#ForWorthington

TWHSIn the spring of 1982 I was living in Concord, California with my parents and younger sister.  My dad was transferred from the Bay Area to Columbus, Ohio and after doing extensive research my parents decided to locate our family in Worthington.  790 Ashler Court would be our family home for the next 16 years.  It was from that home that I would attend Worthington Hills Elementary, Perry Middle School, McCord Middle School, The Kilbourne Freshman Building and Worthington High School.

Today I look back on my parents’ decision to choose Worthington with great appreciation.  Like many high school and college students I was set on making my mark on this world outside of Worthington and as such I took my first teaching job in King George, Virginia.  I taught 5th grade at Potomac Elementary School and my first classroom was in the school’s old kitchen.  Teaching in Virginia was a great experience.  Immediately it created an appreciation for my home of Worthington and in the fall of 1997 Dr. Ann Heffernan hired me to teach 5th grade at Evening Street Elementary.  I was home and I was planning to be a teacher and a coach for my career.  (I was coaching football at McCord Middle School and lacrosse at Worthington Kilbourne High School.)

As often happens, my plans for life shifted.  Two things happened.  For one, Dr. Heffernan pulled me aside one day and encouraged me to consider becoming a principal.  I had never considered this before, but I was intrigued.  Secondly, Dr. Gerald Prince appeared at my classroom door with some bad news.  Because of budget constraints my position was being eliminated and I was being RIF’d (Reduced in Force.)  My plans changed in a hurry.  Luckily for me Dan Girard had left his position as Dean of Students at McCord Middle School and they had an opening.  I was hired for the dean’s position and learned that I really liked the administration role.

After a few years at McCord I decided I needed to move outside of Worthington again.  I became first an assistant principal, then a principal, and eventually the principal of two schools at the same time in Marysville Schools.  These were great years for me personally and I will be forever grateful to my mentor Larry Zimmerman for his faith in me.  But, as has happened consistently in my life, I came home.

In 2008 I was given the opportunity to work in Worthington’s central office (The WEC), first in Human Resources and three years later in my current assignment as Assistant Superintendent.  Today I learned that the Board of Education has the faith in me to become the next Superintendent of Worthington Schools.  I didn’t set out for this job.  Even seven years ago when I joined Worthington I would have never imagined this was possible.

As a student in Worthington I was labeled with a learning disability.  School was always very hard for me.  Throughout my academic career in Worthington I was supported by amazing, caring and talented educators.  Teachers and coaches such as Connie Ball, Bill Wolford, Mark Ellwood, Jan Fish, Chris Gallagher, Scott Gordon, Tim Cave, Janet Lanka, Time Dove and Jane Baxter scaffolded my learning and helped me progress.  Even with their incredible support I graduated in the bottom half of my high school class.

Struggling academically shaped how I see education today.  My personal experiences are melded now with almost 20 years of professional experience in education.  Those experiences will continue to influence me as Superintendent of Schools.  They’ve taught me the importance of connecting with others, communicating expectations clearly, providing effective feedback, listening first, and setting high expectations for student success.

Worthington Schools is a great school district!  We are a school district that offers an incredible pre-school experience at Sutter Park.  Sutter Park is an example statewide for early childhood excellence.  Worthington is a district that creates stability and builds deep and meaningful relationships with families at our elementary schools that serve students in grades K-6.  My three children will spend 13 cumulative years at one elementary school.  The staff there is like our second family and this stability and personal relationship is a unique treasure in 2014.

When our students move to middle school they have incredible options.  Within our traditional middle school programs we offer many more choice options for students than do our neighboring school districts.  We also offer an alternative lottery-based middle school in Phoenix.  Our high schools provide an array of choices.  We pride ourselves in offering an incredible breadth of curricular and co-curricular options for our high school students.  Likewise our Linworth Alternative program has been a benchmark in alternative education for almost 40 years.

Under Dr. Tucker’s leadership Worthington’s academic performance as measured by standardized tests has never been stronger.  But we’re about so much more.  We still value recess time for our elementary students and we take time out of each day for the arts and physical education. We’re a “both/and” school district.  We won’t sacrifice what we believe is good for students in order to score a few points more on tests (that’s the “either/or” approach.)

As we move forward my commitment is that Worthington will continue to get better in every aspect of schooling.  In a competitive marketplace people will choose Worthington Schools for their children not only because our offerings are second to none, and the quality and rigor of our offerings is outstanding, but they’ll choose Worthington because every member of our staff is committed to building a personal relationship with our families and is therefore committed to do whatever is necessary for our students to succeed.

In the near future I will meet with Dr. Tucker and the board of education and we will begin to map out the future.  I anticipate the need to study our enrollment trends and our facilities.  I’d like for us to engage our community in strategic planning to guide the next several years of our work.  We’ll continue to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and we’ll work to make certain every dollar spent has a positive impact on students and the community.

Today I am totally and completely humbled.  I stand upon the shoulders of the great educators who have made Worthington a special place.  In particular my life has been touched by Anne Heffernan, Jeanne Paliotto, Paul Cynkar, Jim McElligott, Mark Glasbrenner, Melissa Conrath and Thomas Tucker.  There are many others who have come before us and there will be many more in the future.  I stand surrounded by a group of talented, caring, and committed administrators, teachers, and education support professionals.  I love Worthington Schools!  My goal everyday will be to give back to this community that has given me so much and to give forward to the next generation.

As we make daily strides we will do so For Worthington!  Not for ourselves, but For Worthington.  For the kids of Worthington!  For the community of Worthington Schools.  For those who have come before us in Worthington.  For my neighbors whose kids have come and gone.  I look forward to partnering with you to make Worthington the best school district in Ohio.  FOR WORTHINGTON!

Respectfully,

Trent H. Bowers, Ed.D.

If you’re on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook please tag your Worthington related posts with #ForWorthington as we work together to make Worthington the best school district/community in Ohio.

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Significant Progress Award

images (1)Good News! On behalf of Battelle for Kids and the Worthington Community, I am pleased to inform you Worthington Schools has been awarded not one but two SOAR Awards for High Progress:  Significant Progress District ( A district must be among the top districts of all participating SOAR districts, based on the 2014 annual district composite index. Grades 4-8 math and reading data are included in this analysis.) and High Progress School (Grades 4-8) for McCord Middle School (A school must be among the top schools of all participating SOAR schools, based on the 2014 annual school composite index. Grades 4-8 math and reading data are included in this analysis.).

To help celebrate our accomplishments, Battelle for Kids will recognize Worthington Schools, along with other distinguished recipients, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on November 10, 2014.

As always, thanks for your dedication and commitment to our students and community.

- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent

 

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Education Support Professionals

FullSizeRenderToday, Friday October 17th was a day off for students in Worthington.  Likewise it was a day off for teachers in Worthington.  Conversely for our education support professionals (administrative assistants, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, etc…) today was a day of professional development all scheduled at Worthington Kilbourne High School.

Beginning at 7:00 A.M. this morning our support professionals gathered for a full day.  To kick-off the day former Worthington teacher Scott DiMauro spoke with the support staff in a general session about what it means to be a team.  He taught about the six characteristics of effective teams (clarity of purpose, unity, diversity, loyalty, responsibility and results.)  Scott’s message was both personal and inspirational.  Following Scott, retired Worthington teacher Dr. Gary Moore expanded on his vision around teamwork.  Dr. Moore who is the founder of SuperGames set the stage for training around communication, collaboration and problem solving.  By 9:00 A.M. it had already been an amazing day of learning and we were just getting started.

Today our support professionals spent time training in multiple areas.  They received specific and functional training in how to support a safe culture in Worthington Schools.  They learned strategies to help de-escalate student behavior and they learned more about helping students in poverty.  Many support staff deepened their knowledge of Google Apps and thus they’ll be better able to support our three-year technology plan.  And…some staff even worked with the fire department on fire safety and the emergency usage of our fire extinguishers (I wanted to use the fire extinguisher but they were rightly concerned about my ability to aim…)

In school districts we often see the face of the Superintendent or Principal on publications.  We’re likely to think about the teacher of our children.  Sometimes, we forget who really makes schools happen everyday.  We don’t readily think about the people who begin work before the sun comes up, who do the jobs that often others don’t want to, and who live in the shadows happily without the recognition or public accolades.  In Worthington we have over 400 such education support professionals who go above and beyond to serve the community and allow schools to open each day.

Today our support professionals invested their time in learning.  On a beautiful fall day they spent their day inside learning and getting better together.  As a Worthington employee I’m proud to work with this team.  As a Worthington parent I’m blessed that my kids are taken care with the aid of this team.  Today was a good day of learning and it reminds me that all of us need to take a minute and thank our support professionals for the work they do to allow Worthington Schools to educate all children.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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The Proposed 2015-2016 School Calendar

CalendarAt the regularly scheduled Worthington Board of Education Meeting on Monday, October 13th the board will be asked to review the proposed 2015-2016 school calendar.  This will only be a first reading of the calendar.  Over the month of October community feedback will be solicited and the Board of Education will be asked to vote for the final calendar at the November 12th meeting.  The calendar that is being proposed is “Option B” of the three options that were created for staff and community input.

Creating the school year calendar is a difficult process that attempts to serve many different masters.  How much time in school will students have before state mandated testing?  Are the first and second semesters as close to even as possible so that semester classes at the high school receive equal instructional time?  Can we create a calendar that allows high school final exams to be held before winter break so that students don’t have to study and stress over the holidays?  Can we schedule to same spring break as Ohio State and still end a quarter with spring break?  How can we minimize disruptions for families and create blocks of time for families to be together?  These are only some of the questions that we attempt to answer.

Our community has strong feelings about when school starts and ends.  Many parents of elementary students would like to see school begin later in August and go into June.  The challenge with this is creating enough instructional time before state assessments.  Many high school parents are more concerned with even semesters and finals occurring before winter break.  In order for this to happen school must begin earlier.

In the three calendar options that were presented “Option C” began school on August 12th.  Elementary parents have almost a visceral negative reaction to this.  But this is the start date some of our surrounding districts have gone to because it creates even semesters and ends those even semesters at the winter holiday break.  Our recommendation of “Option B” is a compromise position.  It begins school a week later but does offset the semester days.  Finals will still occur before the holiday break but it does create an additional challenge for high school students learning the semester material in a condensed period of time. (The difference between Option A  and Option B were how finals would be structured for high school students second semester.  There was some thought that taking a few finals on Friday would be an advantage because a student could study for two, and then have the weekend to focus on the next two or three finals.  In the end, Option B has a straight three day finals period.)

There is no calendar that works for everyone.  We believe this calendar is a good instructional calendar that will serve Worthington students well.  Here are some additional facts about the calendar that is being proposed:

In developing the school year calendar the goal was to create a calendar that:

  • Provides Worthington students the best opportunity to grow and achieve
  • Has consistent instructional blocks of time
  • Has as many five day weeks as possible
  • Is free from late-starts and early-releases to increase consistency
  • Works with the state testing calendar
  • Meets community expectations for schooling in Worthington

Recommended Calendar:

  • The First Day of School is Wednesday August 19th
  • Winter Holiday is a full two weeks beginning Friday December 18th.  Students return Monday January 4th
  • Spring Break is March 18th – March 25th
  • The Last Day of School is Wednesday May 25th

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

 

 

 

 

 

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Congratulations Worthington!

Dear Worthington Community,

I would like to congratulate our entire school community for the tremendous value-added gains over the last few school years.

For the second year in a row,  we earned an overall “A” in value-added (student growth) on the state report card.

Additionally, we received an “A” for growth in gifted students, students with disabilities and the lowest 20 percent, respectively.

Since 2011-12, we have strengthened our commitment to student growth. This persistence in our focus  is paying dividends: Out of more than 800 traditional school districts and charter schools, we were ranked #218 in 2010-11, #89 in 2011-12,  #50 in 2012-13 and #26 in 2013-14.

When we work together for our students’ success, we make a difference.

Congratulations to everyone, especially our teachers, for going the extra mile for the children of Worthington by embedding highly effective instructional strategies in your classrooms!

- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent

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Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

Warrior Run KidsIt’s been said that “not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”  Our last blog post “Progress” discussed some of our measured results on the 2013-2014 district report card.  But how do you measure events that capture the imagination and the passion of a community?  Events where teachers from all across Worthington come together with parents and other community volunteers to provide a unique, cool, opportunity for kids and adults.  How do you measure the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run?

A friend of mine who teaches in a high-performing neighboring district but who lives in Worthington, posted the following on her Facebook page along with pictures of her child’s participation in the Warrior Run.  She posted, “Reason #427 why I Love Worthington Schools!”

On Friday night we had over 1,000 registered participants in the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run.  There were easily two or three times that many people on the property of Granby Elementary and McCord Middle School.  If you’re not familiar with the Warrior Run the registration for the event describes the event like this,  “This Worthington Elementary Wellness Event is bound to be like no other – Are you up for the challenge???  This  “Mile of Mayhem” adventure will push each individual to the limits with a unique course filled with multiple obstacles and challenges along the way.  Whether it’s climbing over barriers, ducking through tunnels, or crawling through mud – everyone is guaranteed to have a blast.”

And, have a blast they did.  Teachers from elementary schools from across Worthington worked to create the course and the multiple obstacles.  A school principal grilled hot dogs, (so he could get out of crawling through mud), a retired Worthington teacher helped with registration and Fleet Feet Sports ran the event.  Students from every elementary in Worthington participated in the run.  Some ran with friends while others ran with a parent.  Everyone who participated pushed themselves across the fields, through tunnels, over wood walls and everyone crawled through mud.  No one left clean and no one wanted to.

In today’s public education we focus on many things.  But no state report card, value-added data, or student learning objective (SLO) can measure the impact of this event.  This event connects with kids and parents in a different way.  It helps everyone discover their own inner strength and creates a level of confidence in our kids that will transfer to many other areas.  In Worthington this event is just another way we strive to engage the whole child and our community.  We want our students to be well-rounded by providing opportunities for wellness and for the entire Worthington community to come together aiding this mission.

If you’d like to see pictures from this awesome, amazing, super cool event, you can check them out, here, here, here and  (caution:  this last image may be disturbing.. click here at your own risk).

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Progress

imagesSeveral years ago in Worthington we determined that our goal was “Annual growth for ALL students and catch-up growth for those behind”  That meant that wherever a student started we intended them to grow at least one academic year.  In addition for those students who were behind where they needed to be, we intended to provide them the necessary intervention and supports for those students to “catch-up.”

At Monday, September 22nd’s regularly scheduled Board of Education work session Director of Academic Achievement and Growth Jennifer Wene and Superintendent Thomas Tucker discussed with the Board of Education Worthington’s 2013-2014 district report card issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

The report card is a comprehensive document that mostly measures the achievement and growth of Worthington students based upon standardized testing.  While we value every measure on the report card and will strive to get better in every area the measure that most closely aligns with our goal of “Annual growth for ALL students and catch-up growth for those behind” is the Progress measure.

In Ohio public school districts are ranked by The Ohio Department of Education.  Worthington’s Progress measure which received all “A’s” on the report card puts Worthington in the top 3 percent in the state for progress. This says that, In Worthington, our teachers are helping our students grow better than 97 percent of other Ohio schools.

There is no simple formula to create growth in every student.  However, in Worthington you will see following formative instructional practices in every classroom, every day:

  • Clear Learning Targets – (The learning targets are visible to the students, referenced throughout the lesson and are in student-friendly language.)
  • Effective Feedback – (There are two types: success and intervention.  This occurs during the learning; does not do the thinking for the student, and limits corrective information to the amount student can act on in their next steps in learning.)
  • Evidence of Student Learning – (The assessments will match the learning targets.  There should be four categories: selected response, written response, performance assessment, personal communication.)
  • Student Ownership – (Our students set goals; they track and share their learning progress.)

We believe that these student-centered practices along with school cultures and climates that support student learning, and most importantly teachers who build positive and significant relationships with their students, allow Worthington students to exceed their expected levels of growth.

Our goal is annual growth for ALL students and catch-up growth for those behind.  That quest is never finished!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

 

 

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