Friday, September 15, 2017

Modeling “GREAT” Citizenship for our Students

One of the 5 Cs that often gets overlooked in today’s schools is citizenship. I strongly believe that citizenship is an important part of the educational experience. IWCS developed a Focus Document (included below) which outlines our beliefs and expectations for students, faculty, and staff. One of the beliefs is treating all individuals with dignity and respect. 

We often have to make decisions that will affect our student’s education.  An example is the current review of our exam policy. We need to decide whether exams are an integral part of the educational experience that will prepare our students for college, career, and life and, if so, how much they should count in the overall class grade.

This decision, and all similar decisions, needs to be made with stakeholder input. When involving all stakeholders, we need to understand the importance of respecting people’s individual opinions. In modeling positive relationships and citizenship, we must demonstrate mutual respect and confidence that all stakeholders have the best interest of our children in mind when making a suggestion. If we have that common understanding, then we should have the confidence to know that whatever we choose to proceed with will be what’s best for our students and yield the desired result.

I have that level of confidence in our teachers, staff, and parents. If we all demonstrate this type of respect and understanding to our students, not only will we make sound decisions for them, we will help to create  great citizens for our community, our country, and, in fact, the entire world.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Welcome to a New School Year!

I had an amazing first day of school.  After all these years, I still get excited for the start of a new school year.  Even though my children have been out of the house for three years, my wife still had to take a First Day of School photo—of me.   Those First Day photos were definitely much better when my children were in them!  I was also busy taking photos as I visited schools throughout the division today.  I shared many of the pictures on Twitter and highlighted the great start we had in each of our buildings. 

Windsor High School was particularly creative with the “Unfirst Day of School.” Students were greeted by teachers lining the front walkway, and students entered the school through a beautiful archway of blue and gold balloons.   


The unique experience didn’t end there.   A traditional first day back for a high school students would include going to each class, getting a course syllabus, going over routines and procedures.  But the “Unfirst Day” was different.  Students were able to meet all their teachers for both first and second semester.  Time was set-aside for introductions between teachers and students, and relationship building sessions for the class. During the Academic Enrichment Period, students unpacked the new Isle of Wight County Schools’ GRIT focus document. GRIT stands for Gumption, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity, all characteristics we want our students to possess.  Sharing the qualities of GRIT with students today emphasized the importance we are placing on helping them to develop a growth mindset.

Next, all students went through a rotation which included lunch, expectations for the year, a meeting with the new WHS Principal and Assistant Principal, and an information meeting with Guidance. Then the “Unfirst Day of School” ended with an Academic Pep Rally, honoring students with all A’s, perfect attendance, and seniors who will be receiving an Academic Jacket later this month.
Far from a traditional first day of school, students understood by the end of the day that relationships are important and that they have some very special people at Windsor High School that are advocates for their success. Hats off to new administrators Mrs. Laura Sullivan (Principal), Mr. Zach Haney (Assistant Principal), and all the educators and staff that make Windsor High School so unique!!!

 I hope the first day went well for you and your family.  My next blog will highlight the excitement of the first week in all of our schools, so stay tuned!