Below you will see this month’s Principal’s Report to the Board. The last couple of months I have been sharing this report with the whole community as it tends to be a nice lens on the current happenings on a monthly basis here at Horizons K-8. Please enjoy and, as always, let me know if you have any questions.
Have a nice, long, weekend!
● EdCamp Denver
Stacey, Julie and I attended EdCampDenver this past Saturday. This intriguing “unconference” inspired us to think differently about many approaches to instruction and gave us some interesting ideas for facilitating our work as a faculty and with parents. In addition, we were exposed to a tremendous amount of new educational technology and software to aid in the classroom. Truly inspiring. Please see the link above to learn more.
● K8 Principal Cohort
Our February meeting had a focus on the complexities of scheduling in a K8 setting. I learned of several models/strategies for planning that could be useful to us as a school as we look at scheduling and staffing for the 2016-17 school year. There are many priorities when scheduling, and schedules can often express the values and culture of a school. Keeping the student daily experience at the forefront of our planning, building a daily schedule requires us to be mindful of the many competing priorties and resources we face here at Horizons. We will begin our daily schedule work in the Big Picture Team in the early spring.
● Middle Level Principal’s Meetings and BVSD Connections
Monthly BVSD meetings include a Leadership Team meeting, including all principals and district level leadership an elementary principals meeting; and a middle level principals meeting, along with meetings that address specific topics. Most K8 principals attend both the elementary and middle level meetings. Four years ago, I attempted to do the same to be sure I had a solid understanding of who BVSD is and how we can best build on and ensure a positive relationship with the district. The last two years, I have regularly attended the elementary principal meetings and this year my focus has been on the middle level meetings. The time away from Horizons is difficult and, in the end, I am aware that our connection with BVSD is strong and that there is a real appreciation that we participate in their ongoing work as a district. In the middle level principal cohort, we are doing a book study on Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last . This has been a great read and has informed my work on my own goals this year to a great extent. Last month, I was asked by district leadership to help colead consensus training based on the Chadwick consensus model for BVSD employees. Julie, Lauren and I attended this training last year and have already used some of the tools here at Horizons. Finally, CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning is doing a full study of the BVSD school district and I have been asked to support this study as Horizons represents a potent model for BVSD to learn from in this context. I am excited about how we can contintue to serve our local district as a charter school in these ways. Truly, the dream of the charter movement was to have these kinds of exchanges happening on a regular basis so that public education, as a whole, can improve across communities and the country.
● Instructional Rounds
Our Instructional Rounds Committee has been working hard to create a clear sense of purpose and a sustainable process for this practice here at Horizons K8. We will begin our first iteration of rounds this month and look forward to how this practice can move us toward understanding and improving both our individual and collective instructional practices.
● Technology Purchases
The Technology Committee has completed it’s work in gathering the priorities and building consensus toward our Technology purchases this year. This week we ordered 29 new student chromebooks, 6 new teacher ipads for instruction, and 2 new teacher laptops. These purchases will leave a bit of room for additional software licenses between now and the end of this year.
● Spring Hiring
As you now know, we will be posting three open teaching positions at the end of this month. Two at the ¾ level and one at the ½ level. We will be working to have our new teachers in place by mid April. Please email me if you are interested in serving on a hiring committee.
● PARCC/CMAS 3rd8th
Graders will adminisitered the PARRC exam in English/Language Arts and Math during the weeks of April 4th and April 11th. 5th and 8th graders will also be testing (CMAS) in Science, the week of Aprill 11th. Testing schedules are now being created. To date, we have sixty, of our approximately 235 eligible students, who have opted out of testing for this school year. Test administrator training will take place on March 11th during faculty meeting. All state exams will be administered. As we get closer to the testing window, we will let families know about the plan for students opting out.
It has been inspiring to witness the hard work that is happening to get the ball rolling for our Spring Gala and Auction this year! Please plan to join in at the St. Julien on April 16th beginning at 6PM. More details to come in Skylines!
● The Horizons K8 Student Experience
We recently had the pleasure of hosting a few educators from a similar school district to BVSD in Virginia. Their reflections, after one day in our school, were a poten reminder of the effective practices that are happening here at Horizons K8 on a daily basis. From project week, to our spring dance, to arts and sciences, elective rotations, and watching students solve conflicts peacefully, there simply is not a wasted instructional minute here at our school. And, all the while, students are seen, known and cared for as full human beings. Thank you all for your support in helping us to continue to provide this level of quality to our students and their families.
● Principal Feedback
Faculty board members, myself and parent members of the Executive Committee, are working to add a midyear feedback tool. In addition, we are working toward codifing the evaluation process for the role here at Horizons K8. As this work continues, please let me know if I can answer any questions or if you would like to connect directly on anything you would like to share with me. I am open and interested in hearing any and all feedback as I continue to do my best to serve our community.
● Open Enrollment
By the end of next week, we will have final numbers for the the “ins and outs” from the first round of open enrollment this year. I will report back to the board on this in March.
● 7th and 8th Grade Conferences and Alumni Panel
This week, ten of our alumni joined our 8th graders for a Q and A about the transition from Horizons K8 to local high schools. We were grateful to hear the stories, from each of these students, as they articulated how well prepared they are for high school. Such a testament to the relationship based, rigorous and thoughtful approach to the K8 educational experience here at Horizons.
● Reconfiguration Reflection
We spent time in late January doing some reflecting on our grade reconfiguration change, now in its second year. We have decided to stay put in this configuration for at least another two years as we determine our process for gathering data to assess the effectiveness of this new structure. Anecdotal measures are positive and there is a collective sense of gratitude for the new perspective that this change has brought about to all involved. We are looking forward to our ongoing efforts to study this change and reflect our findings back to the community.
● Unified Improvement Plan Mid Year Update
1. Develop curriculum maps at each grade level in Mathematics by the end of the 2015-16 school year. Curriculum maps are getting closer by the month! We will spend the majority of our professional development time in June completing these maps.
2. Create and implement a plan for teacher led “instructional rounds” to observe and share common practices, beliefs, through lines. After several meetings of the Instructional Rounds committee and subsequent professional development workshops with all faculty, our instructional rounds process will beging this month!
3. By the end of the 16-17 year, Horizons K8 will have an agreed upon progress communication process that will be clearly articulated to families that is in support of our current student led conference process. I hosted a session at the EdCamp this weekend entitled: “Sharing Student Progress in a Nongraded Environment.” My main purpose of hosting this session was to see how many folks are even familiar with not doing grades at the many schools that were represented. Sadly, not many. Our work on this goal is cut out for us. We have several readings/articles prepared to get this discussion going with faculty and parents, likely in the Fall.
● Education Funding Issues in Colorado
If you are interested in learning more about funding issues in K12 education in Colorado, I encourage you to attend the Great Futures Action Summit on March 4th. Please see the link and plan to attend this informative and encouraging movement to make changes to how schools are funded here in Colorado.