The quest for straight A’s

A'sIn Sunday’s (12/9/18) New York Times Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton and the author of “Originals” and “Give and Take” and the host of the podcast “WorkLife,” wrote a compelling piece titled “What Straight A Students Get Wrong

For those of you who know me well I’ve been waiting for this research my entire life!!!  Seriously, I’ve been very open about my own struggles in school as a special education student who graduated in the bottom half of my class at Worthington High School in 1991.  This morning I called my mom to share that I’d had a plan the entire time and now some experts see my path as the path to greater success in life.

Obviously, that’s a stretch.  But the author’s point is that in striving for straight A’s we are often teaching students more about skills of conformity and meeting the expectations of the teacher than we are really teaching the necessary life skills for the future.  I see both sides of this argument. I believe that students need to learn to meet the expectations of their teacher just like I must meet the expectations of the Board of Education if I want to stay employed. I also believe we all still need to learn to meet deadlines, strive for excellence, etc.

I also see Dr. Grant’s point.  If the future is really about creating, about being able to adapt to rapid constant change and about collaborating with empathy, our current system of grading in school is unlikely to teach those skills.  Grinding towards all A’s is likely to help with college admission and potentially with college costs (which are both important) but the downside to the quest may be as great as the reward.

At tonight’s (12/10/18) Worthington Board of Education meeting we’ll be discussing our Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Credit courses.  It’s an interesting discussion. Our hope in Worthington is that we offer our students a broad array of advanced options and that our students will challenge themselves in courses they are passionate about.  We want our students to take risks and thus we don’t honor traditional valedictorians at our graduations because potentially that disincentivizes students to take risks in the classes they schedule.

Dr. Grant’s commentary should make us think.  I’ll have to ruminate on it but I’m now attempting to convince my mom that I was ahead of my time.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Vince

28Worthington Kilbourne High School opened in the Fall of 1991.  When the school opened in August, a young Science teacher and assistant football coach was hired away from Groveport High School to help open the school.  After serving for 15 seasons as the defensive coordinator of the football team he became the head football coach and has served in that capacity for the past 13 seasons.

As the head coach, he amassed an overall record of 72-66.  His teams made the state playoffs in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015.  He worked with Worthington Kilbourne Football when the school had 2,000 students and was still working with Worthington Kilbourne Football as enrollment dropped to 1,250 students and the competition around Central Ohio kept improving.

At the conclusion of this football season, Vince Trombetti announced that he was going to retire from coaching so he could spend his weekends watching his son play college football.  When I think about Coach Trombetti there are several things that come to mind:

  1. Vince was a teacher first and a coach second.  There are very few head football coaches throughout Ohio who teach Science.  Vince always carried a full teaching load and while some schools created jobs where their football coach had more time for football we never did that in Worthington.  Vince is a science teacher.
  2. I once read a biography about a coach named Vince that was entitled “When Pride Still Mattered.”  That biography was about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi but it makes me think of Vince Trombetti.  He is a principled man and he believes that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
  3. Finally, Vince has devoted the last 28 years to Worthington Kilbourne.  He chose to come to Worthington and he chose to stay in Worthington. 20 years ago Vince and I sat in graduate school classes at Ohio State together working on our Masters in School Administration degrees.  I went that route and became a principal. Vince decided to stay and work with our youth. He’s lead and mentored a generation of young men in Worthington. Men that will forever call him Coach. We live in a disposable society.  It’s rare for someone to come and invest for the long haul. For the good times and the bad. Vince did that!

At the Worthington Kilbourne Football banquet on Sunday night, the team presented Vince with a framed number 28 jersey to commemorate his 28 years of service to WKHS Football.  From a wins and losses standpoint, this was a tough season. But, the families and the players gave Vince a standing ovation. They recognize what he did. We need to be thankful for those in our community who commit to make a difference long term.  Vince did that. As we look for another football coach I’ll be asking….can you commit to 28 years?

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Thinking about middle school pt. 2

McCord Middle 960In the fall of 1986 as an eighth grade student, I walked into the new McCord Middle School for the first time.  As a 7th grader in 1985 I had attended Perry Middle School and the new McCord building was revolutionary. It had wide colorful hallways.  The cafeteria was at least 30% larger than the Perry cafeteria and had round tables. The walls between classrooms could open so that teachers could collaborate or they could close and would be sound-proof.   The 74,000 square foot building on the 40-acre site was new and was designed differently than Perry and Worthingway had been in the mid 60’s.

Thirty-two years later McCord is still a great educational facility.  The design of that school has stood the test of time. As we embark on a redesign of Worthingway and Perry we’re attempting to make certain that the schools we build in 2020 also stand the test of time.

While we’re thinking about the academic design of our 6th-8th grade middle schools, we’re also thinking about the building design.  Over the past two months a team of Worthington Schools staff members, community members and students has met multiple times to go through a process to develop Educational Specifications for our building projects.  They discussed Site Standards, Sustainability, Technology and Safety. They’ve looked at trends in educational buildings in 2018 and discussed design principles for learning and the potential future trends in how teachers will deliver instruction.  

The goal of this collaborative educational specifications process is to create the desired community environment, learning environment and physical environment that will frame the design problem for our architects.  This Spring we expect our architects to render drawings consistent with the work of this committee.

If you’d like to learn more about the process check out our Middle School Education Specifications website at: http://www.dejongrichter.com/worthington/

In Worthington, we seek and value community, staff and student input.  I’d like to thank the following Ed. Specs team members for investing a significant amount of time this fall to help on this process:

Angie Adrean, Josh Almanson, Jon Baird, Jordan Beck, Tate Beegle, Kim Brown, Patrick Callaghan, Katie Carey, Caitlin Christel, Ryan Dalcolma, Joe DeRuntz, Averie Eckstein, Robert Estice, Tom Fitz, Lisa Fuller, Jim Gaskill, Neil Gupta, Tami Hinz, Nikki Hudson, Kathleen Johnson, Bill Mosca, Sarah Mullen, Christopher Neil, Tom O’Leary, Michael Passella, Randy Ross, Bob Sheetz, Brian Scott, Alex Skura, Colleen Snyder, George Sontag, Robyn Stewart, Thomas Strous, Annie Wendt, Charlie Wilson, Jeff Eble, Randy Banks, Bob Darrow, Mike Dingeldein, Tim Gehring, Vicki Gnezda, Ashley Guzzo, Bill Mullett, Ashton Saber, Tony Schorr and Tracy Richter.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Thinking about middle school

AngieMSWith the passage of Issues 9 and 10, Worthington will shift to 6th – 8th grade middle schools in the fall of 2021.  (That means this year’s third grade students will all go to 6th grade in middle school.)  Thus, we’re thinking a lot about middle school in Worthington and at the same time, middle school is a hot topic in popular culture.  

Variety Magazine writes, “‘Eighth Grade,” Bo Burnham’s captivating drama about a shy but intensely aware girl named Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who’s doing all she can to navigate her final week of middle school, is a movie that’s universal and eternal — one that captures the age-old zone of pimply bashful awkwardness that defines the moment of growing up, the moment when kids are teetering on the fault line between innocence and experience, childish dreaming and social networking, their identities stranded between two worlds.

The beauty of “Eighth Grade” is that it’s highly specific and generational. It’s the first movie to capture, in a major way, the teenage experience of those who have only existed on this planet during the digital era. There are, of course, all sorts of films that portray teenagers glued to their text messages and Instagram posts, plugging into the online stream. What “Eighth Grade” captures is how the omnipresent digital air we breathe has begun to make a profound mark on our social structure and personalities.”

Over time our society and our students have changed and our schools must change with them.  Thus we’ve embarked on a middle school redesign process that is being led by our Chief Academic Officer, Angie Adrean and Director of Secondary Education, Dr. Neil Gupta.  The two have spent the last eight months working with teachers and administrators from all of our four Worthington middle schools. They’ve met with elementary school principals and have met personally with each team of Worthington sixth grade teachers.  They’ve talked with current middle school students and engaged current high school students to find out what they believe is needed in middle school.

Last night, Ms. Adrean and Dr. Gupta updated the Board of Education on their ongoing work to create a middle school learner profile.  They intend to “begin with the end in mind” and determine what we want our middle school students to be able to do when they “graduate” middle school.  By having this foundation, we will design schools and school schedules that are organized to meet the needs of our 6th – 8th graders in 2021 and beyond.  

We’re just getting started on this journey but we’re determined to create middle schools that empower a community of learners who will change the world.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Week! I have a task for you….

ThI grew up attending Worthington Hills Elementary School and hung out with a boy my age named Kyle Lucas.  Kyle was tall even in elementary school. He’d go on to play power forward/center on the Worthington High School basketball team and I backed him up at tight end on the high school football team.  Kyle now lives in Dublin and is the President of Capitol Tunneling.  

A few weeks ago Kyle’s mother’s home in Powell caught fire and the home was a total loss.  Thankfully there were no injuries. I’m a member of the Dublin-Worthington Rotary Club and sadly, last week club member B.J. Stone tragically passed away in a house fire in her Muirfield home.  With this happening so close together, fire safety is at the forefront of my mind this holiday season.

As we’ve reached Thanksgiving week, one of my goals is to replace all of the smoke alarms in our house (my other goal is to finally attend to the ridiculous number of leaves I have ignored covering my yard).  We’ve been in our house now for 14 years and I installed smoke alarms at that time. Some years I remember to change the batteries at daylight savings time and some years I likely haven’t. Either way, most smoke alarms are only good for 10 years and they’re not the kind of thing most of us think much about once we’ve installed them.  Sadly, these two incidents remind me that I need to attend to our smoke alarms and I also need to replace the fire extinguisher we keep under the kitchen sink.

This Thanksgiving week we all have a great deal to be thankful for in Worthington.  I hope you enjoy time with friends and family. I hope Ohio State can beat Michigan and I look forward to seeing holiday lights spring up throughout town.  Thank you for trusting the children of Worthington to Worthington Schools. We’re glad you’re here!

With everything else going on this week, I have a task for all of you.  Please take a minute to check your smoke alarms and replace them if necessary.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Issues 9 & 10

45509182_1305513939591216_601749798915145728_nI’m pleased to inform you that voters approved both Issues 9 and 10 for Worthington Schools. These issues will enable our schools to keep up with growing student enrollment and will maintain the programs we all value in our schools.

The bond issue will provide funds to repair and expand our middle schools, as well as provide important funding to make improvements to other school buildings, replace technology, and buy new buses. The operating issue will maintain current operations and programs in our schools as our enrollment continues to increase.   

Our success would not be possible without the help of many parents, community members and staff. These volunteers worked tirelessly to get factual information into the hands of voters over the last few months.  

We will now begin to implement Phase 1 of our master facilities plan, which includes expansion and repairs to our middle schools, beginning the design process on Thomas Worthington High School renovations, and shifting an elementary school feeder to Worthington Kilbourne High School to balance enrollment.  Our plan is to make sure the community remains involved in this process as we plan for the future of our schools. Over the next few months you should look for communication from the district on specific information relating to timelines and processes for these changes to occur.

We greatly appreciate the support of our community and will continue to focus on our mission to empower a community of learners who will change the world!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Please Vote!

VoteI spent Sunday afternoon at the Franklin County Early Voting site on Morse Road.  It was truly an amazing experience. The line for voting stretched out the door and around the block.  It reminded me of the line for Space Mountain at Disney World over spring break without a Fast Pass.

There was a band playing music.  People passed out flyers for various issues, there were “donuts for Democrats,” and many of the local judge candidates were available to talk with you in person.  It was inspiring to see people of every race, nationality, and political view coming together to exercise their civic right to vote.

Today the polls will be open throughout Worthington Schools.  Voting will occur in our schools at Worthington Kilbourne High School, Thomas Worthington High School, Phoenix Middle School, Sutter Park Pre-School and at the Worthington Education Center. Polls are open from 6:30 A.M. – 7:30 P.M.  (Worthington Schools will be open today and on a regular schedule except for Sutter Park Pre-School which closes for elections.)

Please vote.  Please remind your neighbors to vote.  Please offer to drive your neighbors to the polls so they can vote or even to watch their children for an hour so a parent can go vote (and maybe sneak in a trip by themselves to Starbucks…)  We’re incredibly lucky to live in a country where our vote counts!

Obviously, Worthington Schools is on the ballot for Issues 9 & 10.  I’m thankful for the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who worked hard to explain the issues to our community.  We’ve held over 100 meetings in homes, schools, churches, community buildings, etc. We’ve made phone calls, knocked on doors and mailed information.  Everywhere we have gone it’s clear to me that Worthington supports our children and overwhelmingly our community wants this next generation of children to continue to have a breadth of opportunities.  I walk away knowing how blessed we are to live and raise our children in this community.

If you still are looking for information regarding Issues 9 & 10, please check out the Issues 9 & 10 site.   

Today is voting day!  Please vote!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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