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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The Worthington Advantage

FullSizeRender (2)There are many incredible advantages that we enjoy by living and working in Worthington Schools.  Recently I had an experience that reminded me of that.

On Monday, September 22nd I attended the Battelle for Kids Leading and Learning Collaborative Workshop that was designed to help Ohio public school leaders connect and share best practices for helping students grow and achieve.  The first session that I attended was titled: “Promising Practices for Attracting Diverse Educator Talent” and it was led by Battelle for Kids leaders Tracy Najera and Emily Douglas.

Tracy Najera supports Battelle for Kids collaboration with the Ohio Department of Education and 23 school districts from across Ohio that are part of the state’s $52.7 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. Tracy has over a decade of experience in education policy research and analysis. She began her career in education with the Columbus Public Schools and Children’s Defense Fund. Subsequently, Tracy worked with KidsOhio.org as an education policy analyst, focusing on school facilities, achievement gap issues, and urban education.  Most recently, Tracy served as Section Chief for the education group in the Ohio Office of Budget and Management where she conducted policy research and development and provided high-level advice and analysis on statewide education reform initiatives.  Most importantly, Tracy is a Worthington resident and the mom of two Worthington students!

Emily Douglas is a Battelle for Kids’ Human Capital Director who explores issues, trends, and promising practices for human capital in education.  Her writing is featured in Education Week’s K-12 Talent Manager Blog.  She covers strategies for recruiting, selecting, developing, and recognizing educators and non-instructional staff in schools.  Emily is a graduate of Worthington Kilbourne High School!  She attended Liberty Elementary and McCord Middle School as she progressed her way through Worthington Schools!

In Monday’s conference I learned the research around attracting diverse educator talent and I learned eight proven strategies to increase diversity (this is a major focus of ours as a school district.)  Incredibly I learned these things from two talented professionals invested in Worthington Schools.

In Worthington we have many advantages.  One of those advantages is the number of talented professionals like Tracy and Emily who desire to help our school district improve and to make certain all Worthington students succeed.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

If you’d like to read about another Worthington Advantage check out my personal blog: Exponential Impact

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Turning a Negative Into a Positive

24516088_BG1A couple of more words on “Yik Yak.”  A normal blog on this site is read by three to four hundred people.  At this point our “We don’t need Yik Yak in Worthington” post has been read by almost four thousand people.  It’s good to see that parents have passed the word on to others and moving forward it will be important to educate one another on what is out there that affects our children.  The world of technology applications is constantly changing.  While it was Yik Yak last week it will be something new next month (look out for anonymity apps Whisper and PostSecret as well).  Our vigilance is needed.

Most often even things that are negative have positives.  In this case the positive is just another example of how our current group of students amazes me.  While I believe kids today have unique challenges that my generation didn’t face, I also believe that they often handle those challenges in more positive ways than my generation would have.  While some of what was posted on Yik Yak was vile and gross, our students today are much more compassionate, accepting of one another, and free from the cliques and social groups that dominated my generation.  While today we have an occasional fight in our schools, back in the late 80’s when I grew-up in Worthington, a normal Friday night was to gather at the Continent and fight anyone who had on a letter jacket of another color.  Today’s kids are much more likely to hang-out with kids from multiple schools.

Before Yik Yak was “digitally fenced in,” our student leaders at Thomas Worthington asked principal Jim Gaskill if they could address their classmates.  I’d like to share with you the statement they read over the PA system to their peers:

Hi, this is ______.  I have a couple things to talk to you guys about.  I believe I speak for the whole student body when I say this Yik Yak nonsense needs to stop.  For those of you that are unaware of the situation, Yik Yak is an app that allows people to post messages anonymously, therefore not taking responsibility for the hurtful things they are saying.  In the past couple of days, this app has been abused to the point where people are really getting hurt.  We are better than this, you don’t really mean those things you are saying, and please recognize that what you’re posting truly affects the individuals you are talking about.  We are a family here at Thomas Worthington, and especially on a day like today, when we remember a time of suffering that brought us all together as a country, this needs to stop now. As a school, we are working on getting the app blocked, so if you have it downloaded, please delete it and if you don’t, keep it that way.  The only way that this is going to go away is if we recognize the impact of our words and take responsibility for the things we say.  Thank you.  Stay GussStrong and please make an effort to make today a great day to be a Cardinal!”

I’d rather students don’t have to deal with apps like Yik Yak.  However, when they do it can be a learning experience.  And when that learning includes students policing one another and the student body as a whole making a decision to rise above the negative, even Yik Yak can be turned into a positive situation.

We have great kids in Worthington! I’m proud that our student leaders had the courage to take a stand.  That learning will serve them well in the future.

Go Cards!  Go Wolves!  Go Newts!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

 

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