Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Special Day In The WGSD!

Good afternoon,

Today was a special day for me for two reasons.

First, I had the opportunity to listen to a group of dedicated and thoughtful high school teachers discuss the experience each had spending an entire day as a student at WGHS.  To a person, they shared their experiences and the thoughts, images, and words that still resonate.  While not surprised, I was moved by their care and commitment for the children they work very hard to serve.  "Thank you" to their principal, Jon Clark, for providing them with the opportunity to experience a student's day and for bringing them back to debrief the experience with one another.  In addition, Dr. Clark is planning on having them share a summary of their experiences and reflections with colleagues at an upcoming meeting!

Secondly, I had the opportunity to take in the balloon launch at Hixson (video below).  While on the surface it may purely look like fun (Which clearly it was!), the children are actually involved in the process of learning as they explore: 1) how the Kinetic Molecular Theory might be used to illustrate particle movement in each state of matter, and 2) how changes in energy change volume of matter.  "Thank you" to the teachers and all those supporting such an engaging and meaningful learning experience for children!

We're blessed to be in a district in which staff are committed to their own continued growth in support of relevant, engaging, and relational learning for children!

Each child, Each day...John

Pitch Day! - Team Harmony

Yesterday was "Pitch Day" on Team Harmony at Hixson Middle School.  Students had the opportunity to share their 20% Time projects with Hixson and other district staff.  To learn more about what's happening with 20% Time on Team Harmony, check out their blog:

Each child, Each day...John

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hour of Code - Avery Adventure Club

Good morning,

Students who attend Adventure Club at Avery recently had the opportunity to participate in a free introductory class in computer science.  Brian Ackley, a staff member in the program, provided this unique and engaging experience for the children using  As you can see from the pictures below, the students were really engaged in this super rich learning experience!  Brian will be sharing this experience with interested district staff member as part of our professional learning experience on January 2!

Each child, Each day...John

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cardboard Furniture!

Pictured: Tahlia Davis, Johnny Hearn, Taylor Derrickson, Madison Masserello, York Lee, Rebecca Park and Ashli Wagner. (Not pictured: Hannah Albers, Anna Brush, and Alex Floresca)

WGHS Art Club students recently completed a project in which they developed creative, yet functional furniture out of cardboard for a staff professional learning space!  Our curriculum and instruction department is so grateful to the students and their caring teacher, Mr. Andy Throm, for sharing their gifts and talents with the adult learners in the WGSD!

Each child, Each day...John

PS: Look for an upcoming article in the WK-Times regarding this project.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Social Justice - Staff Professional Learning

As part of the district's continuing efforts to promote equity and access for all in everything we do, staff in their second year in the district participate in yearlong study of social justice.  To date, approximately 70% of district staff have participated in this rather introspective experience primarily focused on race and the role it plays in each's life as well as others.  Today, the cohort gathered for a day of powerful learning with one another!

Each child, each day...John

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Equity in Education Team: Meeting Minutes

Good morning,

As a community that values learning, diversity, and community, please click here to access the minutes from last night's Equity in Education Team meeting.  Some of the items included in the minutes are:

  • a flyer to help advertise the district's upcoming Teacher Recruitment Fair,
  • information regarding an upcoming clothing drive at WGHS,
  • the date for this year's Dr. MLK Jr. Community Event, and
  • the Equity in Education Team's selected area of focus.

Please reach out with any questions, inquiries, or wonderings.

Take care...John

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Curriculum Coordinating Council Minutes

Good morning,

Please click here to review the minutes from last week's CCC meeting.  Topics and/or reports included:

  • Curriculum development process in grades K-12
  • New District Strategic Plan
  • The Collaborative: Study and report on the concepts for the School of Today or a school of innovation
  • District Annual Performance Report
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Changes in state assessments
If you have any inquiries or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Take care,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Relevant, Challenging, and Rewarding Learning - Together!

Good morning,

Watch what happens when learning is created and shared among some amazing children at the Walter Ambrose Family Center and Hixson Middle School.  Powerful!

Each child, Each day...John

Monday, April 28, 2014

Leaders at Avery School

Good evening,

Across our school system, caring adults work to support the development of our children as leaders. Following the study of Steven Covey's, The Leader in Me, the staff at Avery created a student leadership program that has grown in leaps in bounds over the course of the year.  Dr. Tony Arnold shared, "We want to foster leadership skills in our students in as many ways as possible.  If every student at Avery is in a leadership role, we will be helping cultivate confident, caring, high-achieving, and capable leaders for Avery and the future."

Avery Leaders, Silas Barry, Sidney Pearl, and Aubrey Ramsbottom take 
down the American Flag at dismissal.

Avery Leader, Eleanor Szevery, serves as a Speaker Leader for Kindergarten Open House.

What follows are Eleanor's heartfelt words of encouragement and wisdom she shared with the large crowd at Kindergarten Open House:

Hello, Avery KDG Parents and Guests!  

Welcome to our KDG Open House. My name is Eleanor Szevery. I am a 1st grader and a proud Avery Speaker Leader.  I am happy to be here this evening to share with you a little bit about kindergarten and our wonderful school.

Before we begin, do we have any birthdays in the house?  Okay, then…
Not very long ago, I too was a kindergartner.  Now, looking back at kindergarten, my favorite memories are Art and recess.  In Art we made alligators using rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles.

One piece of advice I would give your Kindergartner is that it’s really fun because you get to have the 100th Day of School.

Now, I will hand it over to our principal, Dr. Arnold. 

Thank you!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dear Community,

I just wanted to remind you of the opportunity you have this Sunday to view this extraordinarily powerful and thought-provoking movie with others in our community!  The movie will begin at 2 pm in Knight Auditorium at Webster Groves High School.

Please click here to view the trailer.

Take care,

Friday, February 28, 2014

20% Time at Hixson Middle School

Good afternoon,

This semester, the students on Team Harmony at Hixson Middle School are being given the support and "space" to follow their passions and interest in new and different ways.  After much thought and planning, Don Eckert and Melissa Hellwig made the decision to allow students to engage in "20% time" during one class period each week.  Please check out the blog site below to see how the hands, hearts, and minds of the children and teachers are being engaged in new and beautiful ways.

Take care...John

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Calling All Upper Elementary and Middle School Students (and their families)....

Good afternoon,

Check out this learning experience being provided by Washington University on March 1 at 11:00 am.  I've been told that the experience, designed with upper elementary and middle school children in mind, involves demonstrations from graduate school students followed by hands-on activities for the children attending!

Take care....John

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

March 9 - American Promise

Dear Community,

We hope that you can join us for this special event on March 9, 2014.  Following the showing, we'll provide a structure for participants to briefly debrief the movie.  

Take care and see you on March 9th if not before...John

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

WGHS Students Help Fight Crime - Literally!

Good morning,

Did you know that the work of students in a forensics class at WGHS continues to help local and federal crime units solve a variety crimes across the country?

Click the link below...John

Friday, January 24, 2014

Proposed Changes to State Assessments!

Good afternoon,

While not yet approved by state legislature, DESE is proposing some pretty significant changes to the state assessment plan.  The bullets below highlight some of the proposed changes which would commence with the 2014-15 school year.  Click here to view a 13 minute video which offers additional details of their proposal along with rationales for changes. 

Changes being proposed for the 14-15 school year:
  • MAP in 3rd-8th grades:  
    • 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th grade students would only be given a 30 minute ELA assessment and a 30 minute math assessment, both selected-response.  These significantly shorter tests would still be used for school and district accountability.
    • 5th and 8th grades students would continue to take the science assessment and the more extensive ELA and math assessments (~4 hours/assessment).
    • The ELA and math assessments would be aligned with the Common Core State Standards and administered online.
    • School districts would be given full access to interim and formative web-based assessment resources for ELA and math for grades 3-8.  
  • Changes to MAP in 8-12th grades:
    • The number of required high school EOC exams would decrease from 11 to 4 and would include English II, Biology 1, Algebra (or Algebra II for students taking Algebra in middle school), and US Government.
    • End of Course exams would be aligned with the Common Core State Standards and administered online.
    • In lieu of the End of High School Exams which were scheduled to be administered at 11th grade, every 11th grade student would be given the ACT. 
We will keep you abreast of any proposed changes and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions