The first nine weeks!

Dr. Haas describes a visit to WAHS and sends a few reminders.

A Thought for Next Week

 “Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden” - Cormac McCarthy, Author

Good morning, everyone! Next week will be the close of the first nine weeks of school! You made it, and you are all doing a terrific job. I know you are worried about how much the students are learning and whether they are making up for “lost learning.” I put “lost learning” in quotes because we hear that term a lot in the media, but I am not sure what it really means. As John Almarode asked us on our first professional development day this year, “Where did the students lose their learning? Did it fall out of their pockets?”

Your students have shown up this year with some catching up to do, but they are not lost as long as they have you to guide them. While academic learning is important, and it is hard for educators and support staff to not become stressed about students’ academic outcomes, please remember that with your presence, caring, and relationship-building with your students and  families, you are doing the most important work to help them heal from the pandemic. The academic improvements will happen, and they will be stronger on the foundation of relationships. As Emily Elliot said in our Western Feeder Pattern Teacher Advisory Committee meeting yesterday, “we are prioritizing Maslow before Bloom.”

You all are doing excellent work. Remember to pace yourselves. You can do it!  

 

Policy Advisory

I  know our teachers strive every day to create engaging learning opportunities for students, and fall elections provide many opportunities for relevant activities. Teachers, as you contemplate working with students to increase their understanding of government and the election process, please keep the following ACPS School Board policies in mind:

Political Activities

Teaching about Controversial Issues

I ask for all of our teachers to please make yourselves familiar with these policies. In addition, please read our policy on conducting surveys.

Administration of Surveys and Questionnaires

If you are considering using a survey with your students, particularly one that was created by an entity outside of ACPS, you must contact our Coordinator of Research and Program Evaluation Chris Gilman for approval before doing so.

I thank you all for your creativity and pursuit of relevance.

 

Observances Coming Up

October is National Bullying Prevention Month: https://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/

October is National Principals Month: https://www.principalsmonth.org/about/ 

October is National Disability History and Awareness Month 

 

School Visit: Western Albemarle High School 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting two classes at WAHS in addition to walking about the school a bit with Principal Jennifer Sublette. When I joined Julie Vinson and Laura Shifflett’s English 10 class, they were engaged with students in a pre-reading activity for the book Born a Crime (2016) by Trevor Noah. Their prompt asked students to respond to the statement “Being able to speak another language makes you more powerful.” Since there was an empty seat, I couldn’t help sitting down and responding to the prompt. After writing time, we all had a chance to share our answers, and the activity was a perfect “pre-vision” for the class to go on and read Chapter 4 with the teachers leading the way. I appreciated Ms. Vinson and Ms. Shifflett’s idea to photocopy Chapter 4 so the students could highlight words and phrases indicating cultural references. Ms. Vinson modeled highlighting with the pages from the novel on the class's display board. I observed students following along with the reading, and every time the teachers paused to ask for predictions and ideas, students' heads were up and their voices were heard. I felt an engaging and safe climate. 

Next, we walked down to the Environmental Science Academy (ESA) classrooms to see what was going on in Dawn Tinder’s class. Ms. Tinder’s students were busy working together to create awareness campaigns for endangered species. One group I spent time talking with was campaigning for the Hawaiian Monk Seal, an animal I had never heard of before. I don’t know if it is because the students had a purpose for their learning or perhaps a future audience in mind, but they sure did seem to know a lot about the seal and how the species could be better protected from extinction. 

 

 

I enjoyed checking in with Adam Mulcahy, and then Ms. Tinder and a few students walked me down the back lot to the ESA building, garden, and lab space. While I go to Western several times each year, I haven’t been inside the ESA building since it first opened, and I was very pleased to see how well taken care of and well used the labs and greenhouse look. An observation I made was that all of the half-dozen students who walked down with us just naturally began handling and inspecting plants on tables in the greenhouse. Ms. Tinder explained to me that when she first started using the greenhouse, she did not know much about how to operate it. Caleb Barker, one of her students, began on his own to research the equipment and manufacturers, contacting them for operating procedures and advice, and Ms. Tinder let him lead. While we were there, he was removing and replacing components of the humidifier and inspecting them for algae: engagement. 

Thank you, Ms. Sublette and all of the staff who helped me to have a great visit to WAHS! The climate of the school felt great, and I know it reflects on the efforts of all of our schools to provide welcoming and engaging homes away from home for our students. 

If you would like a free copy of Born a Crime, please be the 25th person to email Christine Thompson at cthompson@k12albemarle.org. Please be sure to mention your work location in the email. 

I thought you might appreciate a few photos of our high school athletic teams in action over the past week. Our kids are great!