Each year, the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas creates a report titled the Outstanding Educational Performance Awards highlighting the highest-performing schools in Arkansas based on the Benchmark and End-of-Course exams. I am pleased to announce that Mountainburg High School won a “High-Achieving High Schools” OEP award. These awards are based on the OEP-created “school GPA,” calculated on the basis of the percentage of students that perform at a particular level on the Benchmark exam (advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic). Our area of recognition is for the EOC Algebra I exam. Way to go students! Way to go Mountainburg!
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
A great teacher makes it cool to care. –Todd Whitaker
“Mr. Rutherford, I need to speak with you about a student on my bus. Remember how much trouble ________ ________ was last year? Well, she has been fabulous this year. I wanted you to know how well she has been doing.” My jaw dropped, then I smiled, and then I thought, “How good is that!” So I called the student to my office, acted as serious as I could, and then told her she got a positive referral and I told her why. Her jaw dropped, then she smiled, and then we said, “How good is that!” So I called her mom at work. “Ms. _________, I am sorry to interrupt you at work because I know how busy you are, but I wanted to speak to you about your daughter….” And then her jaw dropped, she smiled (I could hear both of those over the phone), then she said “Glory Hallelujah” or something like that.
As educators, we are trained to look for problems. I have been thinking about my list of first-of-the-year rules and procedures that I shared with you all at the beginning of this year. So many pertain to catching students doing wrong. Why not catch students doing right? Why not catch them improving? Why not catch them as they shine? Ms. Bogan felt good by telling me about that student. I felt good speaking to the student and the parent. The student felt good hearing this. The parent almost cried. It was a win-win-win-win scenario. And it cost me nothing.
So, catch a student doing right. Write it up on a referral sheet and send it to me. I would love to receive one a month from you. The good will it would create would be well worth the time.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Here is this week's Faculty Focus.
I always feel a little guilty when I go to those inservice meetings where someone says, “I didn’t go into teaching for the money.” Here’s my problem: I did go into to teaching for the money. I did not set out from high school to be a teacher. I wanted to go into speech-language pathology, but I surrendered to the ministry shortly after high school, changing those plans. I needed to find a line of work that could support my preaching, a line of work that did not require weekends or summers. Teaching was it. So, I always feel a little guilty about that.
It didn’t take long, however, for my motives for teaching to change. I saw something more than a paycheck. I found something that gave meaning. Some teachers call their classrooms a mission field. Some teachers say that teaching is a calling for them. No matter how you view your classroom and your students, there must be an overarching reason for teaching, a goal greater than simply exposing students to new content, a reason why we teach. I believe we must teach for life change. This doesn’t have to be spiritual, but it could be. This doesn’t have to be emotional, but it could be. We teach for life change because that is the essence of true education.
But we know that’s not what teaching is. We know that’s not why we teach. We teach to change lives. We teach to shape, form, mold, build, and grow. We teach to love, to care, to help, and to nurture. We teach for life change. Remind yourself of that often. Remind yourself of that next time you hear TESS, IEP, AIP, ELL, SES, ALP, ALE, ISD, ADE, EOC, NSLA, PGP, LEADS (we have enough acronyms to choke a horse), or anything else educationalese. Remind yourself of this when you deal with your next difficult student. Remind yourself of this when you have one of those days. We teach to change lives.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
I began writing a weekly Faculty Focus letter to my faculty and staff this year. My desire is to inspire, encourage, and equip all of us to achieve our goal of student success. Below is my first.
During our Leader in Me training today, the elementary school and middle school watched an incredible video about Eric Weihenmayer and his assent to the top of Mt. Everest. Getting to the top is an incredible feat accomplished by only a very few who attempt it. What makes this particular story even more incredible is that Eric is blind. I have problems making it from the sink to the bed once I have taken my contacts out at night! Eric, though, made it to the top of Everest.
But he did not ascend alone. It took a dedicated team, a dedicated system, and a dedicated plan spanning years to make his goal and dream attainable. One particular statement by one of Eric’s team members still reverberates in my ears. On the last leg of the climb, a snowstorm nearly made them turn back, but they waited it out and outlasted it. As the storm passed and they picked up to move, the team noticed that all of the guide ropes they had in place for Eric were covered in inches of snow and a thick layer of ice. It would take incredible energy—in an environment where the atmosphere is causing the body to be in the process of dying—to break the ropes free. One man, at the peak of exhaustion, knowing that his efforts to free the guide ropes could very easily tire him to the point of his not being able to finish the climb, said (paraphrased), “The goal is for Eric to get to the top, not me. So I did what I had to do and freed the ropes.”
I was moved by this for many reasons, but one thing sticks out as being so pertinent to us at Mountainburg Schools: his dedication to a clear goal. When all seemed lost, this man’s dedication to getting Eric to the top helped him make the right decision. He knew the mission was about Eric and not about himself. He knew the buried ropes would prevent the reaching of their goal. So he knew he had to exhaust himself to accomplish that goal.
So I ask you, and I ask myself, what is our goal at Mountainburg Schools? Why are we doing what we are doing here? Is it not to get our students to the top? Are we not trying to get our Eric and our Cynthia and our Joe and our Susan to the top? Our goal and our focus must be student success, raising our students to levels they could not attain without us. It is not about busses, about lunchrooms, about classroom furniture, about me or about you; it is about providing the plans, equipment, training, and guidance for our students to achieve their dreams.
We are a school. Students are our reason for existence. I look so forward to working with you this year as we take our students “to the top.”