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Pay it Forward December 31, 2010

Filed under: Community Service — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 7:02 pm
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“What does the world ~ mean to you?”

Have you ever seen the movie, Pay it Forward?  Minus the ending, which can absolutely rip anyone’s heart out ~ it is a beautiful movie based on a beautiful premise … a movement to make the world a better place.  If one person helps 3 people or makes a difference in 3 people’s lives, then they help 3 people, and they help 3 people … you get the picture.  If you complete acts of kindness in multiples of three – gratitude, giving and gladness – you  will receive an inner gift, the important kind.  Now imagine the impact on our communities, in our states, in our countries on the mighty power of 3?

The use of the internet as a source of information is quick, it’s easy ~ and it is inspiring.  There is so much good being done, and so much work to be done.  I’ve been doing some searches on YouTube for everyday people making a difference in the lives of others.  It gives me the glimmer of hope that better days are ahead.  Pick an idea – there are literally thousands, and make a difference this year.

Off the top of my head, I’d suggest to call:

Kiss Hershey Back

Philadelphia Clean-up Project

Calgary’s Food Drive, 2006 – 7,000 volunteers collected $670K worth of food

Green Island’s Food Drive, 2010

Literacy Volunteers

Quilting for a Cause – Hugs for Heros, making quilts for injured heroes


Students and Technology December 30, 2010

Filed under: Education,Technology — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 9:27 pm
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I continue to be fascinated by the impact technology has on education.  In 2005,  Critical Issues:  Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement, The Center for Children and Technology pointed out in an article that from 1995 – 2005, the United States invested more than $66 billion in school technology.  State and federal funding has been made available to build a technology infrastructure within districts.  This brought about higher expectations of the legislators and public.  The school district is held accountable for the technology investments, and most of it seems to be tied to student achievement and tie in with standardized testing.  Having technology is one thing, effectively using it, is another.  Districts must invest in the hardware and software, and then an additional investment in faculty and staff training.  Finding what’s right for the district and the students within the district is critical and difficult.  One has to think not of what the needs are today, but what the projected needs are 3 to 5 years down the road because technology changes so quickly.

I think back to my days in high school.  The first Apple computer used in our school came in my senior year.  I remember being enthralled by this ugly little box (let’s face it, Apple/Mac had become a whole lot prettier in almost 30 years).  I took a computer programming class – we created a video animation, the equivalence of Atari Space Invaders, 70’s style.  During the latter time frame mentioned above, our school district was undergoing a building and renovation project.  Updating technology was a piece of that renovation.  Today, in our school, there is at least 1 computer in every classroom, K – 12.  In addition to that, we have computer labs and laptop carts, which have 30 laptops per cart.  At our recent Board of Education meeting, we had presentations on the use of SmartBoards and NovaNet, a credit recovery software program tied to state standards.  These pieces of technology fit together as pieces to an educational puzzle.


NovaNet is a program through educational media guru, Pearson’s created an educational system that assists students who need credit recovery.  Green Island’s School District began using the program this year.  Students who would like to re-take a NYS Regents exam for a higher grade, are able to take a refresher during their study hall.  This programming offers individualized instruction on a web-based platform.  The sell to school districts?  The curriculum is designed to tie into individual state standards.  Students who can take advantage of the program include credit accrual, credit recovery, summer school (though not offered through our district) and dropout prevention.


NovaNet is a wonderful example of how the investment in technology can increase student achievement.




Critical Issues:  Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement.  North Central Regional Educational Laboratory



Green Island Union Free School District.  http://www.greenisland.org/news/2010-11/NovaNET_12_22_10.html


A Christmas Village December 23, 2010

Filed under: Community Service — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 7:45 pm
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I know I have boasted a lot in my blog about my community’s generosity (well, the community itself and beyond).  We’re much like any other community out there, and it just happens to be what I’ve always known.  Maybe it’s the holidays, or the generosity, but it does the heart good to see the generosity and good of others.

I went to prepare the food baskets for the Christmas delivery that would take place on December 23.  I had the very easy task.  This basket delivery included:

  • A ham
  • Pasta
  • Sauce
  • Fresh Produce
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Soup
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Condiment
  • A dessert item
  • Canned Fruit


From around December 1’ish the Village Office put the word out that the giving tree was available at the office.  Go down, select a ‘mitten’ or two or more ~ and purchase a little something that would be put together to help a family out through the holidays.  Keep your mittens with the gifts so the gifts can go to the right families.  Maggie organized, bagged, labeled and color coded every single delivery to make sure every family received the right items.


December 23 rolled around and the army of volunteers showed up at the Food Pantry to make the Christmas deliveries.  For the first time since my kids realized the truth about Santa ~ did I have that tingling feeling that parents have on Christmas morning when they see their kids eyes … except I had  my kid’s look in my own eyes.  I remember walking into the Food Pantry and thinking “Wow!”  There were garbage-size bags upon bags ~ an organized Santa delivery, all set to help make some holidays a little brighter.  Everyone knows what they do on their own … but when you see it all together, it just takes you back a little.


Next year, if you haven’t already, find out what is available in your community, and make an effort to give.  There are so many little things that you can do, that can make a difference for those in need.  Think about:


  • Have old coats, scarves and mittens that are slightly to gently used, but you don’t use them anymore?  Coordinate a Coat Drive, or find out if there is one in your area.  Donate your coat/s to a homeless shelter.
  • Do you quilt or crochet?  Make blankets and spread the warmth ~ literally and figuratively.  Donate blankets to the Ronald McDonald House or the Cancer wards/centers in your area.  Think of the comfort that blankets can bring to those who are going through their darkest days.
  • Organize a drive to show appreciation for those serving in our military.  Contact local units, the Red Cross and find out what is needed and get involved.  Whether it is sending things overseas, or something to the military hospitals our men and women return to.
  • Volunteer at a Senior Center or Nursing Home ~ sometimes, just seeing someone’s face can brighten another’s day.
  • And of course, there is donating your time and/or financially to food pantries or soup kitchens.