Enjoy the ride!

download (1)About 768 miles per hour – that’s how fast you have to go to outrun sound itself.  Modern planes can do it pretty easily. Around World War II, though, scientists and engineers thought Mach speeds might be impossible in manned aircraft.  Their hesitance had everything to do with what happened at 767 miles per hour. Just before a plane breaks the sound barrier, all the created energy is pushing against the plane.  Think of riding an old, rickety roller coaster in midair – all the shaking, jerking, and rattling made more than a few pilots throttle back.

In Worthington right now we’re moving through a significant change process and this creates real turbulence for staff members and families.  Whether it’s adding 20 modular classrooms to school sites over the last several years or the construction of new middle schools in progress in all four corners of the school district, there is concern.  It may be the future planning for Thomas Worthington that creates concern about how the new space impacts neighbors’ properties or how we may utilize the Harding Hospital site and what that means for the current Colonial Hills site.  For several affected groups the changing of feeder patterns to middle and/or high school has raised fears. For others, the change creating concern is how we teach reading or math or even how we view gender. These are real and ongoing challenges for a growing, evolving, and forward-thinking organization.  

The shaking, jerking, and rattling that we feel from the turbulence reminds us that we’re moving forward and at some point in each change process we will have the necessary breakthrough. If there is anything to fear, often it’s pulling back and not pressing forward.  That fear of change and/or failure often keeps us from what’s possible.

We’re at 767 miles per hour on several change initiatives. Many of us are experiencing turbulence.  Our plan is not to back off but to throw the throttle down and keep moving forward. Enjoy the ride!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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An everyday for me is a meaningful day for someone else… 

81476395_3494673463906618_8731189559489986560_oOne of our overarching goals for Worthington Schools is to create a culture of empathy and support.  In so doing we want to be inclusive of all of our students. Increasingly Worthington is a global school district.

1493 WCS Students live in homes where they hear 59 unique languages 

Top 5 Languages: 

Spanish 547 students

Arabic 189

Portuguese 80

Somali 59

Chinese 52

684 WCS students were born outside the USA, in 90 different countries.  

Top 5 Non-US Countries:

India 87 students

Brazil 49

Ghana 42

Mexico 40

Iraq 35

Since the end of the 2018-19 school year, WCS has welcomed 253 students who live in homes where languages other than English are spoken.  

Since the first day of the 2019-20 school year, WCS has welcomed 69 students who live in homes where languages other than English are spoken  

To kick-off 2020 we are excited to provide our schools with a holiday calendar that highlights OUR students.  Angie Adrean, Ben Rule and Raul Arias worked to put this together and it’s really special.  Here’s their explanation:

In this calendar, we’re excited for you to meet 34 students who will share a brief personal reflection about some days that are especially meaningful in their families and home communities.  Our desire is that you will not only hear their words and admire their pictures, but that this calendar will serve as a simple starting point for a few reflections:

An everyday for me is a meaningful day for someone else…  

For a colleague or student, today may be a day when they are feeling joyfully eager for a celebration that awaits at home, feeling reflective about a sacred moment in their faith, or feeling wistful and homesick for what this day looked like in another time and place.  What is happening in their day that matters deeply but that I can’t see?

I can learn so much from the people around me…  

Our students and families and coworkers are experts on their own stories.  They have a lifetime of experience and can teach us about a tradition, a part of the world, an ancient faith, an enlightening perspective, an unfamiliar community value, a new way to learn, or how to persevere through a struggle.  How can I grow simply by asking a question and then listening carefully?

The world is even bigger than I thought…     

From the brilliant colors of Holi, to the quiet discipline of a Ramadan fast, to the musical street dancing of Christmas in Chad, there are endless horizons that many of our students have already seen and that others dream of one day reaching.  Through every experience of reading, writing, problem solving, inquiry, critical thinking, creating, and collaborating, we can open doors for our students to engage and venture further than they ever thought possible. How can I bring this big and brilliant world into my classroom, and my classroom into this world?

We wish you a wonderful year of intentional learning, thoughtful listening, and growing by understanding each other!     

Check out the calendar here

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Sometimes Plans Change

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.We’re still in the beginning of 2020.  It’s a new semester for our middle school and high school students and we have big plans for the new year.

Right before Christmas, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  To do so we planned a quick get-a-way to Captiva Island for just the two of us. Many of you know that Captiva is off the northern tip of Sanibel Island bordering the Gulf of Mexico in the Ft. Myers, Cape Coral area of SW Florida.  Because Captiva is a north/south Island the beach faces directly west and thus it has some of the best sunsets anywhere in the world. As a kid, we vacationed in the Ft. Myers area and 21 years ago my parents purchased a condo in Ft. Myers where they spend 7 months of each year (they left Columbus January 2nd to head south).  My wife and I have made probably 30-40 trips to the area over the years but we had never actually stayed on Captiva.

We booked a beachfront room at a place on Captiva called Tween Waters.  It’s on a strip of land maybe 200 yards wide with the beach to the west and the bay to the east.  We pictured waking up and walking on the beach with our morning coffee, kayaking in the bay during the day and watching the sunset from the Mucky Duck while playing endless games of ring toss.  It was a nice picture.

Unfortunately the four days we booked in Captiva happened to be cold, gray, rainy and with high winds.  We arrived for our first evening in time for sunset. We instead saw gray clouds with a hint of pink somewhere behind the clouds.  When we awoke on day two the palm trees were blowing sideways on the beach and my weather app told me that winds were 25 mph. That same app showed me that those winds would continue at 20-25 mph for the next few days.  Walking on the beach was out in those winds. So was kayaking. The rain was coming.  

This wasn’t going as planned.  We called an audible. We checked out of the Tween Waters and moved inland to my parents’ condo.  The weather was still bad but we had a free place to stay. We had blankets to sit under as we watched The Morning Show on Apple + and we had restaurants that we enjoy nearby.  We had a great few days. It was a different few days than we had envisioned but in the end, we enjoyed our time relaxing at a place that is important in our family history.

As we begin 2020 we inevitably have big plans.  My guess is that some of those plans will come to fruition and for some of those plans we’ll need to call an audible.  Either way that will be O.K. Sometimes our best-laid plans fall apart and things are really good anyway.  

Enjoy 2020!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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What’s that car doing there?

img_1853.jpgYou may have seen the incredibly wrecked car that is sitting at the entrance to the student parking lot at Thomas Worthington High School between the stadium and the Worthington Pools complex.  Several people have reached out to ask me what happened and why the car is there. Here’s the story:

In early December, two Thomas Worthington students were in a one car accident on Shrock Road.  These are two fine young men who I have known since they were in elementary school. My understanding is that the boys were driving at a rate of speed exceeding the posted speed limit and that because of that rate of speed when they hit a pothole in the road they lost control of the car.  The car flipped and as you can see in the picture hit a tree.

My understanding is that both boys were wearing their seatbelt and thus miraculously they not only survived the accident but did so without any life threatening injuries.  (Both boys were injured and will need to recover.)  

A family in the district reached out to TWHS Principal Pete Scully and asked if he purchased the car if we would be willing to display it for a while as a warning to other students to drive safely.  We wanted to make sure the families of the boys agreed with that before we proceeded but when they gave their permission we signed off on the idea.

Thus, the car sits at the entrance to the parking lot as a reminder to drive carefully.  When the teenage driver in my own home saw it yesterday for the first time she didn’t like that it was there.  She shared that she felt like it would bring up unnecessary trauma for those who are close to the students who were in the accident and she felt like adults drive as poorly as high school students do.  I think that both of her perspectives are valid and fair.

From my perspective when we’re young we’re more prone to think we’re invincible and drive as such.  Conversely, as we age we’re prone to irrational anxieties and fears. Like most everything in life if we could only find the balance.

You can drive very safely and carefully and still be in a serious car accident.  Not everything is in our control. But this accident is a good reminder to our students and all of us in the community that we need to take our time, drive as carefully as possible and wear our seatbelts.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

 

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2020

2020Welcome to 2020!  It’s a new decade full of promise and Worthington Schools is working tirelessly towards our mission to empower a community of learners who will change the world.

Before the holidays I had the opportunity to sit down with the ThisWeek Newspaper to discuss the new year and what we are looking forward to in Worthington Schools.  As a large organization, there are many things happening and I’m sure I missed something important but here’s a roadmap on what I shared that you should expect:

We’re progressing on schedule with Phase One of the Master Facilities Plan.  Construction of our new middle schools at Perry and Worthingway has begun.  We expect construction at Kilbourne and McCord to begin late this spring. By building new middle schools we begin to deal with our aging school buildings and provide capacity for an additional 800 seats throughout the school district.  This capacity is critical as enrollment projections completed this fall show that we can expect growth to continue in Worthington Schools for the next decade.

Over the past 12 months, a team of students, teachers and administrators has been meeting to build a new 6-8th grade middle school master schedule.  I expect that the schedule will be presented to the Worthington Board of Education at the end of February.  

In addition, one of the goals of the Master Facilities Plan was to balance our high school enrollment.  A team of community members met last year and determined that moving Slate Hill’s attendance area from TWHS to WKHS would achieve the balance.  Likewise, that same team reconvened this fall to create new middle school feeder patterns for 2021 when we re-open Perry Middle School.  

All-in-all we’re on track for the opening of 6-8th grade middle schools in the fall of 2021.  This April we plan to host meetings at each elementary school to discuss the middle school schedule, transportation to middle school, school traditions that will stay in 5th grade or move to 6th grade in middle school, etc… and to answer any questions.  These meetings will take place 15 months before the actual change occurs so that we have time to make shifts based on the feedback we are provided.

In addition, we expect to begin negotiations in January/February for the potential purchase of 13.7 acres of the former Harding Hospital property for a potential new school site.  

Likewise, we’re beginning site planning for new academic wings at Thomas Worthington High School that could be proposed to the community in Phase Two of the Master Facilities Plan.  These plans are important now so that we can help determine future plans for the Worthington Pools, a new TWHS field house, and a baseball hitting facility in which funds were donated to construct.  We expect to release these plans for discussion this March.

On the academic side, 2020 brings a new partnership for high school students with Worthington Industries.  This program is an apprenticeship program that provides high school credit and leads to full-time employment with one of our region’s best employers.  Thirteen Worthington students will begin in January and we expect that the program will steadily grow as more families understand the unique opportunity.

We’re continuing to focus on our instruction for young readers.  We’ve strengthened our screening process for Dyslexia identification and we’re implementing systematic phonics instruction in all K-2 classrooms.  We’ve modified our reading intervention to include more systematic phonics and we’re working to train more teachers in both the Wilson Reading and Orton Gillingham methods.

As a school district, we’re striving to create a culture of empathy and support that is inclusive of all.  Led by our Board of Education, changes have been made in all Board of Education policies to be more inclusive.  In all areas where the protected classes included “sex,” our policy will now read: “The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, disability, age, religion, military status, ancestry, genetic information (collectively, “Protected Classes”), or any other legally protected category, in its programs and activities, including employment opportunities.”

Finally, in 2020 we welcome Amy Lloyd to the Worthington Board of Education.  Amy is a Worthington graduate, a Worthington parent, and a community leader who we expect will help provide positive leadership in our community.

2020 is going to be an amazing year in Worthington Schools!  Please plan to join us for our State of the Schools presentation at 7:00 p.m. on February 26th at Worthington Kilbourne High School.  At the presentation, you will learn more about our academic programs, our financial health, and our master facilities planning. Leaders from our administration and our Board of Education will be in attendance to answer any questions.  Most importantly, you’ll see our talented students perform. Please add this date to your calendar!

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

P.S.  In 2020 I’m going to lose 20lbs.  So if you see me around please don’t offer me Jelly Belly’s, Sassafras Bakery Cinnamon Donut Muffins, Peace Love and Donuts, Boston Cream Donuts from Tim Hortons, Long John Donuts from Der Dutchman, Duck Donuts, anything from Emilie Greenwald’s kitchen, Massey’s Pizza, Pizza House Pizza, Villa Nova’s Pizza, Dewey’s Pizza, JT’s Pizza, Donatos Pizza, Pies and Pints Pizza, Half Pint Pretzels, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Jenni’s Ice Cream, Dairy Queen Blizzards, UDF Butter Pecan Ice Cream, or anything from the company Hostess.  Those will not be on my 2020 diet. (For a while anyway…)

 

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