“is Math easier this year?”

MathThroughout Worthington Schools we have implemented new academic content standards in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science.  The Language Arts and Mathematics standards have attracted the most attention because they are fully aligned with the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.

In order to help teachers teach and students learn the new standards, Worthington has invested in resources that align with the standards.  In elementary math that means Worthington moved from our long used Everyday Mathematics to Stepping Stones grades K-5 and Digits Math grades 6-8.

The new standards are designed to be more rigorous, thus it was logical when I heard several parents ask the same question.  “If the standards are more rigorous, why does it seem like my elementary child is doing easier math?”  Good question.

In the new math standards students will be working on fewer standards, at deeper levels for the specific purpose of gaining mastery at the conceptual level rather than just memorizing tricks and algorithms.

The primary focus in kindergarten through fifth grade is on number. This focus develops intentionally through learning progressions of the new standards.  The number line plays an important role not just as an aid but to support students’ learning and understanding the concept behind number, fractions, etc.  Parents may perceive that the work is easier because it “looks” like they are spending more time on certain concepts or not getting to concepts as quickly as they had in the past.  It should, in fact, be more rigorous as they are going deeper and focusing on mathematical thinking and conceptual understanding. Students should, for example, be able to explain, or show, how they got their answer and why it is right.

As an easy illustration – in the old curriculum students would learn how to add 10 + 1 and give the answer.  They would be exposed to place value but getting the answer right was proof that they understood why it was 11.  In the new way they may have to draw, explain, or show, how they got the answer and what 11 looks like on a number line.

Our previous mathematics resource “spiraled.”  It introduced many different concepts in small doses and then came back to the concepts at different times during the student’s elementary career.  Our new resource works to make certain all students have a deep understanding of important mathematical concepts before building upon them.  Building on one concept may seem easier than dealing with several different concepts at the same time, but the rigor is intense as students are constantly asked to explain, justify and demonstrate their mathematical knowledge.  Our goal is to help students become both competent and confident.  Building a strong foundation is key to achieving that goal.

– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent




Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of life.  Thus is the case of current Worthington Kilbourne sophomore athlete Drew George.

On November 7th, Drew was diagnosed with an extremely rare and acute case of leukemia.  Drew just underwent his second round of chemotherapy, an extremely aggressive cycle and a generation of chemotherapy almost ten times stronger than Drew’s first round.  With no positive results gained from the first round of chemotherapy, doctors at Children’s are trying to knock this cancer into remission on this second round.  Unfortunately, the first round of chemo for Drew caused some heart damage and treatment has been modified to reduce the risk of causing any additional damage to Drew’s heart.  Doctors plan on a bone marrow transplant once they get Drew’s cancer knocked into remission.  Drew’s sister, Tori, a senior at WKHS, will be donating her healthy bone marrow to Drew when the time comes.

Drew’s mom, Julie O’Donnell works in the office at Kilbourne Middle School.  Previous to her formal employment with the schools, Julie worked on district projects for over a dozen years; two successful levy campaigns, Granby PTA President, McCord PTA President, WKHS PTO, WKHS Activities Club, Wolves, Inc. & Sport Booster Boards, McCord and WKHS Band & Choir Booster, WKHS Theater, from pancake days to book fairs, I have never not known a time when Julie has not been volunteering or donating her time, talent, or treasure in our buildings.

In times of challenge you see the true character of our students.  The rock in front of WKHS is painted orange and reads “Drew Strong.”  It has been this way since November.  The WKHS Varsity basketball team warms up in Orange (orange is the color for leukemia) over-shirts with Drew Strong on the back and Drew’s number.  The student body of Thomas Worthington all dressed in orange when the two teams played basketball in December.  They too showed their support for Drew.

Drew and his family have a long tough fight in front of them.  Worthington’s a good place to have a long tough fight.  We’ve got an incredible community that will step up and help.

A fund has been set-up to assist the family.  If you’re interested in making a contribution this is the info:

The O’Donnell/George Benefit Fund

at Huntington National Bank

7744 Sawmill Rd

Dublin, OH 43016

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent


Inside Recess

FootballChampion1_2010-3As a suburb of Columbus, Ohio our weather is notoriously unpredictable.  Just last week school was closed for several days because of extremely low temperatures that reached -25 to -30 with wind chill.  By the weekend our temperatures had risen to a balmy 50 degrees.

In our elementary schools this means some days students will go out for recess and some days students will stay indoors for recess.  Each principal has the autonomy to make the decision that they deem best for a particular day.  As a general rule students will have inside recess when the temperature is under 20 degrees with windchill or if the playground is covered with ice and snow.

The 20 degree with windchill line is a loose line.  One website may say the temperature is 21 degrees while another says it is 19 degrees.  We don’t mandate the use of Weatherbug or a specific site.  We allow for principal discretion as they are the person best positioned to make the decision.

As we age we don’t think much about inside recess.  The idea of taking a break and reading a book sounds pretty nice.  If you’re a parent of young children, or a teacher of young children, the indoor/outdoor recess decision is a big one.  Students who are inside too much have energy to burn.  Their interactions with their peers begin to suffer, and they sometimes look for outlets for their need to run and play in inappropriate ways.

As a child we passed the time in indoor recess with paper football tournaments or pencil wars.  (The pencil wars were hidden from the duty teacher because each war involved the breaking of a pencil.  I may or may not have been the 5th grade pencil war champ in the underground Worthington Hills pencil war tournament.  I can neither confirm or deny such an event actually took place as we frown upon the usage of educational equipment such as pencils in this manner.)

Today our teachers work hard to provide opportunities for students during indoor recess.  Technology helps, and many students play computer games.  Last year my daughter’s often played “Just Dance” in the Nintendo Wii that was donated to the class for indoor recess.  Our Physical Education teachers work to schedule floor hockey, archery, and other activities to keep the students occupied.

It’s important that families watch the weather daily and that students come dressed for the potential of outside recess.  If we can go out, we believe it’s best for students to get outside and run and play.  A good coat, hats and gloves are essential in Ohio.

It’s gotten cold again in Worthington.  Today is likely an indoor recess day.  Please students, no pencil wars!

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent


Welcome! We’re Glad You’re Here…

Welcome to Absolute Excellence the new official blog of the Worthington Schools!

The purpose of this blog will be to communicate with our stakeholders in informative but informal ways.  Our hope is that if you read this blog regularly you will learn things about the school district that you did not know.  You’ll gain insight into how and why decisions are made, and you’ll hear about the school district from the perspective of administrators, educators, parents and community members…sometimes all at the same time.

The primary authors of this blog with be Dr. Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent for Worthington Schools, and Mrs. Vicki Gnezda, Director of Communications for Worthington Schools.  From time to time you may read posts from Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent of Worthington Schools and other members of the administrative team within Worthington.  Who knows, if things go well you may read about the school district from the viewpoint of parents,teachers, custodians, bus drivers, etc…It’s a blog, there are no formal rules.

Our intent will be to post at least one blog each week.  This may follow a formal weekly schedule, but more likely, posts will occur as news happens, and some weeks you’ll see multiple posts, while other weeks you may not see one.  We encourage you to subscribe to the blog to ensure posts are delivered to you inbox.

If there are items you have questions about, or things you would like perspective on, please let us know.  Our goal is to create a window into the organization that allows for transparent two-way communication and thus we would encourage you to apply to our posts and engage in discussion.

Worthington Schools has a new blog.  Please tell your friends and neighbors.

– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent