Awesome People Overload

Processed with MOLDIV

For the past several years I have posted the same tweet every Friday afternoon of the school year.  I simply post: “Thanks for making it a great week in @wcsdistrict #ItsWorthIt.” Accompanying the tweet is a picture collage from the week we are finishing.  The pictures are of Worthington staff members and Worthington students.  I take the pictures from other social media posts that week.

Last week when I posted my weekly tweet someone replied, “Awesome people overload!”  When I read the reply it made me smile. I feel that way every week. Worthington is a school district made up of amazing students and dedicated, professional staff members.  We work hard together in the classroom and in our co-curriculars and we have lots and lots of fun together each and every week.

This weekend I was talking with a high school student who was telling me about her teacher who has been on leave dealing with a medical issue.  She said, “You just don’t understand how much you’re going to miss your teacher until they’re not there for a while.” Again I smiled and I thought about what a profound lesson that is for all of us.  In the moments we work together we often find one another’s flaws. Yet, when we are apart for a while we miss all of the positive things that the person does and that we are prone to overlook in the moment.  

We’re really lucky to live and work in a school district full of amazing people.  If we have some awesome people overload I think that’s a good thing!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

Striving to be Abnormal

DareNiyX4AEtYBbWinter hung around for a long time in Central Ohio this year.  Mentally that can be difficult for students and adults alike. We’ve all been confined to the same people inside our crowded schools for a bit too long.  Our weather combined with a difficult public discourse on almost every issue seems to put many of us on edge. We can be irritable with one another. Sometimes we can be uncivil in our zest to prove our point.  It feels like sometimes everyone is just plain angry about something.

I recently heard a local pastor speak and he provided some perspective for me that I have found useful.  Here’s what he said:

“Difficult people are normal.  YOU are somebody’s difficult person.  Somebody is praying for grace to deal with you and with me.  People who break commitments are normal. Not getting your way all the time is normal.  Being frustrated is normal. Being misunderstood is normal. It’s normal for things in this world to break down.  It’s normal for technology not to work. It’s normal not to have all the money that you want. It’s normal to misplace things.  It’s normal to be hassled at your job. It’s normal to not have a perfect relationship with everyone in your extended family. It is normal.

We have this 21st Century ideal that life is supposed to be comfortable, that it’s supposed to be easy, that everything should come easy.  The reality is life is often hard. And, that’s normal.”

As we work through challenging issues together as a community it’s normal that we won’t all see things the same way.  As we interact with one another in the classroom or the school hallways or on the athletic fields it’s normal that we’ll find some interactions difficult.  

Spring will someday arrive in Columbus and that will help.  We’ll all get outside and we’ll have some space from one another.  But, what helps me most is to reframe my thinking and to understand, what we’re experiencing is normal for human behavior.  

My hope for Worthington Schools is that while we understand the behavior may be normal we strive to better than normal. Let’s make Worthington a community that honors differences by communicating with others in positive, constructive ways. We’re unlikely to always hit the mark.  But together let’s strive to be abnormal.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

A Celebration of Social/Emotional Learning That Inspires Students to “Change the World”

Shirt designAuthor Robert Barr, in his book Building a Culture of Hope, noted that  “…the social and emotional learning celebrated in a culture of hope [provides] the foundation of personal strength that is necessary to keep kids traveling a pathway toward their better life.”

Inspired by the Columbus-based Harmony Project, Worthington’s “Hands and Voices of Hope Project” has begun its inaugural year of building and supporting students of character and purpose by cultivating their personal strength for Perseverance to change themselves, Responsibility to change their schools, and Compassion to change their community.

Supported by a grant from the Worthington Educational Foundation, the Hands and Voices of Hope Project began as the vision of the district’s 11 elementary school principals and the Director of Elementary Education. The idea was a simple one: identify students of great potential, and invite them to be part of a community of learners seeking to build a sense of pride, purpose, belonging and optimism that they could share with other young people around them. Their roles as “Character Ambassadors” would mean committing themselves to:

  • self-improvement related to their academic life at school,
  • modeling improvement in their schools by leading for character, and
  • demonstrating improvement in their local community through service.

In each elementary school, 10-15 students in grades 4-6 were nominated by their principal. Upon accepting the invitation, the students then began meeting regularly with their school’s principal and other school Ambassadors to dialogue together about decisions they make to act upon the three commitments, using a project reflection workbook authored by the elementary leadership team to monitor their work on personal improvement goals, as well as the contribution(s) that they make to their school culture.

To fulfill the commitment to community service, the Director of Elementary Education organized three projects, partnering with local service organizations that held special interest for the student Ambassadors. Each Ambassador was asked to commit to one Saturday of service in addition to their school work.

Through the community partnerships, the Hands and Voices of Hope Project connected with The Sedona Grace Foundation which provides assistance to families in need with resources to keep and maintain the health of their pets, which provide emotional support to students. The Ambassadors led a pet food drive that provided donations of 327 pounds of dog and cat food – the largest donation ever for the Foundation. In addition, Ambassadors showed up on a Saturday morning to pack 1500 biscuit bags for the Foundation – a four-month supply!

On Saint Patrick’s Day, Ambassadors worked with the Family Mentor Foundation to build more than 550

“Buddy Bags” using donations they had collected. “Buddy Bags” are provided to needy boys and girls throughout Columbus, stocked with enough breakfast, fruit, snack, and dinner items to feed a child for the weekend. The food used was another result of the character leadership that the Ambassadors demonstrated through their school-based food drives.

Additionally, the Ambassadors were able to donate more than 1000 pounds of food items to the local Worthington Resource Pantry.

The final community service project will involve a local artist, Jeremy Jarvis to create a public work of art that will share a visual message of hope and character. With creative input from the students themselves, Jarvis mocked up a four-panel mural that students will work collaboratively to complete on the weekend of April 14-15. The mural will hang in the Worthington Education Center on permanent display, when not being used as a presentation piece that will travel to elementary for Ambassadors to share and discuss their journey of hope and character with fellow schoolmates in the coming year.

Finally, in Harmony Project style, the Ambassadors will invite their parents and teachers to share an evening of musical reflection and celebration on April 30 at Worthington Kilbourne High School. The “Celebration of Hope Concert” will allow our student Ambassadors to celebrate their work and the adults who supported their journey.

The Hands and Voices of Hope Project is one of the many ways that, in Worthington Schools, we invest in cultivating personal strength and a sense of purpose and character in our students. Our Character Ambassadors are truly living out our district mission: “To empower a community of learners who will change the world.”

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
Standard

Recent Columbus Dispatch Article

On March 20, a Kilbourne Middle School student was arrested by Worthington Police and charged with inducing panic after allegedly threatening to bring a gun to school. With the arrest and disciplinary actions, there is no ongoing threat.

A recent news article has reported that Worthington Schools administrators delayed in informing police about the threat. We understand how concerning this is.  The administration assessed the information. They have an ongoing relationship with the student and worked directly with the student before contacting law enforcement.  The threat was not ignored.

We are currently reviewing our communications expectations and assessment of threats. Based on our reflections of this event and the community concerns around this incident, we will be instructing our principals that if a threat comes in after hours or on the weekend that involves a weapon and they are unable to fully investigate, they should call the police immediately.  In addition, our administration will undergo training this summer regarding threat assessment.

We take every threat seriously.  We all agree that the safety of our school community is our top priority.  In Worthington, we care about our students, staff, and visitors and strive every day to provide a safe yet welcoming learning environment for all.  Should you have any questions about the safety of your students’ school please contact Randy Banks (rbanks@wscloud.org) 614-450-6000.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
Standard