Office of the Superintendent

  • Superintendent Anthony PanellaWelcome to the Superintendent's Office 

    Anthony J. Panella

    Debbie Custodi
    Secretary to the Superintendent and District Clerk

    June 2024

    Smallwood Drive Elementary School’s work to build a strong character education program earned it recognition in late May as a 2024 National School of Character from In January, the school was named a New York State School of Character.

    Through its PAWS behavior program and this year’s “Our Community, Our Plan” theme, which uses a common language around the value of an idea, Smallwood Drive asked its students, parents, faculty and staff to come up with ways to help others and make the school even better. This school year was filled with ideas and everyone embraced the opportunity to contribute. The ideas resulted in several initiatives that have since come to life. From a vibrant Opening Day celebration, a successful bracelet sale for breast cancer awareness, to engaging SDS activity nights organized by dedicated parents, to a community day celebration at the end of March, the impact of this initiative has been significant.

    Since it first earned both the state and national designations in 2019, Smallwood Drive Elementary School has grown its character initiative to develop yearly themes based on character development. Every year since 2020, the themes have earned Promising Practice awards from Those themes such as "Power of a Puppet," "Mantra Mondays," "Use your voice," "Lending a Paw," and "Our Community, Our Plan," have played a direct role in teaching students the skills they need to grow into exceptional citizens of the community.

    Helping the community is also the focus of the New York State Seal of Civic Readiness where, this week 43 Amherst Central High School students will showcase their final projects at our annual Civics Fair. Civic readiness is the ability to make a positive difference in the public life of our communities through the combination of civic knowledge, skills, actions, mindsets and experiences. In each of the projects, the focus is on helping others within our school community as well as the larger WNY community.

    The students met the requirements set by NYSED to earn the seal by taking specific coursework, earning passing grades on social studies exams, taking advanced coursework, participating in service learning and completing the final civics project. Since the pilot year in 2021-22 year when 25 students signed up for the Seal of Civic Readiness, we have nearly doubled the number of students earning the seal.

    Here are three examples of student capstone projects:

    • One senior created a music outreach program for our elementary students where she coordinated visits with the elementary music faculty in their classes to talk to the younger kids about all the available music options they can participate in.
    • Making books with diverse authors and subjects available to adults and students was the focus of another student’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Book Drive. She will distribute books during one of the upcoming music concerts at one of our elementary schools.
    • The student that started the Class Closet wrote a longevity plan so future students can continue to run the free clothing store that helps to reduce clothing insecurity for students, increase sustainability and promote individualism.