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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Evening Street Exceeds Capacity

downloadLast spring we met several times with the incoming kindergarten parents at Evening Street Elementary.  91 kindergarten students had signed up for Evening Street’s attendance area and even with using two classrooms at the McConnell Arts Center we did not have the necessary classroom space to accommodate all students.  Throughout those meetings the families indicated that they believed this large group of students would not be an outlier but the norm and they called for us to look at long-term solutions.

As a district we wanted some data to drive the decision and thus we contracted for an enrollment study completed by Future Think Inc.  Now that we have received the enrollment study it indicates that the parents were correct.  We do in fact need a long-term solution.  In 2008 Evening Street had a total student enrollment of 456 students.  In 2015 it’s 579 students.  By 2021 it’s projected to be 645 students.

Back in 2010 we ran out of classroom space at Evening Street and contracted with the McConnell Arts Center for two classrooms.  Two Kindergarten classes have been held at the MAC since that point and even in rain, ice and snow our kindergarten students walk to the actual school building several times each day for lunch, related arts, etc…

With enrollment on the rise we will likely be short one classroom for next school year.  Projections show we’ll be short an additional classroom the following year and each year after for the next five years.  Essentially a student population that previously fit into three classrooms at each grade level is now projected to need four classrooms at each grade level.

There are multiple ways that this problem could be solved.  It may be that we should redraw the attendance lines so that there are less students at Evening Street.  It may be that we should add onto the school or add modular classrooms.  Students entering kindergarten could be bused to another school or sixth grade students could be served at the middle school or we could choose to hold classes at Thomas Worthington High School and walk back and forth like we do with the McConnell Arts Center.

There are many options.  Whatever option that is selected should first take into account the educational impact of the option and it should be a win/win solution.  (For instance it doesn’t make sense to move students to another school if that move makes the receiving school too big and the problem is not solved but just shifted.)  Finally we would like to create a solution that lasts at least five years.

We recognize that to the families involved in these decisions they will have great impact. The board of education will be meeting during the day on January 11th.  One of the items that will be discussed is Evening Street (We will meet from 9:20 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. and we will first review reports from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, then review the new enrollment reports referenced above and some other staffing comparisons we have created based on audits of our programming.  Reviewing the options for Evening Street will be the final item on the agenda and the exact timing for discussion will be hard to gauge.)  On January 20th a parent meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. at the Worthington Education Center where Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks will review the options with interested families.  On January 25th the regular board of education meeting at 7:30 P.M. will again discuss the options for Evening Street and Mr. Banks will share with the Board of Education the feedback from the parent meeting.  All meetings referenced are public meetings and visitors are welcome to attend.  By early February we should have determined a course of action and we will communicate that decision to all parties.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Happy New Year 2016!

11898544_10152917275716895_1224849474576675595_nHappy New Year!  We’re ready for 2016 in Worthington Schools!  Recently the Worthington This Week News asked us a simple question: What do you think is ahead for Worthington Schools in 2016?  

Worthington Schools is growing.  In 2015 we welcomed almost 9,800 students to our campuses.  A recent enrollment study completed by Future Think projects that the school district will see steady growth from 2015 – 2024 and will increase in student population by 650 more students during that time.  Houses are turning over within the Worthington School district, and there is significant reinvestment in the community.  This means more students to educate in Worthington!

In Worthington our newest school building is 25 years old this year.  Several of our schools are 50 years old and were not built with today’s learning modalities in mind.  Therefore, in 2016 we will be planning for the future of our facilities.  In the fall of 2015, a study was completed by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission which looked at the useful life span and the educational environments for each of the district’s schools.  These reports will be reviewed by the Board of Education in January, and we will begin to determine if it is time for a community engagement process to create a master facilities plan for Worthington.

On the evening of February 24, the district will host its first State of the Schools event at 7:00 P.M. at Worthington Kilbourne High School.  This event is open to the public.  Attendees will see talented student performances as well as hear a comprehensive overview of the current health of the school district.  Also on this evening, the district’s new Mission and Vision will be unveiled.  This will be a great night for all who have an interest in education in Worthington and we would love to have you attend.

This spring, we will see the expansion of five additional college credit plus courses to be offered on our high school campuses next fall.  These courses, taught through Columbus State, will allow junior and senior students to take up to 15 semester hours of college credit each year without leaving our schools.  These courses will transfer to any state university in Ohio and many of our students will enter college having already paid for their first year prerequisites.

Beginning in January, residents will be able to live stream Board of Education meetings.  Meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of each month beginning at 7:30 P.M.   In addition, the Worthington Schools website continues to see daily improvements and the district will continue to attempt to reach constituents with social media integration on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Worthington Schools will tackle several challenges this spring.  After auditing our high school courses this fall, we will evaluate the future of several of our programs that do not have the enrollment we would hope.  High school course selection for elective programming is consumer driven and over time students and families gravitate from one program to another.  Our offerings continually evolve to meet the changing needs and preferences.

With our increase in student enrollment we have run into space constraints at the elementary level.  This spring we’ll need to work with some schools to create sustainable long-term solutions.

Finally, in 2016 we’ll work relentlessly to maximize the academic potential of every Worthington student.  We’ll make certain that every child knows they have a trusted adult, or many trusted adults in our schools, who believe in their ability to learn and who are vested in their success.  We’ll set high expectations for student success, but we’ll partner with our students to help them achieve those high expectations through hard work and positive relationships.  2016 is sure to be a great year in Worthington Schools!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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