February 23, 2015

By Allan  


Hi Everyone,

Too soon? According to my wife there are 19 days left before spring break and 69 school days before the last day of school.

Thirteen items of note this week:

• Artist in Residence Updates – I met with our artist, Samuel Becerra, last week and his schedule is wide open in May and June. Regarding dates, I ran it by 3/4/5 teachers, since they are the ones dealing with testing during May, and I think the dates that work best are the weeks of May 18, May 25 and June 1. Samuel will see each classroom for four one hour sessions. Once we have the testing schedule solid, I’ll draft an artist schedule, though generally speaking we’ll start with the younger grades and end with the older grades, who will hopefully be done with most of the testing by that point.

And regarding the art project, Samuel suggested that instead of making masks that we do his other clay project where each student would craft their own flute, which would use our kiln. The advantage to this one is that all students get their own product at the end of the project versus the mask making which is a class project and not an individual one. Let me know if anyone feels strongly about doing the mask project over the flutes. If I hear from enough people, I’ll add it to our next staff meeting agenda.

• School Choice Visitation Week – Just a reminder that this week is the second School Choice Visitation Week. We have a few families signed up for tours (mostly at the younger grades), but don’t be surprised if you see me walking visitors around the building and into classrooms this week.

• PRIDE Awards Wednesday, Feb. 25th – This Wednesday is the February PRIDE Awards. PRIDE certificates and invitations to families are located in the office. When you turn in your PRIDE nominations, be sure that you let Lori know who and why each student is being recognized so she can put their name up on the board.

• PTO Updates – There was a smaller turnout for last Tuesday’s PTO meeting, but here are some items of note from the meeting:

• Tech Trot, May 20th – The Tech Trot is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th. We’ll schedule around testing for 3/4/5 classes. Symantec is sponsoring the event and will be sending volunteers to run things. The PTO is also repeating last year’s successful Penny War, which will happen this same week. Generally speaking, they are planning to run this fundraiser the same as last year (though they are working on how to avoid cheaters trading the rubber bands after the run), but if you have any thoughts or ideas, let me know and I will pass it along.

• Carnival Staff Raffle – Instead of doing a classroom art project (i.e. chair painting) to auction at the carnival, they are instead asking for volunteers for a Staff Raffle. The idea is that any willing staff members could offer some sort of activity with a student (lunch with the student, a special art project, trip to Dairy Queen for ice cream, etc.). The students would put a carnival ticket into a can for each raffle and one lucky winner would be drawn at the end of the night. If anyone is thinking of doing an off campus activity, I’d advise teaming up with another staff member. A sign-up sheet will be posted later on once we’re closer to the carnival.

• 2015-2016 Staffing Timeline – Principals will receive next year’s staffing Monday, March 9th and building staffing plans will likely be due the day before spring break. Once I get our staffing allocations, I’ll share the numbers with everyone that same day. I’ll hold an optional Staff Meeting on Thursday, March 12th at 2:30 in the library for staff to give input on the different staffing scenarios, which I’ll email out ahead of time. After staff have had a chance to reflect on the different plans, we’ll hold a regular Staff Meeting on Tuesday, March 17th at 2:30 in the library to vote on the final staffing plan.

The preliminary enrollment projections have us projected for more students than we were staffed for this year, which should mean we’ll see an increase in staffing next year as long as the staffing ratio stays the same. However, taking into consideration that we’re significantly overenrolled this year, along with the new building opening next spring and all of the new housing in our area, I’ve been making the case to downtown that that our projections should be increased. I don’t know if it’ll make a different, but I’ll keep fighting the good fight.

• Spring Break Activity/Lunch Program – Nutrition Services setting up a spring break lunch program for area students, ages 2 – 18, Monday through Friday over the break. The meals will be served from 12:00-1:00 and would be served out of the Howard cafeteria. The one catch for the state grant is that an “activity” needs to be planned each day, though that activity can be as simple as coloring books, showing a video, singing songs, open gym or free choice on the playground. Nutrition Services also asked if there are any staff willing to donate an hour of their time to supervise and/or lead one of the activities. They are casting a pretty wide net for volunteers, so please don’t feel any obligation to volunteer unless you truly want to. I’ll probably volunteer a couple days, but I’m pretty sure Nutrition Services will be able to find folks to get this covered. You all certainly deserve time your time off.

• Construction Updates – Attached are the minutes from the last Construction Progress Meeting. Here are the highlights:

• East Wing Mock Ups – You may have noticed a wall was built on the mock up in the old gravel parking lot. There are a couple different types of brickwork and two types of mortar. The darker bricks are more expensive, but I think these look nicer and are worth the investment for a building that’ll be around for 60 years or more. The Facilities staff we’re working with seem to agree, but it will be the big dogs who make the ultimate decision.

• Lockdown Fix – The overhead garage doors in the cafeteria leading to the courtyard were originally not connected to the electronic lockdown system, which will lockdown the entire building from the press of a button in the office. There will be some rewriting done to make sure they are connected.

• Technology Skills Practice for Smarter Balanced (and practice test) – This is a repeat from earlier in the year, but mentioned at the 3/4/5 Smarter Balanced Assessment training, the Vacaville School District in California has created a site for teachers to support students becoming proficient in using the keyboard and mouse/trackpad/touchscreen for the tasks they will be asked of by the Smarter Balanced assessment (highlighting, clicking and dragging, etc.). It’s organized by grade level and has direct links activities for each of the skill areas. Also remember that the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment (which are closer to the real thing than are the practice tests and which in theory provide results that can be used to guide instruction) are available through the OAKS Secure Browser. And here’s the new link to the OAKS Portal.

• New Associate Director of Technology – Kim Ketterer has accepted the position of Associate Director of the Technology Department. As you know Kim has been serving our district and students since 1987, most recently as the Interim Director of the Technology Department. My thought on this is that this will help keep the Tech Department instructionally focused and less of the bad-old-days of CIS being the tail wagging the dog. Another downtown staffing change of note, Simone Sangster, the Director of Financial Services has accepted a job in Bellingham, WA and will be moving on at the end of April. Andrea Belz will be interim head of Financial Services and retired Financial Services Director Hillary Kittleson will be coming back to help provide support.

• Grants 4 Teachers February Newsletter – Here’s the February Grants4Teachers Newsletter if anyone is looking for grant opportunities. This month’s newsletter includes one from a foundation supporting programs that advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which Howard certainly fits the “T” portion of.

• Youth talking about micro aggressions – “Oh, you’re so pretty for a black girl.” “Do you speak good English?” Though they might be unintentional, these offensive phrases – called micro-aggressions – are heard all too often in everyday conversation. And while they’re frequently said in a joking way, the meaning of those words can have lasting negative effects. In a video created by SheKnows, a group of teen girls explain how micro-aggressions can be hurtful to their self-esteem. “Because they’re micro, because they’re very subtle — they’re small — you feel like you don’t have a reason to be upset,” says one girl. “We try to just use jokes to make this less awkward, ease social experiences,” adds another. “But… you need to aware of what you’re saying and who you’re speaking to.”

• Dress Code Article – As a follow-up to our dress code discussion at the last staff meeting, I was going to share the editorial written by a Kelly Middle School that was referenced at the meeting, but now only an abstract is available. Instead here’s a related article about community debate over an Illinois middle school’s dress code.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for the next two weeks:

February 23 (M)
School Choice Visitation Week 2
Reading Progress Monitoring Week 9
12:00-3:30, Allan to Research for Better Teaching Training (Ed Center)
12:30-5:00, Allan to Legislature with Elementary Principals (Salem)

February 24 (T)
9:00-10:00, School Choice Tour
2:30-3:30, Student Care Team (Staff Room)

February 25 (W)
9:00-11:00, Allan to Construction Progress Meeting (Construction Trailer)
10:55-12:30, PRIDE Awards at Lunch (Cafeteria)
4:00-6:00, Allan to Nutrition Services Advisory Committee (Ed Center)

February 26 (H)
10:55-12:20, Birthday Lunches with Mr. Chinn (Library)
2:30-3:30, PBIS Meeting (Room 21)
2:30-3:30, Allan to IEP Meeting (Room 9)
7:00-8:00, BEST Strings Concert (Kelly MS)

February 27 (F)
School Choice Application Deadline
9:15-11:45, KG to “The Magical Moomba” Performance (The Shedd)

March 2 (M)
Superintendent Finalists Announced
8:00-11:00, Allan to Skillful Teacher Co-Observation (Camus Ridge)
2:00-5:00, Allan to Pay Grade Evaluation Committee (Facilities)
6:30-8:30, Allan to Noche Informativa Para Padres de Habla Hispana: Nuevos Exámenes “Smarter Balanced”

March 3 (T)
ELPA Testing Begins
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 7)

March 4 (W)
Wacky Wednesday – Crazy Socks Day
9:00-9:30, Ems Emazing Readers Assembly (Gym)
9:00-11:00, Allan to Construction Progress Meeting (Construction Trailer)
4:00-5:00, North Region Principals’ Meeting (NEHS)

March 5 (H)
Superintendent Finalists Public Forum
2:30-3:30, Taking it Up Meeting (Staff Room)

March 6 (F)
12:15-5:00, Allan to 4JMAPS Superintendent Interviews

Have a good week everyone (and no, it’s never to early to start a countdown to the next school break).