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Thursday, October 27, 2005


ser·en·dip·i·ty (sĕr'ən-dĭp'ĭ-tē)—making fortunate discoveries by accident

What a pleasant surprise it was to look at Wednesday’s paper and see an article naming Graham as a school that is "closing the achievement gap." Graham, Ellis, and several schools from Talladega County were among 73 schools in Alabama with this distinction. A complete list of the schools appears here

What does this mean to us? The answer is MONEY. I am unsure about how much and exactly how it can be spent. I have called the State Department and am awaiting a call to help answer some of those questions.

As a faculty, we reduced the achievement gap both between our free lunch and paid students and between our white students and black students. Also, we closed the gap to a greater degree than the state average. A total of 73 Alabama schools are receiving financial rewards for being "Gap Closers."

I realize that as you go about planning your lessons and working with your students, you are not thinking much about closing the gap between this subgroup or that subgroup. It's obvious that your focus is on each child as an individual. The gaps I see you closing are the ones between where that child is right now and where you know he or she can be. I believe as long as our day-to-focus is there, the rest will take care of itself.

Congratulations to each of you for the part you play in the big picture. As we continue to do the very best we can do in whatever our position may be, who knows what other serendipity may come our way.

General Announcements

  1. Internet access at home—Two years ago, we asked you to take a quick poll of how many students have internet access at home. It's time to get some updated data. You will find in your box a list of your students. Beside each name, please put either a Y or N. For some of our younger students, it may be hard to get accurate information from them. In that case, simply don't mark anything beside the student's name. Once you have finished, turn the sheet in to the office.
  1. Graham Christmas Ornaments are available.
  1. Teachers of the Year/JSU Teach Hall of Fame—We have two nominees for this honor: Robin McGraw and Allison Miles. I think either would represent our school well. We will vote on Tuesday during faculty meeting.
  1. Schoolwide International Festival—The country for this year is Japan. Before we start planning, we need to know if there are classes that are not interested in participating. Pleasing everyone is tough, as any of us who have taken on projects which impact the whole school will attest. Initial thoughts are to have a festival similar to last year’s format. Please let me know your thoughts as far as what you liked about last year’s festival, what you didn’t like, suggestions for making our festival even better. In particular, if you would rather not have your class participate, let us know that.

Events at Heritage Hall

Tommy Moorehead passed along to me these events coming up during the next couple of months:

  • Beginning November 15, Heritage Hall will be featuring new pieces for the permanent collection. The show will last through the Christmas holidays. If you would like to do a walking field trip, contact Amy Locklin at Heritage Hall to set it up. Also be sure to submit the same paperwork that you would submit for any field trip. Heritage Hall hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00-4:00.
  • On December 1, Heritage Hall will have an Open House from 10:00 until 4:00. There will be a piano concert at 11:00 and Jazz Band concert at 1:00.
  • On December 8 at 7:00PM, the Heritage Hall Jazz Band will present a concert at the Ritz to benefit Heritage Hall.

Upcoming Events

Next Week

· Tuesday—Comprehensive State Monitoring begins for Talladega City Schools.

· Tuesday—Faculty Meeting. We will talk about the State Monitoring and some things to look for and think about. We will vote for Teacher of the Year and JSU Hall of Fame. If I have more information on the “closing the gap” money, we will talk about that. At the end of the meeting, we will split up into care groups and let you decide on who each group wants to have as its chair.

· Wednesday—I will be in Montgomery working on the arts education Course of Study today through Friday.

· Friday—Apple Annie Day. Apples are 50 cents.

· Friday—Last day of the six weeks

Week After Next

· Tuesday—School Renewal. Normally, this meeting is the first Tuesday of the month. The need to have the faculty meeting regarding monitoring pushed this one back a week.

· Thursday—Report cards

· Thursday—Pictures with Santa

· Thursday—I will be out of town this day

· Friday—Veteran’s Day. No school

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Notes from School Renewal Committees

The notes from each committee were very similar and addressed all of the topics covered in BLT, so here is a blending of what I received:
  1. Student dress is something we need to examine carefully. In the absence of a school system dress, we are left on our own. I will involve our PTO Board in giving us some input and welcome your input as well. I know all of us want to have agreement on what is acceptable and what is not. Student dress always has been and probably always will be a subject that is re-examined every time styles change.
  2. Along the same lines, every time the subject of student dress comes up, the subject of teacher dress is not far behind. A former principal of mine said in faculty meeting, "We are professionals, and we ought to look like professionals." Not a bad point.
  3. Bathrooms is an area discussed in the next post. We will be looking at some ways to get supplies stocked. Talking with students about not being wasteful is one way. Last year, the large bathrooms were being cleaned during school, and I was hearing concerns about the problems caused by those bathrooms being closed for cleaning during school. This year, that cleaning is happening after school.
  4. No gum. Period.
  5. And yes, we are still hearing, "Bring back the paper Friday Memo!" This week is a good example of ONE of the advantages of digital over paper. One of the announcements you will see a couple of posts down deals with a Supreme Court case impacting education. To get to it, all you will have to do is click the link in that post. Had I given you the same thing on paper, I would have typed out the link, which reads as follows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/04/AR2005100401453.html With it being on paper, you would have to type that whole thing, with no mistakes. Now I ask you, which one is easier?

Calendar Events

Next Week-Red Ribbons Week
  • Monday-"Tie Down Drugs." We are encouraging everyone to wear neckties or scarves.
  • Tuesday-"Don't Get Mixed Up With Drugs." We are encouraging everyone to wear mismatched clothes.
  • Tuesday-Data meeting for kindergarten and 1st grade.
  • Tuesday-We are going to need to postpone this faculty meeting again.
  • Wednesday-Wear Red Day. Some classes are encouraging students to bring red pens to use that day.
  • Wednesday-BLT
  • Thursday-"Sock it to Drugs." Students and staff wear crazy or mismatched socks along with sneakers. ("Don't Let Drugs Sneak Up on You")
  • Thursday-Assembly at 1:30. Special guest is DEVO! Enough said.
  • Friday-"Team Up Against Drugs." Wear a shirt from your favorite team.
  • Friday-Fire Drill

The Next Week-Comprehensive state monitoring. Representatives from the Alabama State Department of Education will be in the school system. You may be asked questions, and please answer truthfully. If you are asked something you don't know, it's OK to say you don't know.
  • Monday-Halloween. If classes dress up, it will be this day.
  • Tuesday-School Renewal
  • Wednesday-Friday-I will be in Montgomery working on the Alabama State Course of Study for Arts Education. The period of time for public comments is still open. At this meeting, our committee will be reading those comments and making adjustments based on the feed back we get. Your input is welcomed.
  • Friday-Last day of the six weeks. I will turn on posting before I leave for Montgomery so that you will be able to post your grades as earlier as this day.

Announcements for the Week

  • Accelerated Reader Store—I have added to our calendar dates for Accelerated Reader Stores for the remainder of the year. If you would like to add them to your personal calendar, they are: Nov. 18, Jan. 13, Feb. 24, Apr. 21, and May 22
  • Field trips—Mr. Messer is now allowing field trips. This had been under careful consideration. The cost per mile is going up to $1.50. Please keep in mind that fuel costs may fluctuate greatly in the future, and we have no way of predicting oil prices or even the availability of gasoline. That $1.50 price is not guaranteed to remain the same. As long as everyone understands on the front end that flexibility is going to be required, we will be OK.
  • Instructional Money—You have $485 available to spend on your debit card. This is after the $40 was given to the collective for the copier. Be sure to keep a record of what you spend and your remaining balance. STOP! After reading the last sentence, one of 3 things should happen: 1) You think to yourself you already do this and cannot imagine why anybody would have to be told such a common sense thing; 2) You stop right now and make a ledger, which will involve about 30 seconds, far less time than it will take you to reread this blog to pick up your to-dos; or 3) Jot a reminder on your to-do list to make a ledger. What do you do with that ledger? The simplest thing to do is let it live in the file folder with the charge tickets you accumulate. The rule is before you can drop a ticket in there, you add it to the ledger. That will work.
  • Bathrooms—Here is an area where I think we can make a big difference in a hurry. Please appoint a boy and girl to be bathroom monitors. This duty could rotate on a daily or weekly basis or any other manner you choose. The idea would be for that monitor to take a quick look at the condition of the restroom before your class enters and after your class leaves. Toilets should be flushed and the all paper in trash cans. Our custodians have told me about times they are finding rolls of toilet paper in toilets. One point often brought up is that mischief can happen when an individual student goes to the restroom. While these students are sometimes hard to catch, we can narrow the window of time that mischief occurs and then ask teachers who was out of their rooms during that time. Also, talking with your students about the expectations we have for our restrooms will go a long way. We can take care of this problem quickly if we all attack it together.
  • Special Education Case Coming Before the Supreme Court—This link takes you to a news story which has implications nationwide. The question regards when parents and the school system disagree over proper placement of a child which one bears the burden to prove their position. Since this case is one that impacts our profession, we all need to know at least a little about it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Welcome Principals!

A warm welcome to elementary principals who are stopping by as a result of reading the current issue of Principal! This blog is designed to be any easy way for me to communicate with everyone on staff. In general, I group announcements into a weekly post. Checking the blog once per week keeps everyone on track as far as announcements and calendar events.

Please feel free to visit the “Archives” of posts from previous months. On this site, you would not be able to view our links “Calendar” or “Common Documents.” Those can only accessed from within the school system.

Clicking on the “Page for Parents” link will take you to a blog especially for parents. On that one, the “Common Documents” and “Calendar” may be viewed from anywhere.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Network Printer, Makeup Day, Giftwrap

  1. Network printer-The printer formerly known as the "Target Teach Printer" has been hooked to another computer and is ready for use. To print to it, you will be looking for the computer named "libraryeleven." (To get to it, you would double-click Network Neighborhood if you are running Windows 98. If you are running Windows XP, follow the instructions on the handout I gave you that tells you how to set up a Windows XP computer). You will see the name of the computer printer as being "Lab 1." From a Windows 98 machine, you would double-click on the printer and follow the instructions from there. The printer is attached to a computer in the computer lab.
  2. Make-up Day-We will go to school on February 20 makeup for the day we missed due to Katrina.
  3. Party for giftwrap sale-Students who sold $60 or more in the Sally Foster giftwrap sale are invited to a special party! The date is Thursday (Oct. 20) and the time is 1:30. I will get you a list of names of students involved.
  4. Congratulations to Mrs. Hare's class for being tops in the Sally Foster giftwrap sale. They averaged $34.96 profit for the school per student. Seventy-nine percent of the class members sold at least one item.

Next Week-National School Bus Safety Week (This is a great time for all of use to remind our students how important it is to respect and cooperate with our bus drivers and follow the rules on the bus)
Monday-Party for Mrs. Hare's class for being tops in the Sally Foster Sale.
Tuesday-No faculty meeting. Postponed until next week.
Wednesday-Deadline for make-up pictures
Thursday-Party for Sally Foster sale (1:30)
Friday-Deadlines for nominations for Teacher of the Year/JSU Teacher Hall of Fame

Week After Next-Red Ribbons Week
Tuesday-Faculty Meeting
Friday-Fire Drill

Monday, October 10, 2005

Draft of Course of Study...Comments?

Part of the process of the adoption of any Course of Study in Alabama is making the draft available to the public and providing an opportunity for input. Revisions are made from that input before the document is presented to the Alabama State Board of Education for adoption.

This year, the Arts Education Course of Study is being drafted. Also, the Foreign Language Course of Study (which will now be called "Languages other than English") is being drafted. Of particular interest to those in our area is the proposed inclusion of American Sign Language as a language alongside Latin and Modern Languages.

The easiest way to examine these drafts is to download them from the Alabama State Department of Education website. You can go directly to the page where those drafts can be viewed here. You will see a list of links. The file names will be somewhat descriptive of the the subject. For example, in arts education, you will see a link for music, another for dance, another for theater, and another for visual arts.

If you have comments, the easiest way to communicate those is to e-mail Mrs. Martha Donaldson at the Alabama State Department of Education. Her address is marthad@alsde.edu

The deadline to submit public comments is October 31.

Various Announcements

Committee Task List—I have placed in your boxes a list of the tasks associated with the committees you signed up for in the spring. As a review of what to do with them:
1. Meet with the other people on that committee
2. Divide the responsibilities so that each person has total responsibility for a piece of the pie.(The old saying “That which is everybody’s business is nobody’s business” was never truer than committee work.)
3. Feel free to edit the list by adding other tasks.
4. Give me a copy of the finished project. I will update it on the computer and give you a clean copy.

School Pictures—The deadline for students to purchase make-up pictures will be October 19. For faculty and staff, you may select package #6 free of charge. You have 3 styles you may choose from. The deadline for students to purchase class pictures is October 11.

Donald Harper with ValueTeacher will be here after school on October 13 to meet with interested faculty and staff members. The meeting will be in the library.

ikeys—The ikey is the devise that enables you to work on STI Classroom from home. If you need one, or if yours is not working, please let me know by Oct. 11. I will get the ones we need from Mr. Campbell all at one time.

Coming Up This Week—National School Lunch Week
Tuesday—School Renewal, Deadline to return class pictures
Thursday—Special Olympics, Donald Harper (ValueTeachers)

Next Week—National School Bus Safety Week
Tuesday—Faculty Meeting
Wednesday—Deadline for make-up pictures, BLT
Friday—Nominations for Teacher of the Year/JSY Hall of Fame due