Doing meaningful work with passion and enthusiasm

IMG_1104At our regular Board of Education meeting last week, the board led by member Marc Schare recognized the organizers of the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run for their time commitment and assistance. The 2017 event attracted over 1,400 elementary students around the district. In addition, the organizers put considerable thought into the course and they made the entire event fun for all. Rick Armstrong – Granby Wellness Teacher, Tyler Hollinger – Granby 6th Grade Teacher, Patti Schlaegel – Granby Principal, Meghan Zink – Granby Parent, Carolyn Rogers – Granby Parent and Jeff Henderson – Fleet Feet were recognized.  But this isn’t really a blog about the Warrior Run itself (although the picture above shows that Board Member Marc Schare not only recognized the event leaders, he himself braved the mud…) I wrote about the event in a post several weeks ago titled “A Uniquely Worthington Event.”  

Recently, local artist Adam Hernandez spent a week at Slate Hill Elementary to work with students and help them create an art piece that they could all form together. Adam came up with the concept for the mural, and every student at Slate Hill got to add their personal touch. Art teacher Jhan Yoder-Wyse championed this idea because to her it’s important to bring artists like Adam into work with Worthington students.

Slate Hill Mural

The Warrior Run and Jhan’s partnership with Adam are examples of people going the extra mile in service to our kids.  What causes someone or a group of someones to go the extra mile to create these types of opportunities and to put in the necessary amount of time and effort?

It’s first clear to me that our team has a passion for helping students see success both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.  We’ve hired well in Worthington and this is ingrained in our staff members.

In 2006, The Ken Blanchard Companies embarked on a new study to explore the concept of employee passion more fully concluding that, for employees to be passionate about their work, they need to have meaningful work – which means they should understand how their work adds value to the organization and creates positive results. They need an organizational culture that encourages collaboration, sharing, interdependence, and team spirit. The work environment needs to be fair – benefits, resources, and workloads must be fair and balanced. They should be given the autonomy to choose how tasks are completed; have the information and authority needed to make authoritative decisions – and know the boundaries of this; and be trusted to do their job without micro-management.

Employee passion is reinforced with recognition – which can be verbal, written or praise – for their accomplishments.  Employees also need to feel connected to their leaders and their colleagues, which requires honesty and integrity at all levels; and making an effort to build rapport.

In Worthington Schools, we will always strive for improvement.  We’ll also always strive to create a culture that allows our staff members to innovate, to find areas of their passion and pursue them in ways that add value to our students and our community.  If we do meaningful work with passion and enthusiasm we’re sure to see positive results.  I think you’ll see examples of this in every Worthington school!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Beginning the 2nd Quarter

CharleyOur weather has felt almost like summer in Worthington lately but we’re officially deep into autumn.  Our fall sports are wrapping up and most teams have completed their seasons or are into tournament play.  Parent-teacher conferences were last week at all of our Worthington Schools and we’re beginning to report student progress.

Do you feel like this school year is going unbelievably fast?  Last Thursday marked the end of the first quarter for our middle school and high school students.  This is an important point for each of us to pause and reflect.  At the high school, quarter grades are not included on official transcripts – just semester grades.  This means that our high school students have reached the halfway point in earning the grades that will be on their transcript.  Some of the questions students should ask themselves include:  Am I where I want to be?  If not, what can I do differently to turn things around?  If you need ideas for how you can improve your grades, we strongly encourage you to meet individually with your teacher.

Our teachers are actively asking the same questions that our students should be asking.  Are we where we want to be with our classes? If we’re not, what do we need to adjust so that the remainder of the school year is as productive as it possibly can be?

As a school district we’re also reflecting on our practice.  Led by our Chief Academic Officer, Angie Adrean, we are beginning an audit of our assessment practices.  W. Edwards Deming told us that if we want different results we must measure and then change our processes to create the results we want.  Over the next several months Angie will lead a collaborative process with a large team of teachers and administrators to review our current assessments and with each determine the congruence and alignment to the standards and our curriculum. In addition, we endeavor to determine how each of the assessments are used and if the intended outcomes are being achieved.  By pausing now to reflect on our practice as a school district we intend to make certain we have an assessment system that is aligned to the outcomes we desire and one that provides the necessary data to make improvements with a minimum amount of disruption to students and their learning.

Today we’re beginning the second quarter of the school year.  It’s a good time for all of us to pause, reflect and make the necessary changes to achieve the results we seek.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Homecoming at Worthington Kilbourne

St.MyerIt’s Homecoming week at Worthington Kilbourne High School!  (Thomas Worthington celebrated their homecoming last week.)  Homecoming at Kilbourne stretches for several weeks.  Last weekend the students painted the windows in the cafeteria.  Each class paints a section and these turn into elaborate murals that stay up for several weeks.  (You should stop by and check them out.  Very cool tradition!)

Each day this week has been a dress-up day for the student body and for some of the staff.  Monday was PJ day, Tuesday 80’s day, Wednesday U.S.A. day, Thursday Beach day (school appropriate beach attire, as Superintendent I appreciate that they clarified this…) and Friday is a Pink Out.

Friday Night the Wolves Football team will host Hilliard Darby in the homecoming football game.  During that game, the homecoming court and the homecoming king and queen will be announced.  Saturday night will feature the homecoming dance to be held at the high school.  In Worthington, the homecoming dance is a dress-up affair and most students attend with a date or with a group of friends, pictures, and dinner before coming to the dance are the norm.

Most of these items are likely similar to the homecoming that you remember growing up.  In 2017 homecoming includes many students asking for dates with what they deem as “creative proposals.”  This trend is often attributed back to 2005 and a proposal to prom on an MTV show called Laguna Beach.  With our teens’ use of social media and their increasing willingness to share their lives publicly, homecoming and prom proposals have become a mainstay among American youth and, in Worthington, it’s no different.  (As a 44-year old I don’t love this trend.  It’s cute at times, but ultimately I’d like to see a person asked nicely and simply to a dance.  But, that said, most of our students are not asking for my opinion on the matter and thus, it is what it is.)

Homecoming week is a mainstay in our U.S. school culture.  Hopefully, it’s a fun, positive and safe week for our students.  Happy Homecoming Worthington Kilbourne!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Safety in our Schools

TWHS_79You likely saw the news yesterday that a student brought a loaded handgun to Thomas Worthington High School.  We were very disappointed that the student made this choice.  I have received many questions about what happened yesterday and about how we as a school district work to keep all students safe.

Yesterday morning our high school principal received a tip that a student may have a weapon in school.  We take every tip seriously and they are immediately investigated.  After hearing this information the principal went to the classroom where the student was in class, peacefully removed him from the classroom, and simply asked him about the accusation.  The student admitted to having the weapon, and he was turned over to the Worthington Police.  In this case, there was no disruption of school, no event that happened in the school, we have no knowledge of any threat nor knowledge of any plan of action.  We immediately communicated with all TWHS families.

We have learned that a second TWHS student saw the gun at the beginning of the school day, handled the gun, took a picture of himself with the gun and posted it to social media.  Obviously, this was a very poor choice.

As the Superintendent of Schools and as a parent of children in Worthington I sincerely wish we lived in a society where we didn’t have to be concerned about safety.  Unfortunately, the ills of our society are present in our community and thus also potentially present in our schools.

In Worthington, we have worked diligently to prepare our schools, our staff members, and even our students should we ever experience a senseless act.  Several years ago all Worthington Schools were modified to include secure entrances and to make sure the perimeter of every school is locked throughout the student day.  Our staff members have all been trained in the ALICE (run-hide-fight) incident response system and our staff members have worked with students to respond in a similar fashion should it ever be necessary.  For each school we have established “rally points” where students would go should such an event occur.

Every school principal in Worthington Schools carries a walkie-talkie.  By simply changing the channel they have direct access to the Worthington Police dispatcher which can immediately send police to the school.  In addition, every school office is equipped with a panic button that goes directly to 911.  Finally, Worthington has a safe schools hotline where students, parents or community members can anonymously leave tips should they suspect an act of potential violence. 1 (866) 871-0926.

School safety in Worthington is a three-pronged approach.  Secure buildings and strong plans with accompanying training are important but we recognize that many events are triggered by mental health issues or by feelings of isolation.  Our third prong of school safety is attempting to help our students deal with their mental health needs.  In Worthington we employ three full-time mental health specialists that work with our students as well as a partnership for therapeutic counseling services where we refer students and families to North Community Counseling.  

Most importantly, our staff members are committed to providing school cultures where every student knows they have a trusted adult in their school that cares about them and believes in them.  “See Something, Say Something” is more than a slogan.  Our students and staff are comfortable talking with one another and it’s students who will most likely be best positioned to alert our staff of potential safety concerns.

In Worthington, the safety of our students and staff is our primary concern.  We’re attempting to be vigilant every day and we need every community member to partner with us.  Every child should feel safe and comfortable at school. If your child has concerns or feels unsafe, please contact any member of our school district staff to discuss these concerns.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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A Uniquely Worthington Event

Processed with MOLDIVLast weekend we held our annual Worthington Wellness Warrior Run at Granby Elementary.  Over 1,400 Worthington students ran through mud, over obstacles and across the one mile course.  The Warrior Run is uniquely Worthington and the brainchild of our Granby Elementary team.  

Wilson Hill Principal Dan Girard attended the event.  I don’t believe Dan actually ran in the event (maybe next year…) but I thought his message about the event was worth sharing:

“As I watched the the children of Worthington participate in the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run,  it encouraged me to reflect on the great community in which we live.  Upon arrival to McCord Middle School and Granby Elementary school the grounds resembled a festival. Tents were set up, music was playing, banners and flags were alive in the wind.  After a few minutes of searching for a parking place, I created one next to the Granby Bike Park along with a few other warrior runners.  When I finally arrived to the starting line I paused to look around and take in the energy.  There, along with me, were 1,400 participants and an abundance of parents, grandparents, siblings, and volunteers eagerly awaiting to send off the next set of runners.  In this vast field of “warriors” waiting their turn to attack the obstacle course I recognized many of the Wilson Hill racers.   

While standing at the finish line it was evident that each participant persevered throughout the race.  They did their best and did not give up.  They showed responsibility and honesty by staying on the course and following the rules as they ran.  Each person was respectful to his/her competitor, helping and encouraging along the route.  One student had a mishap along the course.  I saw a student from another school show them compassion by stopping to see if they were alright or needed help.  At one point a racer offered his hand to another person giving her assistance over an obstacle.  Each and every person that participated and finished showed self-discipline by staying the course while having fun in the process!

It is easy to take pause and be thankful for Worthington and the Wilson Hill community when I see people from all walks of life come together.  Thank you for all you do to make Worthington and Wilson Hill an amazing place to raise a family.”

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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