Office of the Superintendent

  • Superintendent Anthony PanellaWelcome to the Superintendent's Office 

    Anthony J. Panella
    Superintendent
    Email: apanella@amherstschools.org
    Phone: 716-362-3051
     
    Debbie Custodi
    Secretary to the Superintendent and District Clerk
    Email: dcustodi@amherstschools.org
    Phone: 716-362-3051
    Fax: 716-362-3022 


    September 2021

    Imagine a group of high school students are given the ambitious challenge of developing a product prototype;  taking it from an idea through the testing stage, developing sales, budget and production schedules and producing a prototype using manufacturing processes and Computer Aided Design. This culminating capstone assignment could be in the course syllabus for Amherst Central High School students over the next few years and our High School fine arts, business and technology faculty and classrooms are ready for the challenge.

    The finishing touches on Phase 3 of our 2016 Capital Improvement Project at the High School included work on the innovation lab, computer lab, photography and art classrooms in the Fine Arts wing. This summer, a brand new technology area, wood shop and ceramics classroom were completed that will offer students world-class facilities in which to launch the newly branded Amherst School of Design and Innovation (ASDI). Framing course descriptions around the ASDI concept resulted in new names for art and technology courses: Design & Communications For Innovation, Digital Graphics/Photo 1 & 2, 21st Century Design & Innovation, Design & Innovation For Industry (DDP) and Advanced Innovation & Robotics.

    Amherst Middle and High School fine arts, technology and business faculty took the first steps this summer to learn the tools, mindsets and strategies of Design Thinking in order to support student learning in individual class projects and cross-curricular projects.

    Over three days in July, two trainers from the Henry Ford Learning Institute in Detroit visited Amherst CSD to offer the Design Thinking for Deeper Student Learning workshop. Faculty became familiar with and practiced using the Design Thinking tools, mindsets, and strategies to support the development of independent learners achieving ambitious individual outcomes. Design Thinking is a collection of mindsets and methods that allow students to creatively explore problems, then reframe and act on them. A key point in the process is that it involves action, or “design doing,” as well as thinking. It is open to and inclusive of other disciplines and methods and acknowledges the complexity involved in the process. 

    The faculty training and our updated facilities are the catalysts for the ASDI program and will give students the opportunity to learn a design process that is used in most design industries in the U.S and to investigate career pathways in design, business or technology.

    Teaching our students how to innovate, collaborate and solve open-ended problems will serve them well as they head toward college and careers. These are broad applications that can be applied across every discipline and result in specific skill sets that may help them either get into the college of their choice or land their dream job. 

    This is just one example of how we are meeting our mission of preparing all students to excel in a dynamic world through the development of their abilities to reason, solve problems, apply knowledge, communicate and collaborate effectively.

    As we look ahead to school opening next week, I’m excited for our students and the opportunities they will have this year and into the future.