With Growth Comes Change

Brookside 08Worthington Schools is growing!  An increase in enrollment suggests that families are choosing to move to Worthington which is good news.

With growth in our student population and program offerings, many of our elementary schools are experiencing strains on their space for students and capacity for services. Enrollment projections indicate continued district-wide growth during the next 5-10 years. While all schools can identify space constraints, there are a few schools that have needs that call for immediate actions. For 2016-2017, Evening Street has a critical need for an additional classroom to serve students presently enrolled, and is projected to have the need for an additional classroom each of the next 3-4 years.  Short term adjustments have worked over the past few years to house current students and programs. While short-term adjustments may still address needs in other elementary buildings, they will no longer address the needs at Evening Street.

After considering many options to enable our district to provide for high-quality educational programming for all students, it has been determined that we will relocate all sixth grade classes from Evening Street to Kilbourne Middle School (KMS), making them part of KMS beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.  This move opens three classroom spaces, and allows the district to immediately house an additional classroom for first graders and provides some additional spaces moving forward until a more permanent solution is found.  Ultimately while we believe in our K-6 schools in Worthington and plan to continue them in all other elementary schools, we believe that the configuration of specific grades is not as important as the intentional design of the learning opportunities for students.

Earlier this school year the district conducted a comprehensive audit of our facilities, enrollment projections, and staffing.  With the Evening Street 6th grade move to KMS, the district now has time to fully consider long-term solutions for enrollment, building capacity, and programming district-wide. At the direction of the Board of Education, long-term solutions to these district issues will be determined with community input and consideration of the needs of all buildings.  You will hear more about the master planning work and ways in which you can be involved by early spring.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Senior Night

WKHSBasketball

Tonight (2.5.2016) is Senior Night for the Worthington Kilbourne Boys Basketball team.  Senior night in each sport, and on each team, is special.  Each coach has their own way of recognizing the seniors.  At WKHS Coach Tom Souder has always read the following description to the crowd of what it means to play basketball at WKHS.  After reading the description each senior is introduced and is given their one shining moment.  Every year it reminds me of what is good about participation in high school sports and what that participation means today, and for years to come, for those who participate.

A WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE BASKETBALL PLAYER

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player can come in any size, shape, or color. There is no common denominator except a love for the game and a desire to get the most out of his abilities. He is not only proud of his strengths but understands his weaknesses. He is first of all concerned with the good of his team and knows that individual recognition will come through team excellence.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player has the enthusiasm of an evangelist, the discipline of a monk, the heart of a warrior, and never loses the honesty and character of a small boy.

He appreciates the support of fans, but he is much more aware of the example he is setting for some small boy watching from the sideline. He is happy when he scores a basket but never forgets that a teammate threw him the ball. While he never lets up at either end of the floor, the other team is not his real opponent; it is the full extent of his own potential that he is always playing. He lets the referees, with occasional assistance from his coach, do the officiating.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player is made and not born. He is constantly striving to reach his potential knowing that he will bypass other players who cannot withstand the strain of his quest for excellence. He realizes that the challenges and competition of today’s game will better prepare him for tomorrow’s world. He knows that the true measure of his performance is not recorded in wins and losses but in how much of himself he has given to the game.

A Worthington Kilbourne basketball player never realizes when the odds are stacked against him. He can only be defeated by a clock that happens to run out of time. He is what a small boy wants to become and what an old man can remember with great pride that he once was.

FOR ALL THAT HAS BEEN, THANKS! FOR ALL THAT WILL BE, YES! #GoWolves!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Groundbreaking Educational Programs

Last week we released our latest video titled “Worthington Schools Groundbreaking Educational Programs.”  The video highlights unique educational options available in Worthington Schools that are not available anywhere else in Ohio or even in the United States.  These choice options, Phoenix Middle School, Linworth Alternative Program and Worthington Academy are critical components to the educational program we provide our community in 2016.

Worthington is a school district that was built on uniqueness and choice.  We like to say we don’t have “cookie cutter” schools and that we value the original and unique communities that are created at each of our schools.  Our programming is not the same at each school but instead it’s designed to meet the unique needs of that school population.

What we do in Worthington is messy.  Choice begins for families with our kindergarten options.  It continues at middle school and explodes once your child reaches high school.  We believe that to engage our students appropriately we must attempt to provide the most possible students with the best possible environment for their learning needs. Unfortunately choice can create stress for our families and while many get their very first choice, it’s impossible to create programming that is both fiscally responsible and provides everyone with their first choice.  Thus, choice is messy.

But…it’s our beautiful mess. It’s who we are in Worthington Schools.  There are many great school districts throughout central Ohio that make certain each school is essentially doing the same thing, in the same environment, with the exact same resources.  They’re doing exceptional work, but in Worthington our philosophy is different.  We’re O.K. if one school offers morning gymnastics and another offers after school archery.  We’re O.K. if one school has an International Baccalaureate program and another school a Business Academy.  We love it when our students access multiple programs to create the perfect day for their needs.  (I recently talked with a mom whose son attends Delaware Area Career Center in the morning, attends Worthington Academy in the afternoon and goes to Thomas Worthington High School for band.  I spoke with another parent whose child attends Linworth for most of her day, takes a class at Worthington Kilbourne and another class at Ohio State.)  This is what school looks like today.  And, while it can be uncomfortable we believe it’s critical that we offer and protect the unique options our students have in Worthington.

If you haven’t taken a few minutes to watch the video, please check it out!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Striving to Help the Whole Child

CYw2NlBUkAA5FsEIn Worthington Schools, we pride ourselves for caring about the whole child.  Not just focusing on the academic needs of every child, but we also aspire to focus on each child’s social-emotional health and well-being.  In order to best understand how to meet the needs of our students, we partnered with Drug Free Worthington and The Ohio State University to conduct a Student Asset Survey to 8th and 10th grade students.  

This online survey consisted of questions ranging from assessing  at-risk behaviors such as accessibility or use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, to student perceptions of bullying and their peer relationships.  The survey even covered how extracurricular activities impact these issues.  Throughout the survey, no personally-identifiable information was collected.

As a school district, we will use the results of the survey in a partnership with Drug Free Worthington and The Ohio State University to submit a federal grant to provide support to our students based on the survey findings.  In addition our school leaders will examine overall district results and results by school to identify needed supports that will be designed to help our students navigate their middle and high school years.

While the overall results are still being organized, the preliminary results can be found here:  Student Asset Survey Preliminary Results. Some preliminary findings revealed that continued education on the effects of alcohol and tobacco use are necessary, our teachers provide a strong and clear message not to use drugs or alcohol, but students report receiving mixed messages from friends and the community and there is a  need for continued conversations on the appropriate use of social media.  

We will continue to analyze these results in the coming months not only in our school district but in our community, because we realize the need and importance to partner with a common voice and shared services for our students.  As the final results become available to us, we will share them with you.

We realize the time invested in administering this survey to our students, but we know the impact of addressing this information is vital in order to support the whole child as well as allow them to feel safe so learning can occur in our classrooms.  

If you’d like more information or have questions about the Student Asset Survey results please contact Director of Secondary Education Dr. Neil Gupta at ngupta@wscloud.org

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Thanks Dustin!

chucksIn Worthington we’ve articulated the expectation that our job is to “Be Kind to Kids.”  It’s aspirational in nature because it’s a choice we must make every single day.  Sometimes it’s a choice that must be made hour by hour because as humans we’re inherently selfish beings.  Being kind to kids means putting others first.  

We recognize that we are in the kid business.  First and foremost our community asks us to take care of our kids.  As a parent I’m trusting the school district with the most important people in my life.  I’m sending the best I have.  I want those at school to love them, to believe in them, and to hold them to high expectations while partnering with them to reach those high expectations.  We want it all to be done with kindness and love.

For educators that’s our charge.  What I didn’t know was that that’s also the charge of Chuck’s Septic and Drain Cleaning.  In Worthington we have aging school facilities.  The newest school in our district is now 25 years old and with aging facilities comes more maintenance needs.  Winter often puts significant pressure on our facilities.  

With that in mind we had multiple drain issues last week at Liberty Elementary.  They were issues that could not wait until after school to be dealt with and thus we had to call an outside vendor in who specializes in drain cleaning.  Enter Dustin from Chuck’s Septic and Drain Cleaning.  Dustin came to school to work on the drains and as an experienced vendor he began by signing into the Liberty office.

While signing into the office, Dustin overheard a young student on the phone with her mom.  She was obviously distressed that she had forgotten her lunch money at home and she really wanted to go through the line with money in her hand.  And that’s when Dustin, without any notice, modeled better than I could have ever hoped “Be Kind to Kids.”  While signing into the office Dustin reached into his wallet and handed the young lady lunch money.  He didn’t have to do that.  The school would have taken care of her but he did it anyway.  He said the girl reminded him of his kids.  How cool is that?

Dustin is a specialist.  He has a skill that no one in our school district has when it comes to cleaning drains.  But, he also fits right in and he can come to our schools anytime he wants to.  In Worthington we believe in “Being Kind to Kids.”  So does Dustin.  Many thanks to Chuck’s Septic and Drain Cleaning!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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School Safety Update

school-safetyIn Worthington, we consider the safety of our students, staff and community a top priority.  If you watch the news tonight, you will probably hear of recent workplace violence or perhaps a shooting on a campus.  Unfortunately, it seems that these tragedies are becoming more common.  In the Worthington School District, we have continued to take reasonable steps to secure our buildings without closing out the very people we serve.  We have secured our entrances, installed cameras, buzzers and fobs.  We have upgraded background checks and ID badges for staff as well as guests.  We also have continued to improve our safety plans.  These steps along with strong partnerships with our local first responders make our schools safe.

During the the 14-15 school year, we introduced the ALICE (Alert, Lock-down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training model to our two comprehensive high schools.  The training provides a clear shift from the training in the past based on research of previous shootings/violent incidents.  This approach allows staff to communicate during a crisis and make decisions based on the available information.  This fall we provided the training to the Middle School staff as well as the staff at the Worthington Academy.  The overall response has been very positive and the conversations around safety in our schools have been very productive.

In January, we will provide the ALICE lecture to our elementary staff.  The training is divided into two parts: the lecture and the practical exercise. Later this school year, there will be four dates for staff to attend a practical exercise to practice the skills taught in the lecture. Our staff attend both a lecture and a practical exercise to complete the training.  This is a four hour investment in protecting our students and staff.

Keeping our students and staff safe is an ongoing task.  In Worthington Schools, we have three full-time mental health specialists who provide clinical services to students in need.  In addition we partner with North Community Counseling to provide on-going therapeutic counseling services to our students. The clinicians work with guidance counselors, parents, teachers and principals to provide age-appropriate mental health services to help our children. Services include individual counseling, case management, crisis intervention, preventative services, advocacy, and referrals to needed resources, linkages, and support.

Finally let me share some additional things we are working on and/or exploring.  Later this year, we will introduce a school safety app for phones and tablets that will replace the old “flip charts” used in our schools.  We look forward to connecting our safety procedures to our mobile devices and feel it could reduce confusion and improve our response time in emergency situations.  We will also continue to update our safety plans including our evacuation sites.  In most cases, our plans reflected an alternative site that we we would escort students to in an orderly fashion. (Think power outage).  Our students must also know where you would meet them if everyone exited the building in an emergency situation?  We will need to create multiple rendezvous points for students and families.  Finally, we are discussing how to appropriately discuss school safety with our students.  We have been hesitant  to go down this path and plan to proceed cautiously as we review some of the new resources and materials that have been developed for each level.

Worthington Assistant Superintendent, Randy Banks coordinates school safety for our district.  He works hard to make certain our schools are safe while also continuing to make sure our community is welcome into our schools as we strive for the proper balance.

– Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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Evaluating International Baccalaureate at WKHS

WKHS 25 year Anniversary PatchIn 2010, Worthington Kilbourne High School was authorized by the Worthington Board of Education to create an International Baccalaureate program at their school.  We realize that an internationally-focused perspective in college and career readiness is critical to any future endeavor.  Predicated on the research and foundational attributes for a global perspective, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme provides a framework for students to think about global perspectives embedded in core content areas.  

Since 2010, our WKHS staff members have been working diligently to create IB classes and to recruit students into the program.  To date, we now offer 31 different IB classes, but we only have 44 students (13 Juniors; 34 Seniors) enrolled in one or more IB classes.  Of these students, there are only 13 students (2 Juniors; 11 Seniors) working to graduate with an IB Diploma.  

Because we have struggled to recruit students who are willing to commit to IB, the classes must be run with very small class sizes compared to other classes throughout the district.  In addition, since beginning the IB program, Ohio has legislated the College Credit Plus program – college courses offered as a pathway at the expense of the school district.  Therefore, all high school students now have the option of taking Columbus State classes their junior and senior year earning up to 15 semester hours each year and essentially graduating with their first year of college at an in-state university paid for by the district.  The addition of College Credit Plus leads us to examine which programs and initiatives make the best use of district resources for our students.

As we continue to review all of our programs to determine efficiencies and impact on student learning, we conducted an audit of the IB Programme.  Based on the audit findings for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, below are two options for the future of the IB Programme that we have been considering.

Option 1: Continue IB Programme and Expand Branding / Communication

As we reflect on the data and current state of the programme, we are already in conversations on how to communicate the benefits of the programme to families and students in the coming years.  We would strive to not only continue the programme but also to expand the communication and branding of the programme aspects and outcomes with students and families across the district.  We would plan to leverage leadership, communication, and create a systemic, coherent culture for global thinking for all students at Worthington Kilbourne High School.  This would happen in the following ways:

  • Increase communication at the Middle School levels;
  • Expand the core concepts of international learning to all students at Worthington Kilbourne High School predicated on a comprehensive plan and staff training;
  • Establish a branding plan with on-going Grades 7-10 parent/student nights, videos, website, and brochures.

Option 2: Phase Out the IB Programme

In considering the option of phasing out the IB Programme, we would not recommend eliminating the programme entirely at once.  Instead, communication and processes would need to take place to phase out the programme in order for students currently in the programme to successfully complete it and graduate.

Our Board of Education will discuss these two options at our regular Board of Education meeting at 7:30 P.M. on January 11th.  Regretfully, I will recommend to the Board of Education that we choose “Option Two” and begin to phase out our IB program.

This is an outstanding program, but we are offering Advanced Placement classes, College Credit Plus classes, Pre-engineering/PLTW classes and International Baccalaureate classes all competing for students to sign up.  Students and families have continued to choose AP classes and more and more will choose College Credit Plus classes as the economic benefits are obvious.  If the IB Programme continues, I do not foresee a major increase in enrollment and running very small classes takes resources away from other areas of the educational program.

I’m proud that our staff members at Worthington Kilbourne committed themselves to creating and building the IB program.  Our IB leaders John Jordan and Sean Cooke poured their heart and soul into this endeavor.  Many of our teachers donated hundreds of hours of their own time to training and course development.  They took a risk and I’m thankful that they did.  Unfortunately that risk did not lead the the enrollment we or they were hoping for.  Our hope would be that their efforts were not for naught and the pedagogy and interdisciplinary learning strategies they learned will carry forward in Worthington for many years.

Ultimately, we are and will always be committed to the continued advancement for all of our students to receive a global perspective.  I’ll recommend to the Board of Education that Director of Secondary Education, Dr. Neil Gupta convenes a committee of students, staff, parents to develop our future vision of international focus in Worthington Schools which would carry on the best principles of global awareness and perspectives to be expanded across all schools in our district.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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