Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do I have to go to school today?

Are you familiar with the poem "Sick" by Shel Silverstein?  It begins:
“I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps."
Missing 10% or more of school for any reason – excused or unexcused  - is defined as chronic absenteeism. It is an indication that a student is academically at risk due to missing too much school. This starts as early as kindergarten. Chronic absenteeism is a warning that students are headed for academic trouble and possibly even dropping out of high school.

Good attendance = more success in both the work force and in college.

Chronic absence – missing 10 percent of the school year or more – affects the whole classroom, not just the students who miss.  (www.attendanceworks.org)  The time can accumulate quickly!

Arkansas' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan identifies Student Engagement as a School Quality and Success Indicator. Each Arkansas student can gain a full point on the Student Engagement indicator by missing less than five percent of school days in a year. A student is absent if he or she is not physically on school grounds and is not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities. This amounts to missing about 18 school days during the school year. Coming to school late and checking out early also has an impact. 

Students are expected to be at school for 178 days of instruction each year. Teachers work to plan lessons and activities to facilitate learning for each of those days. In answer to the question “Is my child going to miss anything if I don’t send them today?” the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Check this out!

The Hamilton Project has an interactive map that displays information regarding school chronic absenteeism. As you hover the mouse over states, school districts, and schools, the rate of chronic absence by student and school district will appear.  

Good school attendance supports the following:

  •          Hope – for a better future
  •          Faith – that school will help you or your child succeed
  •          Capacity – resources, skills, knowledge needed for future 
      We all know that student attendance is vital for student achievement.  Chronic absenteeism is a solvable problem. I appreciate your support in promoting good student attendance at school - each and every day.  #WeAreRivercrest

BTW - You can finish the poem by clicking here.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Communication, Communication, Communication

Image result for communicationIn the Rivercrest School District we are working to improve our communication with our stakeholders. We have spent quite a bit of time reviewing what works well - as well as what doesn't work well.

Open house this year was in a meet-and-greet format. We have received positive feedback regarding that change. Our required Title I meeting was held separately, and we distributed individual student score reports from our state assessment on that evening. We didn't get quite the turnout we had hoped for, so we will work to improve that format for next year. Our required public meeting is September 11th at 5:30 in the Parent Center. This is a board meeting where district information is shared. Stakeholders are welcome to attend. The public meeting will be followed by our regular monthly board meeting.

One of the major changes we made was adjusting our school calendar. The 2018-2019 school calendar (developed in January) reflects our Parent-Teacher Conference schedule. During the first and third quarter, conferences have been set in the middle of the quarter rather than at the end of the quarter. We hope this will give parents an opportunity to have conversations with teachers in an early intervention method. We want your support in helping our students achieve at high levels.

Now, I realize that we have scheduled an "away" junior high football game on that same night. So our system isn't perfect, but that is something we will address when we plan the 2019-2020 school calendar. I appreciate your understanding that we are involved in a continuous cycle of improvement, and we don't always get it exactly right the first time. However, we will learn from our mistakes and make the proper adjustments moving forward (just like we do with students at school).

We have several other methods of communication as well.
  • Home Access Center - This allows you to check your child's grade at any time. 
  • Remind - This is a messaging system used by teachers as well as the district.
  • District Web Page - This is the official information page for the district. Here you will find links to key information as well as news.
  • Facebook - This is our social media presence. 
  • Twitter - Another avenue for quick bits of information. We are currently promoting these hashtags:  #WeAreRivercrest and #ColtPride
  • Instagram - I admit that I don't know much about this media!
All district employees have a school e-mail address, and we encourage parents/guardians to contact the school with any questions or concerns - or to share good news about their child's learning experiences! Each teacher has a daily planning period, and individual conferences can be scheduled as needed. Many teachers have web pages of their own, and some teachers share newsletters as well. In the elementary, "red folders" are sent home daily with students. 

We strive to have open, clear communication with our stakeholders. It is important for you to know what is going on in the school. It is important for you to have conversations with your child's teachers. Your partnership is vital to your child's success. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

School "Politics"


  1. the science and art of political government; political science
  2. political affairs
  3. the conducting of or participation in political affairs, often as a profession
  4. political methods, tactics, etc.; sometimes, specif., crafty or unprincipled methods
  5. political opinions, principles, or party connections
  6. factional scheming for power and status within a group: office politics

Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

This past week our students at Rivercrest High School participated in the political process by running for officers of our various school organizations. From a historical perspective, we know that education is essential to our democracy. Education has the imperative to develop a well-educated citizenry, and we emphasize civic education. Campaigning has been a fun exercise of our students' political know-how and stretching of their wings. 

I am very pleased to report that the election results are already in and have been posted - so please don't see this article as an endorsement of any particular candidate! Our students all kept their campaigns upbeat and positive, and I didn't hear any campaign promises that were beyond anyone's ability to deliver. The students' engagement in the process has actually been enjoyable! They have had the opportunity to express their voices, and some have had a great time running their campaigns. Stickers and ribbons were distributed by some. While some students went a very traditional route with their campaign signs, others went in a very different direction. I've included some of the signage for your enjoyment. 

At the end of the day, we may (or may not) have any budding politicians. However, our students have had an opportunity to participate - on a very small scale - in what the real world is experiencing during election 2018. They have committed to serve their school community, and I know they will serve the student body well. And you never know - one of these students may someday be the voice of Mississippi County!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Small Steps

Monday morning the students in PE were completing a physical fitness assessment. The event they were participating in was the standing broad jump. Much to everyone's surprise, I decided to give it a try. If you want to know how far I "jumped" you will have to read to the end!

Image result for standing broad jump pictureMy very loosely defined "jump" has given me food for thought this week. How often am I willing to put myself in a position where I may not be very successful? What does the environment have to be like that will allow me to try something new? How confident am I that I won't be teased or taunted when my efforts fall short? Is there someone around who is going to encourage me to try again or show me how to improve on my effort?

At Rivercrest, we have learning environments that support student learning. Teachers strive to develop classroom cultures where students have opportunities to try - and try again - new concepts and skills. Teachers stand ready to offer different approaches and to nurture students on their  journeys to reach their learning targets. In school (as in life) we don't always get it right the first time. Our small steps mark our progress.

I am reminded of  Neil Armstrong's quote from the first lunar walk, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Each of us takes small steps every day that propels us on our way. Let's not be afraid to take that first step. Who knows where they may lead!

My "jump?" Well, it was a stunningly unspectacular 2'10".  But I didn't fall, and none of the students laughed at me. I was supported and encouraged - by the students. That small step has caused me to reflect on another source of pride in our school community. We are Rivercrest.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Welcome Back!

Welcome! The 2018-2019 school year is off to a great start! I am challenging myself this year to do a better job of telling our school district's "story," and this blog is a starting point for me. I hope you will bear with me as I find my voice for this type of story telling.

With the start of the new year, I'm having a difficult time narrowing my focus. I'm questioning myself to see if I should share how engaged our faculty and staff were during our back to school professional learning. Some of you might interested to learn what is special about 212°.

Others might be interested to know that our first day of school was GREAT! Elementary students were excited to "get in the game" with life-sized games and activities in the elementary gym. High school students adjusted quickly to Colt Flex 3.0, and classes went exceedingly well.

Some of you might have had concerns with school safety. Not only did our school resource officers participate in training over the summer, but they have also worked on safety matters with all school personnel. Traffic  patterns have been adjusted, bus safety has been emphasized, and everyone has been reminded about the state law that prohibits talking on a cell phone in a school zone.

Maybe I should share the academic goals of the district. We are focusing on reading - particularly in the identification of key ideas and details, vocabulary - think prefixes, suffixes, and root words, data interpretation - specifically tables, charts, and graphs, and learning targets - being clear about what each lesson is about in every class. Our goal is for students to say, "Today I learned... and it is important because..." Your assistance in achieving our goals will be greatly appreciated.  I hope you will ask your children about their learning every day!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorI've also given thought to how I need to brag about our students, parents, community members, teachers, and administrators. What an impressive turnout for our "Meet and Greet" open house! The open football practice in Colt Stadium was well attended, and we have some ideas on how to expand that next year. The community prayer walk had the largest participation ever. And I can't forget to mention how community members have responded in time of need - from mopping floors from the "flood" in the elementary to leveling ground for a grass practice area - our community is here to support our school. Now that is Colt Pride!

That makes me think of how we hope to use social media to highlight all the great activities occurring in Colt Country. We are introducing the hashtag #WeAreRivercrest. We hope this hashtag will be used to help tell the positive story of the Rivercrest School District. This is in addition to the two other frequently used hashtags #ColtPride and #RivercrestReads.   

Narrowing my focus is definitely the challenge for me! In future blog spots, I will try to do a better job. Thank you all for your support of the Rivercrest School District!