Opening of School Report

Last evening I reported out to the School Board on opening day activities and issues. Here are some of the highlights of that presentation:

This year we welcome 15 new staff members and 2 new administrators to our community. They come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and new ideas with them. They join a returning staff that is refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the challenges they will face in their classroom.

As a school, we have identified three major areas of focus for this year: we want to see growth in our achievement scores in math, reading, writing, and science; we want to improve our communication with parents and the community; and we want to focus our assessments on student learning and mastery of competencies.

Monday, August 30th, our freshmen started school. They had an opportunity to meet their advisors, find their classes and lockers, learn how the lunch lines work, and talk to their teachers about expectations for the year. On Tuesday, the other three grades joined the freshman and started school. Wednesday, September 1st, as a new tradition, our freshmen headed off-site to a retreat at Cedardale Groveland. There, they participated in team building activities and listened to a motivational speaker talk about the importance of "stepping outside your comfort box" and becoming a leader. This same speaker spoke to all of our athletes that same evening. Feedback from parents and students was very positive and we hope to keep this new tradition alive in the future.

Our biggest hurdle right now is schedule changes. We had a number of students in the Guidance office looking to make schedule changes. Some of these were simple elective swaps, but many involved more detailed conversation and issues around getting in required courses at the appropriate levels. We have learned as a school that we need to take a hard look at our graduation requirements and the types of courses that we offer our students. It is clear that we put a lot of constraints on our schedule and these limit what our students can do. This will become a focus for us this year so that we do not have this problem in the future. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with each student who has a scheduling issue now to get their issue resolved. We appreciate the patience that everyone has shown us as we work through this problem. On a positive note, we will be using a much more efficient technology tool this year to build the 2011-2012 master schedule. With this new tool we have set a target goal to have student schedules for next year printed and delivered to students in early June and all schedule changes completed before July 1. This aggressive timeline should greatly improve our ability to offer all of our students a challenging and rigorous course of study that meets their needs.

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