Greenwood School District
Greenwood School District . . . . . Where All Means All
Public Education has been a key topic in political headlines for the past few years with great debates over the effectiveness of our schools, school safety, local control vs government control, and voucher systems where parents can choose which school they want their child to attend. Through the many debates, there is one topic that most everyone can agree on: every child deserves a quality education. However, this sparks another debate when the realization hits that education is not a one size fits all program. Some children are several years behind the norm, while others may be several years ahead. Some will need social and emotional assistance while others may need food and clothing before they can even focus on education. The vast spectrum of needs can leave a school district spread too thin from a fiscal as well as resource perspective. Therefore, school districts must be innovative and communicate a shared vision to prevent a decline in student achievement.
In an effort to fill each student’s needs, Greenwood School District, led by Mr. John Ciesla has adopted an “All Means All” motto to go along with their signature statement of “Excellence in Education”. The All Means All campaign is designed to find innovative ways to involve students in their school and their community by making them feel a part of something whether it be sports, academic clubs, drama, food clubs, or musical activities. This campaign began with a challenge by Superintendent John Ciesla during meetings with the Kindergarten through 6th grade staff at the end of the 2017-18 school year. He will continue to share that vision with 7-12th grade teachers during the back to school district day in August. The message is really very simple: find a way to utilize every teacher’s personal talents or interests to connect with a student. The challenge to our teachers will be to find a hobby or activity that a student is passionate about and match them up with a teacher who has the same passion. By making personal connections and finding common ground, relationships will grow and students will be brought into something they feel a part of.
Examples of this are already happening at several of our local schools in the form of after school drama clubs, chess clubs, cooking clubs, drum lines, and journalism clubs. One teacher is even working with students on disc golf competitions! As you are reading this, you might ask how this will improve a child’s education? Research shows that students who are involved in extracurricular activities and have a positive role model with shared interests, are more likely to succeed in school and have a higher college success rate. In addition, research has also shown that most school violence occurs when a student feels isolated and excluded. In the All Means All school, all teachers will work to make sure all students are a part of something. This membership in the school society, this feeling of belonging should go a long way in decreasing the chances of a violent act on the school campus and increase the success rate of students.
The following programs are just a few ways the school district will support this mission:
Professional Learning Communities
Professional Learning Communities allow teachers weekly time in their schedules to collaborate on student concerns or to celebrate their successes. Teachers will review their concerns over particular students who might need extra attention, plan for daily intervention blocks, and to plan instruction together that will ensure each child gets the same education regardless of their classroom placement. The Professional Learning Community movement was developed by Dr. Rick DuFour with extensive research correlated to student success that cannot be ignored. If it is good for kids, how can we not do it?
Project Lead the Way
The Project Lead the Way Gateway program has been a part of the 7-9th grade science curriculum for the past two years. Due to the success rate in involving and motivating students in the areas of Science, technology, and Math, we are implementing PLTW Launch in grades 3-6 in the 2018-19 school year. These classes offer a unique, hands on approach with the teacher as a facilitator to learning. The science scores are proof that this program is not only a popular choice, but a sound choice to improve academic proficiency. The district plan is to continue to add more PLTW programs in the lower elementary grades in the next few years. As we work to prepare students for the 21st Century jobs, our goal is to make learning fun through exploration and creation activities.
New Leadership and Learning Opportunities at the Freshman Center
Next year, one of the major changes at the Greenwood Freshman Center will be the creation of a Student Leadership Team. This team of twelve Freshman students will attend a summer leadership conference in which they will learn the habits of effective leadership and what it means to lead through service. Once school begins, these students will be responsible for setting the tone for the Freshman Center. Specifically, members of the Student Leadership Team will help integrate new students into our student body, give tours of the Freshman Center to visiting dignitaries, present at monthly assemblies to the entire Freshman class, and serve as student advisors to the administrative leadership team.
One of the most important tasks of the Student Leadership Team will be to develop and host a monthly assembly for all Freshman to address topics of importance for 9th graders. These topics could include presentations about the power of positive habits, the dangers of drugs/alcohol/vaping, the importance of social graces, developing study skills, the danger of cell phones and distracted driving, social media and bullying, forgiveness, stress management, self-reliance, being deserving versus being entitled, etc. The ultimate goal of these meetings will be to intentionally help our students develop the skills and habits that will support them throughout their high school career and beyond. In addition, we hope that these monthly meetings will help our students learn what it takes to lead a happy life and become productive members of our community.
Student Success Plans
As mandated by state law, all schools must have a Student Success Plan in place for students by the 8th grade. Our school district will utilize the previous CAP process, but will make changes that will become our Student Success Plans. It begins in the Spring semester of 8th grade, culminating in the SSP conference between Greenwood Freshman teachers with incoming Freshmen students and parents.
The Student Success Plan is driven from a fairly inclusive collection of test scores, student interest inventory data, proposed career path, 4-year high school plan, and all local academic records updated annually (including transcripts when they become relevant). A CAP book is produced each year on all course offerings, graduation requirements, and pertinent college/career prep info. Mentors will be assigned in the Freshmen year to assist students as they work toward the goals set forth in the Student Success Plan. The relationships formed during these mentor sessions are important in creating a culture of community for all stakeholders.
The All Means All concept means that every teacher will be responsible for every child. Our teachers will present a united, teamwork approach to achieve student success. Intervention blocks have been built into all daily schedules at the K-6 levels while 7-12th grade will implement Structured Learning Time and Independent learning Time (SLT/ILT) into their schedules. The Freshman Center will assign a mentor for each student who will track that student’s progress and ensure everything is being done to help that student achieve success academically, as well as socially. We have learned that every teacher has specialty areas that are more effective in reaching students so the intervention blocks will give those teachers a chance to utilize their specialty areas and give students “one more option” in learning the concept with a different approach or from a different perspective. Intervention blocks shouldn’t be seen as time away from instruction, but as a supplement to what is already being taught in the regular classroom. Intervention blocks are not just for struggling learners, but will also help those who are on grade level with extended learning activities and opportunities.
Greenwood Schools continues to expand our extracurricular programs for students. As mentioned previously, research has shown that students who participate and are heavily involved in extracurricular activities achieve at a higher level than students who are not involved. As we move forward, we are looking for other avenues to involve students, other than the traditional athletic, band, choir, and drama programs. Our teachers and administrators have been encouraged to discuss this with students, parents, and staff members to gauge what other activities could be generated to include more students. It is our goal at Greenwood to have excellence in all of our programs. However, we don’t want to pursue excellence at the exclusion of students. As a result, intramural activities are a future consideration depending on student interests.
GSPIRE- School Edition
After school care and summer programs are another way that Greenwood Schools provide for our students. The GSPIRE program replaced the Before and After School Success program (BASS) beginning in 2017-18. Key components of the program include academic interventions and academic enrichment provided by fully certified teachers. We also include healthy snacks, character education programs, and physical education components for grades K-6. The GSPIRE program runs from 3:30 to 5:30 Monday through Thursday. The GSPIRE program for grades 7-12 is scheduled in the mornings before school and after school with certified teachers providing tutoring services to students who seek assistance. For more information on GSPIRE, please contact your child’s teacher or your building administrator.
East Pointe Elementary has one of the highest free and reduced rates of any school in our district. Principal Josh Ray immediately realized that there was a need for many of his students to have positive role models. Mr. Ray worked teamed up with school counselors to start a mentoring program where local community members were paired with select students for quality social time once a month. This program was also supported by the Focus on Greenwood group with monetary support as well as member participation.
As we move into the 2018-19 school year with the “All Means All” vision, we will focus on professional development that will give teachers the resources they need to understand the vision and create a culture shift that will result in ALL students feeling a part of the Greenwood School community!