Teaching Adults English

IMG_9935The traditional school year may be on recess but our summer programming is just beginning and there is an amazing amount of learning that will occur throughout Worthington over the next five weeks.  In our surveys, focus groups, and daily conversations with families of Worthington English Learners, one of the most consistently expressed desires from parents is the chance to learn English. In the 2018-19 school year, over 640 students received support learning English in Worthington classrooms but their parents often do not have access to the same opportunity.  This creates a challenging home dynamic where the child becomes more English proficient than the parent, and in some cases, the parent becomes reliant on the child to interpret when navigating throughout the community.

After several months of exploration and conversation with potential community partners, the Worthington EL program was able to utilize Federal Title III dollars to launch our first adult English class.  (A small scale class was offered in the past through the generous voluntary efforts of a now-retired EL teacher, but sustainability was limited). The current class is offered in partnership with US Together, a local community refugee resettlement and immigrant support agency, who connected us with an English teacher with experience instructing adults.  

Further, because the Worthington elementary schools that are most accessible to neighborhoods where many interested families live are not accessible in the summer (construction, district programming, etc), we engaged another community organization that expressed a desire to support students in Worthington.  The Chapel at Worthington Woods (Salvation Army) is a beautiful site with a full gymnasium, small library, and various classroom spaces, and within walking distance of Slate Hill and surrounding residences. The Salvation Army leadership team understands that there will be no religious component to our English class, but is glad to expose families to other supports that they extend to the community including free music classes, food distribution, and more.  

The adult English class is accompanied by activities for children of parent participants, led by two Worthington Bilingual Assistants who speak Spanish and Portuguese; they are paid from the Title III budget mentioned earlier.  We also invited one of our favorite community partners, the Worthington Libraries, to join us on specific weeks, and they have provided interactive materials for our weekly use with children.

Last night, I was personally thrilled when the first 3 adults walked from their apartments and arrived 30 minutes before the class started.  We had 12 adults attend, filling the small classroom we reserved, while their 13 children played joyfully in the gym then listened closely while Gabrielle from the Worthington Libraries read a story.  Parents of children from Worthington Hills, Slate Hill, TWHS, and Bluffsview were tremendously appreciative.

Classes will be offered for 6 consecutive weeks this summer as a pilot to determine interest and explore logistics.  If successful, it is our hope to offer a more extended series in the fall.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

Be Kind to Others

chloeToday is commencement day for the Worthington Schools class of 2019!  It’s going to be an awesome day as we celebrate our graduates and watch them go off and change the world for the better.  Each year I have the privilege of making some remarks to our graduates. I want my remarks to be memorable and to provide students with a nugget of advice.  Likely sometimes in writing a speech that is successful and other times likely less so. As I was thinking about those remarks for this year I kept going back to remarks I’d heard by Berea City Schools Superintendent Mike Sheppard.  After talking with Mike I decided to share his words today. Here’s what I’ll say:

“Graduates, Parents, Grandparents, Congratulations! Graduates, to be sitting here this afternoon you’ve satisfied the requirements set forth by the State of Ohio and the Worthington Board of Education.  You’ve earned the right to be here today.

Each year I spend a significant amount of time thinking about what message I want to share with our graduates.  I imagine that my message is going to be so special… so creative… so inspirational…. that it’s going to have a profound effect on each of our graduates this morning.  I mean… when people hear my speech they will start tweeting, and then they’ll be retweeting and my pocket will start buzzing as friends and colleagues direct message me and text me.  There will be postings on Instagram… and SnapChat… and Facebook. Really, when you hear this speech it’s going to go viral!

So far, that’s never happened!  But, I’m feeling I’ve got it today so here we go.  2000 years ago an ancient Greek philosopher….wait…. I’ve lost you.  As soon as I mentioned an ancient Greek philosopher I could see our graduates started looking down at their shoes, some of you dad’s in the audience took out your cell phones to check some scores, any scores.  No. That’s not going to work.

So, instead, my creative and inspirational message to the class of 2019 is this:  Be Kind to Others. More so now than ever, if you want to change the world just start with this one thing.  Be Kind to Others!

Graduates today you join the over 40,000 living alumni of Worthington Schools.  Congratulations!”

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
Standard

I say YOU CAN!

NKI love the end of the school year as we endeavor to recognize students.  Last night at Worthingway’s Honors Night Principal Nathan Kellenberger told a personal story to wrap up the evening.  His message was simple and yet profound. It’s worth sharing with all of our kids in Worthington.  You will have people in your lives that say you can’t, and those that say you can.  Listen to those that say you can, because they are right. I say you can!

“As we wrap up this evening, I would like to share a few parting words.  At the start of every school year, Dr. Bowers holds a District-wide convocation in August, with all school employees.  Dr. Bowers uses this opportunity to set our theme and focus for the school year. This year his focus was Your Words Matter.  His direction to all of us was to treat all of our students kindly and use our words to empower our students to change the world.  I was asked to stand on this very stage and share a story about myself, in which a teacher of mine was not so kind to me. In essence, this teacher told me, as a 17-year old high school senior, that I did not have much talent and that he did not feel I would be a successful Marine.  I left that August, for Paris Island South Carolina, to prove him wrong.

I have told this story a number of times.  As I reflect, I feel like I’ve given that story and that person, too much credit for my success, when in fact, my story did not end there.  As a young private, stationed in California, I was fortunate to meet someone who’s words and actions helped me to become the person I am today.

That person was someone named Steve Lucero.  Always Sergeant Lucero to me. Sgt. Lucero built me into a confident and successful corporal in the Marine Corps.  Sgt. Lucero always supported me, always expected the best of me, and always held me accountable when I fell short of my best.  He was never easy on me. And I cannot thank him enough for that. I know that I am standing here tonight, in front of all of you, because of the words of Sgt. Lucero.  

You will have people in your lives that say you can’t, and those that say you can.  Listen to those that say you can, because they are right. I say you can!”

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

Thank You Volunteers

LionsA lifetime ago I was a high school lacrosse player in Worthington.  Because of that, 30 years ago this month, I had the opportunity to play in the first-ever Ohio Lacrosse State Tournament.  The tournament was held at Worthington High School on May 27, 1989, and featured 17 teams from across Ohio. Teams played three games in one day and the Worthington team led by the great Tim James and Jon Tyack won the first tournament.  (They also won the next two…just sayin’…)

As I understand the story, it was in the fall of 1988 when parents from Worthington met at Tim James’ house in Worthington Hills and created the idea for an Ohio lacrosse tournament.  The parents did all the work necessary to make their idea come to life. As a high school student, I was oblivious. It never occurred to me as a self-centered teenager that people were sacrificing time, money and their energy to provide this opportunity for us.  

30 years later as Superintendent of Schools, I’m incredibly cognizant that this lacrosse story has been repeated in multiple arenas throughout our school district over time.  Our parent and community volunteers make many, many, many of the good things we do for students happen. If your student has fun at Super Fun Day or Field Day this month, our parent volunteers allow that to happen.  We have a bike park, school gardens, elementary cross country and archery because parents make it happen. Parents move loads of band equipment so our marching bands can perform. Parents chaperone trips, provide healthy snacks, read with students and mentor our students.  The list of things our volunteers do is endless.

As we complete another school year one of the things I will ask our students to do is thank those that make it possible for them to have the amazing opportunities they have.  As an adult, I’ll point this out over and over again. I suspect that, like me, it may take them a few years before they really understand the work their parents and other volunteers do to enrich their life.

Public schooling is about being part of a community.  I’m thankful that we have a community that has always valued coming together to support the interests and activities of our kids.  To the literally thousands of you that volunteer in some way: THANK YOU! You’re making a difference. Perhaps one day 30 years from now someone may pull the t-shirt out of the basement and remember what you’ve done.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Lax

Standard

Full Circle

CRAlmost 20 years ago, my wife, Doreen, was teaching second grade in Olentangy Local Schools at Arrowhead Elementary.  One of her students was the son of Kilbourne Middle Teacher Robin Troth. At the time, I was teaching in Worthington and while I knew of Robin I didn’t know her personally.  

Fast forward 20 years and we’ve come full circle.  Now one of the students in Mrs. Troth’s English class is the daughter of the Worthington Superintendent and the teacher who taught her son all those years ago.  I imagine that 20 years ago Robin heard stories about Mrs. Bowers and her antics in the classroom. Today we hear stories about Mrs. Troth. How she allows Campbell to express herself in writing, how she challenges her to think on a deeper level and how she supports Campbell in her pursuits outside the classroom.  We’ve come full circle and that makes me smile.

This week is teacher appreciation week.  In Worthington, we have almost 800 dedicated teachers who are committed to encouraging our students to find their passion so that they will develop the skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary to go out and change the world.  I’m thankful for those who give their lives to helping our kids. Those who are tasked with meeting the individual needs of a classroom full of diverse, unique kids. It’s never been easy to be a public school teacher, but in my opinion, in these uncivil, polarized times it’s never been more difficult than it is today.  Our expectations continue to rise while our students come to school with more anxiety, greater needs, and general unease.

Please take some time this week to say a sincere thank you to our teachers.  I’m proud to be a former Worthington teacher and every day I’m thankful for the investment our teachers make in the lives of our kids.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

Help a Grieving Friend

Make a differenceWKHS School Counselor Brianna Abbott wrote this blog piece to the WKHS community.  While it’s written to WKHS it’s applicable to everyone in Worthington and thus I felt like re-blogging it to a larger audience could help others.  The original post can be found along with many other posts at this link.

“The Worthington community is, once again, reeling from a tragic loss.  One of the TWHS seniors, Ambryn Welch, died yesterday and I spent the day over at their school to help support their students and staff during this heart-breaking time.

I have had a lot of time to think and reflect today after watching as the Thomas students and staff grieved together, shared memories with one another, and found the strength to help each other during this crisis.  And I keep circling back to the reality that everything can change so quickly.  In one moment, the biggest problem facing you might be an upcoming test and the next it is how are you supposed to say good-bye to someone you love and care about.  The reality is that life does change fast.  We never fully know what the next moment will bring for ourselves or those around us and that is why it is essential that we make the most of every day, that we remind those we love how much they mean to us, and that we never take for granted the people in our lives.  So I would like to remind each of you how thankful I am that YOU are a part of my life.  I care about you, I wish you never had to grieve the loss of a friend or family member, but I know that is unrealistic so I hope you will always know that there are people (like me) who are here to help support you along the way.

I know that a lot of you didn’t know Ambryn, but you may have friends who are students at Thomas that are grieving or separate from this crisis, you may be facing losses in your life that aren’t well known throughout the whole school, but have touched your heart deeply.  When faced with the news that someone you know has died there are a range of emotions and experiences. If it is a person very close to you, it can be a struggle just putting one foot in front of the next. If you are a friend of the person grieving it can be a time when you feel helpless because the reality is that you cannot take away the hurt and sadness for your friend, but you can help!

Below are a few ideas and reminders about what you can do to help support anyone who is grieving.  Please remember that the most important point is that you can’t “fix” this.  You cannot take away the sadness, but your care and support does matter and it does make a difference!

– Listen! I know it may not feel like much, but that is often what your friend will need the most.

 Say the name of the person who died – don’t be afraid to use their name. Some people worry that if they bring up their name that it would bring up their pain. The reality is that the pain and sadness are always there, but by using the name of the person who died you give your friend permission to talk about him/ her. If you knew the person who died, share some stories or memories you had of him/ her.

– Remember that everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way and no timeline for when they will be “over” their loved ones death. Actually, I don’t think you ever get “over” a death, but you do develop a new sense of “normal” which is far different than the old “normal” (that they would really like to have back.) Remember that it is OK to cry and show emotion.

– Try to remain focused on your friend and their needs. Avoid statements like “I know how you feel” or making comparisons between your past experiences and their present grief. This can be a slippery slope as you may soon be talking all about your past experiences rather than focusing on your friend and how he/ she is doing.

– Be normal. Your friend is still your friend. While in some ways everything in their live feels like it has turned upside down, he/ she is still the same person they were before and will still look for opportunities to be and enjoy their normal activities of the past. Your friend might want to try to return as many things to normal as quickly as possible and that is certainly OK. You do not have to sit around and just be sad. Look to your friend for cues.

– Be realistic with yourself. You know what you can and cannot handle. If it simply too challenging/ emotional for you, particularly because of your past experiences, accept that and do not blame yourself.

– Be there for your friend over time. It is easy to forget that life has changed for your friend forever. Continue to provide him/ her with support over time. This can be by listening and talking, writing a card or note, or other helpful positive outreach days, weeks, or even months from now.

These ideas are in no way a complete list of ways that you can try to help your grieving friend. It is also important that you allow yourself to grieve if this is someone that was important to you. Remember, if you or your friend are struggling with your grief it is important to make sure to communicate with a trusted adult. I hope that you also know that I am here to help now and in the future.
In particular, if you did know Ambryn and are struggling, I want to remind you that the entire Kilbourne staff and in particular all of the Counseling Center team are here for you.  I hope you will stop by and talk to me, I would love to hear the stories of how you knew Ambryn and what you will miss about him… everything I had the chance to hear about him during my time with the TWHS students and staff assures me that I missed out on knowing a really fun and interesting guy.”
– Trent Bowers, Superintendent

The full link for Brianna’s blog:  http://missabbottswkhsblog.blogspot.com/

Standard

Christy

ChristyToday is Administrative Professionals Day and in Worthington Schools we have an incredible team throughout the district that dedicate their professional lives to supporting our mission of empowering a community of learners who will change the world.

If you and I have interacted professionally you know I am personally blessed to work with Christy DeWees.  Really incredibly blessed!

Christy and I both went to Worthington High School and graduated a year apart from each other.  (She’s a year older!) We may have frequented The Continent at the same time but neither of us really knew each other in high school.  When I returned to Worthington as the Coordinator of Human Resources in 2008, Christy worked across the hall and we began to get to know each other.  Several years later Christy moved to St. Louis, Missouri and we were only Facebook friends for a few years.

When I became Superintendent of Schools and Kathy Rowe determined she wanted to go back to working in a school (I have that effect on people sometimes.  Kathy is now our leader at Wilson Hill). The position opened and Christy was willing to moving back to Ohio. It was a “no brainer,” if she would come home I wanted to work with her.

She chose Worthington and everyday I’m thankful for what Christy does for me.  She manages my calendar, takes significant community feedback on the phone for me, coordinates with the Board of Education, is an integral member of our communications team including our crisis communications team, and is the new “Wilson” in our internal Wilson Bridges communication.  Christy manages our budget and is in charge of convocation, State of the Schools, etc. Christy makes sure we have Diet Coke in the fridge and is my unofficial therapist. She literally does it all!

Christy, like many of our administrative assistants, will never receive the recognition they deserve for the work they do in our schools.  But behind the scenes our talented team gives selflessly of their time to help Worthington.

I’m thankful to work with Christy and for our team of administrative assistants throughout Worthington Schools!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard