Thanksgiving Break is one of the major markers of the calendar year in all of our lives. It signals the arrival of fall in Texas, the near completion of a semester of school, and the beginning of a long winter break. One of the greatest aspects of this break is the almost forced reflection this day may cause in everyone’s life. The title alone says that this is a day to be thankful - and this is a very personal reflection. As we age, our notions of being thankful have also changed. This quote I chose to share is from one of my favorites of all time. Thoreau immediately takes me back to my senior AP English class. What I was thankful for back in Kingwood, Texas as a seventeen year old is definitely different than as a father of three, husband to a wonderful wife, and educator in the best district in the state. Thanksgiving is one of the rare days that you are allowed, and nearly expected, to talk to your children about the important things in life. Take the time to have this conversation during the break. Whether this occurs during the Turkey Trot, watching the first holiday movie of the year, driving to do some shopping, or just hanging on the couch, take the time to discuss the ideas of happiness with appreciation – which is my simple explanation of being thankful.
We wanted to keep you up to date on student professional development. A few weeks ago we offered an iPad Base Camp for Sophomores (similar to the one we offered for Freshman). All Sophomores experienced hands-on stations (during their SS class) that supported them with reaching optimal instructional and organizational usage of their device with applications like Notability and tools like "Speak Selection" and "Text to Speech" which are embedded within the software of the device.
Additionally, based on student feedback, we will be offering a series of Lunch and Learns for students at the Juice Bar in the library:
Feedback, feedback, feedback-leads to fabulous conversations and discussions. Feedback is crucial in the educational practice and in any organization. If something is going on with your child or concerns you as a parent, please contact us at any time. Please feel free to stop by our administrative and counseling offices or to schedule a meeting. We believe this is the best way to support you as parents. I will am also available for the hour before our monthly PTO meetings. I will be in the CHAP Room from 11 am – noon on September 23rd. Stop on by, and we can discuss any school related items you wish. It is an open invitation and open ended forum.
One of the goals of our weekly newsletter is to highlight teachers doing what they love to do-teach! We have decided to call this our Teacher Feature. Our first feature is below. We also want to communicate how we are supporting your students in all areas-academics, social, emotionally, and in their 21st century skills. Please also read about our Base Camp for our students in the world of technology. These features will be presented by our instructional partners Valerie Taylor and Dillon Finan. Our educational technologists Lisa Johnson and Kacy Mitchell will be showcasing our campus as well.
The 2nd Annual iPad Base Camp for Freshman will be held Tuesday September 20th. All Freshman will experience hands-on stations (during their Science class) that will support them with reaching optimal instructional and organizational usage of their device and applications like Notability and Google Calendar.
One of the small but always eventful activities I conduct in the morning is a walk of the building. This is a fabulous time to get a true pulse of the building from our students and staff. One of the strengths of this age is their maturation mixed with an innocence that can be refreshing. As I took my walk on Wednesday, I visited and listened to many conversations that will give you a short look into our students. One group of students was discussing and studying for their first chemistry test. The kids were anxious, nervous, while also excited to demonstrate what they had learned so far. Their teachers had done a quality job, and they were prepared. I then walked up to a group of high performing juniors who were in a heated debate-and I mean a spirited discussion. Is chicken really a breakfast food? Are beef tacos a true breakfast item? What has happened to breakfast-the days of cereal and toast? As I was returning to the commons, a student approached me about a new service project for our campus. He wants to honor the work our custodians do by allowing students and or student groups to help our custodians in the café and in their stocking of common areas like our restrooms. Our kids are the best, and they are the reason that our staff shows up every day ready to work with them and for them.
At our New Parent Meeting in August, I had a few parents approach me about when is the best time to talk to their teenagers about school and the beginning of the year. With the upcoming three day weekend, I believe this may be a fine opportunity to sit down and discuss the first two weeks of their year. The extra day of not being in the school routine allows our kids to be more reflective. Your children will also have two weeks of experience to draw from as well. With our annual Back to School Night quickly approaching, this is a nice conversation starter.
Please mark your calendars for Back to School Night on September 12th. While many high schools have an event like this, we are one of very few that allow for an evening of walking each schedule with personal teacher time. I would also proudly proclaim that our attendance by our parents is at the highest levels in the state. This is a night that our staff can feel the importance of education and the value and appreciation you place in their hands daily. We will be sending out detailed information on the 6th.
Our educational technologists wanted to communicate some beginning of the year information:
The new school year of 2016-2017 has commenced with a new crop of devices that offer a marked instructional improvement over our last generation of iPads and include a full keyboard as well as features like side by side and speech to text. To ensure that these devices are used to their fullest capacity to empower and engage students in their curricular content, we felt that it would be beneficial to provide a checklist of tasks that will be helpful to support students as they use these devices educationally throughout the school year:
Check with Your Student Checklist (5 Things). If any of these things are a "no", please visit the WHS Bulb site for step by step directions to support your learner.
iPad Professional Development for Students and Parents: In the next few weeks, we will be offering AIST (Advanced Individual Skill Training) to support seamless functional use of these skills (dates to come). Additionally, an iPad Base Camp will be offered during school for students to support them using their device to its fullest instructional potential. If you are interested in attending or volunteering to help with any of these learning opportunities, please complete the form here.
Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend!
Always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections