Tag Archives: Worthington Schools

Trent Bowers, Superintendent

photo 1 (3) Today marks a new beginning for Worthington Schools.  It is the first day on the job for our new superintendent, Dr. Trent Bowers.  The transition will be seamless.  Trent was appointed to this position by the Worthington School Board in October after Dr. Tucker’s announcement that he was taking a position with Princeton Schools.  Since then, Trent has been working with the school board, administration, staff, students, families, and community to determine priorities and set the course for the future of Worthington Schools.

photo 2 (6)I’ve known Trent for a long time… since he was an adolescent hanging out in youth group with my brother-in-law.  I didn’t know him well then, or even when he was coaching my oldest in football at McCord, but I have come to know him well as our paths crossed once again when he returned to Worthington as an administrator.  Trent has been amazingly supportive of me on my own journey into administration and continues to provide me with a great “sounding board” when needed.

photo 3 (2)Worthington Schools enters a new era today that may one day be referred to as “The Bowers Years.”  I have no doubt that these years will be remembered as really great years for our district.  Here’s why…  Trent has deep roots in Worthington.  He attended Worthington Hills, Perry Middle School, and is a graduate of Worthington High School.  photo 1 (5)Trent, his wife, and three daughters live in the heart of Worthington and are deeply invested (personally) in the quality of our schools.  He has a clear passion for academic excellence and experiences that will help all children grow into well-rounded adults.  Trent models lifelong learning for the Worthington staff.  He understands and values relationships as the foundation of all that we do for kids.  He knows it is important that school is fun… #ForWorthington.

photo 2 (4)If you haven’t already met Trent, you won’t have to look far for an opportunity to meet him.  He’s everywhere!  And here’s the best part…  You are equally likely to meet him wearing a suit and tie at the WEC or a community meeting as you are covered in mud at the Warrior Run (even in 43 degree weather), flipping pancakes at Pancake Day, or riding a bike through the Gators Bike Park.  This Saturday, you’ll be able to catch him in the Worthington Hills 4th of July parade.  Invested… committed…  passionate.

photo 3 (3)School superintendent…  Worthington Schools…  It’s a tall order.  One thing I know for sure…  You will not find someone more committed to doing what’s best for kids in Worthington than Trent Bowers.  We are in good hands.  Happy first day on the job, Superintendent Bowers!

P.S. If you want to connect with the new superintendent you can follow him on Twitter @TBowers3 or read the district blog, Absolute Excellence.

P.P.S.  You might remember Trent’s acting debut in Granby’s LipDub a few years ago…  You can see it here.

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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

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.

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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!

It’s About Family… The Worthington Tradition Continues (Part 2)

2013 has been a banner year for the Schlaegel family!  Just a little over a week ago, my oldest son, Tommy, married his one true love, Emily Huckaby.  For those of you who are counting, that’s the second wedding for us this year.  (You can read about the first wedding here: https://pschlaegel.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/its-about-family-the-worthington-tradition-continues/)    As the mother of four boys, getting TWO daughters-in-law (both absolute gems) in the same year is a VERY big blessing!

Last summer, Emily made the move from Dayton to Columbus to be closer to Tommy and seek a teaching job in the Columbus area.  Just a day or two before their engagement, she accepted a job with Worthington Schools as the Title I teacher at Wilson Hill Elementary (completely on her own merits, I might add… without anyone knowing she was connected to me  🙂 ).  Emily knew right away that she was very fortunate to have joined the Worthington Schools family and I knew that Worthington was very lucky to have hired her!  It’s been fun watching her form friendships with some of the same people I have had the pleasure of teaching with over the years.  She is very happy to be entering her second year with Worthington, teaching sixth grade math this year.

Upon arrival at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, Emily asked me where she was supposed to sit… perfect!  I told her to find her name.  Her eyes filled with tears when she discovered the desk plate that I had made for her with the Worthington Schools logo.  Although I know that she was filled with joy to see her new name, I know that she also has a deep sense of pride that comes with being a part of the Worthington Schools family.

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Worthington roots run deep in our family.  My parents raised their family here.  My husband and I chose to do the same.  My son, Danny, and his wife, Caity, are following in our footsteps with the recent purchase of their first home in Worthington Schools.  I have been blessed with a wonderful career with Worthington Schools and Emily is off to a great start.  She and Tommy will be house-hunting soon and although they won’t get any pressure from me (I don’t want to earn a reputation as a monster-in-law), it wouldn’t surprise me if they landed in Worthington.  They both know that Worthington is a great place to raise a family because of the excellent schools.   Emily knows that Worthington’s high expectations for teachers translate into high expectations for student learning.  Tommy knows that Worthington provided him with an excellent foundation, allowing him to graduate from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business and secure a job in the accounting department of a successful law firm.

Boys

It was an absolute joy watching Tommy marry the girl of his dreams.  It was also a delight to watch him have fun with his groomsmen…  all of whom (with the exception of his three brothers) are childhood friends from Sutter Park and Worthington Hills that reconnected at McCord and Kilbourne. They were fast friends as classmates during school, teammates after school, and they are a tight-knit group of guys who will, undoubtedly, remain lifelong friends.  Again, the Worthington roots run very deep…

Wedding

Emily Huckaby Schlaegel is a fine, fine addition to our Fine, Fine School district, and our fine, fine family!  Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Tommy Schlaegel!

Unsung Heroes… Edugator Spotlight: George Sontag and Our Wonderful Bus Drivers

George Sontag

George Sontag

Worthington Schools has some amazing staff. Each day, dedicated men and women start up 65 of the fleet of 85 Worthington Schools buses and head out on their routes before daybreak to transport students to their respective schools. Approximately ten substitute drivers are at the ready to jump in as needed. Coordinating all of this is an enormous task and Director of Transportation, George Sontag, does it beautifully.

My first direct interaction with George came last spring when I met with him as the elementary summer school principal. We needed to discuss logistics (a little tricky with the closure of the Linworth Road bridge last summer) and make sure we had a good plan for getting students to and from summer reading intervention safely and on time. The plan worked beautifully and we stayed in contact throughout summer school to ensure that remained the case. George’s attention to detail and willingness to collaborate immediately earned my respect for the work he does.

This year, I continue to be amazed with the excellent transportation provided to our students each day. As the only elementary building with 100% of their students on bus routes, our appreciation of the transportation department runs deep. At the end of the day, buses extend the full length of the front of Granby Elementary and it’s a pretty tight procedure getting our little Gators on their buses quickly and safely. “No Child Left Behind” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re sending them all home via district transportation. The drivers are patient as we radio each other to make sure the hallways are clear and the bus lane is safe for them to pull away. It all happens within a few short minutes and they’re off!

Bus Lane

Naturally, student safety is the number one priority for the transportation department. But I can tell you that these drivers are important folks in the lives of our students. I’ve had the opportunity to take three bus rides so far this year and each one of them demonstrated to me how much our drivers care about the students entrusted to their care each day. One driver’s words and actions tell me how much she cares about the kids on her bus. She has developed strong, long-lasting relationships with the students she has driven for years. I heard her telling some kids as they were preparing to get off at their stop, “That’s what I love about you guys. You’re always looking out for each other.”

20130221-063424.jpgOn a different day, I had the pleasure of riding the bus to school with a group of Gators. I had parked my car in the neighborhood, waited at the stop with the kids and parents, and hopped on to enjoy the short ride through the neighborhood and down Hard Road to Granby. I had intended to bum a ride back to my car after school, but the driver offered to drop me off on his way back to pick up his next route of students. Very thoughtful! As I rode back to my car as a solo passenger, he said to me, “I’m sorry I didn’t make it to the breakfast you had for the drivers last week. I am a Project MORE tutor for students at one of my other buildings after I finish my route.” How awesome is that?! A clear commitment to student safety and academic achievement!

One evening, I received a voicemail on my cell phone from George Sontag regarding one of our Gators. I returned his call, he stepped away from a dinner gathering at a restaurant, and he filled me in. Her bus driver had reported that this consistently happy-go-lucky child was visibly upset when getting off the bus that day. George wanted to make me aware and I was able to follow up that evening with a phone call to a parent and an opportunity to talk to this student to find out what happened and make sure that she was okay.

George’s commitment to doing what is best for kids (physically, emotionally, socially, and academically) is quite clear! It’s not uncommon to see him on a bus with a new driver or actually driving a route from time to time. George communicates well and is an amazing problem-solver. He’s quick to take action if there is a situation that could improve the services that are provided and is open to new ideas. Most recently, George worked with me to maximize our resources and arrange for some of our older Gators to join McCord students on their afternoon buses so that transportation would not be a roadblock to providing extended school day intervention.

Loading buses

The number of times George, Tracie Reichert, and the rest of the transportation department have been helpful and collaborative are too numerous to count. I don’t ever hesitate to call transportation because I know that no matter who I talk to, they are going to be pleasant and ready to help.

Tomorrow night, George and the Worthington Schools transportation department will receive some well-deserved recognition from the Worthington Board of Education at their meeting (Worthington Estates @ 7:30). I’ll be there to show my appreciation for their excellent service and wonderful team spirit. Thank you George Sontag and company for literally going the extra mile after mile after mile… for our fine, fine district and our Fine, Fine School!

School-Bus-Clipart