One Month…

Outdoor EdWith the recent weather in Worthington it has felt like early autumn.  Day time temperatures have been in the 70′s and the nights in the 50′s.  The feelings of autumn have also brought the realization that the 2014-2015 school year in Worthington will begin in exactly one month!  We open our doors to all students on August 18th!

The summer months are full of activity across the school district.  At Slate Hill Elementary over 400 students attended K-3 summer reading intervention and elementary summer school for a full six weeks.  Our high school programs served another several hundred students in both traditional and online course work.

Construction projects identified in the 2012 bond issue are being completed.   Students in many buildings will come back to school with new flooring, freshly painted walls, and new furniture.  We’ll park cars and buses on new black-top, and we’ll be able to utilize a refreshed outdoor education building.

Back to school communication is being delivered to many families.  Wilson Hill Principal Matt Keller (@Mrkeller1) tweeted out (and posted on the school website) a mid-summer update.  At my house we purchased school supplies for the kids and they’re labeled and hidden away so they make it until August.

Over the next month new playground equipment will be installed at Granby and construction projects will wrap-up.  Athletic practices will begin, and teachers will return to the classroom.  We’re only one month away from the 2014-2015 school year.  It feels like autumn outside.  I can’t wait!

- Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent



18 Things That Matter Most in Worthington

image4This morning I met with Brookside Elementary principal Dan Girard.  Dan was dressed in cargo shorts and an athletic shirt because he had spent the morning driving south on I-71 to Children’s Hospital to retrieve library shelving that the hospital was donating to the school.  Dan found a box truck, moved the furniture himself, and was in my office before 9:00 A.M.  All in order to make Brookside a better learning environment for kids.

Principals in Worthington consistently go above and beyond in order to make a difference for our schools, our kids, and our community.  At our June leadership meeting with all district administrators Dr. Tucker, our Superintendent, shared the “18 Things That Matter Most in Worthington”  Here’s what he said”

*Great Administrators….
…Understand that people, not programs, determine the quality of the school and district
…Focus on serving the best interest of students even when that involves making tough decisions
…Are instructional leaders and have been in the trenches and know pedagogy
…Are great 21st century communicators who value input from members of the school community
…Hire and retain the very best teachers and support staff
…Create a positive atmosphere in their schools. They treat every person with respect. In particular, they understand the power of praise
…Value the “Whole child” above standardized assessments
…Approach their calling with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose
…Know the names of every student and staff member and take time to know parents and community members
…Are trustworthy and loyal to students, staff and colleagues and protects them from non-sense, but is not afraid to ask those who are not performing to leave the profession
…Find ways to get the job done by working with stakeholders to raise achievement
…Lead by example
…Are active listeners and know what motivates teachers
…Maintain a healthy balance between career and home
…Are risk takers, status quo is not good enough; Can do attitude
…Highlight the accomplishments of students and hard work of their staff
…Are visible in their buildings and in the community (at school and district academic and athletic events)
…Have a sense of humor and don’t sweat the small things

Dr. Tucker adapted his list from the work of Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitaker),  the original author of What Great Principals Do Differently  who was the  keynote speaker at the Ohio Association of Elementary Administrators conference this week when Granby Elementary was honored as a “Hall of Fame School.”

Great principals in Worthington wear many different hats.  Dr. Tucker articulated the important points.  Sometimes they also have to drive a box truck down I-71.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent


The Ohio District 6 Teacher of the Year

EhlersKellie-300x440Good News!  Worthington teacher Kellie Ehlers has been selected as the District 6 Teacher of the Year for 2015. District 6 includes 36 school districts in central Ohio, and each school district can nominate three teachers.  She now enters a competition among the eleven district winners across Ohio to be the 2015 Ohio Teacher of the Year, to be decided by Fall 2014.

This is the second time since 2011 that Mrs. Ehlers has been a finalist for Ohio Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Ehlers is a 27-year veteran educator who teaches Reading Recovery at Evening Street Elementary School. She also teaches small group reading and writing intervention, models instruction, teaches in classrooms, collaborates with and coaches other teachers. “My Reading Recovery training has given me an exceptional opportunity to learn, grow and meet many diverse needs,” Ehlers says.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Mrs. Ehlers is an intervention assistance team member and provides literacy professional development for teachers in her school and district.  On the district level, Kellie  serves as  a Primary English Language Arts Curriculum Liaison and helps to develop documents for classroom teachers.  On the state level, Mrs. Ehlers is a trained and credentialed evaluator under the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System model (OTES).  “She mentors other teachers to help them understand and effectively utilize the OTES model for their professional growth,” says Mary Rykowski, Principal of Evening Street Elementary School. At the national level, Kellie serves on the Reading Recovery Board of Directors.

In 2009, Mrs. Ehlers received the Gary Smith Compassionate Teacher Award from Worthington City Schools after she designed ProPELL to help volunteers assist English Language Learners and collaborated with district coach, Kelly Wegley, at Thomas Worthington High School to make it a reality.   The idea evolved into a school-wide, targeted, reading intervention lab. She also collaborated to create a learning lab at Sutter Park Elementary that includes a one-way mirror for student observation and professional development.

Kellie Ehlers is committed to applying innovative thinking, life-long learning, and collaborating with others so that all students can be successful.  We’re lucky to have Kellie as a teacher in Worthington!

- Thomas Tucker, Superintendent


Summer Reading

BooksToday is the last day of school for students in Worthington.  But, learning cannot stop for summer break. Research shows that reading 200 pages per week – that’s only 29 pages per day! – increases student achievement and promotes cognitive growth. Kids that spend just 30 minutes a day over the summer reading, and then discussing what they’ve read, are better prepared when school resumes in the fall.

Don’t worry, though, you’re not on your own when it comes to encouraging your child to read all summer long! You’ll have access to a number of exciting resources – including Raz-Kids – so your student can continue to listen to, read and record his stories, and continue building fluency and comprehension skills.

Worthington Schools has partnered with Worthington Libraries to offer you and your child another important resource: booklists for students in kindergarten through high school! Lists will be available at all three library locations and online.

This is a great time to mention Worthington Libraries’ Summer Reading Club, which starts May 31. Kids of all ages can read their way to free food and summertime fun, not to mention a chance to win some great prizes, by participating in the club, which runs May 31-August 2.

We need help to keep your child’s reading skills moving forward. We know we can’t do it alone. As a parent, YOU are your child’s most influential role model and Worthington Schools’ most important partner. Talk to your child about a summer reading plan and, together, complete the form below. Then, get ready for a summer full of exercise for the mind and body!

Along with the book lists, you will also find a Summer Instruction Plan & Partnership that can be used as resource for your students, community members, and your own families. Setting a goal and having a clear plan will ensure that students and our entire learning community keeps reading this summer!

Additionally, you will find a link for “My Ideal Bookshelf.” This graphic organizer (By Jane Mount & Thessaly La Force) is a great way to think about yourself as a reader! The empty bookshelf should be filled by YOU! You can include the books you PLAN to read this summer or you can include your most TREASURED and favorite reads! I encourage you to post these shelves and let the world know you as a reader!

Summer Instruction Plan & Partnership

My Ideal Bookshelf

Preschool/Kindergarten Summer Reading List

Grades 1 2 Summer Reading List

Grades 3 4 Summer Reading List

Grades 5 6 Summer Reading List

Middle School Summer Reading List

High School Summer Reading List

Please contact me with questions!

- Dr. Jamie Lusher, English Language Arts Coordinator

200 pages per week, only 29 pages per day, will increase achievement and promote cognitive growth!”




photo (56)On Sunday 675 members of the Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne class of 2014 graduated from Worthington Schools.  These graduates join the approximately 45,000 living alumni of Worthington Schools.  Sunday was the 135th Commencement of Thomas Worthington High School and the 23rd Commencement of Worthington Kilbourne High School.

Graduation is a special day.  It is a day that marks great accomplishment.  It is the end of an era for for special friendships and the beginning of a new and exciting phase for our graduates.

At every graduation invited speakers share words of wisdom with the graduates.  I found Board of Education President, Julie Keegan’s words to be most relevant on this day.  Julie acknowledged the students’ success.  As both a graduate of Worthington High School and as a parent of Worthington graduates, she knows first-hand how special this day is for everyone involved.  She spoke of showing gratitude to those who made this day possible – gratitude to parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, pastors, and special friends.  No graduate arrived at this day on their own without significant help and everyone lucky enough to be raised in a community such as Worthington has much to be thankful for.  Julie implored the graduates to express their gratitude.

Gratitude was the theme but Julie’s message on this day was that gratitude alone was not enough.  She told the graduates that they must express their gratitude without becoming complacent.  They must continue to work to make their college, their workplace, their military unit, and their community better places.  Gratitude is important but everyday is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of another human being and our graduates should leave Worthington “smiling because this happened” but also hungry to make their mark.

675 Worthington students have left our school district.  They’re well prepared both academically and socially to succeed in the next phase of their life.  Like many before them they’ve been molded in the long sloping halls of Thomas Worthington and by searching for the indoor pool at Worthington Kilbourne.

As an alumni of Worthington Schools I’m proud to be associated with these graduates.  If they express gratitude and guard against complacency they’re destined to make all of us proud.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent


The Worthington Academy – Update

acaSeveral months ago we proposed creating The Worthington Academy to provide an alternative educational pathway for high school students in Worthington.  I wanted to update you on the status of the proposed Worthington Academy which was presented to the Board of Education on March 24. You may view the presentation here.

A team of teachers and administrators created the proposal based on feedback from key stakeholders as well as researching best practices. The concept was met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm; however there are still elements of the program that need attention before we make it a reality. Our initial plan was to make the Academy an option for secondary students beginning next school year. Given the adjustments that still need to be made, we believe that it will be a reality, but not until the 2015-2016 school year.

If you have questions about the Worthington Academy, please contact Jeff Maddox at

- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent



“Bully 101″

photo pzMeeting students where they are is key to their social, emotional, and academic success. A piece of this puzzle is to allow them to be empowered in the learning process. We want to ensure in Worthington that we are teaching the whole child and providing each student a learning experience that meets his/her personal needs. Students are aware of their likes and dislikes, their own opinions, the things that they feel confident with, and the things that challenge them, as well as the dreams they have. Sometimes as adults we need to step back, let go, and empower our students to take charge of their own learning. When we are able to do this the results can be powerful.

Several years ago a group of empowered high school students from Worthington Kilbourne High School created the student led anti-bullying effort “One Leg At-A-Time.” This group is dedicated to eradicating bullying in our schools. From this student led effort similar “One Leg At-A-Time” groups have formed in each Worthington school.

As an outgrowth of “One Leg At-A-Time”, Evening Street 5th graders Zoe Hoctor and Peyton Bowers created their own anti-bullying campaign designed with Kindergarten to 2nd grade students in mind. Their presentation titled “Bully 101” helps our youngest students understand the difference between bullying behavior and behavior that is just “mean” and it provides students with strategies they can practice to stop these behaviors.

On Tuesday, Zoe and Peyton were empowered by the school principal at Evening Street Mrs. Rykowski, and by a trusted adult ally, Mrs. Zook, to present “Bully 101″ at an assembly of all K-2 Evening Street students. They fully led the assembly themselves. They dressed in their “Bully 101” t-shirts, they presented a PowerPoint presentation that they created on their own, and they solicited volunteers from the audience to help role play different situations that occur daily in our schools.

It’s normal developmental behavior for youth to resist what adults have to say. However, they often listen and act on what their peers have to say. Thus, the groups “One Leg At-A-Time” and “Bully 101” have profound impact on our school cultures.

Students and teachers working together create powerful learning environments that foster the success of all. We want our students to be engaged, challenged, and supported everyday they are with us. Empowering our students to take charge of their learning opens doors in all directions.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent