Recently, I dropped off more than 100 certificates for our principal, Mat McRae, to sign for winners in our high school's March Into Reading challenge. For the contest, students could draw or paint a new cover for their favorite book; create a book out of metal, wood, clay, or the medium of their choice; or create a graphic design that promotes reading. When all the entries were in, we had nearly 300 projects to judge, out of a school of 650 students. Our principal's response to the overwhelming participation in our school was, "It's all about the leadership."
As a former Air Force squadron commander and Vice Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Academy, believe me, I had already been through a lifetime's worth of leadership training when I moved into the civilian sector as a K–12 school superintendent in 2002. Looking back, however, I must admit that the most challenging leadership issues I have ever faced easily occurred in the last decade.
For the past five years, Fouke (Ark.) Elementary School has witnessed academic improvement in all K–5 grade levels. Attendance has also improved over the same time period. These accomplishments did not happen by accident, instead they are the results of the hard work by staff, students, and families. Not I as principal, not one teacher, nor one program alone is responsible for these successes. These achievements are a result of creating a collaborative and positive learning environment for all our stakeholders.
To achieve our essential goals, our school adopted elements from the Arkansas Leadership Academy and developed five areas to add more breadth, depth, ownership, and sustainability.
School libraries are critical to every child's education and career—with nearly 31 million elementary, middle, and high school students relying on school library services each week. This April, join whole child partner American Association of School Librarians for School Library Month. The month-long celebration will showcase the vital role and resources school libraries provide to students to support their education and career endeavors. This year's theme, "communities matter @ your library," shows how libraries can help students, individuals, and families discover new and exciting things through library collections, digital resources, and more.
As demonstrated by the tragic events of not only the last few months in Connecticut, Georgia, and California, but also the last 10 years across the nation, school safety is a complicated issue with no single or simple solution. We have read, listened to, and participated in discussions on how to keep our schools safe and secure. From our homes, faculty rooms, school board meetings, and the halls of Congress, we are all moving from shock to recovery, fear to resiliency.
Post written by Martin J. Blank and Ryan Fox, Coalition for Community Schools
Walking through the halls of John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles with senior Kevin Valiencia, one finds an unexpected inner city public school in one of the most maligned neighborhoods in the country.
A climate of cooperation, enthusiasm, unity, and endless possibilities permeate throughout school. A strong juxtaposition with the surrounding community in which neighborhoods blocks apart from each other are often at war. Kevin himself has seen a friend stabbed, drive-by shootings, and police raids near his home.
It's not that the troubles found in other schools don't exist inside Fremont. Less than 40 percent of its students graduate in four years and test scores still lag behind state averages. But the angst and conflict found in many other struggling urban schools is minimal at Fremont. The suspension rate at Fremont is far below the rates at other high schools in the district. While the dropout rate is still very high, those numbers are gradually improving. Nearly 85 percent of those that did graduate in 2009 and 2010 continued on to a postsecondary education.
"There's unity (at Fremont)," Kevin said. "We're all in this together."
It is our favorite time of the day, right after the nightly bubble bath, just before bedtime—snuggled up in our rocking chair with a pile of story books. As far as my 20-month-old son knows, this time is all about cuddling, telling stories, singing songs, and having fun. But I know better. The truth is, I am giving him an invaluable gift—a head start towards success in kindergarten, grade school, high school, then college and a career.
Despite our busy schedules, my wife and I have read to our son nearly every night of his young life. We do this because we have read the parenting books and research that say it is what we are supposed to do. But we also do it because we both have parents who instilled in us the value of education, starting by reading with us when we were very young.
Addressing students' needs levels the playing field. Or rather, addressing students' needs is only leveling the playing field. If a child is hungry, then the need can be addressed by providing breakfast, lunch, and assistance as needed. The same applies if the child is unwell. Many schools have made great strides in addressing students' needs, but some schools have gone further. They have taken an issue that was initially a need and used it to enhance and improve what the school offers.
Join us throughout March as we look at schools that have taken a deficit and turned it into an asset. Some schools have used connections formed into and across the community to enhance and build on what they first envisaged. Other schools are forming alliances to improve a specific situation, and have then used those same alliances to improve the entire school. How has your school or community taken a challenge and turned it into a win?
More than 16 million children in the United States struggle with hunger, or one out of five kids. Teachers see this hunger firsthand in their classrooms. In a recent survey, three out of five K–8 public school teachers said they taught kids who regularly came to school hungry because they weren't getting enough to eat at home.
What if I told you that there was a solution? There is, and it's called school breakfast.
Launched in 1989, the event is used to educate students, parents, and the community across the United States about the benefits of a healthy school breakfast. A recent study titled Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis by whole child partner Share our Strength in collaboration with Deloitte, confirmed the benefits of a healthy, balanced breakfast at school—showing that school breakfasts are associated with positive, large-scale outcomes in education, economics, and health. This gives us even more reason to celebrate this week's events.