We’ve Got It!

 

 

 

Last week, I had an opportunity to update our students, parents, employees, community members and other stakeholders on all the great things happening in Richland One during my annual State of the District Address. Thank you to everyone who turned out the evening of February 9 at W.A. Perry Middle School to join us in celebrating our successes.

During my remarks, I highlighted some of our many Points of Pride, including an increase in our graduation rate (up 13.9% since 2010) and a decrease in our dropout rate (50% decrease between 2009 and 2013), along with more than $61 million in scholarships  and other financial aid earned by the Class of 2016.

The State of the District Address also provided me with a chance to talk about the many choices we offer our students in Richland One. If you want STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), we’ve got it. If you want rigor in terms of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs, we’ve got it. If you want college credit while still in high school, we’ve got it. If you want Montessori education, we’ve got it. If you want Chinese, French, Spanish, German or Latin, we’ve got it.

This week (February 15), we joined with officials from Cummins, Inc. in kicking off a partnership to establish the company’s first-ever Youth Technician Apprenticeship Program (the pictures above are from the ribbon-cutting ceremony). Through the program, students at Heyward Career and Technology Center will receive classroom instruction and hands-on training for high-paying jobs in the diesel industry. The partnership with Cummins (a global manufacturer, distributor and service provider of diesel and natural gas engines) will provide yet another choice and even more competitive advantages for our students.

In Richland One, we’ve got it!

(Note: The State of the District Address is airing on Richland One TV (Time Warner Cable channel 12) and it can be viewed via ROTV On Demand at www.richlandone.org.)

Learning Comes In Many Ways

This week, I had an opportunity to go to Carver-Lyon Elementary School to observe the school’s Chinese New Year festival! Students joined with Chinese performers who sang, danced and drummed. The students were able help interpret songs as well provide other feedback during the performances. Following those selections, students participated in their own Chinese New Year parade in the halls of the school, with costumes and all.

Carver-Lyon is home of the Richland One Language Immersion Program. The pre-K and kindergarten students in the program are taught in English and in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. This is the first year of the program, which will expand next year to include first grade.

We appreciate the work that is being done in the Language Immersion Program and the wonderful educational experiences our students are having in learning other languages and learning about other cultures. Whether it is New Year’s Day or a regular school day, learning comes in many ways.

Empowering the Village

This week, we held two Parent Empowerment for Student Success meetings. We shared district data and we talked about the various instructional strategies, tools and resources that teachers and schools use to facilitate learning at all grade levels: pre-K and early childhood, elementary, middle and high. Parents had an opportunity to see how all of the skills and expectations are stacked up and build upon each other. (We call this vertical articulation in education-speak).

The presentation also gave parents an opportunity to see how important that what happens at the very earliest of ages and grades can impact a child’s academic path through high school. We also shared information about the support systems at all levels that we use to help students succeed and achieve mastery of standards. Just as we do with students, it is important to make the connections to see how all of this fits together.

And speaking of fitting together, our staff shared valuable information about how parents, caregivers and others can support student learning and engagement from the early years through high school and beyond. This can include reading to and with a child or having their child create a science question while grocery shopping. We also provided parents with a guide with strategies to use to support and continue what we do in the classroom.

We take student achievement and our goal of improving outcomes for all of our students very seriously and will continue to reach out for all stakeholders to support us in this regard. So, don’t worry if you were not able to attend the sessions this week. The parent guides will be made available online, at schools, child care facilities and other educational partners.

We are all a part of the educational village!

Listening and Learning

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with the newest members of the Richland One family – our new teachers and staff that joined us this year. The event started with ice-breaking activities that also were designed for interaction with others from across the district, all 500 square miles!

The festivities continued and it was heartening to see and interact with everyone. All were able to reflect for a moment, as well as share joys and challenges of the profession. Bright spots included their interactions with students, from a student who was surprised that a new teacher would know the student’s name on the first day of school to a student being able to greet the teacher in English, from being in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program.

I had an opportunity to address teachers and listen to their feedback, as a whole, about the profession and their early experiences. Teaching is difficult but also rewarding when you realize the positive impact one can have on the lives of students, while preparing for the assessments and tests that often overshadow how much teachers and staff give on a day-to-day basis.

That said, as a learning organization, we welcome the feedback and use it to make our district more prepared to support the work we are charged to do.

Thanks again to our new teachers and staff for what you do and for being a part of Richland One!

In early-fall, all of our Montessori schools – Brockman, Caughman Road, Gadsden and Logan elementary schools and W.G. Sanders Middle School – participated in the International Day of Peace. They were joined by students from our language immersion program at Carver-Lyon Elementary.

Students led the International Day of Peace program with instrumental and vocal music, recitations, skits and attire representative of the many countries represented by students and staff in Richland One.

At the conclusion of the program, the focus was placed on the peace pole which was inscribed with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in multiple languages. Replicas of the peace pole were to be placed at each of the schools.

Today, the peace pole was installed at the Stevenson Administration Building. This was a pleasant sight as staff paused to view and reflect.

In any languages, may peace prevail.

Welcome to 2017!

I would like to take this time to welcome everyone back to school after the winter break. I hope it was an enjoyable time with family and friends.

That said, it is good to have our students and staff back in schools and classrooms! As we approach the midpoint of this academic year, some of our high-schoolers are gearing up for exams and others are gearing up for the remainder of the academic year. Again, we are glad to be to be “back at it!”

As always, we appreciate our parents’ involvement. Working together will improve our students’ outcomes and lead to brighter futures.

Thank you all and best wishes for 2017!

Happy Holidays!

We have reached the halfway mark of the 2016-2017 school year, and it has been quite a busy and quite a successful first semester for Richland One schools, students and staff.

Please go to www.richlandone.org to read our new Spotlight ONE publication. In this publication, we provide updates on academic progress in the district, as well as our new language immersion program, the upgrades being made to our athletics facilities and other Points of Pride. Parents will receive a copy of Spotlight ONE in the mail.

We have a lot to be proud of in Richland One and we appreciate the support and engagement of our parents and community members as we work together to transform the lives of our students through education.

Richland One schools and offices will be closed December 19-30, 2016 for the Winter Break. Classes will resume on January 2, 2017.

We look forward to what 2017 holds for Richland One. The best is yet to come.

Happy holidays!

Learning Never Ends

This week, I had the opportunity to be a part of the National Junior Honor Society induction at W.A. Perry Middle School. It was a great opportunity to recognize students on their path of scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship, as outlined by the mission. This induction class included 11 students. It was a great group of young men and young ladies.

While at the school and after the program, I had an opportunity to visit other parts of the school, including the cafeteria, the professional development room and the media center. Just as good as it was seeing the Honor Society students, it was equally gratifying to see how many more students were participating in the afterschool activities at the school as well! The halls and other areas of the school were filled with students who were engaged and active. I even had a chance to carry on a brief conversation in Spanish with a few students in the media center.

So, what does this mean? It means that learning can take place at all times and in various settings. Moreover, when it’s fun and engaging, students not only will rise to the occasion, but they also will exceed expectations.

Congratulations to the new Honor Society inductees at W.A. Perry and congratulations to all of our students who extend their learning. Schools have to support all!

 

One of Our Gems

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with the Gadsden Elementary community about the instructional programming at the school. Currently, Gadsden offers a 3K Montessori class that does well. Students have the ability to move to Caughman Road Elementary if they would like to continue with Montessori.

During the meeting, information about Montessori, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), IB (International Baccalaureate) and other programs were discussed in an effort to inform and solicit feedback from parents and the school staff. There were great questions and comments from the audience.

As you know, it takes a team effort when it comes to building such programming to enhance and support student learning. Even with all of the discussion and feedback about possibilities and the future, the highlight of the evening was when Principal Monica Owens Carter shared with the group the great programs and activities that already occur at Gadsden, such as the International Day that infuses cultures into the curriculum, STEM and project-integrated units, and student achievement increases in science and social studies. The principal’s remarks reminded us all that the school has plenty of successes from which to build upon as the school’s enrollment grows.

We have lots of gems in our district and Gadsden is among this number as well. It is a small, close-knit community school that we may not hear about often, but it is doing great work. Go Gadsden Bluejays!

Serving Our Students

This week, I had the opportunity to work with our Student Nutrition Services staff at Logan Elementary School. On this particular day, a Thanksgiving meal was on the menu. It included turkey with all of the trimmings, as well as ham! Students also had other options from which to choose.

When I arrived, I was shown around the kitchen and briefed on all of the food safety protocols and the serving instructions. The staff checked temperatures and serving sizes and showed me all of the ropes. They were very professional and intense as they prepared for the first lunch. I think they were nervous about me being in the kitchen area, but I was even more nervous than they were! It takes a lot of coordination to ensure that students are served within the time limits and given the options that make their dining experience a good one.

As students arrived and the line started moving, the cafeteria staff members were very kind as they worked with me on serving instructions and providing the meals for students. Students also were surprised to see me and said hello, but it certainly was clear that they were there for their lunch and intent on making the correct selections.

This was a great experience for me to get to work side-by-side with our Student Nutrition Services staff, including Director Tracy Dixon and the Logan cafeteria manager, Ms. Thereasteen Cannon. Kudos to our Student Nutrition Services staff for what they do for the 24,000 students we serve in Richland One!

As with our Student Transportation Services staff and other departments, the employees of Richland One do an excellent job supporting our students and the district as a whole.

Richland One schools and administrative offices will be closed November 23-25 for the Thanksgiving Break. Regular schedules will resume Monday, November 28. Happy Thanksgiving to all!