Happy First Day of School!

photoHappy first day of school!  It’s like a national holiday in Worthington!  Our buses start rolling before sun-up.  Young students with clean shoes and new backpacks wait anxiously at bus stops or walk briskly towards school.  Some middle school boys may even have taken a shower this morning and combed their hair (maybe.)  It’s going to be the first great day in what we believe will be a great school year in Worthington!

This year in Worthington we will focus on what it is that makes Worthington a special place for students.  Staff members will go out of their way to build personal relationships with students that help all students and families to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.  With relationships firmly built, we’ll encourage and push students to heights they may not currently believe are possible.  Our first focus is on the relationships.  At the end of the day, each and every Worthington adult will strive to make a positive difference in the lives of our students, their families, and this community.  It’s this commitment that is the Worthington difference!

On August 25th Worthington will roll out our three year technology plan with the Board of Education.  As school begins students will see faster internet speeds, high density wireless ports and updated switches and electrical capacity that allow for students to use their own devices.  We’ve worked hard to build a superhighway within our school district so that our students can utilize the technology tools of their choice in learning.  In addition all Worthington students in grades 2-12 have their own Worthington Google Apps for Education accounts.  These accounts will include email, calendar, docs, slides, drive, etc.  These web based tools will allow our students to work digitally, share their work simply with their teacher or peers, and collaborate in real time with their teammates. As the fall progresses 2,800 Chromebooks will drop into the Worthington ecosystem and students will have on demand mobile technology.  By utilizing a combination of Bring Your Own Device and Worthington supplied devices by 2017 our plan is for Worthington students to be 1:1 with their technology.

Due to Ohio HB 487 this year the class of 2018 has new graduation requirements.  As a result, the Class of 2017 (10th-graders in the 2014-2015 school year) will be the last students to take the current Ohio Graduation Tests. The new requirements take effect with students entering ninth grade this school year. Additionally, every student in the Class of 2018 and beyond will have the opportunity to take a nationally-recognized college admission exam free of charge in Grade 11. As the school year progresses we will continue to strive to implement high quality programs in all areas.  We’re attempting to grow the number of young women and minority students in our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs by partnering with the Women in Engineering Society and the National Black Engineering Association.  We’re also encouraging and providing support for more students to take high level Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Credit Plus classes.   When students graduate in May of 2015 we will make certain that they are College and Career Ready.

Worthington students K-12 will participate in co-curricular programs that enrich their lives.  The Colonial Hills cross-country course has been spruced-up and is ready for runners.  Coach Hopkins is challenging the football players at Thomas Worthington and Coach Irwin is excited to see her Lady Wolves on the soccer pitch.  For the last several weeks the marching bands from each high school have been practicing on the front lawns.  Drivers on 161 and Hard Road have been rolling down their windows to listen in.

The 2014-2015 school year is finally here.  It’s our great privilege to welcome the children and young adults of Worthington into our schools!  It’s going to be a great school year.  We promise.

- Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent



School Starts Monday!

images (1)The 2014-2015 school year officially begins in Worthington on Monday, August 18th.  (School begins tomorrow in Olentangy, Westerville and Grandview!) Here, all students in grades 1-12 will begin on Monday.  Kindergarten students will phase-in with half the class on Monday, the other half of the class on Tuesday, and all students K-12 will be in school by Wednesday the 20th. (Schools will communicate individual schedules.)

This year our elementary schools will all begin school on the 18th.  In previous years our elementary students began the first day with a “meet the teacher” and goal setting day.  While this day was an effective use of time for our students and teachers we felt like it was a significant burden for elementary parents who were asked to take time off of work during the day to come to school.  Therefore all of our elementary schools will be hosting “back to school” evenings this year previous to the first day of school and all students will begin on the 18th.

Also this year Worthington has implemented the “Where Everybody Belongs” (WEB) program to help middle school students transition from 6th grade to 7th grade. And, the Link Crew program which is a high school transition program that welcomes freshmen and helps them feel comfortable throughout the first year of their high school experience.  Thus, 7th grade students and 9th grade students have been asked to come in before the 18th to participate in these experiences.

Over the past week many parent groups have been donating time to help landscape our schools and make them ready for students. (We have awesome parents in Worthington and it’s really what makes this district special.  Thank You!)  Our teachers are back in the buildings and they’re working furiously to set-up learning spaces, communicate with students and parents, and plan for the first few weeks of school.

It’s been a great summer in Worthington.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the mild summer weather and spent time outdoors.  Within the school district we’re ready for summer to be over.  We’re a bit jealous of those school districts who start tomorrow.

Monday’s coming and we’re ready!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent



We are getting ready…

Hopefully, you are enjoying your summer and spending time relaxing with family and friends. Summer seems to pass more quickly each year, and in two weeks, we will gather to welcome the start of another school year in our dynamic school district.

During the previous academic year, our students made significant strides in and out of the classroom. Many staff members engaged in professional development activities and goal setting over the summer to assist the district in meeting the challenges of educating our students during the upcoming year.

The District’s maintenance, custodial, and grounds staff have been busy this summer performing annual repairs and maintenance in our buildings with an emphasis on improving safety and security. Our technology staff has worked tirelessly to upgrade our technology infrastructure and hardware. They will present the ‘District Technology Plan’ to board members and the community at the August 25, 2014 Board of Education meeting. Transportation staff has continued to spend many hours reviewing next year’s transportation needs with an eye toward improving efficiency. Please remember to thank these staff members who have worked extremely hard during the summer months in preparation for the 2014-2015 academic year.

At the beginning of each school year, our district staff members gather to welcome new staff, greet all of our returning staff, and share district highlights, and successes. We also strive to provide encouragement and enjoy a few laughs.

The theme of this year’s Convocation is “Commit, Connect, Contribute.” Convocation will be held Friday, August 15, in the Thomas Worthington High School Auditorium.

Please enjoy the remaining days of summer break.

Thomas Tucker, Superintendent


Let’s Have Lunch!

CAM00286Each Friday in July I have been having lunch at the Urban Coffee / Subway shop located at 7838 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus 43235 (The Bottom of the Hill).  Kudos to the nearly 20 students, staff, parents and community members who conversed with me today during “Lunch with the Superintendent.”  This type of engagement, even mid-summer, helps Worthington Schools to be a remarkable place.

Due to popular demand, I’m extending my lunch conversations by one more week.  I hope to see you next Friday!

- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent


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