Blackhawk Beacon

Blackhawk Beacon

The Blackhawk Beacon

The Blackhawk Beacon has launched and is available to anyone who signs up for email delivery.  
To sign up simply click here (or email and enter your contact information.  
Welcome to The Blackhawk Beacon, an electronic newsletter delivering in-depth exploration of education and activity at Oxford Academy.

Would you like to learn more about the exciting initiatives going on at Oxford Academy? Are you looking for progress reports on the capital project or budget development? Would you like to learn more about the people – students, staff and community members – that make Oxford such a special place? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ll consider the “The Blackhawk Beacon” a must read! 

The Oxford school community asked for more substantial and frequent communication from the school district on a variety of topics, and the launch of our new electronic newsletter represents an attempt to address that request. This new, electronically distributed newsletter produced by Oxford Academy is not replacing the “Blackhawk Bulletin” newsletter that community members have grown accustomed to over the years – we realize that many members of the school community still like receiving school news via hard copy. The purpose of this electronic version of the newsletter is to allow for more frequent communication with our community for those who enjoy “hot off the press” news. With electronic distribution, we can send out useful information very quickly, and more of it. The Blackhawk Beacon will share information on timely issues such as budget news, information on educational program updates, profiles of students, teams, staff members and topics of general interest related to education. We will feature both recurring segments (i.e. Spotlight on Learning, Staff profiles) and feature articles (i.e. school budget news, special event profiles). 
We hope you find this new vehicle for communication to be useful. I look forward to hearing your feedback. Look for the newsletter on multiple occasions throughout the year, even during the summer months. If you find it to be a valuable communication tool, please encourage others to check it out. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to hear more about, please share your ideas with us! 

The Blackhawk Fund has Launched at OXAC 
We are pleased to announce Oxford Academy now has a fund through the Community Foundation for South Central New York. The fund is specifically designed to support programs and initiatives that directly benefit students of Oxford. We have frequently been asked by alumni, community members, and local businesses how they can support the innovative work happening in Oxford. With the establishment of the Blackhawk Fund, we now have an easy way for individuals and organizations to support Oxford students.
Schools are often faced with the difficult balancing act between providing exciting and innovative learning experiences to students while remaining respectful to our taxpayers. The Blackhawk Fund goes a long way in addressing this issue. A funding stream now exists that can help support worthwhile initiatives while not passing the cost on to taxpayers. We are extremely exciting to see how the fund will support our school community moving forward. For more information, please click here

Residents Approve Capital Project for OXAC
Thank you to the residents of Oxford who approved the $10.6 million capital project referendum on December 11th. The project will not generate an increase in the local tax levy. Key elements in the project include:

1)     Infrastructure – Our school community is fortunate to have access to beautiful facilities that support the learning process. This has not happened by accident as district leadership has made the care and maintenance of our facilities a top priority for many years. Furthermore, the school serves as the center of activity for the greater Oxford community. Not only is it the hub of the UPK-12 academic program, but the school serves as a home base for countless other community organizations. Given this reality, it only makes sense that we maintain these facilities in order to preserve the beautiful, safe environment that we now enjoy. Addressing major issues like aging roofs and boilers will ensure that our infrastructure remains sound for years to come. 
2)     Safety – As you know, we recently completed a small “Smart Schools Bond Act” project through funding provided by New York State. The project had to specifically deal with safety and technology projects for each participating school district. The project, by State requirement, has provided numerous security upgrades, including point of entry ID verification, exterior lighting system, and an enhanced door security system. The recently approved project will continue the work that was started in the Smart Schools project, providing for further point of entry security enhancements, fire safety upgrades, and much needed separation between the transportation complex and instructional buildings. 
3)     Flexible instructional space – Education definitely looks significantly different from when I was a student. The world that our students are going into after they leave the friendly confines of school also looks dramatically different. Consequently, a school needs to be arranged differently in order to reflect the evolving world we are preparing them for.  The capital project will allow our students access to flexible learning space that can be used for grade level projects, after school, summer, and community programs, as well as an opportunity to interact with regional business and community partners. Our district has become a leader in providing students a wide array of innovative learning experiences (through initiatives like LEGO Club and RoboRAVE New York), and with these modern facilities, those opportunities will only continue to grow. 

Infrastructure, safety, and instructional upgrades are all areas critical to the success of a school district. Thanks to the support of the Oxford community, we can be confident in knowing that all three areas are in a good place as we move into the future.
 I will continue to update you on the timeline of the project through the newsletter and on our website. Once again, thank you for your continued support for our students. 

Thought of the Day
The thought of the day for this edition of The Blackhawk Beacon comes to us from the legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden. In honor of the launch of the newsletter and because Coach Wooden had so many interesting thoughts, we actually went with three quotes! 

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable."
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Thank you for reading!
Shawn Bissetta
Superintendent, Oxford Academy and Central School District 
Priorities for the pursuit of excellence in 2018-2019
Excellence starts with establishing goals connected to clear action plans. High-achieving organizations have a vision of what they want to accomplish, and sticking to a long-term action plan designed to tackle those goals is essential. In keeping with our long-term view, our goals this year are similar in many ways with respect to last year's, with modifications and adjustments made where appropriate.
Everything starts with foundations
This school year, we will see a laser-like focus on ensuring that we have a strong foundation for learning throughout the district. Building and maintaining a strong foundation requires several key ingredients:

  • coordination between buildings/grade levels/departments
  • commitment to implementing researching-based best practices
  • creating a positive school environment

Throughout the school year, you'll hear about specific ways that these "ingredients" are being addressed proactively.

From the continued work of the district-wide Curriculum Council (focusing on providing effective academic intervention services as well as advanced programming options) to the various community outreach initiatives (like the regional Campaign for Grade Level Reading Initiative), Oxford Academy will be offering numerous examples of our commitment to building a foundation for long-term success.
Opportunities for students of all ages
Opportunity is another of the ingredients leading to student success this school year. Our goal is to provide students with every reasonable opportunity to expand on classroom learning, and encourage them to take advantage of the wealth of experiences open to them.

Opportunity sometimes arrives on our doorstep, but more often it is up to us to create new, engaging paths to success. Our school is fully committed to being the model district in this area, and you'll be hearing much more about some of the exciting initiatives and programs that continue to be developed in our district, including:

  • Work-Based Learning
  • the district Pathways initiative
  • Blackhawk Box School Readiness outreach
  • Student Leadership programs
Oxford Academy is rapidly establishing a reputation as a leading district in our region when it comes to creating innovative, exciting opportunities for learning. We expect to be the best, and will continue to work in collaboration with the larger community to make our goals a reality.
Communication and collaboration
In order to keep opportunities stable and expanding, communication and collaboration -- another of our main themes -- must be at the core of everything we do. Innovation is useful only if people are aware it exists, and understand that new things don't emerge out of a vacuum..

We are committed to working with families, regional businesses, and educational institutions in order to full realize our collective potential as a community.
High expectations: for students and for us
Finally, the theme of high expectations will be front and center in everything we do. We are committed to fostering a culture in which we expect the very best from ourselves and those around us. These expectations require a strong sense of accountability to one another as well.

Each of us can ask: What is our individual role in making Oxford the premier school community in our region?

By focusing on creating and seizing opportunity, communicating effectively with one another, and accepting the level of individual accountability necessary to maintain a culture of high expectations, we will successfully tackle the many challenges that lie ahead. I am confident that together we are up to the challenge, and I look forward to working with you to continue to make Oxford THE place to be!

Shawn Bissetta
Oxford Academy Superintendent
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