• Superintendent Mark Laurrie 

    Mark Laurrie

    From Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie - February 2024

    The Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) would be a much different organization without the business and community partnerships that allow our students to see themselves as part of the greater world. It's easy to get "stuck" in a classroom or the confines of a school building. But kids need to know that they are part of the larger community's fabric and are cared about and cared for.

         When the NFCSD partners with a business or organization, it is not about one group being "in charge." The collaboration is about a common goal – to educate our children in a manner that will make them successful in life and career and, therefore, stimulate and grow the Niagara Falls economy.

         From our youngest primary and elementary school students studying the physical and chemical properties of matter with Thermo Fisher Scientific to our Niagara Falls High School (NFHS) students studying Artificial Intelligence straight from Stanford University, the NFCSD is privileged to work with dozens of partners. I will highlight different partners each month as a sidebar to my column. I will start this month with the following six companies and volunteer organizations that enrich our students' educational experiences.

         Elementary and primary schools: Thermo Fisher Scientific employees are frequent visitors to our elementary schools, and the students welcome them warmly. How could they not when the students know the visitors come bearing goo? Our partner Thermo Fisher delights in visiting our elementary schools to demonstrate how oil, water, food coloring, glitter, a glow stick, and Alka-Seltzer start a chemical reaction that looks like a lava lamp. The community group Men Standing Strong Together (MSST) hosts free movie nights at Harry F. Abate Elementary on Friday evenings every month. Dinner is served free to all who attend the event; the movie is shown on the big screen in the Abate Auditorium. A raffle for the students and parents features VISA gift cards, Tops gift cards, and gas gift cards for our families.

         Prep schools: Largo Financial runs the BOSS (Business Opportunity for Student Success) Program in partnership with Gaskill Prep School. BOSS is a 25-week program that provides financial literacy programming to students at a young age so students may continue to build on their financial knowledge throughout high school and beyond.

         Niagara Falls High School: Merani Hotel Group (MHG) is an independent hospitality management company based in Niagara Falls, Canada and, USA, that is partnering with Niagara Falls High School by providing guest speakers and job shadows in the hospitality, tourism, event planning and culinary pathways. Seven students have begun a paid internship with Niagara Riverside Resort and the Bella Vista Ristorante. In addition, ten students in a hospitality, sport, and tourism dual enrollment course with another of our partners, Niagara University, had their tuition for the course covered by the Merani Group to further the Hotel Management Pipeline Program.

         M&T Tech HUB (part of M&T Bank Corporation) is an irreplaceable partner with Niagara Falls High School, providing guest speakers, facility tours, and internships. Five students interested in the computer science, IT, and coding career pathways are starting an 8-week internship. During their time at M&T Tech HUB, the students will use Raspberry Pie Kits, Python, and more to learn the skills needed for a career as these professions. In addition, the students will receive valuable mentoring, resume building, and soft skill lessons.

         Our partners are providing the NFCSD students a chance to branch out into the world and expand their horizons. They are learning with fresh new faces and in some cases, new places to add variety to their school experience. We are very thankful for our partners and look forward to highlighting more every month.