Happy New School Year!

LobbyIt takes a great deal of teamwork to prepare for a new school year. Parents, Staffulty, students, and community members mentally prepare for a rush of activity, which is soon followed by a settled-in feeling after new, but familiar routines are re-established. The New Albany High School Team worked together to create a meaningful and positive first week of school for each other and our students! The House Deans and Social Committee did an excellent job decorating the lobby, the Scheduling Team created systems to help students make necessary schedule changes, and the Administrative Assistants were responsive to a variety of requests from teachers, parents, and students. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Who loves Kid President? If you are like me, you raised your hand and smiled as you thought of one of his inspirational messages. In honor of a new school year, please take a few minutes to watch Kid President message to “Be More Awesome!”

There was nervous energy in the air as the first day of school approached because of our new schedule, office hours, ACT Period, and larger class sizes. However, the following email from a colleague just about sums up our thoughts and feelings about our first week back:

“…I want to let you know that this week has been one of the best starts to a school year I can remember in my career. Furthermore, the new schedule you and others put so much time and effort into is a huge improvement to our school. Thank you for that!”

Staff News
Several staff members posted pictures of the first week on a few social media sites that provide a glimpse of our experiences. We are using the hashtag, #NAHSCommUNITY to share images, links, and other important information.

As I visited classrooms this week or walked the halls, I appreciated seeing so many teachers greeting students at the door and engaging them in brief conversations during passing times. I noticed how some used our theme, “CommUNITY”, as inspiration to classroom design or bulletin boards. These simple acts are helping to create a sense of belonging and community that leads to overall student success and positive morale!

I sat in on Mr. Eric Carmichael and Mrs. Christine Chamberlain’s class and listened to an intriguing discussion about history and the writers of history. The students were reflective in their responses and challenged each other’s thinking in the process. Mr. Carmichael also shared with me a strategy that he and Mrs. Chamberlain used to get to know all their students. They asked students to create a large name card so they could take their pictures and then take a picture without the name cards. They essentially created digital flashcards of students’ images to review them all week. By Friday, they knew the names of all their freshmen students! What a creative idea!

Students As Learners
senior seminarOur Senior Seminar Team, which is a group of teachers who facilitate our Senior Seminar program, worked diligently all summer to support a number of seniors in completing their projects. Projects ranged from video game design to an architect internship and everything in between! About a third of our seniors took advantage of Senior Seminar Summer Institute. This continues to be a model program that allows students to demonstrate their development of strong communication, collaborative, creativity, and critical thinking skills while pursuing their passions. I’m extremely proud of our seniors and members of our Senior Team!

I noticed a group of students wearing blue scrubs, latex gloves, and carrying clipboards and beakers walking the halls this week. Their teacher was also wearing the same thing! I followed them to the second floor of G building and stumbled upon a “crime scene.” There was yellow caution tape, strange marks on the floor, and obvious signs of foul play. It was a Project Lead The Way Biological Science lab designed by Lorin Love and the students are loving it! They are gathering evidence and making inferences about the cause of the crime and who is responsible. It is a great example of differentiated instruction and making learning relevant to students!

During lunch duty on Friday, I saw several groups of students discussing a reading assignment, working on class assignments, or discussing other topics presented in classes last week. I also saw classes outside in the Quad; our Introduction to Engineer students were using the track, and our photography students have been all over campus! It feels really good to have the students back on campus! I also appreciate the level of student engagement incorporated in course unit designs so early in the school year.

The implementation of ACT (Academic Coaching Time) Period has been very successful this week.academic coach The vision of ACT is to create an academic success plan for every student. Each Academic Coach has been assigned 20-25 students who they will meet with during ACT period on Wednesdays or Thursdays. The focus is to provide adequate time for students to complete assignments, work on skill development, to participate in peer assistance, and be exposed to academic enrichment or intervention strategies. ACT period provides us an opportunity to measure our success in the areas of academics, attendance, and student discipline.

A few teachers have shared with me the agreements that students have developed that will create the conditions for a comfortable learning environment. I appreciate the effort to include students in this process!

Upcoming Events
Monday, August 24th-BOE Meeting 6:30pm
Wednesday, August 26th- State of the Eagles Address 1:55pm Gym; Senior College Night Meeting 7:00pm McCoy Center
Thursday, August 27th- State of the Eagles Address 1:55pm Gym
Friday, August 28th- Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 5:30pm MS Cafeteria
Wednesday, September 2nd- Open House 5:30pm-7:30pm

Articles Worth Reading
Happier Students Get Higher Grades
Tips for Successful Parent/Teacher Communication

Be Great,

Dwight

My Letter To My New Staff #NAHSeaglespride

July 30, 2014
NA LogoDear NAHS Team Member,

We are in one of the most exciting times to be an educator. We are facing many challenges, yet we have some of the best opportunities to engage learners, the community, and each other to continue to shape what teaching and learning can look like at New Albany High School.

New Albany High School: Over 130 Staff and Faculty (Staffulty), 1300 students, 2600 parents, and 1 focus: To be Great. What does greatness mean? Greatness is neither a destination, nor a moment in time, but it is a journey towards a consistent pattern of behavior that results in constant progress and achievement. We often celebrate great moments in our lives, like anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, victories, and other milestones. Schools should look for moments to celebrate students and Staffulty as often as we can with intentionality and purpose in order to create an environment where all have a sense of belonging.

I hope this letter finds you in good health, relaxed, and rejuvenated for a great year at NAHS. I appreciate your enthusiastic reception in April, as it was very welcoming. I enjoyed the Peace Week Kickoff ceremony and the other activities you invited me to in the spring! I am looking forward to getting to know you and learn more about the rich traditions and history of NAHS.

Meeting with the Principal
As the start of school is quickly approaching, I invite each departmentconversations-matter to meet with me, including Administrative Assistants/Secretaries, and Cafeteria Staff and Custodians, to discuss successes, your hopes and dreams for our future, and what steps we can take together to make NAHS even better. If you are able to attend, these will be informal conversations so there is no need to bring anything. I understand some of you may be on vacation during these times so if you can’t make it, we can meet at another time. Your family and personal time comes first.

Below is a list of dates and times that I have set aside for us to meet:
Friday, August 8th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM
Monday, August 11th: 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Tuesday, August 12th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Wednesday, August 13th, 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Thursday, August 14th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Friday, August 15th: 9:00-10:00 AM

Department Chairs, please call or email Sherrie Kauffman to set up an appointment. Again, this is not mandatory or an expectation, but simply an invitation for us to talk. Please let Sherrie know the room number where you want to meet.

Staff and Faculty Family Picnic!
Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend the 2014-2015 Staffulty Picnic on Sunday, August 17th at Jefferson Community Park in Gahanna from 4:30-8:30 PM! The building administrators will fire up the grill and provide the burgers, hotdogs, and brats, as well as the beverages and paper products. You will receive a Google Doc for you to RSVP and let us know what side dish you will bring. You are encouraged to bring your spouse or significant other and children for a fun and festive time together as a NAHS Family! If you have any games, such as Corn Hole, Badminton, or Volleyball, please bring it.

New Years in August!
Traditionally the start of a new year is celebrated on December 31. Many people spend that time either celebrating, praying, reflecting, and resolving to do things differently in the future. But, why wait until December?

We are ringing in the 2014-2015 school year with a “Happy New Year” celebration the first thing in the morning on August 25! To help welcome our students, you are invited to join us outside along the front sidewalk leading to the E Lobby and at the at entrance doors at the bus loop to enthusiastically greet students as they enter the building! If you are interested in joining us, we’ll gather at 7:15 AM. Together, we can make it a very memorable start to a new school year!

School Theme
NAHS You MatterIn order to foster an even greater sense of community and build upon the traditions of NAHS such as high academic honors, athletic championships, quality performance and visual arts, House, House Games, Peace Week, and Senior Seminar, I would like to introduce the use of an annual theme. The purpose of a theme is to convey a message within a story. The theme will be our annual mission in that it will highlight our approach to teaching, learning, school culture, and the celebration of our success. The stories we create and tell this year will focus on creating community.

This year’s theme is “YOU Matter.” Together, we will create a sense of oneness and make every effort to show each individual student and Staffulty member how important they are to the overall success of NAHS. “YOU Matter” focuses on the whole person, including academic success, attendance, attitude, participation in athletics, the arts, and school sponsored activities. More information will be coming throughout the year. In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some quality time the first week of school establishing positive relationships with students. The following are a few examples of how to incorporate our theme this year:

● Create a class blog and post a topic on the board for students to write about as a bell ringer. Sample topics include, “What is one challenge you have overcome in the last week?,” “What have you done to make someone else’s day?,” “What is one way you can make a positive difference at NAHS this week?,” and “Who are two students you have met this week and what did you learn about them?”

● Place a blank name tag on students’ desk and ask them to write an adjective of how they feel that day. For example, “Hello, I am grateful!” Then take a few minutes and ask for a few volunteers to share their adjective.

● Random Act of Kindness Cards can be distributed throughout the first quarter as a way to tangibly let someone know they made a difference.

I have a special request. It would be a welcoming sight as our students, parents, and guests entered the building if they were greeted by a large bulletin board of pictures of our Staffulty. However, instead of the standard school picture, you are invited to drop off to Sherrie a 3X5 or 4X6 picture of you and your family, or you doing your favorite hobby, to be added to our Staffulty collage. For example, I may submit a family photo we took for my daughter’s first birthday. Be creative and let your personality shine!

New Staffulty and Changes
We have added a few new members to the team and we are excited to have them with us!

Assistant Principal-Kristy Venne (former Dean of Students)
Dean of Students-Todd Keenan
Director of Special Ed-Sheila Saunders
Mandarin Chinese- Sammie Si Zhao
Receptionist-Lynn Guthrie (former Instructional Aide)
School Counselor Secretary- Shannon Gominez
Spanish-Hannah Macko
Special Ed-Dawn Psurny
Special Ed- Eric Jablonka
Wellness- Dominique Alexander
Welcome Center Registrar- Robin Davison (former School Counselor Secretary)

Important Dates
August 11th -New Student Orientation – Monday, August 11th 9:00-11:00 AM
August 17th- Staffulty and Family Picnic-Sunday, August 17th 4:30-8:30 PM at Jefferson Community Park in Gahanna
August 18th- Schedule Pick up for Seniors and Juniors: 9:00-Noon and 1:00-4:00 PM
August 19th- Schedule Pick up for Sophomores and Freshmen: 8:00-Noon and 1:00-4:00 PM
August 20th- Opening Convocation/District In-Service-no students
August 21st- Professional Learning
August 22nd- Staff Work Day
August 25th- First Day of School

I look forward to serving as your Principal!

Be Great,

Dwight