This weeks post is from of one of our English teachers, Melissa Dupre:
Mr. Ramsey has written more than once in this space that our school is special, that there's something about the way we treat each other that sets us apart. I asked him if I could write this week in his place to affirm that sentiment.
In the weeks since our family's car accident in January, the three of us have all felt so thrown off balance, but the immediate and continuous stream of support we have received from this community has helped ground and comfort us more than I can ever explain to you here. Students, colleagues, graduates, parents, and even complete strangers have reached out to us with such sincerity and concern, and we've appreciated every single message, gift, meal, and prayer.
Being the recipient of so much care has really underscored how much this community has to give and how much it matters. It won't surprise some of you when I say that this has reminded me of what we're hoping to cultivate with the support of Stanford's Challenge Success. I've always felt strongly about this but my recent experiences have given me an entirely new perspective on how much we need to support each other, not just in times of great crisis or success, but every day. It's easy to get weary of policy initiatives, but to me all of this is much more than a lesson plan format or an administrative protocol; it's a way to maximize our ability to reach the learning outcomes we all desire by providing the support we all need.
We're excited that Margaret Dunlap, the School Program Director of Challenge Success, will be here next week. After an afternoon of professional development with faculty, she will talk with parents from 6:30 to 8:00pm in the WHS PAC about The Well-Balanced Student. Click HERE for more information.
Dunlap's workshop includes "research-based strategies to create healthier home and school environments." For the past weeks, I've done a lot of thinking about health and well-being, on how essential they are. I can't think of anything more important that we can do for our kids today than provide the necessary supports to help them, even in the face of struggle, learn and flourish.
Thank you again for showing us such compassion and warmth. I hope to see you Tuesday night in the PAC.
Over the last few years, I have been a part of two consortium groups of principals. One of these groups has been a Texas based group and the other is a group with nationwide representation. One of our topics that continues to be discussed is how best to develop “successful” students. One of my colleagues sent me a link to an article about how to raise “successful” students from the Business Insider. The article is titled “Science says parents of successful kids have these 13 things in common”. A thought always enters my mind asking, "What does successful actually mean?"
Success is defined in a multitude of ways. Simply do a search on success and there are countless articles on what success is for individuals and what it is for us as a collective society. I would never be so bold as to define what success should mean to anyone - that being for students, parents, teachers or even family members. Success can be measured in a million ways and it can be very personal. My aim this week is to find out how our students/children define success. Take the time this three day weekend and begin the conversation about success. What does success look like? How does one achieve success? How do I know when I am successful? As we have had transition meetings, sophomore conferences, and visits by counselors to WHS classrooms and to our middle schools, the term success continues to be a topic of conversation. Taking the time to have this conversation is crucial during the high school experience. I promise that your children will amaze you with their answers. I am providing the link that was sent to me as well as another article that defines success in 20 ways.
These articles are just to begin the conversations and are not the belief system of Steven A. Ramsey – I thought a disclaimer would be a necessary and nice touch this week! Enjoy the long weekend.
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Continue reading to learn more about AP Human Geography.
AP Human Geography - Craig Gaslow, Lane Grigg and Susanna McConnell
For the last couple of weeks, students in AP Human Geography have been learning about trends of human migration and how those trends put strains on society’s resources. In order to apply this knowledge and their knowledge of urbanization and policy, students formed teams to propose urban reforms in order to transform a mega city, taking a challenge that a city faces and designing a possible remedy for that challenge.
As students researched the challenges and possible remedies, they each also assumed one of the following roles: Historian, Economist, Humanitarian and City Planner. Then, students combined their individual research to create a presentation for their classmates. At the conclusion of each presentation, the presenters answered clarification and extension questions from their audience.
If you have a child who is entering 6th grade, 9th grade, or is ready to leave the home for college, you are living on the transition roller coaster. As I spoke to our incoming 9th grade parents and students last evening, my wife was attending a rising 6th grade transition meeting as well. Transitions, no matter how large or small, always cause a little anxiety and discomfort for students and parents.
Human beings are wired to be cautious when we make any decision that we believe will have a lasting ramification and impact our lives. Even as we go through our adult lives, transitions can cause some anxiety, hesitation and fear. Even after serving as a middle school principal for four years and after teaching at the high school level for many years before that, the thought of my twins entering middle school is causing me some trepidation. Knowing that it’s an irrational fear of making a bad decision for my girls, I also know that it is normal feeling. I was talking with five West Ridge eighth graders after our 9th Grade Transition Meeting last night. These are fabulous young ladies who excel in all areas. As we talked, it became apparent that they had some reservations about this new experience known as high school. My thought for the week is that transitions may cause us to over analyze our current situation and under value how well we will handle new situations. Transitions challenge our self-confidence as the discomfort settles in.
As we transition and make new decisions, we may need to adopt the attitude of Tigger.
This was a reminder my mom had hanging in her classroom as an elementary teacher for over twenty years. We will all make it through these times if we remember to believe in ourselves.
Over the last week, we have had some major successes in some of our programs. Our swim and diving teams have qualified for the state meet, our Mary Poppins musical was phenomenal, our cheerleaders are competing for a national championship this weekend, and students are competing at the Texas Music Educators’ Association for all state recognition. These are all major accomplishments, and we would like to thank our coaches, directors and parents for the support and dedication to these programs. Success takes hard work. These are just a few of our achievements during this year, which is based on one of our major beliefs: that when the proper hard work becomes fun, success will follow!
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Being a teenager can be difficult. Being a teenager can be amazing. Being a teenager can be the best and worst time, ever, even during a single afternoon. It is a unique time where kids make adult decisions that are wrapped with empathy, compassion and love. It is a unique time where kids make decisions that are illogical, void of regard for anyone else, or lacking in any strand of common sense. It’s tough being a parent of this age and also tough teaching and working with teenagers daily.
As I spend time visiting with parents, I am sometimes asked a few simple questions: am I doing too much or too little? Am I too intrusive or too trusting? Am I crazy or is my child crazy? When does this get better? How am I so lucky, at times, to have a thoughtful child who can turn so quickly? Are other parents as involved? Should I visit with these other parents?
My message is to keep on parenting. My message to our teachers is to keep on caring and working with students. While our students may be driving, holding down jobs, doing community service, excelling in their chosen extracurricular options, they are still teenagers who need guidance and love. I also know this for absolute certainty - kids still value and want their parents to keep on parenting. While they may complain and whine now and then, they want their parents to parent. Over the years, some of the toughest cases I have dealt with are when a student feels as though their parents are opting to be absent from their lives. These kids can even be seniors in their second semester. There is a balance to the parenting of a teenager, but first there must parenting for the balance to occur.
“Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It's about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.” - Ron Taffel
Your children do talk to us about you and your influence. As I attend the multitude of events that this campus offers, at the end of these events, this message is reinforced weekly. Kids still look for their mom and dad first at the conclusion of events. They still want your love and approval. Parents and teachers, hang on through the bumps, you are appreciated for your efforts.
It’s always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections