Be Present

IMG_7974Worthington Schools is a large organization with 1,250 employees.  It’s our expectation that as you interact with our employees it is a positive experience.  We expect that our employees are “present” and thus really engaged in your needs.  Do we hit the mark 100% of the time?  No.  But we are actively striving for improvement.

With that goal in mind a family recently shared a story with me that warmed my heart.  I heard the story from the grandfather of the students who will be attending our school district this fall. His daughter had been living out of state for the past decade.  Because of a recent change in their family situation she would be moving back to Worthington and had rented a home in a Worthington neighborhood.  In May they registered his grandchildren for the 2016-2017 school year and made an appointment at the school so the students could see where they would go to school.

The grandparent shared that our school principal dropped everything to give them a tour.  The principal showed them each area of the school, gave high fives, provided them with pencils with their new school name on it and really made them feel welcome.  In addition, the principal was able to spend some time with this man’s daughter to learn about her children’s recent transition and he assured her that he would place the students with empathetic teachers who would help the children grow and also would be attuned to their social-emotional needs.  The grandfather was really thankful that they had been provided this experience and he wanted me to know about it.

When he told me this story, I thought immediately that this is exactly what is supposed to happen.  Our principal did exactly what we in Worthington would want.  I’m certain that something else didn’t get done.  It’s possible that another parent’s phone call had to be made later in the evening or that some bus discipline was delayed.  There are always trade-offs, but by being present our principal helped a family who needed to feel things were going to be O.K.

I’m proud to work with people everyday who are willing to drop everything and make certain a family is comfortable coming to school!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent
 

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Believeland

BelievelandIt’s true that sometimes the importance of sports in our culture is blown out of proportion to reality.  As a public school district we want our students to participate in co-curricular opportunities because we want to them to learn important life skills like working hard, working together with teammates, persevering when things are difficult, etc…  Of course, we also want our students to have fun.  But, if we’re not careful, sometimes sports can become a bit too important.

On the other hand, sometimes sports can be incredibly positive.  Sometimes they make you smile, cheer, and even hug a stranger.  That was my experience last night watching the Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA title.  Cleveland won.  No, seriously, Cleveland won!  This is the first major sports title for Cleveland since the Browns won the NFL Championship in the pre-Super Bowl era in 1964.  The city that endured “The Shot”, “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, “The Mesa”, and “The Decision” has finally seen the curse lifted.  The mistake by the lake is no more, Cleveland won!

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the first team to win a game seven of the NBA finals as the visiting team since 1978.  They are the only team to win the NBA finals after being down three games to one.  After going down three games to one ESPN gave them less than a 5% chance to win the series.  And, they were Cleveland.

Yesterday my daughters and I went to a country music concert at Ohio Stadium.  I followed game seven on my phone, when I could get the phone to update, which was difficult with 55,000 other people trying to do the same thing.  With less than three minutes left in the game I moved to the single TV showing the CAVS game under the C-deck concourse.  I crowded in with a couple hundred other fans to watch the last few minutes.  When Kyrie Irving hit the three that ended up winning the game I found myself high-fiving and hugging people I had never seen before.  It was a joyous moment!

Here’s the thing, I’m not really a pro basketball fan.  I watch the highlights on ESPN but I don’t stay up late enough to watch the games.  Last night though transcended basketball and sports.  It was about Cleveland, and about Ohio.  It was about the underdog coming through.  It was about a hometown kid leading his city to a title.  It was fun and when sports are fun they’re good!

Here’s hoping that our fall sports teams in Worthington have that much fun!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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A Blog about the Blog

Blog.jpgAt our regularly scheduled Worthington Board of Education meeting last evening (6/13/2016) our Director of Communications Vicki Gnezda presented a report regarding our communications outreach efforts and our plans for next school year.  As part of the discussion on communications Board of Education President Marc Schare remarked, “you should write a blog about the blog.”  Immediately I thought that was kind of ridiculous…but upon reflection (Mr. Schare is my boss) this is a blog about the blog.

I began writing our original blog Exponential Impact in June of 2012.  Over the past four years we have posted 250 different entries which have been viewed over 71,000 times by 37,935 visitors.  An additional 219 followers subscribe to this blog and receive the entry in email form every time a post is published.  When we first started blogging my goal was simply to tell stories about Worthington Schools.  In my position as Assistant Superintendent I was witness to many “inside baseball” moments and I wanted people to see the good things and great people who are part of this school district.  I also wanted to share that educators are human too.  From time to time I would also share memories from my time as a student in Worthington and relate those to our school district today.  

Over time the blog evolved and I found myself utilizing the blog to also explain why things happened as they do, such as how elementary class size is determined, or when we may close school because it’s too cold outside, or even the rationale for having a canine search of our secondary schools.

In January of 2014 we began a second blog site Absolute Excellence which has become our primary blog site and is listed on the front page of the Worthington Schools website as the Worthington Blog.  Our goal is to publish at least one post each week and this is the 150th post on that site.  Those 150 posts have been viewed on the site 95,479 times by 69,300 visitors.  180 followers subscribe to the blog and our most read post ever was written in January of 2015 when I attempted to explain why we did not close school for snow when many surrounding districts did.  (We just value school more….just kidding.  This is a very passionate issue on both sides.  We make the best decision possible with the information we have at the time.)

Today I publish much more frequently to Absolute Excellence than I do to Exponential Impact.  When I post to Exponential Impact it will be connected to Worthington Schools but is likely more personal in nature.  We plan to continue to blog each week and sometimes more often.  We’ll use it to highlight cool things that are going on and to communicate rationale behind decisions.  If there is something you’d like us to write about, let us know.  We’re always looking for new ideas.  

You will find the blog on our website on the left hand side or we post to the Worthington Schools Facebook page, the Worthington Schools Twitter and my personal Twitter.  I’d encourage you to subscribe to the posts so you don’t miss anything of interest and to encourage those you know to do likewise.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Part Two – A Community of Learners

GranbyOur mission in Worthington Schools is to empower a community of learners who will change the world.  Last week our teachers were learning together and we had close to 400 teachers who attended our WorthU conference on grading practices and strategic balanced literacy.  This week school is back in session for many of our students.

Summer learning in Worthington Schools kicked off today.  We have over 800 students back in school in some form.  Our elementary summer reading camp began today with 240 elementary age students devoting six full weeks to improve their reading skills.  Across town 135 students are beginning the gifted summer enrichment programming today.  Additionally in our traditional summer school we have students taking high school credit courses both to get ahead on their school work and to recover credits that they need to stay on track towards an on-time graduation.  

Students who still need to pass their Ohio Graduation Tests are engaged today in OGT bootcamp.  This intensive training is designed to help them learn the necessary skills to pass the section that they still need.  

Our students are not only learning on campus this week, some are off learning oversees.  This weekend a group of students left for Spain and a separate group of students left on a learning trip to Italy and Greece.  Next week our annual Worthington Field Studies trip will head out west to California for a field ecology study.

Our official summer learning schedule began today and will remain steady from now until August.  Our community of learners never stops!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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