The “5 of 8″ Rule

wes-leadership-dayIf you follow education news in Ohio you’ve likely heard about the “5 of 8” rule.  There has been a great deal of reporting and advocacy on this subject.  You’ll find a few articles from the Columbus Dispatch here and here.

The Ohio Education Standards Committee updates rules about every five years. This year it chose to modify the “5 of 8” rule.   The “5 of 8” rule stated that for every 1,000 students in a district, the local school board must hire the equivalent of 5 full time service personnel.  Service personnel were defined art teachers, physical education teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, music teachers, social workers, and visiting teachers.

Proponents of the “5 of 8” rule believed that it was necessary to guarantee students in Ohio receive services in these areas.  Proponents of eliminating the rule believed that local school boards should be accountable to their community and have greater flexibility in designing their educational program.

In Worthington the “5 of 8” rule had almost no impact.  As a school district we employ many more personnel in these areas than was required under the old standards.  More accurately we value these areas and our community consistently has communicated their desire for robust programming in the arts, wellness and in support for students such as counselors, nurses and social workers.  Moving forward Worthington will continue to provide these important resources to our students.  Students and families will see no change in Worthington Schools because of the modification of this rule.

In Worthington we often quote Albert Einstein when he said “not everything that counts can be counted.”  We believe this!  We believe that arts and wellness education are critical components to help our students become well-rounded and not only college and career ready, but life ready.  We believe that our counselors, nurses and social workers are trusted adults that make a long-term positive difference in the life of our students.  We believe these teachers are difference- and memory- makers for our kids.

Worthington Schools strives to be a “both/and” school district.  A district that helps every student grow and meet their full potential.  If you’re concerned about the impact of the elimination of the “5 of 8” rule you need not be.  Our students will continue to receive the robust programming they have today.  That’s what makes Worthington special.

- Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Coming Soon

imagesIn the cold, bleak, Ohio winter that has come upon us quickly, it is easy to get lost in the mundaneness of it all.  You wake up in the dark, head home from work in the dark, and the days seem to be the same.  These are the times we wish for a different environment.  One we can feel good in.  One we can be rejuvenated by.  We wish for a place we could go to break the monotony and connect with ourselves again.

Last Monday night, the Worthington School Board granted that wish for some of our students when they gave the green light for the district to create the Worthington Academy Aspire Program.  Like its predecessors in alternative style education, Linworth and Phoenix Middle School, the Academy is designed to appeal to students who benefit from a non-traditional classroom setting.  The Aspire program will concentrate on three tiers of students who will be able to craft their pathway to success: (1) those who are under credited and are in danger of dropping out or not graduating.  (2) Students who have dropped out and/or are returning from an alternative educational setting, such as a charter or e-school, and (3) students who need various options in their pathway to graduation.

What sets The Aspire Program apart is its ability to meet appropriate educational, developmental and social needs for our students who are not finding success in one of the districts existing high schools.  These are students that may be in need of credit recovery opportunities, but they may also be students who experience high levels of anxiety in a traditional school environment.

We, as a district, believe that we have the ability to change students’ lives, and we should not ever waste an opportunity to do so.  Data collected in our district tells us a story about kids who need someone to help change their lives.  It is with this intention that we are ensuring a connection is made with our almost 600 high school students that are currently failing at least one of their core classes.  Initiatives have been taken to reach out to the 80+ students who left our district for alternative choices in the past year and reconnect with those families as well.  The creation of Worthington Academy will also support the growing number of students who are seeking comfort and guidance for their high levels of social and school-related anxiety.

Large collections of people have invested a great deal of time and effort to make the Worthington Academy a reality.  We began with a realization that we had a group of students who needed something they were not receiving, a group who needed to find themselves in a place of rejuvenation and self-belief.    We are incredibly appreciative of the Board of Education’s ability to see the need for the Academy and to fully support the initiative.  It has become obvious, yet again, that there is a high value placed on school choice and options by our board members and within our school community.  The students will see the immediate benefits of this program, but in the end, it is our entire community that prospers from the creation of the Worthington Academy.  Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  While we aren’t quite done, it no longer seems impossible, thanks to the continued support of so many people, and most importantly, the constant belief in our children.

High school students who are interested in attending the Academy Aspire program for 2015-2016 will meet with their school counselor through the normal scheduling process this winter to secure their seat.

- Jeff Maddox – Director of Innovation and School Support

The original Worthington Academy opened in Worthington in 1808.  Our newest version is a nod to this tradition of education.  To read more about the history of the Worthington Academy name check out the Worthington Historical Society website: http://goo.gl/EcPq8m

Check out this video of what the new Worthington Academy will look like from a facility standpoint when complete here.

 

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Thankful

FullSizeRender (1)On Sunday November 23rd, Worthington Board of Education Vice President Marc Schare tweeted “Glad to be in a school district that treats every student as an individual with unique strengths, challenges and dreams”  Since it’s Thanksgiving week I might change the word “glad” to the word “thankful” and Marc summed up my thoughts for this week perfectly.  We have much  to be thankful for in Worthington Schools.  Here are two examples:

Last week, I was able to witness the Worthington Hills 6th grade students perform the classic musical “Annie.”  The students, under the direction of Worthington Hills music teacher Kara Johansen, were flat out awesome!  In order to provide opportunity for all students, Kara chose the lead of Annie to be played by two different students, one for the morning performance and one for the evening performance.  I witnessed sixth grader Lauren Richner put on a stunning rendition.  She, along with her classmates, and the fifth grade students who built and managed the stage, provided a high-quality performance that they will likely remember the rest of their life.  (I was in one musical performance in my life.  The 1985 6th grade play at Worthington Hills.  Josh Ness starred in “The Music Man.”  I was a traveling salesman.  My one and only acting credit.)

I’m thankful that Worthington is a school district that values the whole child.  A school district that expects progress from all students and success on state assessments, but also a school district that is willing to take significant time out of the school day so that students have well-rounded experiences such as the Worthington Hills Sixth Grade Musical.

Last night the Worthington Board of Education gave the green light for the creation of the Worthington Academy.  The Academy Aspire program, under the leadership of Jeff Maddox, is being developed to provide an alternative educational setting for Worthington high school students that meets appropriate educational, developmental and social needs as well as providing connections with outside schools and agencies if the student desires.  This personalized program will allow students to complete their high school studies with a blend of online and face-to-face education in a small, individualized setting.

I’m thankful that the Worthington Board of Education supports this work in developing an alternative to serve our students who are at-risk in our traditional high schools, and I’m thankful that we’ll have a program in place for next year that will better support our students.

We have a lot  to be thankful for in Worthington Schools.  These are only two examples from the past week.  What are you thankful for this week?

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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AP® District Honor Roll

untitledOn behalf of the College Board and our wonderful community, I am pleased to congratulate Worthington Schools as one of 547 school districts in the nation recognized by the College Board with a place on its Fifth Annual AP® District Honor Roll for opening AP classroom doors to a significantly broader pool of students, while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher.

All schools that have earned the honor of being placed on the Fifth Annual AP® District Honor Roll the can be seen Here: 5th Annual AP® District Honor Roll – (http://professionals.collegeboard.com/k-12/awards/ap-district-honor-roll)

This is an inspirational benchmark for Worthington Schools.

Kudos to our  teachers, administrators and classified  staff for supporting the  continued growth and achievement in our students.

- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent

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Bring Your Own Device

FullSizeRender (4)Hopefully you’ve read about Worthington’s three year technology plan and better yet, you’ve begun to see that plan being implemented in each of our schools.  Earlier this school year we wrote a series of blog posts designed to explain this plan in depth.  (You can read part 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 here.)

The Worthington Schools Technology Plan calls for all Worthington students to have access to a personal mobile device by 2017. Worthington Schools will be providing mobile devices in schools at a ratio of one device for every 2.5 students. All elementary schools in Worthington currently meet these ratios.  We’ve begun our secondary school roll-out and this will continue into next school year.

In addition, Worthington Schools will be creating mobile device lending libraries at each school so that students who do not have their own device, or access to a device in their home, can check out a device from school and continue their learning at home.  Worthingway Middle School will be the first school to pilot a lending library beginning this month!

With the mobile device roll-out combined with lending libraries at each school, roughly 4,400 mobile devices will be available throughout our school district.  This is an outstanding start towards mobile learning for all students.  Our technology plan calls for the gap between 9,600 students and 4,400 devices to be filled with students bringing their own technology to schools.

Many students today are comfortable completing their schoolwork on a variety of devices.  Our students use smartphones, tablets, laptops and chromebooks successfully.  The technology plan should allow for any of these devices to be used at school.

As a school district the majority of the devices we are purchasing right now are chromebooks.  We find that the chromebook is fast, reliable and cost effective.  Because we are now a Google Apps for Education school district this is a very effective device for education.  Many parents have asked about purchasing a chromebook for their child to use at home and at school.  With that in mind we have created a chromebook purchasing flyer that should help families make purchasing decisions.

As a district we looked at partnering with a vendor to make purchasing simpler for our families.  In the end we determined that it is best if parents make their own purchasing decisions and use the vendor of their choice.

Not all families will decide that purchasing a device is right for their child and many of our families cannot afford to make this investment.  However, many in Worthington should consider purchasing a device which will help personalize their child’s education and provide them access to a wealth of digital learning materials.

This chromebook flyer is our first attempt at communicating good BYOD options for families to consider.  If you’re thinking about making a purchase for your child or your family, check it out here.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

Bring Your Own Device Flyer

 

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A Day of Learning

IMG_5676Yesterday was election day across the United States.  In Worthington because many of our schools are used as polling locations our students were not in school.  While students were home, our teachers and many of our support staff were at work.  We had a very productive day!

Long before our current academic standards were adopted, Margaret Mead wrote, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  In that spirit, 700+ Worthington teachers gathered on the Granby-McCord-WKHS campus and  engaged in our November 4th Fall Institute:  a district-wide “Day of Learning.”

The morning consisted of two learning blocks:  one with building colleagues and one choice session with colleagues from across the district.  Over 35 choice sessions offered opportunities for teachers to increase their skill in the use of resources such as Fundations, Stepping Stones, Pasco Sparks, and Google Apps for Education; to build their understanding of instructional approaches such as Universal Design for Learning; or to collaborate with colleagues around topics such as Literature for the K-3 Kodály (that’s music) Classroom and the development of integrated performance assessments in our world language courses.

With the ambiguity of the upcoming PARCC and AIR assessments looming large for our students and for our teachers, members of the Academic Achievement and Professional Development department partnered with building principals to deliver an interactive building session presentation.  The focus?  Regardless of grade level or subject taught, how are we ALL applying our knowledge of the rigor expected in the new standards to our daily instructional and assessment practices?  Conversation swirled around Bloom’s Cognitive Dimensions and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels, but the essence of the morning was stated clearly by a Worthington teacher:  “My main take away this morning is that we, as teachers, need to support our students by getting them to think about their thinking more critically and by giving them opportunities to share their thinking.”

If you happened to be driving on Hard Road around noon yesterday, you probably noticed teachers lined up to select from among the delicious options available from four different food trucks and then enjoying lunch and conversation with colleagues.  The afternoon was reserved for the ongoing work of Professional Learning Communities, many of which are focused on aligning curriculum and implementing best practices such as formative assessment, data analysis and application, literacy across content areas, and the building of background knowledge and vocabulary acquisition.

As educators, we are thankful for opportunities to learn together so that we can be better for our students.  Please look for evidence of us promoting deeper levels of thinking and working to make that student thinking visible.  And, if you happen to be on Twitter, check out #FI14 for some visible examples of yesterday’s work in Worthington Schools.

- Kelly Wegley, Coordinator of Academic Achievement and Professional Development

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#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, Tim 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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