Learning and the process of re-accreditation at HWRHS

This summer I was involved in an incredible professional learning opportunity called Change School.  This opportunity opened doors to me that have forever changed my thoughts and feelings about what I believed I knew about education and more specifically, learning.

Change School coaches and all of the members of the community completely challenged me to really reimagine school using modern contexts and modern lenses.  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  After a few uncomfortable weeks, I really figured out how the ideas and contexts of our discussions and writing supported the ideas of reimagining school.  One quote really stuck with me.  “If we didn’t have today’s schools, would we create today’s schools?”  Well, would we?  I’m still wrestling with that one and many others.

The biggest take away for me was a simple set of questions:

  • What is learning?
  • What does deep and powerful learning look like?
  • How do I create the environment to support deep and powerful learning?

WOW!  That was my first repose as I thought about these questions for the next weeks and now months.

Now, we begin the process of re-accreditation at the high school and I am delighted to see that the entire new accreditation process in centralized around learning.  The 5 Standards of Accreditation include:

Learning Culture, Student Learning, Professional Practices, Learning Support, Learning Resources.

Amazing!  I look forward to a multi-year journey with teachers, students, and parents to develop a strong set of beliefs around learning while also working towards new and innovative ideas that will “promote an effective learning organization with the capacity to meet the needs of all students through continuous reflection and growth.”  (NEASC Standards Booklet)

 

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HWRHS – Opening of school

This year we welcomed 140 new 9th grade students into the Generals family.  After two days of orientation, the Class of 2022 is acclimating well to their new school environment.  We also welcomed 24 new students via the school choice program to bring our total number of student to 568.

It’s been a hot start to the year, but our students and teachers have worked hard to stay on track with the business of learning.  My visits to classrooms have been filled with lots of relationship building, talk about learning and in one class, the teacher wanted her students to tell her the qualities of a good teacher.

This year, a large part of our focus will be around the accreditation process.  We will work with teachers, parents, and students to develop committees related to the standards.  Our first order of business will be surveys that will go out to all teachers, parents, and students.  The results will give us a baseline to begin out discussions about what we believe about ourselves, our commitment to the community and our commitment to our students.  We will also examine our mission statement to see if it is really something we strive to meet and make changes if necessary.  The surveys will be sent out in the next few weeks,  Please take the time to complete one for us.

At this point, our add/drop sessions have ended and students are now working with solid schedules.  Please remember, if your child is having any issues with the amount of work, difficulty completing work or just staying organized, please let their teachers know.  It is easiest to communicate with teachers via email.  Teacher contact information can be found in Aspen.  If you have trouble logging into the parent Aspen portal, send an email to aspenhelp@hwschools.net.

One change students will see this year is related to our commitment to the social-emotional support of our students.  Guidance counselors will now be teaching with our PE/wellness teachers during the weekly health portion of the class to continue to educate our students about aspects of social-emotional education.

Our curriculum night is scheduled for Thursday, September 13th starting at 6:30.  Parents will head to homeroom to pick up your child’s schedule, and then follow the classes in order.  You will meet the teachers and hear about all they have planned for this school year.  Homeroom assignments will be posted in the front lobby.  Other information about the school year can be found on our calendar.

We look forward to a great school year and many wonderful learning adventures!

 

HWRHS start of school letter and important information

Dear parents and guardians,

It seems incredible that summer is almost over and school is about to begin.  I would like to welcome the parents and guardians of the students of the Class of 2022 to the high school.  This letter will outline some of the important information, dates, and deadlines that you will need for the start of school.

There are several ways to find information and to stay up-to-date.  Our primary means of communication is email. It is important to update your email address on the emergency card your child will bring home so that it can be updated in Aspen.  We also use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the District Website.

Things to remember about the start of school:

  • On August 30th, each student will be given a signature sheet for the student-parent handbook that must be filled in, signed, and returned within the first 3 days of school.  Students will be also given a form to update contact and emergency information that must also be reviewed, updated and returned by Thursday, September 6th.  There will also be an optional insurance form if you would like to purchase insurance.
  • Students must be on time for school. There is no homeroom to act as a buffer.  Students will report directly to their period one class each day.  Students who are tardy to school (unexcused) will be ineligible to participate in any after-school activity on the day they are tardy.  The only exception is the first two days of school. Students will report to their assigned HR on those days. HR lists will be posted in the front lobby and are also on the student schedule.
  • If your child is absent from school, please remember to call the absence/safe arrival line at (978) 468-0420 by 8:00 AM. Upon return from the absence, you must also send your child in with a note for the school to excuse the absence.
  • Student schedules will be live on the Aspen portal on Friday, August 17, 2018.  If you need access to Aspen please email aspenhelp@hwschools.net
  • No changes will be made to student schedules that are complete.
  • Freshman orientation is Tuesday, August 28, 2018, from 7:40 AM to 1:30 PM. Buses will be running on this day.
  • All students report on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, no later than 7:40 AM.
  • Curriculum Night is Thursday, September 13th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

 

Student Pictures:

9th grade – August 28th (during orientation)

10th, 11th and 12th – August 29th

You should receive the information by mail for student pictures from our photographer, O’Connor Studios.  If you have not received the information, we will have picture order forms in the main office of the high school.

 

Guidance information:

Student assignments by guidance counselor can be found here.

Dr.Kristen Lazzaro, Director of Guidance and Counseling

Matthew Fitzgibbons

Rochelle Morin

Julie Cahill-O’Shea

Here are other places you can get up to date information:

HWRHS Website

Parent-Student Handbook 2018-19

Schedule for 2018 school year

Principal’s Weblog

High School Bus Routes (Will  be updated a week before school begins)

High School Events Calendar

HWRHS Important dates for Parents

The start of a new school year is very exciting.    I look forward to another great school year full of new and amazing opportunities for all of our staff and students!

 

Sincerely,

Eric Tracy

Principal

Twitter: @etracyhwhs

Learning through the summer

I often wonder how much learning takes place during the summer months when school is not in session.  Many teachers I know continue to learn about their profession and continue their professional growth through workshops, reading and working with teams of other educators to do the tough work needed to support teaching and learning for the next school year.  I also realize that they take this time to learn about things not related to their professions as well. Things that interest them.

Are students also learning during the summer?  I really believe they are.  In one example I thought about, I imagine kids working together or even alone to learn to play an instrument or to develop a skill.  All without a coordinated, play-by-play of how they should do it.  They can look up blog posts, Youtube videos, talk with more knowledgeable friends and even listen to podcasts to learn more.  As we know, this type of learning sticks and leads us to want to learn more about what we are passionate about.

After thinking about this for a while, I realized that summer learning is not as coordinated or prescribed as school-time learning.  Teachers and students tend to get more involved in something they are passionate about.  For some, it may be learning to program and for others, it may be learning a new skill, sport or hobby.  Even though what we are learning isn’t written out in a syllabus or a curriculum document, we still learn.  I assume, from my own experience with summer learning, that this learning is deep and powerful.  So powerful that we can transfer what we know to other areas of our lives or even teach someone else about what we learned, further strengthening our learning.

So here is why I started writing this post.  How do we help to make learning during the school year as sticky and as transferable?  What would happen if we decided on the first day of this coming school year to have students retake their final exams?  Assuming they did well on the exam, would they do as well as they did the first time?  If they didn’t do as well, did they really learn anything at all? This was actually done. You can read about it in this article.

HWRHS Senior Internship

This year we had our first seniors take the opportunity to leave school during quarter 4 to participate in an internship.  Each opportunity gave our students more insight into an area of interest and also helped them to make decisions about their future choices in college.  Placements included:

An Interior Designer

A Ceramics Shop

An Elementary School

Managing horses at the Polo Grounds

A Doctor

A Beauty and Esthetician shop

Each student had to make a display of their experiences and present to their peers and adults in the front lobby today.  They also had to follow a specific protocol of check-ins and write a reflective paper about their experience.  Each of the students involved enjoyed the internship and felt that they learned so much more about the field they chose by participating.

 

 

 

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, 4.25.18

Hwschoolssuper

“Thank You” to the Voters of Wenham

“Thank you” from the entire HWRSD to the voters of Wenham for passing the HWRSD Operating Override and Winthrop School Fire Suppression System Debt Issue at the Town Election on April 12.  This vote was the final step in approving the FY19 HWRSD Operating Budget and the Winthrop Fire Suppression System Project.  We’re so fortunate to have the support of the communities of Hamilton and Wenham in providing our students with a world-class education.

Congratulations to Ms. Sano and Ms. Frost

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) has accepted Foreign Language Curriculum Leader Kevan Sano’s and Miles River Middle School Spanish Teacher Catherine Frost’s proposal to present the workshop “Make it Stick! Strategies to Support Long-term Memory and Comprehension” at the 2018 ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo.  Their presentation will highlight the great work our teachers are…

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