By: Staff Blogger
For Sycamore High School students, it’s more than innovation. It’s Synnovation. The school’s Synnovation Lab shifted away from a traditional bell schedule so that students are able to set a pace that works best for their individual learning styles. With its dynamic approach to personalized learning, students are empowered to take ownership of their instruction and challenged to take responsibility for when they master a concept and are ready to advance to the next area. Sycamore sophomores Isabel and Jake personally invited State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria to see their school in action. The students showcased Sycamore’s points of pride on Feb. 8 during Superintendent DeMaria’s visit.
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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 programing. 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: Wendy Grove
Is there a child in your life who is 5 years old (or turning so soon) who is amazing you with all he or she knows? Mamas, daddies, grandparents and loved ones, that baby of yours is growing up! After surviving midnight feedings, watching them learn to walk and talk and answering their endless questions, it is time to start thinking about kindergarten. February is the time of year most schools start requesting kindergarten registration paperwork.
Sending your child to kindergarten is a big change for many families, but the Department has updated its kindergarten resources to make this transition easier. Today, I am going outline a few of the basics you may need to know regarding kindergarten and preparing your child — and yourself — for school.
Where should my child go to school?
There are many schools and program types to consider when choosing the right option for your child. Know that you have choices! There are many options the Department wants you to be aware of so you make an informed decision about what is best for you and your child. Public schools, community schools, private schools, part-time, full-time, free, tuition-based, scholarships, open enrollment — what does it all mean? Whew, I’m out of breath. That is a lot! But don’t worry, to learn more about Ohio’s education options, browse the topics listed below:
- Do you know which school your child would attend based on where you live? There is an online tool to help you find your neighborhood school.
- Do you know all the options available to you when choosing a kindergarten setting? Learn about education options here. If you want to talk to someone about those options, staff contact information is available on that website.
- What about the neighboring school district where your friend’s child attends? Would that be possible? Open enrollment is when a school accepts children who live outside of the residential boundaries. Find out here which schools offer open enrollment.
When should my child start kindergarten?
Ohio state law says children are old enough to start kindergarten if they are 5 years old by the school district’s age cut-off date. That date is either Aug. 1 or Sept. 30. Each school district has chosen one of these dates. After you identify which district or school your child will attend, you can find out that school’s kindergarten age cut-off date by visiting its website or calling its office.
What does it mean to be “ready” for kindergarten?
Part of the when question may be whether your child is ready for kindergarten. Sometimes, people ask me if children should know how to read before starting school. The answer to that is “no.” But here is a list of knowledge and behaviors that might help you decide how ready your child is. The list also is a guide for how to help your child get ready for school. You should know that age is the only reason a public kindergarten program can accept or deny your child’s registration for kindergarten. There is no state law that says a child must be able to do certain things in order to attend public school. If your child is gifted or has special education needs, or if you don’t yet know and need to know more, the link above has information about that too.
Why does kindergarten and early learning matter?
Research tells us that 90 percent of the brain is developed between birth and 5 years old. This means the time for learning is now! Children learn more during this time of life than in any other. Just think of all the life skills they have learned up to now: walking, talking, eating, dressing, brushing teeth, sharing, showing love and looking both ways before crossing the street. In kindergarten, your kiddo will learn how to do school, which is where he or she will spend a lot of time over the next 13 years. In addition to the foundational academic skills, like writing and numbers, children also learn (or continue learning) how to be away from family, make friends, establish relationships with other trusted adults, follow rules outside of home, and work through schedules, routines and steps to solve problems.
This is such a great time. I am so excited for you and your child! I hope you are as excited as your little one may be to “be a big kid” and start school. If you do have a kiddo at home that seems more scared or worried about beginning kindergarten, I hope the resources and this blog will help you support your child in feeling more confident about kindergarten.
If you have other questions about starting school, try the Department’s Frequently Asked Questions. The Department also has a great team of education specialists who can answer your questions — just contact them through the contact information at the link above.
Finally, one piece of advice from my own experience as a mama…this is harder on you than your child. Be strong and help your child feel confident. Your child takes cues from you. Always remember you are your child’s first teacher and biggest advocate. Your support can lead to your child’s success in kindergarten and beyond! So, let’s get ready! You have the next seven months to continue the steps to school! Then, you will walk your growing child into the school, post a first-ever, first day of school picture and exhale.
Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.
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By: Chris Woolard
Merriam-Webster defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion.”
In sports, the concept of momentum often is used to describe teams or athletes that create an energy that turns the game in their favor through a series of outstanding efforts and events. As a sports fan, I can recognize that concept in action. There is a feeling of extreme positivity, gains are being made, and everyone — the team, the coaches, the fans — recognizes things are going in the right direction. It feels contagious — and the idea is that you can build on it.
That energy can apply to schools too.
Our state superintendent of public instruction, Paolo DeMaria, spends a lot of time visiting with Ohio’s students and teachers to see firsthand the great things happening in Ohio’s classrooms. If you follow his Twitter and the Department’s Instagram posts, you can see amazing examples of these schools. These visits also are featured in blog posts. Recently, as part of the ongoing discussion about Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future, Paolo has been visiting schools that have received state recognition.
Ohio highlights schools and districts with awards that recognize high academic performance, growth, and improvements with groups of students. In my role with the state report card and understanding the performance of Ohio’s schools, one of my favorite recognitions is the Momentum Award. The State Board of Education presents this award to districts and schools for exceeding expectations in student growth on state assessments. To earn the award, a district or school must earn straight A’s on all Value-Added measures on the Ohio School Report Cards. Report cards serve many purposes. One of those that often gets overlooked is the recognition of success. Report cards have a lot of information. They contain information about student progress on state tests, which are tools for students to demonstrate what they can do regarding state learning standards. Measuring growth is complex, but the importance of it cannot be overstated. All students in Ohio can show growth. All schools and districts, regardless of their starting points, can show growth for their students. The Momentum Award identifies those schools and districts that exceeded growth expectations on the most recent report cards.
A total of 70 districts and 226 schools recently were announced as Momentum Award winners. They come from all over the state, including Georgetown Jr/Sr High School in Brown County, Mason City Schools, and Paul L. Dunbar Elementary in Cleveland. They will be recognized with certificates, and many local newspapers have been highlighting these successes. But most importantly, students in these schools are showing outstanding growth. There are great things going on in Ohio’s schools, and growth on state assessments is only one part of the picture. Schools are preparing students for what comes after graduation. Schools are meeting students’ social-emotional needs. Students are participating in remarkable art programs and marching in dazzling bands. There are lots of great things that represent success, and we should be sure to acknowledge that. We also can learn from these examples using Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse. The Momentum Award is one way to acknowledge that success. Congrats to all of this year’s honorees. Keep doing great things for Ohio’s students.
Chris Woolard is senior executive director for Performance and Impact for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Chris by clicking here.
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By: Staff Blogger
State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria spent Tuesday in southwest Ohio visiting schools and an educator leadership program. In the Southwest Local School District, he stopped at Miamitown Elementary School to see how they effectively embrace school culture — a key reason the school has been named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School, 2018 Momentum Award winner and 2018 High Progress School of Honor. Also in Southwest Local, Harrison High School put their impressive programs on display, showing how they prepare students for post-high school pathways. Superintendent DeMaria then headed to Three Rivers Local School District's state-of-the-art campus to hear about their safety and security services and diverse learning opportunities for students. He finished his day at the University of Cincinnati’s Alpaugh Scholars Leadership Program, where area education leaders learn leadership skills and interact with local businesses to learn the unique opportunities and challenges of the region.
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