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NYS Education Commissioner looks at Rochester's cultural connections


New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia made a number of stops in Rochester Monday and Tuesday along with members of her administration and the State Board of Regents.

Regents T. Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood, who are both from the Rochester area were involved with the visit, as was Regent Roger Tiles, who is the Chair of the board’s cultural education committee, and Mark Schaming, Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education.

They were  here to tour some of the cultural attractions in Rochester, including the Eastman School of Music and the Central Library.  Elia is working to foster the connection between cultural institutions and childhood education.

The commissioner also made a stop at WXXI to learn about educational work the organization is doing, and we asked her about the pending appointment of a “distinguished educator.” 

Elia recently announced that Jamie Aquino will fulfill that role, pending school board approval, to help the city school district improve its academic performance.

He will be doing an assessment of what’s happening in the Rochester city schools, and where there are areas that really need to have some adjustments and some changes, and that we need to do things differently.”

Elia says that Aquino has a solid background in working with urban school districts, and that should be a help.

“I think if you’re going to say to someone, go in and look in and tell us what’s going on in a specific district, they have to have a context within which to place the experiences and the things they’re seeing, and so he has that. We feel like he’ll be a good match for Rochester.”

Assuming the school board and Aquino reach terms on a contract, he is expected to start the new advisory role in mid-August.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.