Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

We appreciate Dr. Bowers’ support of the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run and his clear understanding of why we do it. Kudos to Tyler Hollinger and Rick Armstrong for putting this event together and the army of volunteers who came out Friday night to make this event happen! You are value-added to the Worthington community! If you missed this event, don’t worry… It’ll be back next year!

Absolute Excellence

Warrior Run KidsIt’s been said that “not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”  Our last blog post “Progress” discussed some of our measured results on the 2013-2014 district report card.  But how do you measure events that capture the imagination and the passion of a community?  Events where teachers from all across Worthington come together with parents and other community volunteers to provide a unique, cool, opportunity for kids and adults.  How do you measure the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run?

A friend of mine who teaches in a high-performing neighboring district but who lives in Worthington, posted the following on her Facebook page along with pictures of her child’s participation in the Warrior Run.  She posted, “Reason #427 why I Love Worthington Schools!”

On Friday night we had over 1,000 registered participants in the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run.  There were easily two…

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Everything Old is New Again

Students were ready!

Students were ready!

Blizzard Bags.  For Worthington, they worked this week like taking an umbrella.  Staff was ready.  Students were ready.  Families were ready.  Then, for what seemed like the first time this year, Old Man Winter went easy on us!  Yea!!  It actually looks like we will have another full week of school… Two weeks in a row!

In school is exactly where we want to be.  Consistency of instruction and learning is important for our students.  However, every now and then, circumstances beyond our control require the cancellation of school… for days… again and again.  School officials are left to make decisions about make-up days and alternate learning options.  Last week, Worthington Schools moved forward with both of those decisions including scheduling school days for April 18 and May 30 as well as implementing “Blizzard Bags” in the event of another school cancellation.

“Blizzard Bags” are alternate learning assignments.  Maybe sent home in a bag… maybe not.  In this digital age, many blizzard bag assignments are online.  Blizzard bags have received a lot of media attention this winter because of the extensive number of school cancellations.  One would think that this is a very new concept, but it’s not.

GASOLINE_SHORTAGE_1973-HIf you are over 40, you probably remember the energy crisis well. My childhood memories of the energy crisis include my father closing off a portion of our house with plastic sheeting and the open (heated) part was still very cold as we did all we could to conserve energy in our home.  These memories also include completing school assignments at home…  “Blizzard bags” if you will. Gas shortages during the winter of 1977 required school districts to make very difficult decisions and get creative in providing continued learning outside of schools.  My parents received this memo from Worthington City Schools informing them of the “Emergency Learning Plan” that had students attending school for 1/2 day per week (for me, in the Thomas Worthington HS auditorium) and completing assigned work at home between class sessions.  We remember this winter as the year we had “school without schools.”

Ideal, no.  We WANT our students at school learning in person from those who are best equipped to provide them with the instruction, feedback, support, and guidance that will maximize their learning.  However, thoughtful planning and support from families can make “blizzard bag” assignments great learning experiences and, from some of the creativity I have seen, quite exciting!

As students entered school on Monday, some were disappointed that they didn’t get this very new (but really quite old) learning opportunity.  We, on the other hand, were elated to have them here – in person!!    We’re all hopeful that our blizzard bag preparation is all it took to end the madness and keep us in school for the duration.  Old Man Winter, we’re ready for you!  You can’t stop learning in our Fine, Fine School in this Fine, Fine School district!  Think spring everyone!

Think Spring

Administrative “Snow Day”

snow day cartoon

Worthington Schools are closed today. Children are excited to have an extra day of holiday fun (even if it IS too cold to play outside in the snow).  Worthington staff members are happy to work from home in their jammies and have a little extra time to catch up on paperwork and explore some teaching materials and ideas that there is often way too little time for. A few braved the cold and snow to work in their buildings (including multiple edugators @ Granby!). 

Worthington administrators are busy.  Central office administration had the stressful task of determining last evening that Worthington would begin with a two-hour delay this morning and then another very early morning deciding what was SAFE FOR CHILDREN.  Deciding school delays and closings is never easy and a task that I am happy belongs to someone else.  You can read more about how these decisions are made by reading Dr. Bowers’ most recent blog post, Oh the Weather Outside… .

office view

Building administrators (principals, assistant principals, and athletic directors) reported to school as soon as they were able and have been busy posting the school closing to social media outlets, fielding “Are you closed today?” phone calls, checking to make sure the system override for the new door buzzer/unlock system worked to keep our buildings secure, returning emails and phone calls, catching up on paperwork and tasks that are sometimes difficult to get done during busy school days, drinking an extra cup of coffee from the Keurig (or maybe that’s just me) and much more!  It’s very quiet and for someone like me who thrives on personal interactions, a bit lonely.  However, days like these are quite productive and bring renewed organization and appreciation for the hum of a building filled with children and adults actively engaged in the learning process.

The forecast heading into early next week looks to be very snowy and even colder.  It’s too early to know whether or not we’ll have more snow days next week, but it’s never too early to make family plans for how you’ll manage if there are.  Do we want students to be in school learning?  You bet!  But not at the expense of their safety.

Please keep warm and safe this weekend everyone.  And to our hometown Buckeyes, good luck tonight from everyone at our Fine, Fine School and Fine, Fine District!  GO BUCKS!!!!

OHIO Snowmen

2013 in review

As with many New Year’s resolutions, my resolution to blog more in 2013 didn’t really come to pass.  But if you’re reading this, chances are you’re a faithful follower and for that I am grateful.  Hopefully, you are following all of the amazing things going on at Granby via Facebook and Twitter as I seem to be much better at updating those social media outlets.  At any rate, it’s been a truly remarkable and busy year at Granby including celebrating our 25th Anniversary, the retirement of several staff members and multiple staffing changes, TWO district-wide Warrior Runs (spring and fall this year), full implementation of Common Core and State Standards, transitioning to our new teacher evaluation system, multiple grant awards, installation of a beautiful new brick paver patio, upgraded instructional technology, new security features, and the opening of our very own Gators Bike Park!  And this just scratches the surface of what occurred at Granby in 2013!

For me, this has truly been the most amazing year of my career.  I absolutely LOVE what I do and feel deeply blessed that I have the honor of working with the most amazing children, families, staff, and district.  Just when I think it can’t get any better, something new and amazing happens.  2013, you were good to us… Thank you!  2014… Bring it on!  I look forward what the future holds for Granby and know that it’s going to be AWESOME!!!  Have a fine, fine New Year everyone from our Fine, Fine School!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy Boss’s Day! Edugator Spotlight: Jennifer Wene

As a result of the reconfiguration of administrative “Communities of Practice” (COPS) groups to allow for feeder school administrators to meet and collaborate monthly, I have a new “boss” this year! Jennifer Wene, Director of Academic Achievement and Professional Development, is my supervisor and oversees all things Granby. This change in bosses has been a very smooth transition for me and for the Granby staff.


Jennifer leads this COPS group. She is pictured above in black with white dots.

I have known Jennifer for a long time. She has held multiple roles in our district including Special Education Director, Principal at Slate Hill (opened that building and still claims it as hers), and others that I can’t remember because her history goes back way too far. Jennifer is one of the few administrators in Worthington that has been with Worthington Schools longer than I have. She has a myriad of talents and has stayed with Worthington because she loves the community and is fully invested in the students, staff, families, and residents that have high stakes in the excellent education provided by Worthington Schools.

Jennifer has been a teacher and mentor to me since I began my administrative journey back in 2000. As a classroom teacher, I began my Master’s degree and administrative licensure program simultaneously. Jennifer, along with Gerald Prince and several other district administrators, were our “professors” for most of the graduate classes we took in-district. I have many fond memories of evenings spent in the Sutter Park library listening, learning, collaborating, and really having my thinking about leadership challenged. Those classes were the beginning of my quest to understand and develop leadership qualities that would have an impact on student growth on a broader scale. (Just so you know, I am still on that quest and always will be…) Jennifer had a significant impact on my development as a leader and she still does.

Jennifer Best and Jennifer Wene at the Warrior Run

Jennifer Best and Jennifer Wene at the Warrior Run

Jennifer has a really tough job. All things relating to student achievement (testing, data, curriculum, professional development, and the list goes on…) fall under Jennifer’s responsibility and it is a responsibility that she does not take lightly. She constantly seeks the right information, resources, opportunities, instructional materials, etc. that will have the “biggest bang for the buck” in helping students grow and learn. Jennifer also understands that we are educating children who have a wide range of skills, interests, talents, and dreams. She appreciates the diverse opportunities available to our students, both in and out of the classroom… something we hold very near and dear to our hearts at Granby. She is passionate about students and refuses to provide anything less than the best for our kids.imageAs a “boss,” Jennifer knows that building principals need support… she has walked a mile in our shoes. She is there for me whenever I need her just has she has been throughout my leadership journey. Jennifer understands that it is important to connect with others and have fun along the way. She’s a good sport!

Today is Boss’s Day. A day to recognize and thank bosses for all they do. Thank you, Jennifer Wene, for being a great boss to me!

Back to School… Ready or Not?!

COLINI think this is my favorite time of year…  Back to school time!  I’ve always loved the anticipation of a new school year including back-to-school shopping for new clothes, school supplies, etc…  Today, my youngest son, Colin (the baby of the family), will head off to Kilbourne for the start of his senior year.  It’s unbelievable to me that this is the last year for our family to have a child in Worthington Schools.  It’s making me sad because it’s been such a good experience for us.  Our sons have received a top-notch, well-rounded education that have allowed them to pursue their post-graduation dreams.  We even managed to get a daughter-in-law (and grandbaby on the way) from the journey as our son, Danny, met his wife, Caity, at Kilbourne.  And who knows what this year could bring?!

Today, some of our Granby families will bring their oldest child (at the ripe old age of 5) to “Meet the Teacher Day.”  They are filled with anticipation and excitement as they begin their educational path with Worthington Schools.  They are about to embark on a most amazing journey with an awesome school community…  and we are READY!!

Brick plazaGranby is very much a school that rarely sleeps.  All summer long, custodians have been cleaning to refresh our building for the start of the school year and it looks great!  Many of you will notice maintenance and landscaping changes to the exterior of the building as our light poles are freshly painted, overgrown bushes have been removed, brick walls have been given a new “cap”, and Granby PTA’s 25th Anniversary brick plaza was installed.  It looks fantastic!!  In addition, our new security camera/intercom/buzzer system is in, several new SMART Boards have been installed, some new furniture has arrived, and two new 15-unit laptop carts are charging and ready for use.  I won’t bore you with some behind-the-scenes improvements, but know that there are improvements that you can’t see.  And Sheri Fitz, our new school secretary, has been working tirelessly to make sure that all of our ducks are in a row (and I can tell you that as hard as I might try, I’m not a whole lot of help).  She’s a gem!

Staff DevelopmentAll of these things are great (some are necessary) and will make our school a nicer place to be.  However, the best improvement is the learning that has occurred over the summer with our amazing staff.  Our Edu-gators have spent countless hours attending inservices, completing coursework, reading professional material, collaborating with colleagues, and prepping their classrooms for the beginning of the BEST SCHOOL YEAR EVER!  The amount of extended learning for our teachers is at an all-time high and I am so proud of their dedication and commitment.  All that they have learned this summer will translate into student learning beginning tomorrow.

Opening Staff Meeting

We are READY!!  Are you?  Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year everyone! And a special welcome to our Fine, Fine School new kindergators!  We are glad you’re here!