MASSENA — The Massena Central School District has been recognized for its efforts to provide internet access for students during the pandemic.
The district received the Champions of Change for Kids Award from the New York State School Boards Association.
According to the association’s website, “The Champions of Change for Kids Recognition Program celebrates programs that optimize existing resources to address issues of equity, demonstrate strong student academic performance and introduce unique learning environments that are cutting-edge and future-oriented. The recognition is presented quarterly to a few select districts.”
New York State School Boards Association Member Relations Manager Patrick Longo was on hand to present a banner during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. He said the Champions of Change for Kids program recognizes “all the fantastic things that districts were doing across the state.”
“This is an unsolicited thing that we do. Nobody solicits us. We look at programs all across the state,” he said.
Mr. Longo said this was the third time the Massena Central School District had received the honor.
“It’s a testament to the great work you guys are doing, also the press that you guys get that makes us aware of these programs. What we’re trying to look for are programs that are going to bring change to the district, the students and community. We’re just seeing some really good things coming out of this district,” he said.
He said internet access was one of those really good things.
“What we noticed during the pandemic was that internet access was a big problem, not just this area, but through New York and all across the country,” he said.
Because of the model of instruction used during the pandemic, in-person, all remote or hybrid, Mr. Longo said it shows where the gaps are in student learning. But, he said, the Massena Central School District’s Internet access program helps close that gap.
Superintendent Patrick Brady said that, during the pandemic, they’ve partnered with community groups, including the Police Activities League of Massena, Massena Public Library and The Salvation Army, to provide internet access for students who did not have it in their homes. Among those on hand for the award presentation were Massena Central School Community Schools Director Kristin Colarusso-Martin, PALS Executive Director Zachary Monroe and Massena Salvation Army Commander Maj. Robert Bender.
The Salvation Army had donated 25 kajeets, or hot spots, to the school this year for families who did not have Internet access or had affordability issues. The Massena Salvation Army had received funding through an Alcoa grant that they used to purchase the hot spots.
“He came to us this year and asked what we needed, what The Salvation Army could do for us in partnership. They ended up providing 25 hot spots for students,” Mr. Brady said.
“It really is a partnership in this community.”