Sunday, July 25, 2010

Get Ready for Back to School

I know that kids don’t want to think about it, but most have about two to three weeks before they are back in the classroom pursuing an education some of them don’t want. For some, particularly in the St. Louis Public School District and the Riverview Garden School District, they will return to the same building, but with different principals, teachers, and staff. What happens if your second grader has been waiting all summer to go to Mrs. Smith’s third grade class and Mrs. Smith isn’t returning? One way is to go to the school as early as possible and see if you can find out who will be your child’s teacher this year. Talk with the teacher and find out some fun and exciting facts about the teacher, what the teacher’s expectations are for their students, and what the principal’s expectations are for each student. With this information in hand, share it with your child and make a goals chart with your child.

Start by getting markers and a large sheet of construction paper or chart paper and putting your child’s name at the top of the chart and a favorite picture of them. Assist your child in deciding which specific goals they will work on this school year. Instead of stating, “I’ll do better in math, give specific examples, “I will learn all of the multiplication facts from 1 through 10 by November ___, 2010.” This allows for the student to track their progress more effectively. For those weeks when your child does not do well with a specific goals, list some of the reasons that they may not have fulfilled that goal.

To help your child prepare for their new teacher start by helping your child see what they may have in common with their new teacher. Cut circles (about the diameter of a roll of masking tape), out of construction paper. On each circle list a characteristic that your child and their new teacher may have in common. Use a different color for each characteristic. Put a hole in the center and put a piece of yarn through it and tie it to make a necklace or just to hang from the wall. This will help your child to always look for those good qualities in their teacher as well as show their best qualities while at school.

Provide you child with a calendar of events that lead up to the first day of school. List the days you will go school shopping and be sure to make a list of those items you will need. (Don’t forget to clip coupons to help you save money.) List any activities that the school will have prior to the first day, for example, open house/meet the teacher night or registration. List doctor and dentists appointments, school fairs held at shopping malls, parks, churches, etc. Allow your child to cross off each day and each activity will give them a sense of responsibility as well as help to focus their mind on returning to school. The more positive you are about the first day of school, the more positive they will be. Have a happy and exciting school year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

St. Louis Public Schools: School Improvement Grants

I just recently attended a meeting at Hamilton Elementary School in the St. Louis Public School District. A lot of important information was shared with parents and community. I took it upon myself to go directly to the SLPS website to get additional information. During the Special Administrative Board meeting on April 15, 2010, Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, made several recommendations to address the projected $57.5 million deficit for the 2010-2011 school year. The United States Education Department expects School Improvement Grants in the SLPS District be used for the implementation of one of four rigorous school intervention models:
1. The Turnaround Model: Replace the principal and rehire no more that 50% of the staff and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes. Schools Participating: Columbia, Hamilton, Mann, Sigel, and Vashon.

2. Restart School Model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process. Schools Participating: Ashland, Central, VPA, Sumner and Walbridge.

3. Closure Model: Close school and enroll students in other schools in the Local Educational Agencies (LEA) that are higher achieving. School Participating: Bunche.

4. Transformation Model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support. Schools Participating: Carr Lane, Gateway Middle, Fanning, Jefferson, L'Ouverture, Long, Langston, Stevens, Yeatman, Dunbar, and Roosevelt.

I think it is vitally important that not only parents of SLPS students, but the community to get involved. Not to go to the School Board Meetings and act foolish, but to read all of the information that SLPS is providing to the public and to make some intelligent decisions regarding the education of our children. Now is the time for the residents of the City of St. Louis to be IN PURSUIT OF EDUCATION. Go to the website and read as much information as your can. Did you know that at the public libraries you can print out 200 pages each month free. Print out this information, highlight those things you don't understand so that when you go to a meeting, you can ask them what it means. Let's not drop the ball. We want the best education for our children in the SLPS. Let's not be dictated by some people who have never taught in a classroom, except when doing student teaching, or people who haven't been in a classroom in over 10 years, or people who don't live in our area and don't know our struggles. Let's be informed and united in our fight to improve our city schools.