CHANGES MADE TO PARKING POLICY AT WATERLOO HIGH SCHOOL
The parking policy at Waterloo High School has recently changed to improve student safety.
The small parking lot closest to the entrance to the High School and Athletic entrances has been resurfaced and restriped and is now limited to HANDICAPPED AND VISITOR PARKING ONLY! This change, which went into effect on Oct. 12, will improve traffic flow and allow more parking spots for parents picking up students at the end of the day.
All student and staff parking is now in the parking lot closest to the retention ponds. Signs are being posted to reflect these changes.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation with these changes that will help keep our school community safe.
Staff Spotlight: Transportation Supervisor D'Allah Laffoon
D’Allah “D” Laffoon’s began working as a substitute bus driver for the Waterloo Central School District in 2013 and liked the job so much that he applied to be the district’s transportation supervisor when the position opened up in late 2019.
Laffoon was hired and started his new position on Feb. 18, 2020, less than a month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and has been learning on the job ever since.
A native of Woodstock, Vermont and Alfred University graduate, Laffoon takes great pride in his department and its dedicated employees. The transportation department is made up of more than 30 bus drivers and monitors, a mechanic and administrative assistant who are focused on making sure each WCSD student arrives safely at school and home each day.
Laffoon is a World War II history buff who enjoys restoring cars and trucks. He and his wife Kathleen, a school counselor in Moravia, have two young sons.
Laffoon recently took some time to talk about his job and the role that the transportation department plays in the district. His responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What do you like the most about your job?
“I would say the thing that I like most about it is that there are so many facets to it that go into bringing students to school safely every day. … There is a lot that goes into it and being able to help pull that all together and provide safe transportation for students each day is very rewarding.”
What is your management style?
“My management style is more of an empowerment style. The biggest thing with the staff here is that a lot of them have been here quite a while, so they know what they are doing. A lot of it is, ‘How do I support the staff so that we can provide safe transportation for students and staff every day.’
“I probably learn more from my staff than they learn from me. Now, how do I take that information and use it? Also, with empowerment comes accountability. If someone is empowered to do something, they also know they are accountable for their actions.”
You started shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. How did that impact your early days on the job?
“One of the things that I do well is work under pressure. When COVID started, it was crazy. Taking a 66-person bus and putting eight kids on it is a crazy concept. One of the things that benefitted me was delivering lunches during COVID so I could learn the district and where things were.
“When we reopened, I went right to the math and used that data to help determine our transportation plan. … One of the things that helped was that I wasn’t breaking a mold that I was used to, we were creating a new one.
“One of the biggest things that was a factor in our success last year was the community. … The routes were constantly changing and the drivers had different routes every day, so it was a logistical challenge. The drivers know the routes and when we do the routes, their input is worth its weight in gold. I wouldn’t be as knowledgeable as I am now if I didn’t go through making the COVID routes. I had to learn a lot very quickly.”
What makes a good bus driver and bus monitor?
“There are a lot of qualities that are required that you won’t find on any application. Being a school bus driver and school bus monitor is a lifestyle. Bus drivers and bus monitors are very observant as to what is going on all of the time. Management skills are very important when you are out on the road driving between one and 66 kids, you are a teacher, a counselor and you are training students every day. The list of qualities needed is long and the Waterloo Central School District is blessed to have the bus drivers and monitors that are here.”
Is there anything more that you would like to let the community know about your job?
“I think the biggest thing to know about my job as the Transportation Director is just how safety is our top priority every day. From the mechanics to the secretary who answers the phone to me, the goal is the same: how do we get your children to school safely every day.
“I would just ask for people to always be aware of a school bus in your area and the crossing lights. Be prepared to stop when the lights are yellow and know that when they are red that you must stop. Also, remember to expect the unexpected, especially when you are dealing with children. Be on the lookout for that bus and those kids because the more eyes we have on them, the safer we will all be.”
How does someone become a bus driver in Waterloo?
“They can contact me at (315) 539-1515 or DAllah.Laffoon@waterloocsd.org. The process includes a filling out a Civil Service application, interviews and a background check.”
STUDENTS PRACTICE BUS SAFETY DRILLS
Shortly after Bus 57 pulled into Skoi-Yase Primary School on Tuesday morning, driver Jennifer Gardner stood in front of its 21 passengers to discuss safety procedures.
Gardner, who has been a driver in the Waterloo Central School District for 21 years, pointed out the location of emergency exits, outlined proper use of seatbelts, discussed the correct procedure for exiting the bus and crossing the road and demonstrated steps that should be taken in case the bus driver became disabled. Students also participated in a practice evacuation.
“They did really well today,” Gardner said.
Bus safety drills were conducted throughout the District and are required by the New York State Education Department three times per year. They also support the District’s priorities of creating a safe space for all and utilizing teamwork.
WCSD Transportation Director D’Allah “D” Laffoon said safety training is a priority for drivers and students every day.
“It’s about instincts and repetition,” Laffoon said. “The idea is that if something were to happen, that the students would know what to do and instincts and repetition would kick in.”
Tuesday’s session was review for some of the older students on Gardner’s route. Younger students experienced the drills for the first time.
Gardner used a calm voice as she explained how to “pull the yellow button” and stop the bus in an emergency. She also used positive reinforcement as she quizzed students on other safety procedures.
Laffoon said the relationship that bus drivers and monitors have with their students is key to a successful drill.
“The input that they have for safety, logistics and everything else is worth its weight in gold,” he said.
Gardner is aware of the many responsibilities that come with her job and enjoys the interactions with her passengers and their families each day.
“The best part is the kids and the relationships that you build with them,” Gardner said. “Plus, every day is different. Even though we drive the same bus with the same kids on the same route, no two days are the same.”
The Waterloo Central School District requests your cooperation with the following:
Student Artwork Brightens District Office
David Smith was surprised when he and his family received an invitation to visit the Waterloo Central School District Office on the evening of Aug. 30.
David, who will be a sophomore this fall, was one of 30 Waterloo High School art students invited to see their artwork on display.
“It’s really cool,” David said. “I honestly didn’t expect a piece of mine to show up here.”
CLICK HERE to see more photos
Yet, there it was. David’s sectioned grid drawing of a photo featuring an orange, lemon, strawberries and grapes was one of the pieces chosen to hang in the hallway for the upcoming school year.
“There were a bunch of different fruits, so there was some diversity to it,” David said. “Every section is different than the other section. When you look at it, it could be two different photos.”
The art on display was selected by High School Art teachers Sarah Carey and Dana Brabant based on the “Best of Show” from the teachers’ picks from the 2021 Spring Art Show.
“What you see here is the best of the best,” Carey said.
Waterloo Superintendent of Schools Terri Bavis said the artwork enhances the atmosphere at District Office.
“I think that it’s important to have kids’ artwork on the walls,” Bavis said. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t have student artwork on display every day. Every Spring the Art teachers come over to District Office to display artwork from the year’s success, and we enjoy it.”
While the artwork in the halls changes each year, Bavis has also purchased other pieces that are on permanent display in her office and conference rooms. This summer marked the first time that she has invited students, families and Board of Education members to see the artwork.
Angelina Cardinale, who will also be a sophomore this fall, attended with her family members. Her introspective self-portrait, which was created with markers and watercolors, featured Angelina blowing a bubble.
“I kind of think of it as when the bubble pops, my personality comes out,” Angelina said. “I was just going to do a self-portrait, but Ms. B (Brabant) told me that it should have some meaning to it.”
Ava DiSanto’s piece, “Nemo,” was also chosen.
“I was looking for a circle, but a transparent one,” Ava said. “I looked at fish eggs, frog eggs and then a Nemo just came to me and I saw a photo and went with it.”
“We’re very proud of her,” said Wendy DiSanto, Ava’s mother. “We couldn’t be more proud.”
The Art Department extends its congratulations to all of the students selected and also thanks former Studio in Art student Jasmine Hennigan for her assistance with matting, framing and labeling the pieces.
Matt Parker Named WEA Teacher of the Year
Matt Parker, a fourth-grade teacher at LaFayette Intermediate School, has been named the Waterloo Education Association’s Teacher of the Year for 2021.
Parker, who is entering his 20th year in the district, was honored in front of district employees during opening day ceremonies at Waterloo High School on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Parker spent the first 16 years of his career teaching computer science before moving to fourth grade four years ago. Colleagues praised Parker , who is also the Co-Director of the District’s Teacher Resource Center, for his willingness to help students and staff with technology as they navigated the challenges of the past year.
“I am truly humbled,” said Parker, who was nominated and selected by WEA members. “I have sat in the audience for many years as a special-area teacher and never thought I would get this award. It is not something I expected. All of the things I do for people and kids is not for recognition, it’s just what I do.
“I would like to thank my parents, fourth-grade team, all of my colleagues at LaFayette, my building principal Shaun Merrill and everyone throughout the district who has supported me as much as I have tried to support them.”
Eight co-workers from LaFayette announced Parker as the recipient of this year’s award. Jason Bullis, a special education teacher, and fourth-grade teacher Kathleen MacGeorge led the presentation while colleagues Heather Schuessler (Patience), Kristen O’Connell (Ambition), Kristen Lamson (Reliable), Paula Thomas (Kindness), Theresa Patchen (Encourage) and Josh Rice (Resources) displayed cards listing some of Parker’s qualities. After all of the qualities were described, the group flipped their cards to show the first letter of each quality and spell P-A-R-K-E-R.
Merrill, who taught alongside Parker before becoming an administrator, said that Parker has always been on the cutting edge with technology and excels at student engagement. He described stopping by Parker’s room and seeing a lesson posted on two or three boards as Parker encourages his students to think outside of the box.
“He is always trying to connect students to something that they can create,” Merrill said.
Bullis said his colleague has a way of making people feel special.
“It’s his giving nature and his core ability to make everybody feel valued and appreciated,” Bullis said. “Whether it’s technology or classroom teaching, all of the students can benefit from him.”
Parker credits his late grandfather Richard Parker, who was a welder by trade, and his wife, Mary, with inspiring him to become a teacher.
“He always placed a big focus on education,” Parker said of his grandfather, who was one of 16 children. “Every time that I went to his house as a kid it was a big lesson in history.”
A Weedsport native, Matt and Mary Parker are high school sweethearts who have been together for 26 years. They have an 8-year-old daughter, Grace.
“She kept me on the straight and narrow and encouraged me to work through things,” Matt Parker said of his wife, who is a high school social studies teacher in Weedsport.
Parker, a self-described “beach bum” and avid outdoorsman, also loves sports, especially the Boston Red Sox. His name will be listed on a plaque at Waterloo High School along with the names of previous recipients.
The parking lot closest to the main entrance is now reserved for handicapped and visitor parking only.
January 4th, 2020
The federal and state moratoriums on evictions are currently scheduled to be lifted in January 2021. Due to this, there may be an increase in the number of families who will experience a loss of housing. Governor Cuomo has announced an expansion of the state’s rent relief program. Eligibility criteria has changed and applications will be accepted until February 1st, 2021. Click here for more information and to apply.
Also If you have questions on your rights or need referrals for housing there is a Statewide hotline: 833-503-0447, open 24/7. They will soon be able to answer questions in all languages with interpreters. This is a referral line only — hotline workers aren’t able to answer specific legal questions, but they will be able to direct you to the courts, clerks offices and other resources in your region. If you don’t get through the first time, keep trying!
If you lose your housing or are living in temporary housing please let your school know! We are here to help!
IF YOU SHOULD NEED IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE FOR EMOTIONAL HEALTH PLEASE:
-call or visit Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) at Clifton Springs
-call Finger Lakes Lifeline 2-1-1
-contact the National Crisis Text Line by texting the word: HOME to 741-741
All Students. All Staff. One Family
The MISSION of the Waterloo Central School District is to put kids first every day. We support each student on a personalized journey to realize their goals. Our caring community develops learners and leaders.