They’re doing the best they can…

AraceIn the United States, we love our sports.  That’s as true in Worthington as it is anywhere else.  Worthington is a school district that offers one of the most robust co-curricular programs in Ohio.  We field 32 varsity sports teams at each high school, and we desire to have our students connected to their peers in school and outside of school in a co-curricular.

With that said, in today’s (8/29/18) Columbus Dispatch, columnist Michael Arace writes about the critical shortage of officials for sporting events throughout the state of Ohio and nationally.  It’s a two-fold problem. The first is positive, as there has been rapid growth in youth sports such as lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, ice hockey, etc… While officials for football and basketball have remained steady, there are not enough people trained to officiate the growth of other sports.  As a school district that has offered these sports for many, many years, we see this shift and feel the shortage of trained officials.

The second trend is more disturbing but real.  Many people who sign up to officiate games leave within the first two years because of the abuse they hear from parents, coaches and even athletes.  People are posting what they believe are “bad calls” on YouTube and other social media sites. Even here in Worthington, we had several incidents last year of our parents following officials into the parking lot to berate an official whom they believe made a bad call.

Here’s the deal, officials make bad calls.  Some officials make many bad calls. Watching sometimes is hard.  However, as fans, coaches, and athletes, if we want the games to be able to continue, we need to take a step back, relax, count to ten, or a thousand if necessary, and realize we’re only watching a game.  (I’ll be the one counting to 1,000. I may or may not still be harboring hard feelings about a field hockey call five years ago. Thus, I get it. It’s not always easy, and I struggle with perspective sometimes too.)  One thing is certain. The officials are doing the best they can and if we can’t control ourselves we won’t have officials or be able to run our games.

In Worthington, let’s together commit to treating our officials well and thanking them for their efforts.  If you’d like to apply to officiate games or you know someone who you believe would be good as an official they can apply at OHSAA.org/officiating/permits.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Yep, It’s Hot!

WilsonHillEach morning before work I attempt to run a few miles.  Run may be a relative term but I do attempt to put one foot in front of the other.  This morning when I went out to run at 5:00 A.M. my thermostat said that it was 75 degrees out.  My first thought was “yuck!” My second thought was, “this is ridiculous!” But, it was my third thought that I’d actually reflect on and that thought was “in February you’ll be dreaming of a warm morning when you can go outside in just shorts and a t-shirt.”

It’s really warm today and some schools around Ohio are having to close because of the prolonged heat.  But, it’s certain that sometime later this school year we’ll be dreaming of “really hot” weather. We’re lucky in Worthington Schools.  All of our classroom spaces are air-conditioned. (We do have multiple gymnasiums that are not air-conditioned and will be very warm today and tomorrow. We may need to move students from those spaces and hold alternative learning of some kind.)  Now, while we do have AC throughout our schools I recognize that within our schools our heating and cooling can be very uneven. We have large buildings and aging infrastructure. Some areas are warm. In other areas you may need a sweater because they’re so cold.  In our office Christy and I share a thermostat. She’s forever turning it up. If it’s good for her I’m in my office sweating through my shirt. If it’s good for me she’s running a space heater under her desk. But, when it comes to the heat, “Big things Big, Small things Small.”  We’re lucky, for us in Worthington heat today is a small thing.

In addition, as I reflect on our theme of “Your Words Matter” for this year, I’m struck by what I allow my mind to think about and focus on also matters.  It’s clear to me that you see what you look for in life and my words often reflect my mindset. If I look for the good in our schools I see good everywhere.  Unfortunately if I look for the bad, I see that too. Yep, it’s hot, but today, I choose to be thankful for warm weather, schools and homes with air conditioning, and the beginning of another great school year in Worthington.  Who has it better than us…..?

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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R.I.P. Coach

Seaman-jpgFormer Worthington High School teacher and football coach, Bob Seaman, passed away last week at the age of 87.  Coach Seaman had a long and distinguished coaching career that included stops in Massillon, at the college level at Wichita State and at Worthington High School from 1983 – 1991.  Coach Seaman coached Worthington High School’s only undefeated team in ’83, won several OCC Championships, and State playoff appearances, was State semifinalist in ’86. His 1990 team qualified for the playoffs but was denied their shot by an OHSAA ruling.  (I may still be a tad bitter over that 1990 ruling…)

As an athlete at Worthington High School, I had the privilege to play for Coach Seaman on the ‘88, ‘89 and ‘90 teams.  Coach Seaman will be forever remembered as a ‘Player’s Coach who inspired, motivated, and lit up a dark room whenever he entered one, and always had your back.   His mantra was Pride, Poise, Team and he ascribed to the Woody Hayes philosophy of offensive football. (When I played small college football my bio in the program stated that I led my high school football team in receptions.  It left out the fact that I had only actually caught seven passes. Coach Seaman realized Dwight Pickens could run the ball a bit and he made the correct strategic decision to give that young man the rock!)

Many life lessons were taught by Coach’s leadership, as well as the love for his family.  But, coaching was different in the 80’s than it is today. Coaches motivated in different ways and while there was no question Coach Seaman cared deeply about his players.  It was common during his time to use colorful descriptive language and tests of “manhood” that we wouldn’t condone today.

In our athletic programs in Worthington Schools we ascribe to the InsideOut Initiative (the purpose of the InsideOut Initiative is to transform the current “win-at-all-costs” sports culture where the value is often  defined by the scoreboard, into one that defines and promotes sports as a human growth experience) and as such, we value sports because we believe students who are involved acquire something meaningful through their participation.

  • Sports engage more individuals, families, and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion. Three out of four American families with school-aged children will have at least one child play an organized sport— approximated 45 million children.
  • Sports present countless teachable moments where ethical values such as empathy, moral courage, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others can be developed.
  • Sports connect students to caring adults in their learning community who foster social-emotional intelligence and academic success.
  • Sports provide students with opportunities for moral, social, emotional, and civic growth.

However, one of the great myths in our culture is that participation in sports alone builds and develops character, as if doing a handstand, running a race, hitting a curveball, or simply suiting up are sufficient enough to strengthen a young person’s moral fiber.

Through our co-curricular program, we have a tremendous opportunity to provide students with growth opportunities that will sustain them beyond physical skill development and the ability to play and win a game.   Joe Ehrmann states it best when he says, “There’s two kinds of coaches in America: You’re either transactional or you’re transformational. Transactional coaches basically use young people for their own identity, their own validation, their own ends. It’s always about them — the team first, players’ needs down the road.

And then you have transformational coaches. They understand the power, the platform, the position they have in the lives of young people, and they’re going to use that to change the arc of every young person’s life. And the great myth in America today is that sports builds character. That’s not true in a win-at-all-costs culture. Sports doesn’t build character unless the coach models it, nurtures it and teaches it.”

In Worthington Schools, we desire to use sports to transform students’ lives.  We want our coaches to model character, nurture it and teach it. Coach Seaman did that for many of the athletes he worked with and many of us who played for him will be forever grateful for his investment in our lives and the lessons we learned.  R.I.P. Coach.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Give Them a Chance

AntonioI was recently talking to a friend of mine (Thomas Worthington Class of 1992, legend, Antonio Benton) about the start of a new school year.  Antonio told a story about his 4th and 5th grade teacher and I thought his short profound story could benefit all of us as parents, teachers and students as we head back to school on Wednesday.  

Here’s what Antonio said…

“This is to all the kids that may not have gotten the teacher that you wanted. In 4th grade I had the “meanest” teacher at Paul Revere Elementary School, Mrs. Smith. She actually paddled me once. Don’t worry, it was justified. I ended up having her for 5th grade too. Mrs. Smith changed my life. She made me believe that I could be anything that I wanted to be. She never let me settle. She never let me feel sorry for myself. She challenged me every single day. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at age 9. I am who I am today in part because of Mrs. Smith.

To all the teachers that may have gotten the kid that everyone has warned you about. Give him a chance. You may be just the person that he needs. I sure needed Mrs. Smith.

Now let’s get this school year started already!”

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent & Antonio Benton TWHS Class of 1992

Antonio moved to Worthington for 6th grade at Colonial Hills.  Here’s the proof 🙂

  • colonial.jpg
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Increasing Student Supports for Mental Health and Wellness

safetybucketsLast week I had the unique opportunity to meet with former Newtown Connecticut Superintendent, Dr. Joe Erardi.  Newtown is the school district where the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred in 2012. Newtown is an upper middle class community much like Worthington that has experienced unspeakable tragedy.  Their lessons are important for all of us to listen to. Joe was in Columbus and agreed to meet to share those lessons around school safety that were learned in Newtown.

In our meeting, Joe provided us with multiple concrete steps that based upon his experience in Newtown would better secure our buildings, train our staff and provide enhanced safety.  You’ll see many of those steps in practice in Worthington as we communicate back to school information in a few weeks. In addition, Joe stressed the need to make sure that no student is isolated and for the community to work together to better serve the mental health and wellness needs of each of our children.  

In Worthington Schools we’re striving to do exactly that and I’m really proud of the strides we have made just since this time last year.  This fall we will be implementing the Sandy Hook Promise “Starts with Hello” program in each elementary school and continuing the “Say Something” program in each secondary school.  

As we begin school in August we will have seven mental health specialists with a LISW license employed in Worthington working with our students.  Since last October, our Board of Education has supported adding five new mental health specialists to the small team we had on staff at this time last year.  

In addition, Worthington Schools continues to partner with North Community Counseling Services.  North Community employs licensed clinicians to work with our students. As part of their services in Franklin County, they provide school services to our students as well as Columbus City Schools. Their clinicians collaborate with school counselors, parents, teachers and administrators to provide age-appropriate mental health services to help children succeed. Their services include individual counseling, case management, crisis intervention, preventative services, advocacy, and referrals to needed resources, linkages, and support.  For Worthington, we contract with 7 licensed clinicians working in all of our K-12 schools for the equivalent services of 5 full-time clinicians (some of the clinicians work part-time).

Thus, in addition to the 22 licensed school counselors in our district and 12 licensed school psychologists, we have this team of 12 professionals solely focused on supporting our students mental health and wellness.

Finally, Worthington employs Lori Povisil as our Safe and Drug Free Schools Coordinator.  In this unique role, Lori works with One Leg at a Time anti-bullying programs at all levels, she runs Insight classes for students and families who have violated our ATOD policy and she runs prevention trainings at the MS/HS level.  

In Worthington we care deeply about our students and we’re working diligently to provide the support necessary so all of our students see success both in and out of the classroom.  This is work that will never be complete but I believe we’ve made big strides this year in the right direction.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Welcome to Worthington!

WelcomeCenterOur Welcome Center enrolled 1600 new students last year. Every year August registrations are like a mad dash to the finish line. Six days a week we are incredibly busy with families attempting to register before the start of school and unfortunately, registration can be a stressful process for everyone involved.

In the Columbus region our school districts have boundary lines that are difficult to understand.  In Worthington Schools our students live in dwellings with Columbus, Worthington, Westerville, Powell and Dublin addresses.  When a family moves into the Columbus metro area just determining what school district they actually live in is a challenge. Then if you have an elementary child in Worthington you have to determine which of our eleven elementary schools you are zoned for.  Sometimes it is the one closest to your home, sometimes, it’s not. Even then, is there space available in your child’s grade? As a growing school district we are out of space in multiple elementary schools. (We do keep this up-to-date weekly and make it transparent on our website.)   

To help families register for school, we have videos and checklists on the Welcome Center website.  They make the complex fairly simple.  But, nothing is really simple when you’re concerned about getting your child into school.  To register for school, a parent/guardian needs to find a child’s birth certificate, two proofs of residency, custody paperwork, immunization records, and previous grade cards or IEP’s.  In my house, keeping track of my children’s paperwork is 50/50 at best. Thus, it’s rare that a family comes in to enroll their children with everything they need.

Our team understands all of this.  They’re attempting to make a positive first impression of our school district while also working efficiently to process as many families as possible.  They work hard to make sure they have all of the required forms and proofs while also answering student and family specific questions. We want all of our students in school on day one and we work tirelessly to make that happen.  

If you are registering for school in August, you’re not alone.  Our team is here to help you. Please begin the process online and start looking for your paperwork at home.  When you come in to register, please be patient.  We all want the same thing and that’s to help get our students in school and seeing success.  

We have a great team working overtime in the Welcome Center (Jenny Dawes, Deb Sitler, Suzanne Hoyt and Sue DeRose)!  If you’re at the WEC stop in and say hello. Check out the organized chaos and thank our team for their dedication. Better yet, bring Starbucks! Everyone’s working crazy hours and caffeine may help.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Our Words Matter

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

A simple truth, repeated as often as it is ignored, is that if you tell a child it can do absolutely anything, or that it can’t do anything at all, you will in all likelihood be proven right.–  Fredrik Backman, Beartown

 

I was able to spend some time with my family this summer at Holden Beach in North Carolina.  For me the beach is the perfect destination. For a week I drink my morning coffee while admiring the ocean, I sit in a chair with my feet in the sand and read books, and we get ice cream at Beaches-n-Cream almost every night.  I only take flip-flops to the beach.

For our vacation week I chose to read books exclusively chosen for fun.  There are other times in my year for professional reading. For this trip I had selected a mix of fiction (Beartown, The President is Missing, The Outsider, Twisted Prey) and non-fiction (Molly’s Game, Hunting El Chapo, A Higher Loyalty and Try Not to Suck.)  For me this was beach reading.

I enjoyed everything I read at the beach but I particularly enjoyed Beartown.  This was the first Fredrik Backman book I have read (it won’t be the last) but I was really struck by his writing and how he was able to weave important truths into an engrossing fictional story.  I highlighted multiple passages in the book but this one passage in particular stood out:

“A simple truth, repeated as often as it is ignored, is that if you tell a child it can do absolutely anything, or that it can’t do anything at all, you will in all likelihood be proven right.”  

Hidden in this fiction book was an indelible truth.  How we talk with our students matters a great deal. What we expect of our students is critically important.  Children will often live up to our expectations. In Worthington this year we want to make sure we set high expectations for all of our students both during this school year and for their future.  Our job as a community is to then partner with our students and provide the encouragement and support to help them meet those expectations.

I’m excited to see our students prove us right in a positive way throughout our upcoming school year!  

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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