The Midas Touch

blogphoto2A few days ago on my way to work, I was driving north on High Street from my house to the WEC.  When I looked at the dash on my car I noticed the low tire pressure light was on. No problem I thought and I pulled into the BP station to add air.  Somehow as I attempted to add air I actually decreased my tire pressure from 29 PSI to 24 PSI. (36 would be the right number for my tires.) Something was not working correctly.  So, I jumped back in my car and drove south on High Street to the Speedway to use their pump. Their pump worked great but I couldn’t get the tire pressure gauge to work. I decided to just “eye-ball” the tire pressure.  Things looked good so I got back in the car and headed to work.

My car has a tire pressure monitor that tells what the tire pressure is for each tire.  As I drove towards the WEC, I realized my “eye-balling” plan was not working and the monitor now read that I had 50 PSI in one tire, 42 PSI in another, etc…  Apparently, I needed the gauge. So, I went back to BP. Their system was effective at taking the air out of my tires the first time and thus I thought I could just do it again and get each tire to the correct PSI.  As I’m certain you can ascertain, I failed miserably and now all four tires were either above or below the PSI they were supposed to be at. Additionally, my hands were covered in black stuff, my finger was bleeding and I was trying not to wipe either on my suit.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if I would laugh or cry.  But, I clearly couldn’t take care of this simple task myself so I drove to Midas.  I walked in sheepishly and explained to the young man what a mess I had made of my tire pressure.  He didn’t flinch. He didn’t make fun of me. He just said, no problem. I pulled my car around and within two minutes all four tires were even and set to the correct PSI.  I asked him what the cost was and he said, “no charge. Tire pressure is always free at Midas.” I wanted to hug the man but I’m not really a hugger and he didn’t look like one either.  

Here’s the thing…at one point or another we all need someone we spend time with to be like Midas.  We all need a friend or a colleague to bail us out when we’ve made a mess of things. Worthington Schools is a community of learners and as a community, we all need to rely on one another as we do life together.  This week let’s all endeavor to be Midas for someone in our community.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Why do we need more space?

IMG_7747I have lived in the same Worthington neighborhood for the past 13 years.  When my wife and I got married 24 years ago, we didn’t envision owning a split-level house built in 1958.  However, we love Worthington and so the house we own matters less than where it sits and much less than whom we get to raise our children around.  Apparently, many others feel the same way. In the last month, two of my neighbors put their houses up for sale. Both received multiple offers the day their house went on the market.  If current trends hold true, both houses will likely be sold to families with young children and eventually, that will increase the enrollment of Worthington Schools.

Since 2012 Worthington Schools has grown by around 1,200 students.  We opened this school year at 10,363 students. We last had that many students in Worthington Schools in 2001.  From 2001 to 2012 enrollment dropped by 1,200 students as all new home building went north to Delaware County. Our enrollment began to decline around 1998.  Over the last six years, we have seen incredible housing turnover throughout the school district resulting in similar enrollment growth. During the enrollment decline, we reduced many teaching positions and even closed some schools.  Now with our growth and those previously closed schools serving students in different ways we need to add staff back and add capacity to serve our students.

Since Worthington Schools once held 10,400 students in 2001 and currently holds 10,363 students in 2018, many people have asked me why we do not have the capacity needed to educate students in our current buildings?  This is a very fair question and one that is best explained by a national shift over the last 20 years to more specialized mandated programming. We don’t educate students in Worthington the same way we did in 2001, and for the most part, you wouldn’t want us to.

Here are some numbers to help you understand the shift that has occurred:

Total Enrollment:  2001 – 10,400 / 2018 – 10,363

Special Education Students:  2001 – 920 / 2018 – 1,512

Special Education Teachers:  2001 – 61 / 2018 – 104

Autism Classrooms:  2001 – 0 / 2018 – 13

English Language Learner Teachers:  2001 – 9 / 2018 – 19

Preschool Classrooms:  2001 – 3 / 2018 – 17

All-Day Kindergarten Classes: 2001 – 0 / 2018 – 18

All-Day Kindergarten is an optional program that we choose to offer because we think it adds value to our families.  All of our special education (including preschool) and English language programs are programs that we value and think are outstanding for our students.  They’re also mandatory programs. Each of our specialized programs takes up more classroom space than our regular education programming did in 2001. Thus, we utilize space differently and need more capacity for our programs than we did back then. 

As houses continue to turn over in Worthington like they are turning over on my street, our enrollment projections show that we can expect to grow by at least another 800 students over the next five years.  We all understand why – we believe Worthington is a great community to raise our kids in. As a school district, we need additional educational space to meet the needs of today’s learners!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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A Simple Lesson

IMG_1541It’s been over ten years since Colonial Hills elementary began their elementary cross-country team.  It started as a way to motivate students to run at recess and be more active during their outside time.  For some students that is still the goal. Others like to compete. Today many of our elementary schools offer running clubs that run either at recess or after school.

Thomas Worthington High School Principal, Pete Scully, recently shared a story about his son’s experience.  He said, “My six year old, James, is a first grader at Worthington Estates. He’s a happy-go-lucky kid who’s a huge fan of recess and lunch. So, I was kind of surprised when he decided he wanted to sign up for the voluntary exercise club, Rockin’ Recess Runners. It’s not that he isn’t active; it’s just surprising that he’d want his unstructured time structured. At any rate, the program started, and he was having a blast.

On Thursday last week, he experienced his first elementary fun run. It’s a one-mile course mapped out in the Thomas Worthington flats. With a huge group of young athletes, you can imagine the sea of minivans, parents, grandparents and siblings. It was sunny and unseasonably hot.

As the K-3 race began, a small group took off in a dead sprint. It was likely not the best long-term strategy, but they could definitely say they were leading the race at one point.

James had a more measured pace with a healthy mixture of running and walking. He picked up his pace when he heard someone cheering for him and calling him by name. He would frantically search for the person cheering, then, wave and say hi, with a huge smile.

James did a good job of reminding me that sometimes all kids are looking for is an adult who is present and cheering for them. He didn’t ask for strategy, help running the race, or tips to be more successful. He simply wanted to know someone was there rooting for him and that someone cared.”

It was a simple lesson, but one that we all need from time to time.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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You’ll see what you look for…

FiatLike many of you, my oldest daughter was in preschool (the green room at St. John’s) when we moved to Worthington.  Time flies! That same daughter has now completed driver’s education and will soon be a licensed driver.

For our family, having a third driver in the house necessitated looking at our vehicles.  We owned an 11-year-old minivan that was duct taped together and didn’t sound very good but was still running somewhat faithfully.  We also owned my F-150 super crew pick-up truck. None of our vehicles was a great vehicle for a teenage driver in the city, and thus when a friend posted a car for sale on Facebook, my wife and daughters decided they had to have it.

The vehicle was a little Fiat 500L.  I had never seen this car, but my family was familiar with it and thought it would be a great third car for driving around Worthington.  I Googled it. I read some reviews online about the car. We drove it. We had it assessed at CarMax. Eventually, we bought it. My family is happy, and I’m glad that the Fiat is small enough that it fits in our garage.  (Mind you fitting it into the garage necessitated a long day of actually cleaning out the garage but that could be a blog unto itself.)

Here’s the thing.  I’d never seen the Fiat 500 that we purchased before even though a friend of ours had been driving it around town and I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed another one on the road.  However, since we purchased it, I see them everywhere. There’s the blue one parked behind the Worthington Inn each day. There was a tan one parked in front of La Chatelaine last week.  I was behind a white one on High Street this morning. I’m sure they’ve been there all along, but in life “you see what you look for!” Because I’m looking for Fiats, I see them everywhere.  Previously I paid no attention to such cars.

“You see what you look for” can be applied to all areas of our life.  Are we looking for the good in others? Are we looking for things we can be thankful for?  Alternatively, are we looking for things to be critical of or frustrated by? What we look for we will find.

This week let’s commit to looking for the good in our teachers, coaches, and students.  Then let’s take a minute a share the good we see. You’ll see what you look for!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

(BTW:  Many of you have asked, I did sell my truck.  I’m now driving a little eco-friendly Hyundai Elantra.  It allows us flexibility as my next daughter begins to drive and it’s much easier to park.)

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They’re doing the best they can…

AraceIn the United States, we love our sports.  That’s as true in Worthington as it is anywhere else.  Worthington is a school district that offers one of the most robust co-curricular programs in Ohio.  We field 32 varsity sports teams at each high school, and we desire to have our students connected to their peers in school and outside of school in a co-curricular.

With that said, in today’s (8/29/18) Columbus Dispatch, columnist Michael Arace writes about the critical shortage of officials for sporting events throughout the state of Ohio and nationally.  It’s a two-fold problem. The first is positive, as there has been rapid growth in youth sports such as lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, ice hockey, etc… While officials for football and basketball have remained steady, there are not enough people trained to officiate the growth of other sports.  As a school district that has offered these sports for many, many years, we see this shift and feel the shortage of trained officials.

The second trend is more disturbing but real.  Many people who sign up to officiate games leave within the first two years because of the abuse they hear from parents, coaches and even athletes.  People are posting what they believe are “bad calls” on YouTube and other social media sites. Even here in Worthington, we had several incidents last year of our parents following officials into the parking lot to berate an official whom they believe made a bad call.

Here’s the deal, officials make bad calls.  Some officials make many bad calls. Watching sometimes is hard.  However, as fans, coaches, and athletes, if we want the games to be able to continue, we need to take a step back, relax, count to ten, or a thousand if necessary, and realize we’re only watching a game.  (I’ll be the one counting to 1,000. I may or may not still be harboring hard feelings about a field hockey call five years ago. Thus, I get it. It’s not always easy, and I struggle with perspective sometimes too.)  One thing is certain. The officials are doing the best they can and if we can’t control ourselves we won’t have officials or be able to run our games.

In Worthington, let’s together commit to treating our officials well and thanking them for their efforts.  If you’d like to apply to officiate games or you know someone who you believe would be good as an official they can apply at OHSAA.org/officiating/permits.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Yep, It’s Hot!

WilsonHillEach morning before work I attempt to run a few miles.  Run may be a relative term but I do attempt to put one foot in front of the other.  This morning when I went out to run at 5:00 A.M. my thermostat said that it was 75 degrees out.  My first thought was “yuck!” My second thought was, “this is ridiculous!” But, it was my third thought that I’d actually reflect on and that thought was “in February you’ll be dreaming of a warm morning when you can go outside in just shorts and a t-shirt.”

It’s really warm today and some schools around Ohio are having to close because of the prolonged heat.  But, it’s certain that sometime later this school year we’ll be dreaming of “really hot” weather. We’re lucky in Worthington Schools.  All of our classroom spaces are air-conditioned. (We do have multiple gymnasiums that are not air-conditioned and will be very warm today and tomorrow. We may need to move students from those spaces and hold alternative learning of some kind.)  Now, while we do have AC throughout our schools I recognize that within our schools our heating and cooling can be very uneven. We have large buildings and aging infrastructure. Some areas are warm. In other areas you may need a sweater because they’re so cold.  In our office Christy and I share a thermostat. She’s forever turning it up. If it’s good for her I’m in my office sweating through my shirt. If it’s good for me she’s running a space heater under her desk. But, when it comes to the heat, “Big things Big, Small things Small.”  We’re lucky, for us in Worthington heat today is a small thing.

In addition, as I reflect on our theme of “Your Words Matter” for this year, I’m struck by what I allow my mind to think about and focus on also matters.  It’s clear to me that you see what you look for in life and my words often reflect my mindset. If I look for the good in our schools I see good everywhere.  Unfortunately if I look for the bad, I see that too. Yep, it’s hot, but today, I choose to be thankful for warm weather, schools and homes with air conditioning, and the beginning of another great school year in Worthington.  Who has it better than us…..?

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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R.I.P. Coach

Seaman-jpgFormer Worthington High School teacher and football coach, Bob Seaman, passed away last week at the age of 87.  Coach Seaman had a long and distinguished coaching career that included stops in Massillon, at the college level at Wichita State and at Worthington High School from 1983 – 1991.  Coach Seaman coached Worthington High School’s only undefeated team in ’83, won several OCC Championships, and State playoff appearances, was State semifinalist in ’86. His 1990 team qualified for the playoffs but was denied their shot by an OHSAA ruling.  (I may still be a tad bitter over that 1990 ruling…)

As an athlete at Worthington High School, I had the privilege to play for Coach Seaman on the ‘88, ‘89 and ‘90 teams.  Coach Seaman will be forever remembered as a ‘Player’s Coach who inspired, motivated, and lit up a dark room whenever he entered one, and always had your back.   His mantra was Pride, Poise, Team and he ascribed to the Woody Hayes philosophy of offensive football. (When I played small college football my bio in the program stated that I led my high school football team in receptions.  It left out the fact that I had only actually caught seven passes. Coach Seaman realized Dwight Pickens could run the ball a bit and he made the correct strategic decision to give that young man the rock!)

Many life lessons were taught by Coach’s leadership, as well as the love for his family.  But, coaching was different in the 80’s than it is today. Coaches motivated in different ways and while there was no question Coach Seaman cared deeply about his players.  It was common during his time to use colorful descriptive language and tests of “manhood” that we wouldn’t condone today.

In our athletic programs in Worthington Schools we ascribe to the InsideOut Initiative (the purpose of the InsideOut Initiative is to transform the current “win-at-all-costs” sports culture where the value is often  defined by the scoreboard, into one that defines and promotes sports as a human growth experience) and as such, we value sports because we believe students who are involved acquire something meaningful through their participation.

  • Sports engage more individuals, families, and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion. Three out of four American families with school-aged children will have at least one child play an organized sport— approximated 45 million children.
  • Sports present countless teachable moments where ethical values such as empathy, moral courage, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others can be developed.
  • Sports connect students to caring adults in their learning community who foster social-emotional intelligence and academic success.
  • Sports provide students with opportunities for moral, social, emotional, and civic growth.

However, one of the great myths in our culture is that participation in sports alone builds and develops character, as if doing a handstand, running a race, hitting a curveball, or simply suiting up are sufficient enough to strengthen a young person’s moral fiber.

Through our co-curricular program, we have a tremendous opportunity to provide students with growth opportunities that will sustain them beyond physical skill development and the ability to play and win a game.   Joe Ehrmann states it best when he says, “There’s two kinds of coaches in America: You’re either transactional or you’re transformational. Transactional coaches basically use young people for their own identity, their own validation, their own ends. It’s always about them — the team first, players’ needs down the road.

And then you have transformational coaches. They understand the power, the platform, the position they have in the lives of young people, and they’re going to use that to change the arc of every young person’s life. And the great myth in America today is that sports builds character. That’s not true in a win-at-all-costs culture. Sports doesn’t build character unless the coach models it, nurtures it and teaches it.”

In Worthington Schools, we desire to use sports to transform students’ lives.  We want our coaches to model character, nurture it and teach it. Coach Seaman did that for many of the athletes he worked with and many of us who played for him will be forever grateful for his investment in our lives and the lessons we learned.  R.I.P. Coach.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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