Honor an Educator

D. JonesWe have great teachers and support professionals in Worthington.  Every day our educators go above and beyond to make a positive difference in the lives of our kids and our families.  I’m incredibly thankful to work with these committed professionals.  With that in mind, I am excited to announce the kick-off for this year’s Worthington Educational Foundation (WEF) Honor an Educator Program.  While our long winter and chilly spring make it especially hard to believe, we will soon be closing the books on the 2014-15 school year!  The last day of classes for our students is fast approaching and as it does, I understand that many parents, students, alumni and community members are thinking of ways to show their appreciation to the teachers, staff and administrators who help to make our schools the best.  Finding the appropriate way to adequately thank these individuals can be a difficult task.  The Trustees of the Worthington Educational Foundation are proud to provide a way for you to honor such individuals in a uniquely meaningful way.

Outstanding teachers, administrators and staff members are the essence of the Worthington School District’s reputation of excellence in education.  To help students and  families show appreciation for our educators’ commitment, the WEF has developed the Honor an Educator Program.  Donations in any amount can be made to the Worthington Educational Foundation. You may honor a teacher, administrator or staff member who is currently on staff or someone who has been important in the past to your children.  Those honored will receive a letter and award certificate from the WEF which will be presented in front of their classroom. Additionally, they will be recognized in a community publication.

Choosing to recognize an individual through this program will not only honor that special person, but will be a future legacy of that appreciation as a direct benefit to the students of the Worthington Schools through the WEF grants that are awarded annually to the teachers and schools. The WEF is a community-wide tax-exempt 501 (c )(3) organization dedicated to making the educational experience of our children something extraordinary.  Funds are raised to allow grants to be awarded to teachers to provide projects and experiences beyond the basic curriculum. Grants are awarded three times per year to teachers (by application).

To honor a teacher, administrator or staff member of the Worthington Schools, you can complete the nomination form and donation online via the WEF website through this link: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/WorthingtonEducationalFoundat_1/HonorEducator.html

(All donations are tax deductible.)

Thank you for all you do to help make our schools great!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Fusion

FusionWe have great kids in Worthington Schools!  Apparently there are some great kids in our surrounding communities as well and our STUDENTS have partnered together to create an incredible event for a good cause.  Fusion (www.fusioncolumbus.org) is a 5k race/walk community festival that will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, May 3rd from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on the grounds of Thomas Worthington High School.  The money raised from the event will go to The Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James.) For $20.00, members within these communities can sign up and receive entrance to the event, a t-shirt (with three color choices), a wrist-band, and a race bib if they choose to take part in the 5k portion of the event. They can also simply take part in the community festival portion of the event if they do not wish to race. There will be festival booths, sports, music, and food trucks! If an individual is unable to attend the event, they can also make a donation by registering.

Fusion was originally founded when Brady Ellis, a junior at Dublin Jerome High School, and Tara Banks, a senior at Thomas Worthington High School had the idea of creating a multi-school district event with the purpose of bringing communities together to support each other, and raising money for cancer research. The two co-founders then began to reach out to other schools and the Fusion team grew with the addition of student leaders from Dublin Jerome, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto, Thomas Worthington, Worthington Kilbourne, Worthington Christian, and Hilliard Davidson. These leaders have all played vital roles in the planning of the event.

Every person within each of these communities has, in one way or another, been affected by cancer. As students, they have seen how their individual communities have been able to come together to support members within their own communities who have battled cancer. The students wanted to transfer this idea to a larger scale and they began to imagine the impact that they could have if they were to come together as the larger community of Northwest Columbus. The goal for Fusion is to see these school districts, which are normally in competition against each other in the area of sports, fuse together to support each other and to support a cause that affects us all. They hope to see as many members as possible from each these communities sign up for the event. Best case, Fusion serves as an opportunity not only for money to be raised for a good cause, but for communities to join together to support each other.

It has been important from the beginning that Fusion be kept as a student initiative. The event has served as an opportunity for student leaders to learn to recognize a need, formulate a creative idea, and then to proceed to take the steps necessary to plan and organize an event of this scale. Our students recognize that there are people within their rival school districts who are struggling with the same things they are struggling with. Through this event students can learn that great things can be accomplished when we fuse together.

Wow!  I think our future is in great hands with these students!

We encourage community members to check out the website at www.fusioncolumbus.org to learn more and to register. We also encourage community members to spread the word!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Senior Tag

Senior TagWith only 33 school days left this year for seniors in Worthington Schools we have begun to hear rumors that many of our students are engaging in “Senior Tag.”  If you’re not familiar with Senior Tag and you have a high school age student you need to understand what is potentially going on.

Senior Tag is a popular game played at many Ohio high schools near the end of the year.  If you are soaked with a water gun outside of school you are out of the game.  The only way to be safe is to strip naked when you are out in public.  Thus every year there are reports of high school students running naked through yards, reports of aggressive driving, reports of social media hostility and other questionable practices.  I found a long list of rules for one school’s senior tag here.

Last spring students in Dublin canceled their senior tag after a student was in a car accident.  In 2013 WBNS 10tv posted a notice about senior tag on their website and parent comments and perspectives on the game were split.   Back in 2011 NBC 4 did a similar story on senior tag as well.

As a school district we do not condone senior tag and we do not allow any senior tag activity on school grounds.  While we believe our students should be able to have fun and enjoy special events throughout their senior year, we believe this particular game does create incentive for students to participate in activities that can be risky and potentially even illegal.  Our best hope is that our students will create other more productive outlets for their energy this time of year.  (Here’s one really cool idea you may want to check out…http://www.fusioncolumbus.org/)

We would urge our parents of high school students to discuss senior tag with your children.  Please make sure they understand the risks involved and understand the potential consequences in respects to participation in this game.  We want all of our students to make it to graduation on May 24th safe and without police charges.

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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“Heading to States!”

Processed with MoldivWe’re moving on to States!  Each year thousands of students across Ohio in many different endeavors begin their athletic seasons with this goal in mind.  Win a state championship.  This same goal applies for our students who compete in academic competitions.  Thus, last weekend was a very successful one for our Science Olympiad teams from Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington High School.  Both teams led by coach Chelsey Kiehborth scored well enough in the regional tournament to move on to compete in the State Tournament on April 11th at The Ohio State University.

If you’re unfamiliar with Science Olympiad their website describes the competitions “The Ohio Science Olympiad is a statewide program dedicated to improving the interest of all students in the ever-changing world of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).  A strong emphasis is placed on active, hands-on participation to assist students in their overall social development, leadership, and problem solving skills, in an effort to motivate and energize students to excel in and out of the classroom.

Students can demonstrate their skills and knowledge by participating in competitions that are like academic track meets. These competitions consist of a series of 23 team events for both middle and high school students.  Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering, and technology.  By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved.  Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation.  Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders band together to work toward a shared goal.”

Teamwork is a required skill in most scientific careers today, and Science Olympiad encourages group learning by designing events that forge alliances.  Our Science Olympiad students compete as a team and function in much the same way as our athletic teams.  They practice together and compete together.  They succeed or fail as a team.  Our students put in significant time and effort in order to see success.

This year both of our teams are succeeding!  On April 11th they’ll compete for that State Championship.  Go Wolves!  Go Cards!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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The Biennial Budget

ohio-sealEvery two years Ohio goes through a complex process writing what is known as the biennial budget, an intricate blue print for the state’s finances.  Right now we’re at a critical crossroads in the development of the legislation, which must be passed by July 1. Legislative hearings are being held constantly at the Statehouse, and the stakes are high.

Developing a two-year state budget is serious business, and in an age of limited public resources, setting a fair education formula has proven to be difficult if not impossible.  Based on feedback we have received from residents, confusion is widespread–and who could ever blame the taxpayers.  Our analysis of the Governor’s budget proposal indicates the District will lose approximately $1 million for next year and an additional $1.7 million the following year for a total loss of $2.7 million.

Here in Worthington we maintain conservative budgets, and the voters have supported the schools by passing the vitally important 2012 levy. Today, however, some of the proposals being discussed downtown at the Statehouse give us reason to be concerned. One example is the possible reduction or maybe even elimination of funds provided school districts to compensate for elimination of Ohio’s Tangible Property Tax (TPP). No other school district in Franklin County is impacted as much as Worthington when it comes to the loss of the TPP tax.

For Worthington, doing away with the reimbursement for TPP loss would mean up to a $10.6 million loss. Hopefully it never comes to that and legislators keep the reimbursement in place, but one never knows when the budget is being developed.

Similarly, some are proposing that districts spend down their “rainy day funds” and other reserves.  Such proposals run counter to prudent conservative budget practices, and we in Worthington would feel great pain if we were forced to pare down reserves and become a district living on the edge. That makes no sense.

The confusion citizens feel about the state and local budgets is totally understandable, and we welcome your calls and emails should you want to discuss the budget. Above all, please remain involved in the process. Sometimes it can be heavy going, we know, but often a call to your legislators can shed light on these matters and help members of the General Assembly as they weigh these critical budget decisions.

– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Worthington’s Position on PARCC Testing

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The subject of PARCC testing has been in the news lately and we thought it might be helpful to concisely state our district’s position on the subject.

As we write this, it is February 24, 2015 and we are entering the first full week of PARCC testing. This means we are early in the process and as we learn more, these positions are likely to reflect the data that comes to us from actual experience.

First, it needs to be restated that Worthington strongly supports the state’s new academic standards for Math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. The repeal of Ohio’s New Learning Standards would be devastating to our district. In Worthington we have spent the past several years working together with our teachers to learn the new standards, purchase materials to best teach the new standards, and create locally developed curriculum based upon the new standards.  The topic of how to best assess our progress on those standards is a different subject than the standards themselves.

We believe that the PARCC assessments must change if they are to remain viable. While we acknowledge a common concern with the OAA methodology was that kids were tested on a single day, PARCC has swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. There are far too many testing events. We will suggest to the Ohio legislature that they conduct a review of the assessments to determine specifically whether the total time on task is necessary to accurately assess whether learning has occurred and whether the testing events can be consolidated to minimize disruption to the educational program.

We believe that if this assessment system is to remain in place PARCC must return results in a timely fashion. It is unacceptable to not receive the results of the assessment until well into the next school year – far too late to adjust curriculum, building level plans, or to appropriately differentiate instruction for individual students. While assessments have as a partial goal determining the efficacy of our program in different buildings and for our faculty, their main function must be to provide information about how to maximize learning for every student, and an 8 month delay in receiving the results doesn’t do that.

For our district to administer the assessments and limit the disruption to the instructional day PARCC assessments must have a consistent testing length.  PARCC has variable length tests which are creating scheduling and logistical nightmares.

In Worthington we strongly oppose the legislation that attempts to limit testing to a percentage of the school year. The assessments need to be the minimum amount of time required to assess achievement on the standards. Artificially limiting the time does not serve this purpose.

Worthington strongly opposes legislation that in any way attempts to limit local diagnostic tests. These are invaluable to the educational program in our district.

Worthington supports local control with state oversight in the area of testing. In our preferred legislative solution, the Ohio Department of Education should have a series of Common Core aligned assessments that are pre-approved. Local districts can then select whichever assessment(s) are right for that district. The results can then be normed statewide.

Finally, while we work with our legislators to create a better assessment system for the near future, our teachers, administrators, and support staff, will do everything possible to administer PARCC tests this year in a manner that supports our students and limits test based anxiety and the disruption of instructional time as much as is possible.

– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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Unique Student Experiences

10167961_10205876124804411_7350939857198858931_nOver the past four months I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds and hundreds of people about Worthington Schools.  It is a pure joy to discuss a school district that I, and so many others, care deeply about.

Throughout my conversations there are many themes that seem to arise.  Currently PARCC testing and high stakes assessment in general creates a great deal of dialogue.  Others want to discuss wellness and the food we serve our students.  Sometimes athletics or facilities arise as topics.  But, while there is a wide variety of discussion areas in a large suburban school district serving 9,500 students in 19 different schools one topic always comes up:

Our families value the unique Worthington experiences that their students are able to participate in and enjoy.  There are too many of these to name as each of our schools operates with a level of autonomy, but over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to witness two of these uniquely Worthington experiences that are so rich and meaningful at just one of our eleven elementary schools.

Two weeks ago Colonial Hills held their annual Pastapalooza.  This event is essentially a large spaghetti dinner, except for two important elements:  1.  The entire Colonial Hills community comes to this shared dinner and many Colonial Hills alumni choose to come back to the event creating an incredible atmosphere and 2.  The Colonial Hills sixth grade students dress up and serve the families there for the dinner.  Generations of Colonial Hills students have learned to serve in this capacity.

Thursday night those same 6th grade students participated in the Colonial Hills lip-sync.  This is not just any lip-sync.  It makes Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell look like amateurs.  The students are in costume, there is excellent production, and the packed crowd often sings along.  The night was full of unique and super cool songs.  My personal favorites include a rendition of The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The Toast Song.

While much of the current education dialogue may focus on standardized testing, in Worthington we’ll continue to focus on the whole child and our staff will continue to work hard to provide our students with experiences that are unique to the Worthington Schools experience.  Over the last few weeks I was able to witness Colonial Hills doing exactly that!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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