Chris

1001405_524310284309598_493478197_nOn Saturday (4.6.19) Worthington lost a good friend and a difference maker for kids.  Worthington resident Chris Collaros passed away after being diagnosed with cancer this past fall.  In Worthington, Chris was a teacher at Granby Elementary from 1989 – 2002. In 2002 Chris became the Principal at Liberty Elementary.  In 2005 when Worthington combined Sutter Park Elementary and Liberty Elementary to combat declining enrollment, Chris moved to become the Principal at Evening Street Elementary and served in that capacity until 2008.  For almost 20 years Chris positively impacted Worthington students as a teacher and elementary principal.

In 2008 Chris pursued his love for progressive education and took over for his mentor Dr. Fred Burton as the Principal at Upper Arlington’s Wickliffe Elementary.

While Chris took his professional career to UA, he and his family remained Worthington residents.  Chris’ daughters Maria, Sophia and Zoe all were students in Worthington Schools. Many of us would see Chris often as he played gigs with his band “Principally Speaking” at Worthington events.

Chris was a brilliant educational leader.  He held degrees from Princeton and The Ohio State University, and he often traveled the country sharing his expertise with Progressive Education Network (PEN).

I didn’t know Chris well personally.  When we were together, he was always smiling, telling stories, challenging my views on education and was relentlessly friendly.  Worthington Schools was lucky to get to spend 20 years with Chris making a difference in the lives of our students. We will forever be grateful for Chris’ impact on our community.

Chris, in life and death, reminds me that every day is worth living, enjoying, and celebrating with those you love.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dispatch/obituary.aspx?n=chris-collaros&pid=192132619&fhid=8704

Standard

Proposed Feeder Changes pt. 2 of 2

MFP2From our historical records, we believe that from the time Bluffsview Elementary opened in 1990 they attended Perry Middle School.  When the district decided to close Perry in 2009 to save money during declining enrollment, Bluffsview students began to attend McCord Middle School.  Now in 2019, as student enrollment growth has occurred rapidly throughout the district, we expect the Feeder Pattern Committee will recommend that Bluffsview move back to the new Perry Middle School.

In our 2019 Winter Newsletter that was mailed to all homes in Worthington we outlined four tasks for the Feeder Pattern Committee:

  • Determine which elementary school will shift to WKHS – the committee has identified its top considerations for school selection: student diversity, travel time and distance to school and enrollment at each building.
  • Establish WKHS feeder pattern – reassigning which elementary schools feed into either Perry or McCord Middle Schools.
  • Establish TWHS feeder pattern – reassigning which elementary schools feed into either Kilbourne or Worthingway Middle Schools.
  • Make suggestions to ensure a smooth transition – implementation of communication and welcoming strategies, early enrollment for families and a possible grandfathering process for families.

On March 25th our Feeder Pattern Committee presented recommendations to our Board of Education (view the slide show here.)  The committee recommended that Slate Hill elementary move to WKHS.  That means that current 6th graders at Slate Hill will attend Worthingway for 7th and 8th grade but will then move to WKHS as 9th graders in the fall of 2021.  Over a number of years, we will see a balance between the schools.

Next fall the Feeder Pattern Committee will reconvene to determine which elementary schools feed to which middle schools.  

According to the committee’s current plan, students from Brookside and Bluffsview would move from McCord to Perry.  Students from Wilson Hill would move from Kilbourne Middle to Worthingway. Students from Slate Hill would attend either Perry or McCord depending on the plan selected by the Feeder Pattern Committee.  If Slate Hill attended McCord then Liberty students would be reassigned from McCord to Perry.

In addition, our new schools are to open in the fall of 2021.  We estimate that 35-40% of this year’s 5th-grade class will need to begin 7th grade in one middle school and then attend 8th grade in their new middle school.  For instance, a 5th grader at Bluffsview would spend 7 years at Bluffsview, one year at McCord, one year at Perry and then four years at WKHS. Finally, our current 4th graders and current 3rd graders at all elementary schools will exit elementary school the same spring (2021) and will be the first 7th graders and 6th graders at the middle schools district-wide.

As we open a fourth traditional middle school (Perry) and we move all of our middle schools to 6th-8th grade a level of change will occur.  Throughout our history in Worthington, elementary schools have fed to different middle schools. This change has happened before and now we’re preparing for it to happen again.  

Big things big, small things small.  Change has happened in large ways every decade for the past 50 years in Worthington.  It will happen again soon. Likely both on a district level and potentially on a personal level.  It will be O.K. It always is. Our focus in Worthington Schools is and always has been in taking care of our kids.  In making sure they have a trusted adult or many trusted adults who they know and cares about them and who believes in them. No matter where we teach kids.  No matter what our attendance lines, we’ll keep things in perspective. How we take care of our kids, how we build relationships with them, invest in their lives, and help them grow and learn to meet their potential, those are the big things.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

This is post is part two of a two-part series.  Learn more about our plan at: https://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/domain/1117

Standard

The Foundation pt.1 of 2

MFP1On March 25th our Feeder Pattern Committee presented recommendations to our Board of Education (view the slide show here.)  The committee recommended that Slate Hill elementary move to WKHS.  That means that current 6th graders at Slate Hill will attend Worthingway for 7th and 8th grade but will then move to WKHS as 9th graders in the fall of 2021.  Over a number of years, we will see a balance between the schools.

Next fall the Feeder Pattern Committee will reconvene to determine which elementary schools feed into which middle schools.  These recommendations were part of a long-term plan that we presented to our community for approval in the way of a ballot issue in the the fall of 2018 and 70% of the community voted to support the passage of the bond issue.  Because Worthington continues to grow, I recognize that many of you may not have even been in Worthington when we assembled our Master Facilities Planning team and created the plan that is the foundation for all of the change we are beginning to implement.

In Worthington, our plan began in 2015 with a partnership with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.  This State of Ohio organization brought teams of architects and construction experts to walk each Worthington school.  They provided individual assessments of every system within our schools.  Based upon the OFCC reports, we learned that to bring our schools up to a statewide standard we needed $260 million worth of replacements and renovations.

After receiving the OFCC assessments, we partnered with Cooperative Strategies to create a facilities master plan.   Sixty-one community members  led by community chairs Nikki Hudson and Amy Lloyd invested 18 months to create a plan that would address our aging buildings, balance high school enrollment and create capacity for all students.  (Our enrollment has grown by 1,200 students in the last five years and is projected to continue to grow by another 800 students in the next five years.)

We intended to come forward with this plan in phases.  Phase One required funding of approximately $89 million dollars and was passed by the community this fall as issue 9.  This plan provides capacity for our elementary schools by moving 6th grade to the middle school in the fall of 2021. It will address our aging buildings by rebuilding Worthingway Middle School and Perry Middle School (Perry would reopen as a 6-8 grade middle school, while Phoenix and Worthington Academy and Rockbridge remain on that site).  The plan balances high school enrollment by moving to 4 traditional middle schools (plus Phoenix) with two middle schools feeding to each high school and by moving a current TWHS feeder elementary to the WKHS feeder pattern.

This is just Phase One of our plan.  We’ll propose to come back to the community in 2022 with Phase Two of the plan and likely back again around 2026 with Phase Three of the plan.  By phasing the work we are able to maintain our state-mandated debt limits and hopefully make the work more affordable for community members.

Certainly, Phase One does not solve every issue in Worthington.  As our enrollment continues to climb, we have multiple elementary schools that have exceeded their capacity.  Redistricting our students is not an option that will solve our capacity issues because all schools are utilizing their full allotment of classroom space (even Sutter Park and Phoenix).  However, when we rebuild several elementary schools in Phase Two, they will be rebuilt larger than they currently are and redistricting would need to occur at that time. (I’d project that to be around 2024.)  Therefore, we will continue to overflow students to other schools when they enroll in a specific grade level without space. We have already added modular classrooms at Colonial Hills and Worthington Hills and next year we will add modulars at Bluffsview, Evening Street and McCord until Phase One of our plan is complete (Fall of 2021), we will add modular classrooms at schools as they are needed.

This three-phase multi-year plan is the foundation for all of our current work.  However, as change becomes more clear, people are beginning to question why we’re taking the path we are.  Some are asking us to consider different paths. These ideas make sense but they were vetted considerably by the Master Facilities Task Force.  That team made many very difficult decisions and our work now is to implement the plan that was proposed and accepted. As a district, we’re working to do just that.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

This is post one of a two-part series.  Learn more about our plan at: https://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/domain/1117

Standard

Happier than happy

SjannekeI’ve been lucky to be in Worthington Schools as an administrator in Central Office for 11 years now.  Back in 2009, I was working as the Coordinator of Human Resources and in that role, one of my main responsibilities was recruiting and selecting the highest quality teachers to serve our students.

It was in the spring of 2009 when I met a senior at Ohio University who was interested in becoming a special education teacher for Worthington.  We had a really positive initial interview and I marked her as someone we should look more closely at. Before my day at OU had concluded she had completed the online application and scheduled a second time to speak with me so that I knew she was interested and that all of her materials were complete in our system.  She was impressive and we didn’t dawdle. We hired her to teach in Worthington!

Fast forward 10 years and I’m the Superintendent.  Last week I had a meeting at the Worthington Education Center.  Typically in meetings when I choose my seat the seats closest to me remain empty.  As team members enter the room people typically choose seats as far away from me as possible.  (I’m hopeful this is more a positional issue and not a personal issue…) In Worthington, because our middle schools are last to dismiss when we hold after school meetings, middle school teachers are often stuck with the empty seats near me.  

Thus, this is how middle school teacher Sjanneke Baker ended up next to me at our meeting.  She was last to arrive. Sjanneke is the amazing teacher we hired from OU ten years ago and in talking after the meeting last week, she was telling me how happy she is as a teacher at Worthingway.  How lucky she is to work with colleagues who really care about students and to work for a supportive administrator who she has great respect for. She said “Trent, listen….I am happy. Happier than happy.”  

“Happier than happy.”  I don’t think we can ask for more than that.  As a district, we’re also “happier than happy” that Sjanneke chose Worthington and my hope is that as we recruit new teachers in 2019 we find more than a few who in 10 years are “happier than happy!”  

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
Standard

Recognizing the Stars

SlateIn Worthington Schools, our first and last expectation for all staff members is to Be Kind to Kids.  Kindness is expressed in many different ways throughout the school district but it’s really about making sure we treat our students with respect, recognize them for their unique talents and value, and in making certain that every child in Worthington Schools has a trusted adult or many trusted adults who they know cares about them and believes in them.

Every day in Worthington our staff expresses this expectation in big and small ways.  Earlier this week a team of staff members from Slate Hill determined that they wanted to find a way to recognize students at their school who were learning and growing every day but may benefit from some special recognition.  The staff decided to do it “Publishers Clearing House” style. They all piled into a bus after school and they went to the home of the student. They knocked on the door, and together they congratulated the student, told them how special they are and provided encouragement.  Each student was given a “Slate Hill Star” helium balloon, a card from the staff and some yummy cupcakes.

As Superintendent it warms my heart to see our staff embrace our students in this way.  This is one act of kindness that I hope a student or parent remembers for a lifetime. Obviously, acts of kindness like this are awesome but not enough.  We need to see consistent acts of kindness repeated over time for every child in Worthington, but while not enough, acts of kindness like this do matter. They help brighten someone’s day.  They bring a smile. They hopefully add confidence to a student and that confidence propels them to continue to persevere in class and maybe take a risk they otherwise would have been too afraid to take.

Great work Slate Hills Stars!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

#BeKindToKids

#ItsWorthIt

Check out this video!

Standard

Keep Climbing

FreeSoloWe’ve moved into the spring season in Worthington Schools.  We’re only a few short months from graduation for the class of 2019 (May 19th.)  In the Spring I am sometimes honored to be asked to speak at different awards assemblies and I had the honor to do just that this morning.  Here’s what I shared:

“Good Morning!

On behalf of the Worthington Board of Education and the administration at the Worthington Education Center I want to say a sincere congratulations on your academic achievement.  I’m proud to be here this morning with a group of students who exemplifies academic excellence and represents Worthington in a very positive way. Thank You!

I was asked this morning to say a few words and I’ve centered those words this morning around world renowned rock climber Alex Honnold.  You may have seen the recently released National Geographic documentary “Free Solo.” It was awarded the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.  If you haven’t yet seen this movie you need to. It’s absolutely remarkable on multiple levels.

“Free Solo” follows Honnold as he climbs the famous El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.  Likely you know that El Capitan is a 3,000 ft granite rock face that is over twice the height of the Empire State Building.  Climbing El Capitan in itself is a lifetime achievement for most advanced rock climbers and often takes multiple days for climbers to accomplish.  

Honnold on the other hand is famous for his “free solo” climbing.  Free soloing is insane. It’s climbing the rock face with no ropes. no gear. No room for error. This is obviously the most dangerous form of climbing; with no safety gear, it is likely that any even minor mistake will cause a fall that will kill you.

I first learned of Alex Honnold when 60 Minutes did a piece on him in 2012.  Lara Logan filmed him free soloing in Yosemite and I remember at the time I thought “this is totally crazy.”  (That 60 minutes piece is on You Tube if you want to check it out.)

So, the Free Solo documentary is filming Honnold’s climb of El Capitan.  The climb itself was thought to be impossible. It’s just too long for a human to climb without muscle failure or without making a fatal mistake.  Now, when I was watching this movie I knew that Honnold had lived. Most newspapers covered the ascent in June of 2017 when it occurred and I had just seen him on stage alive at the Oscars.  However in this documentary the cinematography is amazing. You see up close just how small a crevice Alex is putting his fingertips in and just how high up he is. Literally I was watching this holding my breath, sweating and stress eating Jelly Belly’s until he was off the wall.  The drama is unbelievable and the athletic accomplishment has to rate as one of the single greatest feats in history.

All that said, please don’t climb rock faces without a rope.  I’m not advocating for that at all. But I do think there are a few lessons we all can learn from this accomplishment that will help you as you continue your path:

 

  • Success is never a straight line

 

One of the amazing things about Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Capitan was the climb wasn’t straight up. He climbed the “Freerider Route” and in so doing he had to go up, to the side, down, and back up again.

There was no straight path. It was crooked and jagged and looked insane.

Most journey’s are a lot like Alex’s climb. They look crazy from the observer. Yet they are the best route you could take at the time.

You can’t worry if you shoot straight to the top or not. You have to take the best route you can to get to your destination.  Success is never a straight line.

 

  • There is a difference between physical and mental training

 

Alex had to train in two different realms. The first was the physical. He had to be physically fit so his body could endure the endless climbing he would be doing. This was the easy training.

The difficult training came in the mental training. He had to train his mind to look past fear and nerves. He had to train to be fearless.

Work on both aspects of your life. You need to train your body and your mind. You won’t succeed long-term if you’ve worked on only one of these areas of your life.

 

  • Sometimes it’s OK to bail

 

The first attempt Alex made to free solo El Capitan, he called off. He was ascending Freerider and said “no more.” He tapped out.

While many may criticize Alex for giving up, he was wise in doing so. By calling the climb, he was able to live another day. And to eventually climb the whole thing.

There’s a lot of bravado in life. We’re told quitting is for losers. However, that’s not always true.

Winners quit when it’s the smart thing to do. They bail. They say no… And they say it often.

They realize what’s working. They see what’s good or dangerous. And they make a choice to bail when it’s the wise choice.

 

Finally, celebrate and get back to work

 

At the 2,050 foot mark, Alex took a minute to celebrate. He was two-thirds of the way to accomplishing his goal and he had completed the most difficult portion of the climb.   

There was a nice shelf he could walk out on. He raised his hands and celebrated for a minute. Then he got back to work.

You’re here this morning because you’re on the right path.  I’m certain your journey has been more difficult than outside observers understand.  I’m certain your path has not been straight and you’ve had to make hard choices about how to spend your time, what to continue and when to bail.  This morning is a time to celebrate. And, then we get back to work!

Congratulations.  Keep Climbing!”

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard

Did you know?

Map 300.1Increasingly, Worthington Schools is a great place to raise our children so that they don’t just survive in a diverse global society, but so that they are prepared to thrive!

Did you know?

Worthington students come from 57 different language backgrounds that we can identify and 114 other languages.  The top native languages in Worthington in order are: English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Somali, Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Twi, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese, Mandingo, Akan, French, Greek, Turkish, Creole, Korean, Bengali, and others….

Did you know?

1407 Worthington students come from families that speak languages other than English as their native languages.

Did you know?

700 Worthington students were born outside of the United States.  Those 700 students come from over 86 different countries. The top native countries in order are United States, India, China, Mexico, Ghana, Brazil, Iraq, Venezuela, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Guatemala, Canada, Vietnam, Cameroon, and others….

Did you know?

622 Worthington students qualify under the State of Ohio’s English Language Learner guidelines.

Many people view Worthington from an external lens as a homogeneous upper-middle-class suburb.  We are an upper-middle-class suburb but we are anything but homogeneous and that’s one of the great things about Worthington Schools in 2019!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

Standard