Ignite the reading spark by SHARON WELLS, Principal Parkside Elementary School Do you have kids who compare having to read to getting shots at the doctor’s office? Sometimes we have to “band aid” this attitude with some creativity, providing motivation for our kids to read. As parents we are responsible for assisting our kids with tasks they don’t necessarily find desirable, such as regularly brushing their teeth, dressing properly for the weather, healthy eating, and many other things they may not always choose to do without our guidance. Motivating kids to read should be right at the top of that list. Research shouts from the rooftops that early literacy is critical to developing lifelong readers. There are a variety of ways to bring reading to life for your children on a daily basis and especially when you see a lack of interest from them when it comes to reading. Consider trying some of these opportunities: • Remember that reading doesn’t have to be a chapter book! It can be anything you have available in your house—newspapers, magazines, journals, joke books, cook books, coffee table books, etc. • Model, model, model! If your kids see you reading, they are being influenced to read. • Focus book choices around the interests of your children. If they love riding dirt bikes, find a dirt bike magazine or visit the outdoor sports section of your library. Your kids love animals? Find interesting animal tales or encourage them to read articles online about their favorite pets. • Make finding the reading material half the fun! Take a family field trip to your public library. Buy a book to put under the Christmas tree. Have them earn books to buy from our local bookstores. Buy a magazine subscription for a birthday gift. • Read aloud to your child. Find a regular time each day to read an adventurous story to your child that will hold their interest. They will soon be begging you for “just a little more!” • Tie reading to technology. Discover literacy rich websites. Read up on your favorite authors online. Encourage your children to participate in literacy blogs with other kids their age on trusted sites. • Let reading serve a purpose. Look up recipes that you […]
School Beat Are schools political or practical? by RANDY SELLHORN, Trustee, Board of Education I have been a school board trustee for many years now. I have come to expect certain things at certain times of the year as we move through the activities of a school year. Kindergarten roundup, graduation, budget development, purchasing buses to replace worn vehicles, spring break, all of these events happen at a similar time each school year. Let me share with you what I expect from an election year. This being an election year and the start of spring drills for political football season is underway. Political football season comes every two years, when politicians select their “platform” to promote their election campaigns. I am certain at the top of the list of platform topics will be Michigan’s failing public schools and the cost of public school funding. They feel that bashing public schools is a winning play almost as certain to score votes as the wrap-around draw (a favorite play of Rockford football fans) is to score a touchdown. I would be foolish to claim that there are not public schools that deserve the reputation the politicians will describe, and equally foolish if I told you the current budget circumstances can be easily resolved. The politicians will claim that public schools fail to graduate the majority of the students that start school in the ninth grade; that the schools will not accept accountability for student performance, that they are economically inefficient, that they are attempting to overtax the residents, and schools are unwilling to change to correct these shortcomings. I want to demonstrate to you that they are not talking about Rockford Public Schools when they make their accusations. I am here to proclaim that Rockford Public Schools is an example of what is right about public school education. We have high expectations for our students and ourselves. We get extraordinary results from both. We graduate almost every student that starts the ninth grade in Rockford. Only 2.2% drop out; some of those are transfers to another school to complete their education. In addition, every graduate of Rockford High School since the class of 1995 is required to pass a reading and mathematics proficiency test to receive a diploma. […]
by DR. RYAN KELLEY Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Rockford Public Schools A quality education is what every parent expects for their children. According to parent survey results in Rockford, our parents believe that their children are receiving a quality education. When asked, “What letter grade would you assign to the education that is provided by Rockford Public Schools?” nearly 95 percent of parents responded with either an A or a B. The national average for the combined responses of A and B is 50 percent, according to the most recent Gallup Poll. Beyond survey results, there are other indicators that are valuable in determining the quality of a school system. For example, what do experts from “outside of the district” have to say about the school district? Rockford Public Schools (RPS) brings in many experts to assist in obtaining feedback on the effectiveness of our district. Over the past 15 years, the Michigan Department of Education and/or the U.S. Department of Education have recognized every Rockford school building as being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Another process that assists schools in their continuous improvement effort is the accreditation process. Accreditation assures the community that the schools adhere to high quality standards based on the latest research and successful professional practice. Every RPS school has been North Central Accredited for many years. However, this year we are pursuing AdvancED District Accreditation. District accreditation is a powerful systems approach to improving student achievement and organizational effectiveness. No longer do individual school buildings work in isolation on their school improvement plans. Schools must work together on developing district-wide systems for improvement, while still being able to work on building-specific targeted goals. An important step toward being one of the first districts in West Michigan to be recognized with AdvancED District Accreditation status, is the hosting of a visitation team of education experts. From March 21 to 24, RPS will host a visitation team that consists of members from Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan. They are committed to identifying our strengths, and mandated to identify areas needing growth. The goal of this process will be to make this exemplary school district even better! I look forward to providing the community with a summary of the visitation team’s assessment of […]
by KATY VANCUREN, Assistant Principal Rockford High School During the holiday season, I always am in the mood to give. I give to local charities, donate to my church, even answer the telemarketers’ calls and donate to an organization from time to time. But after watching the movie “The Blindside” recently, I started to wonder, “Why not make a bigger effort to give year ‘round?” Believe me, I am just like you! I don’t have extra money or time, but I do have other things that are valuable to others in need. I have a smile, a kind heart and words to share. I have nice stationary to jot a friend a note of appreciation. I have time to pick up the phone and catch up with an old friend. Despite all the things I don’t have, I still have a lot to give. “The Blindside” really touched me and, if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It speaks about companionate hearts, a giving spirit, and perhaps most of all, making a difference in the life of another. We all have this ability to give, but sometimes our lives get so busy that time goes by and our intentions get lost. Giving is certainly something I hope to instill in my children as well. Once a year I have the kids go through their closets and drawers so that we can donate clothing. A few other ideas are: • sporting equipment—Encourage children to pass last season’s athletic gear to Sports Gift (sportsgift.org), which will distribute it to kids in need. • school supplies—If your child has extra books, markers, or other items, you can find teachers who need them at iloveschools.com, a nonprofit that connects donors with teachers in U.S. classrooms. • DVDs—Send movies that haven’t been watched in a while to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan through AMVETS Task Force DVDE (amvets.org/taskforcedvd). Children’s titles go to families of soldiers. • cell phones—When your kids or you upgrade, check out recyclewirelessphones.com to locate programs that recycle or refurbish old phones, then donate proceeds to various charities. There are many local and national organizations that are looking for volunteers, goods and money. Reach out to them—make it a family event so that everyone […]
SCHOOL BEAT RPS to utilize SchoolMessenger, another form of communication by DOUG VANDERJAGT, Principal Rockford Freshman Center Starting in March, Rockford Public Schools (RPS) has signed on with SchoolMessenger, a California-based company that provides notification services for emergency broadcasts, parental outreach and student attendance communications for K-12 education. The system is programmed to call the primary phone number of parents for a variety of reasons that impact the safety of your students. SchoolMessenger will be used to complement our emergency preparedness procedures and to inform parents of upcoming school events such as statewide testing and parent meetings. After evaluating several notification solutions, we selected SchoolMessenger because it offers a real value to the district and is proven to measurably impact student safety, parental involvement, staff communications and student attendance. With the use of bond dollars, RPS was able to purchase this hardware, which in turn will increase communication without additional personnel. Look and listen for more information from your child’s school on this exciting new tool for improving communication. This system will not replace current modes of school communication. Principals are still accessible for live visits and we will still send home paper-based memoranda. Acquisition of the SchoolMessenger system is intended to reinforce the district’s commitment to remain personally connected to parents.