Principal Jenny Marquart lays out a set of six goals for the school year.
Dear North High Families,
I hope you have had a wonderful summer; mine was filled with learning! I attended workshops, read great books, and traveled to different parts of the country. We had many staff members participating in workshops throughout the summer to write curriculum, assessments and participate in conversations about how we can ensure that all students are achieving at high levels and are progressing as learners.
Our District Strategic Plan is the blueprint for achieving the mission. In order for us to develop students who are capable, confident and curious, we have to engage them in instruction and assessments that foster growth, questioning, and social emotional development. It is not always easy to see how our day-to-day practices are intended to help us achieve our mission; so I want to take the time to make the connection between our strategic plan and practices you will be seeing and hearing about throughout the school year.
Goal 1: All students are capable learners who transfer their prior learning to new demands, in and out of school.
Many teachers participated in workshops to learn more about grading practices that are focused on course standards. More and more of our teachers are determining grades based solely on assessments so that the grade truly represents what a student has learned. In an effort to have academic lab be productive for all students, we will be directing students to use the handbook/planner to organize assignments and tests and to write priorities for how academic lab time will be used. Organizational skills and prioritizing skills are important for all students and will be valuable to them now and beyond high school. We will continue to closely monitor student progress and will be directing and restricting travel for those students who are not successful in classes so that we can put interventions in place that will help them be successful.
Goal 2: All students are curious learners who understand and respond to the challenges of an ever-changing world.
Teachers will be incorporating instructional practices and assessments that promote creative thinking and problem solving. The Missouri assessments students will be taking in the coming years will expect that they are able to solve ‘real-world problems’; in order to prepare students for that, we need to practice those skills. Instead of simply studying for a test in a class, students might be asked to use the information they have learned in one class and connect it to what they have learned in another class.
Goal 3: All students are confident learners who are increasingly self-directed, skilled, and persistent as learners.
We will be using academic lab as a time to learn goal setting skills. Students will use goal sheets in their planner to write goals every six weeks. They will review and reflect on their goals at the end of every six week marking period and write new goals with action steps. Setting goals will help students identify their priorities for each academic lab and therefore use the time in a productive way. We also will be using academic lab time to have conversations about the importance of maintaining a physically and emotionally safe learning environment. Students and staff are planning conversations based on topics such as bullying, decision making, peer pressure, and service learning.
Goal 4: Develop and support strong professional communities that utilize data, knowledge, experience and research to improve practice and accomplish goals.
Goal 5: Recruit, develop and retain an exceptional staff dedicated to and representative of our diverse community.
In order to achieve Goals 4 and 5 of our District Strategic Plan, we will be setting aside additional time for teachers to collaborate about the courses they are teaching and to review data about the students they are teaching. This professional development will take place on the monthly delayed start days and on the four days we have set aside for early release. (Please see the information later in the newsletter for the specific dates and times.) During this professional development time, teachers will determine instructional methods that best help students. Teachers will create assessments that will be given to students in classes and they will review data to see how students are progressing or if interventions need to be put in place, to provide additional support or enrich the learning for certain students. On these days, we will have an adjusted schedule; students will either arrive late to school or leave early so that all teachers can participate in these professional development activities.
Goal 6: Responsibly and efficiently allocate resources including finances, facilities, personnel and time.
We continue to review our practices as a school and District to see where we are more efficient and good stewards of the resources we have. We will reduce postage costs by using electronic communication methods. This newsletter and one in January will be mailed but all others will be sent electronically and will be available on our school webpage. Grade cards will no longer be mailed home and we will use email for other school communication. You will notice an updated school webpage soon intended to make things easier to find on the school page as well as the District page. We have installed an additional wireless system so that students can bring and use their own technology device (laptop, tablet, iPad, etc.) to school for use in classes.
As you can see we have spent the summer planning for the new school year with the idea that everything we do is helping us achieve part of the District Strategic Plan and ultimately will achieve the Mission for all students. We need you to be partners in this endeavor so please communicate frequently with us to let us know how things are going for your son or daughter. Please look through the rest of the newsletter to find information about how you can get involved as a parent and how you can participate in meetings we have at school. Our PTO does a wonderful job of planning parent meetings with topics that are timely and informational; our guidance staff offers many evening sessions to allow parents to be part of the career and college planning process; we have a Principal’s Coffee several times a year so you can hear what is happening at North and ask questions that are on your mind. A great time to meet teachers is Open House, scheduled for August 30.
I am looking forward to starting the school year and hope to see you often on campus!