A Love for Everything Worthington

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20 years ago, back in 1997, my dad was a government teacher at Thomas Worthington High School.  Dad had retired from the U.S. Secret Service and spent a few years teaching at TWHS.  

While teaching at Thomas Worthington one of dad’s students was a dynamic and driven young lady by the name of Jen Oderbrecht.  Jen was a soccer star as an athlete and a dedicated student.

A few years ago when it was announced in the Columbus Dispatch that I had been named Superintendent of Worthington Schools I received an email from an Olentangy Orange teacher.  That teacher was asking if I was related to her former teacher Dick Bowers.  I was, as that’s my dad, and that Olentangy Orange teacher turned out to be the former Jen Oderbrecht, now married as Jen Goebbel.  Jen and I talked several times via email and when a social studies teaching position opened at Thomas Worthington she moved home to Worthington from Olentangy.

Tonight the Worthington Board of Education approved Jen as the next athletic director at Thomas Worthington High School!.  How cool is that?  

Jen has demonstrated a deep understanding and love of everything Worthington. (Her license plate is TWCards) She is an alumnus (TWHS class of 1998), a resident, a parent, and a dedicated employee. She lives steps from the TWHS campus. Jen has an accomplished athletic background playing goalkeeper for the 1997 state runner-up TWHS soccer team, as well as playing collegiate soccer at Rollins College (FL). She credits sports as one of her main reasons for being able to attend college and as a strong motivator for maintaining strong academics while in high school. There aren’t many people who feel as deeply and personally passionate about the value of interscholastic athletics and their impact on school culture, kids, and an athlete’s personal success.

Jen spent several years as an Assistant coach in Dublin, and in 2008, started the Olentangy Orange HS girls soccer program when the school opened. She amassed a 65-39-7 record in six seasons as the head coach. OOHS was the D-2 District runner-up in 2008 and D-1 District runner-up in 2011 and 2012.

Jen just completed her second year teaching Social Studies at TWHS after spending most of her career teaching Social Studies at OOHS. Jen resides in Worthington with her husband Kyle and two children.

Our Cardinal athletic department will be in good hands with Jen!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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No Words…

EricIt’s been an incredibly difficult last two weeks in Worthington.  I don’t think it’s productive spending time asking why bad things happen, but even with that said, I’ve spent a lot of time asking that very question.  Why?

On May 26th, just two days after school let out Bluffsview Kindergarten student, the son of a Worthington Kilbourne High School teacher, Jude Kraft, tragically drowned while swimming at the Worthington Hills Country Club.

Now, just yesterday (6/11) around 2:30 P.M. Thomas Worthington Junior Eric Clark went missing while swimming with basketball teammates off the coast of Fripp Island, South Carolina.  The search for Eric will continue today.

I have no words.  No words will adequately express the sorrow we feel for the Kraft and the Clark families.  I have no words that can make either of these events any easier and no words that will help our community understand these tragedies.  

I don’t know if Worthington has faced any more tragedy than any other community.  I do know that if feels like that is the case right now.  

Our crisis team is led by Worthington Kilbourne High School counselor Brianna Abbott.  She would tell us that, It is normal to feel lost and sad at times like this, but because this pain doesn’t feel comfortable or good it is also normal to wish that there was a “quick fix” that could take it all away.  And unfortunately that doesn’t exist.

So what do we do with all these feelings?  You feel them.  Express them in safe and healthy ways, find trusted people to talk to, to ask questions of, to seek support and encouragement from and to allow yourself the chance to truly feel whatever it is that you are going through.  It is ok if you don’t feel anything.  Shock and numbness are natural.  It is ok if you are sad and cry.  And yes, it is ok to laugh and find joy too.  All of your feelings – happy and sad – are important and it is of the utmost importance to honor them.  Try to be patient with yourself if you have lots of different emotions.  Try to identify what it is you are feeling and why that feeling might be presenting itself for you. And if you are struggling with the intensity of your feelings, please seek help and support.

So what do we do?  We do what Worthington always does.  We come together to support our neighbors and our classmates.  If there is one strength of this community it’s just that.  We’re one community committed to loving our kids and supporting one another.  This summer we need everyone to do just that.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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“Let’s review your flashcards…”

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I don’t typically take the time to read the comics in the newspaper but the best comics often tell a story and their messages can be poignant.  So it was with this Sally Forth comic where the essential message from the student was, “I’ll remember you because you invested your time in me.  I noticed.  Thank You!”

We’re transitioning to summer mode in Worthington and as such my daughter began her summer math tutoring last Thursday.  My daughter needs to keep using mathematical practices and we didn’t want her to experience a “summer slide.”  As a family, my wife and I decided it would be best if our daughter was tutored by someone outside of our home.  Even though my wife is a teacher by trade and has taught middle school math, we felt like attempting to get our daughter to do the necessary work with us was going to be nearly impossible.  Like many kids, she just doesn’t want to do what mom and dad want her to do.  So, we went out and found the best possible math tutor who would certainly have more influence with our child than we as parents do.

The cool thing is, for at least week one, it worked.  On Thursday our daughter woke up and said, “I have math today!”  Now, when I say, “let’s review your flashcards” she usually says, “um…I’m watching Netflix or, I need to go workout…”  But, in this case, our daughter woke up excited to go to math tutoring.  Why?

I don’t believe math has anything to do with my daughter’s excitement.  I believe she’s excited because she’s going to work with a teacher that she knows cares about her.  A teacher that will talk with her about gymnastics and a teacher who, despite being close in age with her parents, is simply way cooler than her mom and dad.

Sally Forth has it right.  My daughter is excited to go to her math tutor because the teacher involved has invested in her life and because of that investment I believe my daughter is excited to spend time with her.  That’s worth paying for.  (That and less fighting over math flashcards and Netflix time in our house.)

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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