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Weekly Update: November 11, 2016

 
Weekly Update: November 11, 2016
 
Noteworthy:
Today we celebrate America's Veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.  Today we recognize those men and women who served our country through our studies, celebrations, and honoring those Veterans who live in Grinnell.  I would like to thank our Veterans for your service and I am grateful for all you have done for our country.   
 
Parent Concern:
 
This week our principals and staff addressed a few isolated incidents regarding students making comments about “building a wall,” as well as some other comments related to the election.  Please know that our principals and teachers acted swiftly to address situations and I want to thank our parents for bringing this to our attention.  Our priority is to support our students to ensure that they feel safe and welcomed at school.  We are here to serve our families.
 
 
Professional Development:
This past week our teachers participated in Professional Development that focused on integration of technology, instructional practices, and curriculum alignment.  I would like to thank all of our teachers for their dedication to enhance their craft.  Our Vanguard group, 20 staff members who are participating in intense training on technology integration, began their journey this past week as the first step toward becoming well versed in utilizing various applications in order for students to connect deeper with the content.   
 
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
This past week I met with our NGSS AEA 267 representative to plan for staff development and curriculum alignment in science.  Last year teacher representatives at each grade level and course subject area attended a training to learn more about NGSS and the necessary steps to align curriculum and course work to NGSS.  On December 15, science teachers will come together to continue the work in order to prepare for the implementation of NGSS next year.  This group will examine resource materials later in the school year to support the curriculum.
 
ESSA Session in Ottumwa:
This week representatives from the state of Iowa hosted a community session to discuss the details of ESSA.  “In 2015, Congress adopted the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. This update replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and restores the proper balance between the role of states and the federal government in accountability for the success of all children.  ESSA requires that states develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools. The 2016-17 school year will be a transition period, with full implementation of Iowa’s state plan under ESSA in the 2017-18 school year.”  (DE website)
 
The session provided me with general information that will assist our team to prepare for this change.  At this time, we are in a holding pattern as we await further details on how Iowa will complete the transition.  The Smarter Balance Assessment is scheduled to be given during the Spring of 2018.  
 
Visit the Iowa Department of Education website to learn more about ESSA and Smarter Balance.  We will be hosting an evening session on assessment, on November 30, 2016 at the high school beginning at 6:00 PM.  The administrative staff will briefly discuss this assessment during the session.  See below for further information about November 30th. 
 
Facility walkthrough with Estes Construction:
A team from Estes and the Grinnell School District walked through the facilities this past week to examine mechanical, electrical, plumbing and general structure of the facilities.  We will be meeting with Estes construction next week to continue our discussions, and prepare an itemized analysis of our facilities for the Board to review.  That analysis will also include the work that Dr. Stutz started regarding learning environments.
 
Understanding your child’s assessments:
This past week the SIAC planning committee met to discuss hosting an evening for parents to learn more about their child’s assessments and the purpose of these assessments.  This event will take place on November 30 from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM at Grinnell High School.  There will be a general session beginning at 6:00 PM in the Auditorium with break out sessions to gain information about elementary, middle and high school assessments. Each session will be repeated twice in order for parents to attend at least two different sessions.  A question and answer period will occur following the breakout sessions.  Further details regarding this session will be forthcoming next week.  
 
Providing support for all students through Erika’s Lighthouse:
Our team met to discuss ways in which we can provide mental health support for our students in grades 6-12 through the use of Erika’s Lighthouse resources.  This free supplemental resource is being explored by our team to support all students and to create awareness around mental health issues or concerns.  This resource would be used in addition to our current efforts to support our students.  Secondary level counselors, administrators, staff and AEA local representatives will continue to review the resources prior to implementation.  
 
Intern:
I have officially accepted an intern from Grinnell College this year.  My intern will assist with creating a data warehouse base, communication enhancement and website updates, and community outreach.  
 
High School Science Students share ideas around multiple intelligence and learning environments:
Students in Angie Richards science class hosted discussions on multiple intelligence (MI) and how MI guides our learning. I had an opportunity to visit with the students to learn more about how MI is related to their learning environment.  What was simply amazing to me was the students' ability to re-think how school learning environments could enhance instruction while meeting their learning needs.  I think it might be a great idea to recruit some of this group as we continue to evaluate our facility needs.  They have some great ideas.  
 
Retirement Assistance Planning Meeting:
This past week the Board of Education passed an agreement for an early retirement incentive.   Staff had an opportunity to have their questions answered at an informal meeting on Thursday night.  We encourage any staff member who is thinking about this option and still has questions to contact Lisa Johnson at the district office.  She will be able to assist you as you make a decision regarding this incentive.  
 
Stem Festival this Sunday:
Just a reminder that the Poweshiek County PK-8 STEM festival is this Sunday at BGM from 1:00-4:00 PM.  
 
Upcoming Events
Multiple dates in November - 3rd Grade field trips to Faulconer Gallery
Nov. 13th- Poweshiek County PK-8 STEM Festival 1:00-4:00 at BGM
November 18 - 2nd grade FV & BP to Science Center.
November 18 - Movie Night at Harris Center (PTO)
November 22 - 6th grade Iowa Science Center program @ GMS
November 30 - Parent meeting from 6-8 “Understanding my child’s assessments”
December 1 & 2 - AEA 267 Learning with Technology Conference in Cedar Falls
December 5th - 1st week of MakerSpace Monday’s
December 5-11 - Hour of Code
December 16 - BP Kindergarten Carols and Cookies Music Concerts
December 20 - Breakfast Book Club Event (PTO)- Open to the public- All elementary buildings

Have a great weekend!
 
Sincerely,
 
Janet