New Development in Worthington

imagesOn Monday night I attended the City of Worthington’s UMCH development plan meeting.  If you have not seen the plans to develop UMCH you’ll want to review the website where you will have the opportunity to review the proposal and provide feedback to the city.  As part of the the redevelopment process the school district is often asked what we will do with any new students that the new residential development would produce?  This is a fair question, but one that is difficult to answer.

From a school district standpoint we believe that it is premature to discuss the enrollment of specific elementary buildings and how that impacts the school assignments for future residential developments. It is safe to say that we currently have available space in elementary schools (and in middle and high schools) throughout the district though we could not guarantee student placement in the nearest school.

Now, this sounds like we’re trying not to answer the question.  And, that may be true in some respects, but here’s why.  In the particular case of UMCH the plans presented are in the early concept phase.  It’s impossible at this point for us to determine how many students would attend out of this area.  When plans are finalized we will have better data on which to base a projection.  For instance, the number of single family homes greatly impacts our projections.  The presupposition is that the more single family homes in the area, the more students the schools will see.

Secondly, when determining student assignment to schools the UMCH development cannot be looked at in isolation. Worthington Schools serves an area much larger than the City of Worthington and we currently have several other residential developments that could impact student assignment.  The District at Linworth is currently building and leasing 228 garden and townhouse style apartments at 161 and Linworth Road.  Likewise there is significant building of new apartments in the Crosswoods area of Columbus.  Finally, we see houses all over Worthington turning over in a hot real estate market and often when a Worthington house turns over it means new students for Worthington Schools.  Thus, where we have capacity for new students today may be different than where we have capacity for new students by the time a UMCH redevelopment is complete.

In the meantime, our board of education recently approved a resolution that will allow Worthington Schools to partner with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).  The OFCC will work with Worthington to complete studies on enrollment projections, school student capacity, facility studies and comprehensive master planning.  These studies will provide the school district with the data needed to work with our community to make decisions as redevelopment continues across our school district.

Worthington is a great community!  That’s not a secret.  Houses in Worthington are very hard to come by and developers want to work in Worthington.  Responsible redevelopment is a good thing.  It means we’re growing again and it means people want to invest in this community.  But, it also means change and it means that as a school district we need to work hard to make certain we are positioned to continue to provide great spaces for our kids in connected community centered environments.

So, where will those students go to school?

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent (1st day on the job…)


Still Going Viral

0The Internet can be an amazing place.  Sometimes that’s a good thing (read on) and sometimes not so much (see: We Don’t Need Yik Yak in Worthington).  Recently, a story from Worthington Schools in 2012 made the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites.  It seems that many people saw this story for the first time in 2015.  A website called Liftable featured the story and it was shared with me by several friends from across the country.  Likewise,our Board of Education received the following email from a citizen in Maryland who has no connection to Worthington.  The email was titled “Proud of Colonial Hills Elementary”

I live in Maryland, and I just saw the video of the field day at Colonial Hills Elementary where the coach, then the students, fell in to support Matt, a student with cerebral palsy running a race.  I don’t know how old that video is, but everyone in that video demonstrated true character and showed what it means to be part of a community.  Everyone matters, and they demonstrated that finishing the race is more important than winning the race.

I know that video is going viral, and that’s a good thing. Colonial Hills Elementary is showing America and the world the right way to act. I wish you all the best and please pass on my appreciation to the staff and students of Colonial Hills Elementary School.

The story originally garnered significant attention in June of 2012.  CNN, The Today Show, Inside Edition, NBC 4 and even ESPN was in Worthington to show the amazing story of our kids at Colonial Hills.  I blogged about it twice in Coach Blaine and Worthington Has Amazing Kids.

If somehow you have missed this story, Matt is a physically challenged student who was at Colonial Hills Elementary who during field day inspired us all with his effort and determination.  Amazingly without prompting, the rest of the Colonial Hills student body joins in to cheer on their classmate.  The video is a testament to Matt and all of our kids.  It warms the heart just to watch it.

Obviously the star of this story was Matt and our kids.  Playing a supporting role was the Physical Education teacher, John Blaine.  In the video you see John pushing Matt, encouraging Matt, and challenging Matt, to keep working hard.  Anyone who knows John knows that this is what he does everyday.

The really cool thing about Worthington is that while this particular video went viral, the contents were not a one time occurrence.  One of the best things about Worthington Schools in 2015 is that our district is a melting pot of kids and families and we’ve become an inclusive community where it’s O.K. to be different.  Many of our students who were at Colonial Hills for this field day in 2012 will begin as freshmen at Thomas Worthington High School this August.  They’ve grown a bit since they were sixth graders, but they’re the same great kids who support one another and treat everyone as equal.

It’s fun to see a great Worthington moment continuing on in cyber space.  It’s even better to have an opportunity to interact everyday with our kids in Worthington and to partner with our families to make certain Worthington is a great school district for all students.  As we plan for the 2015-2016 school year that is our mission.  Make Worthington a great place for all kids. Only 51 days until kids return to class!

– Trent Bowers, Soon to be Superintendent

p.s.  If you didn’t see it, the ESPN feature on this story was just amazing.  Check out “Run with Me by ESPN


Worth U and WoTown Funk

IMG_7148Today more than 300 Worthington teachers attended professional training at our Worth U professional learning day.  The focus for today’s learning was on collaborating with colleagues to help all students maximize their learning potential.

Central to the day’s learning and how we approach our work daily in Worthington is the concept of a “Growth Mindset.”  Author Carol Dweck wrote the book “Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success” and each teacher who attended the training received this book.  (You may want to read this book as well.)  In her work “Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals—personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.”

Secondly, teachers heard from our keynote speaker Dr. Brian McNulty.  Dr. McNulty is the Vice President of Leadership Development for the Center for Performance Assessment.  His work and writing have been featured in leading journals and newspapers throughout the world. With our teachers today, he helped provide a structure for teacher collaboration and student data review called “Teacher-Based Teams.”  This five-step process includes collaborating with grade level or subject-specific peers to:

  • Step 1: Collect Evidence of Student Learning
  • Step 2: Analyze Assessment Results
  • Step 3: Plan for Instruction
  • Step 4: Implement with Fidelity
  • Step 5: Re-assess and Evaluate Effectiveness

As our teachers prepare for the 2015-2016 school year they will spend a portion of their summer learning and improving their craft.  We’ll enter August focusing on a growth mindset and collaborating with peers to help each child maximize their learning.

This “WoTown Funk” video kicked off our event.  (Caution:  there is some very bad acting in this video….  But, you may recognize some of the faces, and you’re guaranteed to smile.  Your team will help you, just watch!)  Remember: Growth Mindset and Collaboration!

– Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent


Graduation Rate Goals

Congratulations to our entire pre-K-12 student body, teachers, administrators and parents!

Our projected 2014 four-year graduation rate is 93.8% and our projected 2014 (based on the class of 2013) five-year graduation rate is 96.4%.

Both of these equate to A’s on the ODE Report Card. The cohort benchmark for four-year graduation rate is 93.0-100.0% = A and five-year graduation rate is 95.0-100% = A.

This is the first time we’ve reached both milestones under the new graduation rate formula.

Thus, I strongly recommend that we continue to focus on graduating college-ready and career-ready students which starts by increasing the graduation rate.

I am certain Worthington Academy, under Adham Schirg’s leadership, will play a pivotal role in reducing the student dropout rate.

With that said, we need to also create a dashboard (similar to our data tool kit) that gives us a signal when students are in jeopardy so we can maintain a graduation rate that will make us proud.

– Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent