Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Remembering 4th Grade

Oh! To be a 4th grade student again….

Never did I think that it would feel so long ago (38 years to be exact) that I sat in these small chairs at these small desks.  I will say that my classroom was not near as cool as Mrs. Maze’s classroom. Her classroom walls are decorated with visual learning reminders, including Reading Strategies, The Scientific Method, Word Walls, and Birthdays of the Month!  The walls are purple, the lighting is soothing, the desks are arranged in small collaborative groups, students have choice of chairs or yoga balls and students are engaged in diverse learning opportunities.  

As I sit with Diana, the student I am shadowing for the day, I am observing the importance of the routines that are taking place.  Students are well aware of these expectations and clearly understand the importance of their roles in creating a positive classroom culture. Within the first hour of the day, we have smoothly transitioned from learning activity to learning activity, 8 different learning activities to be exact. AMAZING!

Why is this classroom so Productive?
So Engaging? 
So Comfortable?
So Collaborative?  
So Focused on learning and taking care of each other?  

That’s easy....Mrs. Maze is living proof of the following quote;
“The single most important thing in a child’s performance is the quality of the teacher.  Making sure a child spends the maximum amount of time with an inspirational teacher is the most important thing.”  
-Michael Gove

I am looking forward to the spending the next 5 hours in Mrs. Maze’s 4th grade classroom.  Thanks to Diana for allowing me to spend the day with her in honor of The Shadow a Student Challenge Day initiative.  

It’s going to be a great day at Granby Elementary School!

"I am a Granby student.
I live by the virtues to be a person of character.
I come to school to learn and do my best.
I am an important part of my community."

Gotta go for now, it's time for Science...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Real" Advice from our WKHS Alumni

On Wednesday, January 4th, I had the opportunity to moderate my first Worthington Kilbourne High School Alumni Panel.  While this is not new for Worthington Kilbourne High School, it was the first time I had been a part of such an awesome event.  It all started back in late Summer/early Fall when our Worthington Activity Club reached out to our Counseling and Administrative Teams.  They presented us with the opportunity to "Dream Big" and to think outside the box regarding what they had been doing to support our work as a school.  The Worthington Activity Club consists of several parents who volunteer their time to support our school family in all aspects, including academic, physical, social and financially.  They care about our students and staff and have always gone above and beyond for our school..."They Take Care of Us!"  This meeting was no different, so, we did just as they asked.  We started to dream and we kept dreaming and dreaming and dreaming.  While I knew they were listening and on board with all of our ideas, I was not sure as to whether or not these dreams would become a reality.  As you know, often times in education, we dream to only dream because time is of the essence and as it should be, classroom and content standard learning is the priority.   
Our Worthington Activity Club was persistent and for that, I am thankful.  Over the Winter Break, they worked hard to recruit 40 Alumni to spend the day with our 9th and 10th grade students during their English classes to share their experiences in college as well as there "would have, could have, should haves" while in high school.  In summary, here are the 6 "Real" pieces of advice along with a few quotes from our WKHS Alumni.
#1 Learn to Enjoy Reading and Writing!
“The biggest way to learn long term in life is reading.  Reading is just a key point for college education.”  “Read anything – read your textbook, read fiction, just read.”
“Using your textbook is one of the most overlooked resources.”
“Learn how to write now in high school.  You will know how to use grammar and vary sentence structure so that in college you can just focus on what you need to say rather than how to say it effectively.”
“I don’t like to read, but in college you do have to read a lot so it is a good skill to develop.”
“When reading in high school, really utilize the strategies your English teachers teach you, like highlighting, color-marking, text-coding, notes as you read, index cards, paraphrasing,  etc.”
“Avoiding reading in high school has really hurt me. “
“I encourage you to print off the slides and pay attention to what they are saying and then highlight or write with a pen in the margins to add to what they are saying.”
#2 High School Scheduling is Key!
“Take as many AP, Honors or IB courses as you can (with balance) and take the AP or IB test.  Why take the course and not take the test….get the credit for college that you deserve.”
“One thing I would have done differently is I would have done more CC+.  It also made the transition to college easier because I knew what a syllabus was and how overwhelming that first day felt.”
“Push to take AP, IB, and Honors classes because they definitely help.”  “Don’t push yourself too far because you want to have fun while in high school, but see if you can push to take maybe even 1 more.”
“Definitely take advantage of the classes you have available here at WKHS.”
“My experience in AP here was far superior to the English class I took in college.”
“I learned more and enjoyed more in my freshman year English class at WKHS than I did in my freshman year college English class.”
“Don’t just take the AP or IB classes, but also take the assessment to get the reward for it later when you get to college. I could have had 3 classes waived if I would have taken the AP test in high school.”  
“I didn’t really even fully realize that getting a certain score on the AP exam would mean that I didn’t have to take the college class at all.”
“Doing CSCC for 2 years and then transferring for the last 2 years is really smart and a good alternative.  Now, I wish I had done that from a financial standpoint.
“Take Keyboarding in High School.  You need to know how to type the “right” way with using home row keys!”
“If I was sitting in WKHS today I would definitely recommend that you are taking the CSCC classes you can take here and the AP Classes and taking those tests.”  “The more you take now the better it lets you explore and it also lets you get some classes out of the way.”
“Take as many college and AP courses (and the AP test)  as you can because they are good practice.”
“Take IB, but remember you have to be the kind of student who is self motivated to learn.  It’s definitely worth it.”
“When you schedule your classes try not to worry about what will get you latest into school or out of school earliest, but focus on picking what classes that will get you best prepared for college.”
“Anyone looking at STEM fields should take the PLTW classes.  They are relatively technical classes, but they are very doable and they expose you to a lot of careers and networking opportunities.”  
“Also take a lot of different classes to broaden your awareness of the choices available to you.”
“Try to figure out careers when you are in high school because your classes are free and you can learn a lot now so it helps you to get the experience as early as possible.”
“Senior project was an amazing opportunity that Kilbourne gives you and if you are in between two fields then senior project can really help you get clarity between jobs and it helps to start your network.”
“Do senior project!  Even if senior project isn’t what you exactly what you want to do in the future – still do it.”
#3 The High School Teacher/Classroom vs. The College Teacher/Classroom
“As a Division 1 Athlete, I get only one morning a week to myself.  The other 4, I am lifting at 6:30am and back for field practice at 11am.   I then go to more classes in the afternoon.  On Saturday and Sunday, I have 3 hours of practice and the other hours are filled with studying.  6 hours of study hall are required every week. “  
“I have three classes on Tuesday/Thursday, all from 9am to 2pm and two classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 8am to 12pm  It’s different than high school because there are days in between class and you are required to do more outside of class.”  
“One of my classes is a blended learning class where we only meet every other Friday.  The rest is done on-line.”  
“The class schedule is very different because it’s up to me to remember what is due and when it is due.  I don’t get reminded by my teacher everyday.”
“College classes are a lot bigger so you have a lot of opportunities to meet a ton of people, but it is also going to require a lot more effort to actually meet them and get to know them.  Have to take initiative to make those connections.”
“There’s a big difference between high school teachers and college professors.  In high school there were a lot of points that counted in your grade, but in college it was really eye opening that there were only 4 tests in one of my classes and there weren’t other things that counted in toward my grade.”
“College classes are a lot different than the set up in high school – you may only have 3-4 classes a day compared to high school where you go to classes every day.”
“Usually practice is early in the morning – I have to get up at 5:30 a.m., be in the locker room by 6.  Practice from 6-10 a.m. for 4 days a week.  I attend a Division II school and that was the off-season.  It takes up a lot of time and is almost like your second job.”
“Take advantage of the Office Hours with your professor or the additional classes with your Teacher Assistant (TA).”  
“Take advantage of the time your high school teachers offers you outside of class or the extra help in The Teaching and Learning Center (Room 209).  The more you can get into this routine, the better prepared you will be in college.”  
“Teachers at WKHS know me better than do my college professors.”
“You have to go and see your professors outside of classes if you want to get help from them.  They don’t come to you like they do at WKHS.”
#4 Time Management and Study Habits are Very Important!
“Office hours are great.  Definitely take advantage of those.  It helps you build relationships with your professors too.”
“The Career Center on campus will help you write your resume, search for jobs, internships, and research opportunities.”  “It is one of the best resources I have taken advantage of in college.”
“Time management is a lot more important for me in college than it was for me in high school.”
“Joining things outside of your classes is really important because it helps broadens your horizons, but it also makes time management more important.”
“Knowing you only have 3-4 assessments that go into a grade, how do you manage your time to plan for those assessments?”
  • “You’re going to want to procrastinate and it’s really easy to do, but you have to be disciplined because it is all on you to do it.”
  • “Make a schedule – get a calendar and mark out that these few days I’m going to do flashcards, I’m going to do practice tests on these days, and so on”
  • “Join study groups because it is easier to not slack off if you know other people are counting on you.”
“In college, you need to use your time wisely.  Hold yourself accountable.  Prioritize your social life with school work so that you know what is more important in the long run.”
“I wish I had learned how to study in high school.  Everyone is different so learn now how you best study.”
“Start working on your work ethic.  It makes a big difference in the success in your life.”
“In high school I learned how to study to pass the test rather than to have a deep in understanding of the content.  Don’t do that!  Actually learn the material.”
“It took a lot more studying than I was used to in order to get a good grade in it.”
“I made it a point to make relationships with my teachers in college because I knew it would help me.”
“I didn’t have to try at all in high school, but in college it is very different.  I should have pushed myself more in high school so that I would have learned how to study before college.”
“If you have no intention of learning outside of school then you will struggle in college.”
“I didn’t know what it meant to study until I got to college so trying to teach yourself how to do that in high school would be really helpful.”
“I would recommend learning how to improve your study habits.  Talk with the teachers in your Teaching and Learning Center (209), they can help you with this.”  
“Go beyond the lecture and learn the material for yourself.”
#5 The Importance of Being Involved and Building Relationships
“I have 2 sides of my personality – one is very outgoing and likes to be with people and one is very functional and wants to get stuff done.  The functional side crept in to take over because it was overwhelming how much I needed to do.  So I needed to make sure I still had the fun time with my roommates to balance it.”
“I feel more confident in college than I did in high school.”  “A big difference in college than high school is that people in college don’t care who you were in high school.  High school has more of the popularity, but in college no one cares if you were the prom king or in a bunch of clubs.  In college you can just be yourself and try new things!”
“I have a lot of friends now in college that I probably wouldn’t have been friends with in high school.”  “It is great.”
College athletics sometimes gave a core group of friends.
“When you leave high school – you can literally be whoever you want.  That is very freeing for some people and very scary for some people.  I have met some of the weirdest and some of the most interesting people of my life in college.  Keep an open mind.  You will meet people who have such different backgrounds than you.”  
“In college you learn more than just what you are covering in classes.  You learn from other people and their backgrounds and experiences.”
“It’s important to get involved in activities early in college because it allows you to make friends with common interests. You don’t know anyone but no one else does either.”
“Take advantage of being in high school.  In high school you have a lot of opportunities to get involved and make connections.  This is really important and not as easy to do in college.”
“When you go to college, have an open mind.  You will meet a lot of different people and you will have your views tested.”
#6 Think-a-Bouts When Considering and Applying for College
“Keep in mind: do they have your major, do they have the class size you want, and how many people go home over the weekends?”
“Take multiple tours at whatever schools you are considering.”
“Remember that it doesn’t matter how many schools you are applying to vs the number your friends are applying to.”
“Debt was a big factor in my thinking about college.  It isn’t wrong to be ambitious, but you need to balance being idealistic with being practical when deciding how much in debt you want to be in after college.”
“When you’re considering colleges remember that there are really good opportunities on campus, but also look at what the opportunities for doing things such as internships or volunteering in career related fields to figure out what the opportunities are that are available in the community.”
“I encourage you to try to consider what are the opportunities available away from home – this is opportunity to grow up and be away from home and meet new people.”
“Don’t settle with one college choice – push yourself to apply to other schools.”
“Choose a realistic major based on how the world is working at the moment and the jobs that will be available.”
“In high school I put a lot of stress on myself to figure out what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be in the future.  But as I got to college and started learning more I started adding more to what I wanted to do and study.”

As I have verbalized in several other posts, our student have so much to teach us. Let them do so by finding the time to learn with and from them. I believe our teachers would tell you this one hour block of time out of the content area classroom was just as effective as the learning that takes place within their classroom. Thanks to our Worthington Activity Club for making our dreams become a reality.
We have much to learn from our students!

"Once a Wolf, Always a Wolf!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Are you grateful for what you #get to do?

Good Afternoon WKHS Parents,                  January 2017

I hope you had a fabulous Holiday Season and would like to wish each of you a New Year that brings much happiness.  I am so grateful to work with your child(ren) and together, we will continue to work hard in making your child's high school experience memorable. This morning I had the opportunity to share a short "2017 New Year's" message to all of our WKHS students and wanted to be sure and share this message with you.

“Good Morning Worthington Kilbourne High School Family!
I just wanted to take a minute this morning to wish you a Happy 2017 New Year.  

May you begin each day with a joyful heart that gives you a clear mind to decide the right track for you to follow in order to achieve all of your “big dreams” and future aspirations.  Having each other in our lives assures us that we have someone to depend on and reach out to in times of need.  Continue to “take care of each other” and live your life to the fullest.  Explore new horizons, take calculated risks and keep achieving deserve to be happy and healthy!  
We are all very fortunate to be a part of the Worthington Kilbourne Pack!
... Happy New Year, 2017, New ...
Happy New Year, Kilbourne!”   
-A.Adrean, WKHS Principal

For the past few years, I, along with others have taken part in the #oneword challenge, a book written by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page.  In 2015, I defined my #oneword (AKA simplified New Year's Resolution) as #FUN which was something I felt like I needed to work on a bit more in my personal and professional life.  While I don't typically define myself as a boring person, I did need to loosen up and not take life so seriously, at least not all of the time.  
Just last year, I broke the rules just a bit (maybe because I had too much "FUN" the year prior) and chose two words, #WhatIf? The real reason for this was to challenge myself and reflect on all of those risks or opportunities I didn't take.  I needed to start thinking outside of the box, being more creative and most of all, understanding that failure is a part of learning and growing.  This year, during our Holiday Break, I started reading all of the #oneword posts being shared on Twitter and other forms of social media and of course, started thinking about what I would choose this year. Well, it's not quite as glamorous as the other words that are out there but it is certainly significant to me.  For the year of 2017, I chose #get as my one word.  “Get,” a simple word, a noun that means to receive, to achieve or to experience.  Yes, that is my word.  So often, in our personal and professional life, we operate on a schedule.  For some of us, this schedule is so calculated that when we are finished with one event, we have to look at the calendar on our smartphones in order to know what we are suppose to do next.  Life is fast-paced and seldom do I take the time to cherish what others have provided for me.  I have so much to be thankful for and my one word is #get because I am going to be diligent this year and focus on what I get to do rather than what I have to do.  I get to enjoy the 5 senses, I get to be a part of a loving family, I get to live with a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in each night, I get to financially provide for myself and others, I get to experience a healthy lifestyle, I get to work in The Worthington City School District and I get to work with passionate educators, staff, students and parents from Worthington Kilbourne High School. This list goes on and on and too often, I forget about what I get to do rather than what I have to do. I’ve heard that once you put something in writing and share with others, the commitment becomes stronger...I expect you to hold me to it.  
Smile! 😀

Thanks again for all that you do for our school community.

Kilbourne Proud,
Angie Adrean, Principal


Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Dig Deep"


Dear Worthington Kilbourne High School Family,


Have you ever taken the time to really “dig deep” into your thoughts to better understand “WHY” you do what you do?  Why are you a teacher?  Why are you a doctor? Why are you a secretary?
Why are you a hairdresser?  Why are you a parent?
Why do you do what you do?
What is your purpose and why does it matter?  

We started our 2016-17 school year with this conversation starting at our District Convocation and continuing throughout the school year.  During the month of October, I challenged our staff to take the time to dialogue with one another and then to actually document their “WHY?” on a piece of paper.  They could hand write this statement, use pictures or even quotes to describe their purpose. This assignment was just turned in last week and I am elated with the results although not surprised. Here are just a few of the responses:

“To create a school environment and culture that sets up equal opportunities for ALL students to succeed in school and in adulthood-not just those students who are gifted or born into privilege. ANYONE can change the world.”

Open ...“I teach to open minds.”

“It’s all about the kids and their future, and the preservation of our democracy.”  

“Because I love what I do and the students keep me coming back every day to do it all over again.”

ServeFirst.png“The kids!”

“To help build healthy bodies for healthy minds.”

“To make a positive impact on someone’s well-being.”

“I am passionate about empowering my students and helping to make their lives happier and healthier.”
 Happy, Family, Cartoon, Kids, ...

“If you do what you love (working with our youth), you’ll never work a day in your life.”

cartoon icon light bulb symbol“Light bulb moments!”

I teach because it isn’t about having power over is having the power to help giving a hand up and not a handout.”

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, these words from our WKHS Staff made me dig a little deeper into my purpose or my why.  As I did this, I realized that I am where I am today because of the difference others have made in my life.  It was necessary for me to take some time to do what I should do more often and that is to thank those people in my life who have helped me to grow and achieve.  We didn’t get to where we are without the help and guidance of others.  Often times, our life purpose is sparked from others.  Those outside influences, which could certainly be the educators or coaches in our lives, make a difference in the minds of our impressionable youth.

During this season of “THANKS”, I encourage you to take the time to reflect on your purpose and give thanks to those that have guided you through the process.  We are so fortunate to live in a community that supports each other and puts our students first in what we do each and every day.  

Thanks for all that you do for our school community.  Wishing you a Thanksgiving Holiday Season full of rich conversation and personal connections with family and friends.  

Your WKHS Principal,
Angie Adrean

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Happy vs. Crappy"

To be a successful administrator in Worthington, we believe that we must all be able to
"Connect, Communicate, Care and Lead!" 

 For me, the best way to do all four of these and do them well, is to create an intentional forum where I have the opportunity to listen and learn from our students. Certainly, my intention and hope is that our school community can speak positively about these four qualities happening as an integrated part of what we do each and everyday, however, for me, the invested time away from my typical day with the Principal's Advisory Council is a time I cherish. 

Just last week on Wednesday evening, I reviewed my calendar before leaving for the evening (something I do every night as I walk out of my office) and quickly realized that I had not prepared for my Principal's Advisory Meeting (PAC) which was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday morning...the next morning.  Ugh!  What should I plan? Or maybe I should just cancel?  I then remembered that I had just written a short piece to our WKHS Families in the October Newsletter that spoke to the start of our school year and amazingly,  how we were only 10 days from the end of the first nine weeks.

That's it...I would spend some time in focused dialogue with our PAC student leaders in grades 9-12 and we would title this focus, "HAPPY and CRAPPY."  It is true for me that there have already been events in the start of my school year as the principal that have been "happy and crappy" and I am sure the students have also experienced these same feelings.  Better yet,  I knew I could learn so much as a leader if I took the time to listen to their conversations.  It would be great if our students experienced only happy events, but we all know that is not the case.  While I know I cannot avoid all crappy events in high school, I believe I can do my fair share to help reduce some of these feelings for our students.

So the conversation started and before I could share my "Why?" and intended outcomes for this mini- lesson, the students had already started sharing with one another in their small group settings.  It was so fulfilling to listen to their heartfelt "happy" conversations about their classmates, their teachers, and their Athletic/Co-curricular coaches because of their ability to CONNECT with these adults in their life.   It was evident that our students know these adults, including our academic assistants, secretaries and custodians, in their life CARE about them as individuals. They respect each other and lean on each other in good and difficult times.  Friendships mean the world to our high school students.  They appreciate the time to COMMUNICATE and share stories in their 50 minute lunch period.  We get to celebrate The 2016 Homecoming Week this week and they are very excited about the multiple spirit activities that are traditions at our school. Our students take pride in the multiple opportunities to LEAD in our school.  They care about their learning, their growth as a learner and they care about the overall success of our school and the people in it.  For all of these things, I am a Proud Principal.

After about 15 minutes of "happy" conversation and documentation on the dry-erase board, the "crappy" conversations started.  It was amazingly similar dialogue among all table groups;  waking up early for school, stress of schoolwork, homework without purpose and the application process when preparing for college admission.  It's now been 4 days of reflection for me and overall, I am not surprised by our student reflections.  I do ask myself, "So what?  Now what?"  Well, my first response was to document in this blog and begin sharing these responses with our teachers and staff.  It's not enough for me to just listen to student voice.  In fact,  I believe their voice is what we need to create a positive and meaningful partnership in education.  We live, grow and work in the same environment each and everyday and there are days were we spend more time with each other than we do with our own families.  It's important that we are all active partners in the educational process.

Our students need for not just administrators but all staff to Connect, Communicate, Care and Lead.  I am confident that our students will "Change the World," but we must create an intentional forum for their voice to be heard and acted upon.