv’s presentation (Louv is the author of the bestselling “Last Child in the Woods”) in Lake Placid in May. Jim addressed the issue schools have getting children outdoors and still meeting NYS Learning Standards. We had a fascinating chat and we were impressed with his vision for LPCS.

Over the weekend I went to Burlington to visit my daughter in law who had back surgery. Fortunately the surgery went well so I was able to get right back up to speed by Monday. Monday was a bit crazy as I had a Village/Town Comprehensive Planning meeting in the morning, traveled to Newcomb Central School and helped teachers brainstorm ideas for their Adirondack Event this coming fall in the afternoon, traveled back to Saranac Lake to testify at a village zoning hearing and after the hearing drove down to Albany in preparation for my work with Parent To Parent of NYS Tuesday. Tuesday I assisted the strategic planning committee of Parent To Parent as they continue to work on creating their strategic plan.

Most of Wednesday was spent working on a pet project of mine. I have been working with colleagues from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Communities & Conservation Program, The Adirondack Mountain Club, The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program and the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council in the development of what is called the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership. We have been working since 2000 to develop an educational program focusing on three features; knowing about the Park, protecting the Park, and protecting the visitor of the Forest Preserve. We received a $10,000 grant from Tourism Cares for Tomorrow in 2007 to produce a tabloid format information piece. Most of the money was spent writing the content of the document with little money left for printing. We recently partnered with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and their new publication Embark to produce a joint publication using much of our material. We are hopeful that this turns into a long term relationship to help get information into the public’s hand about using the Forest Preserve. July 1st is the expected date of publication. If you are interested in getting a copy let me know and I’ll make sure you do.

One of my many volunteer efforts is serving on the Saranac Lake/Harrietstown Comprehensive Planning Committee. We are updating the Village and Town’s Comprehensive Plan. It has been a long process (2 ½ years) but it is nearing completion. It hit a stumbling block this past week as the Village Board made a zoning change without any heads up to the committee. It caused a lot of ruffled feathers including mine since the change was not entirely consistent with our plan. I think we have worked through the issue and I have to say I am extremely excited about the prospect of their being new commercial development in Saranac Lake. I can only assume that the Village wanted to rezone the land, which they own, so that they can sell it. If I had to put money on it I would guess that we’ll either see a department store or grocery store coming to Saranac Lake in the coming months.

This afternoon I had a nice trip down memory lane as I went out to the LaVida Camp just outside of town to visit a former student of mine Dave Meade. Dave graduated from North Country Community College in 1984, eventually got a degree from Wanakena Ranger School and has been a Forest Ranger in the Catskills for many years. He also teaches Wilderness First Responder Courses for Wilderness Medical Associates which is what brought him up to this area. When I heard the ages of his children I knew I was getting old.

One final note, you will notice a number of new links at the top of our page. They are mostly connected to Antioch New England University and our colleagues at the Center for School Renewal. I particularly liked this link. If you’ve got a few minutes and want to be impressed by what students can do with minimal practice take a click.

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