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By: Guest Blogger
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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in Dr. Neil Gupta’s blog on Feb. 19, 2019.
There’s a lot of talk about the need for empathy, so leaders spend a lot of time developing lessons and opportunities for students to engage them in experiences to be more empathetic to situations and each other as well as how to use it in taking action.
Yet, what empathy experiences can educational leaders employ? For the past four years, LaVonna Roth and I have participated in the Shadow a Student Challenge. Why? We believe that to truly know what a student may go through on a daily basis, you must put yourself in their shoes – almost literally!
A student can be selected for various reasons depending on what kind of perspective you’d like to experience. Here’s a link to a site that take you through all the steps on: How it Works.
After shadowing high school students for the past three years, LaVonna and I shadowed a middle school student this year. Based on our experiences throughout the day, we experienced the constant theme that students are more engaged when teachers create opportunities.
Below are four areas in which Successful Teachers Create Opportunities for Success:
Create Opportunities to Grow Relationships – Our students want to get to know their teachers. They really do. No matter the age. We observed numerous opportunities where teacher’s checked in with students by asking them to share something good that happened to them over the weekend. This reminded us of the importance in sharing about yourself, telling them how your weekend went, and acknowledging birthdays (even in Spanish)! All things teachers took the time to do during our day there. The difference it makes is worth every second.
Create Opportunities to Build Connections Students do have a desire to connect with classmates and collaborate with one another. We got to see awesome teachers thoughtfully and carefully match up students to ensure they would be productive and healthy. We were glad that students weren’t just asked to partner up on their own. Teachers provided scaffolded lessons to ensure students were on track. And, teachers made a conscious effort to have students sharing the work by providing responsibilities through roles as well as moving around the room to provide feedback and support.
Create Opportunities to Foster Curiosity – We were blown away by the hard work and creativity of each teacher creating an essential question, a “bell ringer”, or lesson to spark curiosity among the students. Coming off the heels of the NFL “My Cause, My Cleats” game, one teacher opened class with pictures of various cleats and causes the certain NFL players showcased the previous night. He allowed time for students to brainstorm their cause and show design as an opening activity. This proved to be a great segway to the lesson on selecting a certain historical person/perspective to research in continuing their passion project.
Create Opportunities to Support Learning – Our teachers not only provided high expectations, provided information and resources to the students, and provided clear details on how they’d be assessed, but they scaffold the learning and project steps with examples and models of expectations. One teacher did a great job of giving specific examples of how to study for the test, and allowed the students to share their ideas with one another. Having the skills to “project plan and manage” can’t be left to students to learn on their own, regardless of age. Helping students to develop study habits and select steps to help in their learning is not only essential but empowers them to keep moving forward.
We encourage you to break out the tennis shoes, put on your favorite sweatshirt, and shadow a student for a full day! Even if you work in a school setting all day visiting classrooms throughout the day, nothing will prepare you more or give you the same insights than shadowing a student. This has had a lasting impact on how we support or schools, students, and teachers, and we are already planning for next year! Feel free to direct message us with any questions – and we’d love to hear your insights from your empathy experience! Good luck!
Dr. Neil Gupta is the Director of Secondary Education for Worthington City Schools. He oversees middle school and high school programs and leads the academic and safety work with the building principals. You can read Dr. Gupta's full bio and his other blog posts here.
By: Guest Blogger
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on June 7, 2018, but some things are so good they deserve another look! We are re-running the post to remind families to check out their local library’s resources and help students continue learning all summer long.
School may be out for summer, but learning is always in season at your local library. Ohio's public libraries serve a critical function in summer learning, in many cases, acting as the only safety net against the “summer slide” — the documented decrease in reading proficiency of students who do not read during summer vacation. The stakes for children who do not read during the summer are high. Substantial research on this topic shows that elementary school students who lose reading skills during the summer will be two years behind their classmates by the end of sixth grade. It's usually the students who can least afford to lose ground as readers who are most likely to suffer from summer reading loss and fall behind their peers. Parents and teachers alike have long asserted that regular use of the local library improves children’s reading dramatically. Summer vacation is the perfect time to explore all the library’s resources and programs.
Every public library in Ohio offers a summer reading program for children with organized activities, projects, games and incentives to promote reading during the summer months. This year’s theme is “Libraries Rock” and includes a variety of musical activities from making instruments to dance parties. For hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s kids, these programs develop positive attitudes about reading and strengthen the skills they learned during the previous school year. Preventing the “summer slide” continues to be the main objective of summer reading programs.
Ohio’s public libraries provide quality learning activities that are fun and encourage some of the best techniques identified by research as being important to the reading process such as storytelling and book discussions. Librarians know how to connect kids with books and encourage readers, especially those who are reluctant, with different formats such as eBooks, magazines, audiobooks or comics. Families can try out digital formats and borrow devices such as tablets, MP3 players and even Wi-Fi hot spots.
Parents often indicate that summer is the most difficult time to find productive things for kids to do. For many families, the public library is the only community space available during the summer where they can access free educational activities. Libraries also are natural spaces for serving meals to children whose access to lunch disappears when school is out. Free summer lunches are available at more than 120 libraries across the state. To find a location, visit education.ohio.gov/kidseat.
In addition to reading, children can participate in activities at the library that support their curiosity and creativity including physical makerspaces, coding classes, production studios for digital media, virtual reality and more. Many libraries offer hands-on science and math activities that let kids brainstorm, problem solve and work together on projects. By taking an informal and playful (and sometimes messy and loud!) approach, libraries see these activities as opportunities for children to further their sense of discovery. Children who join summer library programs keep their brains active and enter school in the fall ready to succeed. An Ohio Public Library Directory is available at https://library.ohio.gov/using-the-library/find-an-ohio-library/. Check your local library’s website for a calendar of summer activities to see how you can keep kids reading and learning all summer long!
Angie Jacobsen is the director of Communications for the Ohio Library Council. The Ohio Library Council is the statewide professional association that represents the interests of Ohio’s 251 public library systems, their trustees, friends groups, and staffs. You can contact Angie by clicking here.
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By: Guest Blogger
Swanton Middle School is home to 400 students in grades 5-8 in Northwest Ohio. Approximately 45 percent of our students are socio-economically disadvantaged. Like many schools, our school faced challenges like student apathy, an increasing special education population that seemed to require more time and resources than we could allocate, lack of total student engagement, and low student motivation. The building leadership team was looking for something to tackle these challenges and transform our school into an atmosphere where students were excited about attending daily, a place where parents were confident sending their children, and a place where staff wanted to work. At first, we tried smaller-scale shifts and ideas (such as changing homework policies, various reward systems and schoolwide writing programs) to try and tackle our challenges, but we never saw a major impact.
We decided to embark on a new mission at our school called the Swanton Seven Initiative. This idea had been in the works for at least six months before we laid out any concrete plans. We were fortunate to receive a 21st Century Learning Grant, which, among many other wonderful things, allowed four of our teachers and I to attend a training at Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. We had discussed what it would be like to implement a “house” system before, but we really weren’t sure what we were doing. After that training, we knew not only that we could do it, but that we would start the next school year. The training in Atlanta was so fascinating that the five of us sketched out plans right there in the hotel. I called a staff meeting as soon as we returned from the trip and let everyone know we had a plan, albeit rough, but an idea of what we wanted to see at our school. We called on the staff to help and scheduled team meetings throughout the summer to refine our plan. A lot of hard work and time was dedicated to coming up with the following:
The Swanton Seven is devoted to promoting a positive learning culture while challenging all students to the best learning opportunities.
Our first task as a team was to identify and focus on seven objectives we wanted as our foundation by deliberately teaching and modeling them to our students and staff:
- Exhibit effective listening skills.
- Utilize excellent conversation skills.
- Use manners.
- Choose to work hard. Strive to be successful.
- Support, respect, and encourage people.
- Be honest and do not make excuses.
- Take pride in our school and yourself.
By teaching, modeling and striving to live out these seven “soft skills,” we empower each individual to reach his or her highest potential. To launch this new program, we created the story that long ago the leaders of Swanton buried a scroll in the old middle school building. The writers of the scroll asked that, upon discovery, four houses be created and students would be taught these seven philosophies. As a staff, we presented the story to the students and unveiled the official scroll, a treasure chest and the names of the four houses: Dignitas, Obduro, Gratus and Sapientia (DOGS, as we are the Bulldogs). Students were led to the gym in small groups, where they opened packages containing their official house welcome letters, T-shirts and designated wristbands while the rest of the school cheered them on. The students’ anticipation was moving. There was instant “buy-in.”
Students and staff members are awarded house points for exhibiting the seven objectives throughout the course of the day. Teachers keep track of point totals, and they are updated on an enormous scoreboard in the cafeteria each Friday. The competitive spirit has motivated each student to capture the lead and, ultimately, be awarded the House Points Belt for the week.
The success of the Swanton Seven Initiative would not be possible without the community and parental support we have received. This dream, turned into an idea, into a plan and into a philosophy, has not only changed our school and community but has set us on a course to drastically challenge and empower students. It has created an environment where being your best is an expectation of being part of the BullDOGS.
The Swanton Seven Initiative has fostered team building and brought our staff together. Teachers are dispersed among the houses to ensure each house has a core subject (English language arts, math, science or social studies) teacher from every grade level, an elective teacher, an intervention specialist and multiple members of support staff (such as secretaries, the school nurse, kitchen staff and custodians). This has strengthened our staff and supplemented our current grade-level teams, which share common planning times and weekly teacher-based team meetings. Staff members who typically don’t work directly with one another on a regular basis have connected. The same has happened with our students.
Students in each grade level were divided evenly by a randomizer to determine their houses. Each house has cultivated relationships that most likely would not have grown without the Swanton Seven Initiative. Teachers have individualized their houses by creating chants used to focus their students or silence their rooms. Each house also has its own special song that has helped build cohesion among students and staff. These chants and songs have extended into our community. For example, at the grocery store last week, I overheard a “P-U-R” followed by a louder return “P-L-E, go Sapientia!” The Swanton Seven has truly become our identity, both within and outside the school walls.
This academic year, we focused our community service project on a local food drive. We collected more than 3,000 goods to donate directly to our small community. While it may seem small or generic, this event sparked us to work on a yearlong project, Backpack Buddies, built off the Feeding America program. The program is a yearlong program to help the students of our community and surrounding areas. Students in families who sign up for the program take a discreet backpack home full of nutritious food for the weekend. We pack enough for at least three meals that will feed the family depending on how many family members there are. Families really appreciate they can count on this when needed throughout the year.
While it will take some time to know exactly how this initiative will affect our test scores and Ohio School Report Cards, we are optimistic and look forward to tracking the results in the future. What we do know is that since implementing the Swanton Seven Initiative, we’ve seen other positive results in our school. We had a record number of students invited and awarded at our annual academic awards night. We have seen a decrease in attendance issues and teacher discipline referrals. The interesting thing is that we hold students more accountable and to higher standards, and we still have seen at 20 percent decrease in behavior incidents. The Swanton Seven initiative clearly makes a difference for our school staff, our community and, most importantly, our students.
Matt Smith has been the principal of Swanton Middle School in Swanton, Ohio for four years. You can contact Matt at email@example.com.
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By: Guest Blogger
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the national Future Ready Schools blog on April 22, 2019. We thought this post would be the perfect follow-up to Stephanie Donofe Meeks’ post from last week about partnerships. Lia Dossin’s article recaps a Future Ready event that wouldn’t have been possible without strong partnerships.
What does it mean to become a Future Ready librarian?
On Saturday, April 13, one hundred librarians gathered in Columbus, Ohio for a one-day workshop of professional learning, networking, and sharing to help librarians become instructional leaders in their schools and districts – a critical element of success in becoming “Future Ready.”
Future Ready Schools®, led by the Alliance for Excellent Education, hosted the event in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Library Media Association. Attendees explored the critical role that Future Ready Librarians™ can play in the strategic work of schools and educational systems, providing leadership around educational technology, empowering students as creators and learners, curating content, identifying and implementing innovative instructional practices, and more.
There was also a surprise special guest in attendance: Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria. DeMaria emphasized the importance of collaboration inside and outside of schools and how critical it is to advocate for an enhanced role for librarians. But it didn’t end there. DeMaria participated in an activity exploring the Future Ready Librarians™ framework, and engaged with small groups of librarians as they took deep dives into the framework gears. Topics included collaborative space design, advocating for student privacy, creating inclusive collections, and more.
DeMaria’s presence was deeply appreciated by the librarians in attendance, many of whom took to Twitter to express their gratitude. Check out the tweets below to see their messages and one from DeMaria in response.
After a long day of hard work and sharing, participants left with strengthened library leadership skills, deepened knowledge of the FR Librarians framework, and an excitement for collaborating within their school, district and beyond.
Staying in Touch
You don’t have to wait for a workshop to get engaged with FR Librarians! Learn more about the program, read up on the FR Librarians framework, and check out dates and locations for upcoming FRS Leadership Institutes, which are open to district teams.
Wondering how to cultivate a diverse collection? Register for this upcoming FR Librarians™ webinar, Does My Collection Reflect My Community? Diversity in the School Library, on April 30 at 3:00 pm EDT. In the webinar, panelists will discuss the value of maintaining a book collection that not only reflects the school community, but also is reflective of the global community of which we all are a part.
Lia Dossin is marketing and outreach director, Future Ready Schools
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By: Guest Blogger
April is Autism Awareness Month, and Ohio has a longstanding history of promoting awareness about autism spectrum disorder. Throughout the month, you’ll likely see hundreds of blogs, articles, commercials and social media posts that share information, facts and stories about autism. While sharing this information is important and has significantly contributed to society becoming more aware of autism, we must continue to push ourselves toward a culture of acceptance and inclusivity.
Awareness vs. Acceptance
Acceptance is about taking conscious action and shifting from not only seeing and recognizing that autism exists, but seeking to listen and learn and then adapting our perspectives and behaviors. What does that look like? Understanding and being aware of autism means knowing that autism is a developmental disability that impacts each person differently. This commonly includes a wide variety of unique strengths and challenges in the areas of behavioral, sensory processing, social and emotional regulation. You also may be aware that students with autism may separate themselves from a group of peers or exhibit repetitive behaviors from time to time. But do you know what triggers certain responses from individuals or how to help a student based on his or her needs? Just knowing the facts will not necessarily lead to acceptance or creating inclusive and supportive environments in our schools, communities and relationships.
Acceptance exemplifies the Platinum Rule — treating others the way they want to be treated — which accounts for accommodating the feelings of others and accepting our differences. By moving toward acceptance, we can inspire new ideas that motivate us to continue to ensure students with disabilities can live their best lives for their whole lives. While progress is being made in schools across Ohio and the country, we know there is more to do — more doors that need opened and more perspectives and approaches that need shifted.
What Educators Can Do to Promote Acceptance
1. Share resources with colleagues and families. The Many Faces of Autism is a free, online video designed to dispel common misconceptions through the experiences of people with autism.
2. Gain insights from people with autism. Encourage people or students with autism to share their various perspectives on what is important for them to be part of the community or school. Or, invite the parents of students with autism to speak at a professional learning session with your staff. Many times, hearing varying perspectives firsthand is powerful and eye-opening.
3. Dispel labels. Encourage inclusivity by having staff and students address a person by his or her name, not a label. This is equally important when support teams are talking about a student who isn't in their presence.
4. Continue to listen, learn and share. The more information and knowledge you can learn and intentionally share about autism spectrum disorder, the better.
At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been committed to working hard to promote and embrace a culture of awareness and acceptance — with our staff and those we serve around Ohio. While we have made significant progress, we have more work to do, and we continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding and modeling.
As educators, parents and family members, we ALL play a role in inspiring the change we wish to see. Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to seek opportunities that promote acceptance in your own schools and communities. Let’s learn, grow and build a culture of acceptance together.
For additional resources, visit the Autism Center and OCALI’s Lending Library. You also can check out the following resources:
This post was developed by the team of experts at OCALI, under the leadership of Executive Director Shawn Henry. OCALI, which is based in Ohio, is a recognized global leader in creating and connecting resources and relationships to ensure people with disabilities have opportunities to live their best lives for their whole lives.
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By: Guest Blogger
Senior year of high school is a unique, awkward transition; you’ve outgrown high school, yet you’re not even close to being ready for the amazing opportunities the future will bring. It is on this threshold that I now stand. The possibilities of the future have become a reality, and my senior year has been more than I could have ever expected. I have worked harder in these past eight months than I ever have before, and it has definitely paid off.
As a student, I have always planned to go to college, but that never stopped me from enrolling in a career-technical program to enrich my educational experience. The two-year graphic design class has become one of my all-time favorites due to its unique structure and non-traditional approach to art education. The time a student spends in high school no longer has to be focused solely on traditional academic pursuits. Today, many traditional high schools, like my own, Canton South, offer career-oriented programs in addition to typical academic courses. During my last year as a high school student, I have found great successes academically, competitively and, most importantly, I have found my future.
In December of 2018, I received my scores from the ACT, SAT and SAT English Subject Test. They were 36, 1600 and 800 respectively — all perfect scores. These results were more than I could have ever hoped to receive, but everything I had worked for. I spent hours each day doing homework from my many Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus classes, only to spend hours more on test prep. I felt as if I could actually be a competitive applicant to Ivy League institutions because of my scores. They even helped me earn a full ride to The Ohio State University. I also applied to Stanford, Princeton, Cornell, Barnard and Columbia. I plan on attending Barnard in the fall to major in English. Since this subject has always been close to my heart, I want to pursue a career in publishing. Although this may not appear to be related to my career-tech program, there is value in courses that teach professional skills.
However hard I have worked to excel in my academic pursuits, I have worked equally hard in my career-tech program. My participation in the graphic design career-technical program led me to a third-place finish in the state Business Professionals of America competition in digital publishing. This earned me a place in the national competition. Although I have chosen to pursue higher education rather than going directly into a career, my career-tech program has become central to my high school experience. Many opportunities I would not otherwise have had, have been available to me through this class. Not only has it made me a more competitive applicant, but graphic design also has taught me many things about the professional world. I have learned to be a better communicator, interviewee and, most importantly, graphic designer.
I stand now at the threshold to the next chapter in my life. As a prospective college student, it was extremely hard to maintain the motivation that built me a competitive application. Without the support I received from my friends, family and teachers, I know I would not be in the position I am today. Throughout my journey in high school, it was hard for me to decide what college, let alone what career, was best for me. It was only at the beginning of my senior year that I actually started researching colleges and working to achieve my goals. Although I was able to achieve my goals, it often felt like there was not enough time to fulfill my expectations. My senior year in high school was, by far, my favorite; from competitions to test scores to college decisions, every experience has helped prepare me for my future. I only wish I had started preparing sooner.
Dinah Ward is a high school senior at Canton South High School. After graduation, she plans to study English at Barnard College so she can pursue a career in publishing.
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By: Guest Blogger
It is hard to believe that January 2019 is already at a close. As we all know, it seems the more “experienced” we become, the faster time moves. Now February is upon us. February is a big deal at the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County because February is Career and Technical Education Month. Career and Technical Education Month is a national public awareness initiative created to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and recognize the value of career-technical education programs across the nation.
Here in Licking County, the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County (formerly Licking County Joint Vocational School) have more than 40 years of experience working to meet the needs of students, schools, and business and industry partners to create, educate and maintain a workforce that can meet the needs of the day. From the beginning, we have understood that one of the greatest values in career-technical education is working with business and industry leaders to ensure we understand their workforce needs, and they understand the role career-technical education plays in readying their future workforce.
The way we accomplish this understanding has evolved over the decades. One of the more recent innovations is through the expansion of middle school career-technical education programming. Through our middle school career exploration programs, we are beginning to help students at a younger age think about potential careers and understand the necessary educational pathways that lead to the careers of their choice. Currently, we have seven such programs in middle schools throughout Licking County, with more on the way. Additionally, we have provided professional development resources for the career exploration programs to all our Licking County middle school staff members. This makes Licking County a true leader in this initiative. Adding middle school career studies is one more way we provide career opportunities to Licking County beyond those already available in our high school and adult centers. This latest step is just another move in that evolving journey.
However, with all that career-tech centers and other institutions are doing to fill the skills gap and prepare tomorrow’s workforce, there always are opportunities for continued growth. The good news…there are solutions to these issues. We can do better at preparing our students for what is ahead just by making them and their families aware of all options and pathways. Those available to students still in secondary school and those who have entered the “adult” world who need more training and skills. We just need to open ourselves to an honest discussion, let go of the traditions and education strategies we consider off limits and above reproach and focus on the students and helping them find their true pursuits.
At the end of the day, our diplomas, Advanced Placement credits or acceptance letters to four-year colleges cannot define success. We must define success for today's students by focusing on careers. That is where every pathway leads, anyhow.
Dr. Joyce Malainy is the superintendent of the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By: Guest Blogger
As the superintendent of Alexander Local Schools, I am proud to tell you about our success providing students with wraparound services. Wraparound services are additional supports for students that help them meet their basic needs so they can focus and do well in school. The wraparound services offered in Alexander include mental health counseling and health care services. Some people may wonder if mental and physical health care have a place in school, but I firmly believe they do.
Alexander Local Schools is located in Athens County. It is a rural, Appalachian district. All the school buildings are located on a single campus. Unemployment, poverty and drug addiction affect many families in our schools. As superintendent, I became aware of the number of children who needed medical or counseling services. The teachers and I were running into situations where some children were not receiving proper medical attention. In many cases, it appeared the parents were not following through with planned appointments. Even when families recognized the need for these services, they still had to pull children out of school and travel to appointments. Parents worried about losing their jobs as a result of missing work to take their children for services. Some families did not have transportation or money for gas.
There are many challenges in our community, and I wanted to help address them. The other educators in my district and I began speaking with various agencies about how we could help families get the services and supports they needed. We decided to pilot a wraparound program by inviting one counselor from Hopewell Health Centers to put an office in our building for one year. We referred children to this counselor when they needed deeper, more intense counseling than what the school alone could offer. We worked with teachers and the counselor to build a positive rapport and buy-in with the staff, parents and community.
What began as a one-year pilot has grown. Our campus now houses offices for four different service agencies. Currently, we have Hopewell Health Centers, Health Recovery Services, Athens County Children Services and Holzer on our campus. We give them space in our buildings for free so they can provide their services to the children. We also meet with the agencies annually to talk about what is working and what needs improvement. We encourage them to build their clientele in our community. During the summer months, they can continue using our facilities.
These services have become a part of our school culture. Counselors are honorary staff members. They attend staff meetings, parent-teacher conferences and Intervention Assistance Team meetings. We embrace their knowledge and expertise. By providing services on our campus, we have seen improvements in our school and our community. The most significant improvements have been increased attendance and graduation rates, reduced behavioral issues and better scores on state tests.
Here are a few other benefits to implementing these programs on campus:
- Convenient primary care and preventative medical services are offered to district staff, students and the community.
- There is increased access to health care providers without the need to travel to a larger facility.
- We have streamlined care from a community health and specialty care perspective. This keeps students in the classroom and student athletes on the playing field.
- Students and families have an increased awareness of available services. Many may not have sought care otherwise.
- Student athletes receive athletic training support in partnership with Ohio University.
- The school’s ability to make direct referrals increases productivity and improves service agency caseloads.
- Barriers such as transportation, accessibility and parental time off work are eliminated.
- Having agencies on campus increases the attendance rate, and the agencies are experiencing fewer canceled appointments. Agencies are working closely with the district to meet insurance billing requirements.
- Support agencies report that partnering with the schools in some situations has helped them improve parental engagement.
- Being in the school building provides immediate access to communication with teachers and staff who see the students daily and often are the first to encounter behavioral issues. This helps the clinician take a comprehensive approach to treatment. Once a treatment plan is in place, educators and clinicians can monitor interventions and assess treatment success.
- Being part of the school reduces the stigma attached to seeing a counselor. Clinicians often wear school badges to help them blend in with school staff.
- The district has increased the number of professional counselors on staff.
- An outside agency can complete risk assessments for children who make threats. This allows for an immediate intervention.
- Students receive medical treatment immediately.
- We are able to provide free sports physicals and a staff doctor for the football and basketball teams.
The greatest benefit, and the thing that I am most proud of, is that we are now addressing the whole child. Addressing the whole child allows children to have necessary supports, enhances wellness and fosters learning and development. Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future, recognizes how critical it is to meet the basic needs of the whole child, and we are working hard to do just that. Thanks to partnerships built within our own community, our small district is making a big impact on each student and our community.
Lindy Douglas is the superintendent of Alexander Local Schools. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Educational Administration from Ohio University. She has been an educator for 29 years, working in public schools in Southeastern Ohio to better the lives of children by increasing their knowledge and improving their education.
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By: Guest Blogger
Most people agree all students deserve high-quality arts education that develops important skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive workforce. A nationwide public opinion poll conducted by Americans for the Arts this year showed that more than 90 percent of adults believed the arts should be taught throughout elementary, middle and high school. The skills developed through arts learning — collaboration and cooperation, problem identifying and problem-solving, decision-making, design thinking, articulation and critique, constructive communication — are the leadership skills identified as key attributes sought by employers around the world in the 21st century.
Since 1989, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Department of Education have worked together to gather data and periodically report on the status of arts education in Ohio’s schools. The logical extension of this work is to deliver the information in real time. These Ohio partner agencies now have engaged New Jersey-based Quadrant Research to help put annually updated arts education information in the hands of those who care about it most — parents, local school boards, teachers, students and other local stakeholders across the state.
The Ohio Arts Education Data Project launched in September 2018, and Ohio is proud to be among the first few states in the nation to provide online arts education data dashboards to the public!
The online dashboards allow the user to review school, district, county and statewide levels of arts education data. Interactive, color-coded dashboard displays show arts access and enrollment data as reported annually via the state’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) by 3,377 traditional public and community schools. Data for future school years will be added annually, allowing the project to show the status of arts education over time. Demographic data is from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The data for the 2016-2017 school year show:*
- Most students (98.3 percent) have access to some form of arts instruction, while 93 percent of students have access to both music and visual art.
- Eighty-four percent of all students participated in arts education courses. This represents more than 1,413,734 students.
- Participation in music (82 percent) and visual art (78 percent) were by far highest among the four artistic disciplines, which also include theatre and dance. Music and visual art are more widely available in Ohio schools. Out of the total student population, 1 percent participated in theater and fewer than 0.5 percent in dance.
- In 2017, there were 28,258 students, or 1.7 percent, who did not have access to any arts instruction. There were 117,750 students who did not have access to both music and art. However, between 2016 and 2017, there has been a 35 percent improvement (reduction) in the number students without access to any arts instruction.
- Student participation varies greatly between traditional public schools and community schools. In traditional public schools, 86 percent of students are enrolled in the arts as compared to 60 percent for community schools.
- The overall student-to-arts-teacher ratio in Ohio schools is 217 to 1. For visual art, the ratio is 412:1; for dance it is 762:1; for music it is 427:1; and for theater it is 933:1.
- Note that the data does not include any representation of arts instruction provided by non-school entities nor does it include extracurricular arts-based activities taking place in schools.
The project partners look forward to working with stakeholders throughout the state over time, using Ohio’s arts education data, to celebrate successes, identify areas of need, and facilitate sound research on the contributions of arts learning to overall student achievement and school success.
See Ohio Arts Education Data Project at: https://oaae.net/ohio-arts-education-data-project-introduction/
* Summary data and graphics above from:
Morrison, R., 2018. Arts Education Data Project Ohio Executive Summary Report (draft at time of submission)
Tim Katz joined the staff of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) in 2012 and has been the executive director since 2014. Before that, he served for 15 years as the education director of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
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By: Guest Blogger
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Nov. 2, 2017 but some things are so good they deserve another look! Christa wrote this blog when she worked at the Cincinnati Department of Health. She is now the Senior Manager, External Relations for the Health Collaborative in Cincinnati. We are re-running the post so everyone gets a chance to learn about the HOPE curriculum.
I am not a teacher by profession, but I try my hardest to be a good one. I have great admiration for what classroom teachers do every single day across the world. Whether it was a part of previous positions I’ve had or currently in public health — teaching has always been an integral part of my work. In addition to teaching, I’ve had the opportunity to work with youth on prevention education curriculums ranging from tobacco to communicable disease. None have been as challenging as attempting to address the opioid epidemic.
I don’t claim to have all the answers to solve the opioid epidemic across this country, but I wish I did. It has torn apart families, crumbled portions of our workforce and completely rocked the medical community. This epidemic has no road map. There is no established, evidence-based practice that says if you do “x,” then you will receive “y” as a positive result.
As a public health professional, I try to think of ways to avoid adverse health outcomes. While this sounds oversimplified, prevention is the backbone of public health. Working for the Cincinnati Health Department, I am a witness to the constantly moving pieces of this epidemic — from endless overdose data, to potential policy changes, to Quick Response Teams and resource identification.
Working from different angles on this epidemic, I felt more could be done on the prevention side. I was fortunate to find an organization willing to fund a prevention initiative. My project is entitled Not Even Once. Not Even Once aims to implement the HOPE (Health and Opioid Prevention Education) curriculum at Oyler School. Oyler was strategically selected as a pilot site for HOPE due to the high number of overdoses in the surrounding neighborhood. Prevention curriculums like HOPE are key — key to saving lives, saving resources and most important, preventing youth from ever starting to abuse drugs.
What makes HOPE different is that it is the opposite of most anti-drug programs. It is pro-youth empowerment; pro-good decision-making; pro-self-respect. Kids are told, “No,” enough. This curriculum puts them in the driver’s seat of their own lives. It gives them the tools to use throughout their lives to build resiliency, self-respect and community awareness. It goes beyond basic knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes and turns it into functional health knowledge.
A few learning objectives of HOPE are:
- Understanding the components of healthy, safe and respectful choices;
- Identifying trusted adults;
- Knowing how to ask for help; and
- Understanding the differences between over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
I started teaching HOPE in June 2017 for ages 9-13 and will continue through December. From the moment the project began, I was astounded by the openness of the kids and their profound awareness of this epidemic right on their doorstep. One night a few weeks into class, my phone rang — it was a parent of a child in class, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Again, I was taken aback by her honesty. She stressed how difficult it is as a parent to talk to her children about what’s going on 15 feet from their doorstep. Instead, she tells her kids to “always stay inside” instead of playing at the park across the street.
Some people have told me that kids in certain drug-ridden parts of town are “lost causes.” I vehemently disagree with this, especially with my kids. Because they have HOPE. I believe in the village. I believe we will overcome this epidemic one day, with people who have rallied together to empower others to fully utilize talents to create a society of empathy.
This project would not be possible without the generosity of the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, People’s Liberty and especially Dr. Kevin Lorson, Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance president and professor and Physical Education program director at Wright State University. I am eternally grateful that he was willing to take a chance on me to implement HOPE.
Christa Hyson works for the Health Collaborative in Cincinnati. Previously, she was a health communication specialist at the Cincinnati Health Department and project grantee for People’s Liberty. While at the Cincinnati Health Department, she combined her public health skills and youth prevention education to execute, Not Even Once. Click here to learn more about the Hope Curriculum.
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Last Modified: 5/17/2019 3:20:37 PM