- Frontier Central School District
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BIG Picture Grand Opening!
For the Frontier Central School District, this is big. Really BIG!
The Grand Opening of Frontier BIG Picture Academy – a unique partnership between the District and SUNY Erie Community College – was shown off to District and ECC officials, BIG Picture Academy staff, students, parents and local officials Wednesday night at SUNY Erie South Campus.
BIG Picture Academy is a small innovative high school that utilizes a research-based, multi-faceted educational model based on a national design through BIG Picture Learning, which was founded in 1995.
“About a year and a half ago we conceptualized what we thought a 21st century school would look like, which included participation with a college and a college environment, and we thank ECC for being a welcome partner,” said Frontier Superintendent Chris Swiatek. “When we first looked at this program, we recognized that not all students fit into what we do or other high schools do across the country, and we said ‘what can we do better, how can we become more flexible, how can we meet the needs of children and connect them to adults in a 1-on-1 fashion to make sure they feel rewarded,’” Swiatek added.
Frontier then identified the principal, staff and location for this new concept.
“Our Board of Education was very supportive of this program, and as you walk through this building you can see the effort that took place over the last year and a half,” said Swiatek, who also thanked ECC and everyone who worked on the project. “This is an exciting day in the genesis of this new program. We really look forward to being successful and I wish all of you the very best,” Swiatek said.
Big Picture Principal Danielle Kalinski, Frontier Board of Education Vice President John Cordier, BIG Picture sophomore Mirella Ventre, SUNY Erie Acting President Adiam Tsegai and Frontier Superintendent Chris Swiatek participate in a ribbon cutting surrounded by BIG Picture students Wednesday night.
Danielle Kalinski is the Principal at BIG Picture. She taught special education at Frontier Middle School for 17 years, worked as Assistant Director in the Special Education office for one year and then served as Assistant Principal at the Middle School for nearly four years.
“Our students are really trailblazers of BIG Picture because they accepted coming here sight unseen. They’re seeing it here for the very first time,” Kalinski said. “These kids said yes to this based on the ideas and the promise of the program, and it’s based on relevance, relationships and rigorous academics.”
There will be 30 students in the school this year – 15 freshmen and 15 sophomores.
She admits it’s been exciting, and a little nerve-wracking.
“I’ve never built a school before. I went to school to be an educator and to be a principal, I did not go to school to do all those other things that I’m now figuring out how to do,” Kalinski said. “I really can’t say enough about how ECC and Frontier Central have helped us. Anything I have asked for has happened so quickly. It’s incredibly humbling.”
The partnership is also important to SUNY Erie.
“ECC is so happy and proud to be part of this incredible journey,” said SUNY Erie Acting President Adiam Tsegai. “It’s all about intentional collaboration, and it’s all about our children. This initiative with Frontier and BIG Picture is key to our success at SUNY Erie as well.”
John Cordier, Frontier Board of Education Vice President, is proud of the new school. “I want to thank Superintendent Chris Swiatek for the foresight in bringing BIG Picture into reality. It was his vision and fortitude and extreme desire to ensure that all students have an avenue to pursue and achieve another educational path for success,” Cordier said. “I also want to thank Danielle Kalinski and her team of teachers for their enthusiasm, dedication and courage to move forward and accept the challenge of heading up a new program of this kind. We are proud that you chose Frontier, and we as a district will continue to offer innovative and exciting programs to our families.”
This is the 85th Big Picture Academy in the United States and the fifth in New York State. In addition to getting the opportunity to tour the facilities, the students, families and invited guests were treated to food and games.
Watch coverage from WIVB-TV by clicking here.