School Beat

Great Expectations

March 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

I am continually impressed by the academic performance of the students at Rockford Public Schools. You won’t read about their accomplishments in the Grand Rapids Press or on MLive, unless it’s a MEAP scorecard. Occasionally, you will see reference and a picture about individual student academic honors in the area weekly papers and they should be commended for that effort.   I am very appreciative of the area businesses that sponsor the publishing of the high school and middle school honor rolls in the area weekly papers after each marking period. Just count the number of students who achieve that honor when you see it. Unfortunately, outstanding academic performance just doesn’t grab the headlines. Poor academic performance will get you noticed and recognized. There are no daily or weekly sections for academic accomplishment as there are for sports. Behind the great success in the pool, on the field or the court are students with extraordinary abilities in musical performance, theatrical and video production, as well as academic competition. What sets our students apart in this area are expectations set for them and the expectations they set for themselves. First and foremost Rockford Public Schools are academic institutions established and maintained for the development of young minds.   Clearly, you would not expect young students, or even teenagers to embrace high expectations and extraordinary standards on their own. Our young people are no different in that respect compared to other communities. I am sure they would prefer to breeze through school requiring as little effort as possible. We make it difficult to meet the graduation requirements for Rockford students. The foundations for success are laid at our elementary schools. The standards for graduation are defined early on in the middle school curriculum. And every year at graduation we have students complete our demanding set of graduation requirements and receive diplomas.   Academic standards that have been established that identify our students’ academic performance are of great importance to us all; standards supported and reaffirmed consistently by parents and community. Academic accomplishment is what we are about. Others may not revere us for academic accomplishments the way some regard athletic performance, but in the state’s universities and colleges they recognize how well prepared our students are for […]

AdvancEd – A Return to Rockford Public Schools

March 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Carol Hillman, Rockford School Board Treasurer   There is not a school district anywhere that cannot be looking for continuous improvement. Rockford schools are no exception. However, we were given a true “feather in our caps” when an outside accreditation firm, AdvancEd, visited our district, arriving on January 30 and departing on February 4, 2015. This was their second evaluation process over the past five years. Six evaluators canvassed our district during their stay and put their observations and interviews into quantitative and written evaluations. AdvancEd is considered a global leader in accreditation services for educational environments. There are three main areas of focus: 1) Impact of teaching and learning. 2) The capacity of the leadership. 3) Use of resources. This focus involves participation by the Superintendent, Board Members, Administrators, Teaching and Support Staff, Students and Parents, along with Community/Business Partners. AdvancEd looks not only for the areas where a district is doing well, but gives the district areas to improve upon with the expectation that the areas to be improved will demonstrate just that, improvement, within the next two years and prior to their next visit in the next five years. In all areas, Rockford schools scored well above the average scores from across the country. They noted our need for improvement primarily in the area of technology, but also noted that our generous community had just passed a bond issue that will address those needs over the next several years. Our highest scores were in leadership. The average is 296.08. Our score is 356.94!! This is a significant performance accolade!! Dr. Shibler congratulated his administrative team personally for all their hard work and collaborative spirit. Rather than go in to the scores and comments in a manner that the length of this article prohibits, you are invited to contact Dr. Ryan Kelley in the Administration Office if an in-depth review interests you. It is with great pride I direct you there. I applaud our district for receiving scores beyond what the evaluators had ever experienced. You have a district to be proud of. Our leadership excels and is to be congratulated. Here’s to the philosophy of continuous improvement!! We look forward to AdvancEd’s next visit.  

The Disappearing Multi-Sport Athlete

March 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Submitted by: Tim Erickson Rockford High School Director of Athletics   Since Ohio State won the national collegiate football championship, there have been multiple reports showing that 42 of the 47 athletes that Coach Urban Meyer recruited were multiple sport athletes in high school.   In recent years there seems to be a trend by athletes to focus on one sport. However, some recruiters, like Coach Meyer, believe that a multi-sport athlete may be better prepared for collegiate athletics. Many college coaches agree that multi-sport athletes are better all-around athletes and less likely to burn out. When many of us attended school it was common to see boys and girls proudly wear their varsity jackets and sweaters with numerous patches and pins, each representing a season spent on a different sports team. Those sightings have become scarce, as fewer and fewer multi-sport athletes exist. There seems to be a disturbing trend with student-athletes to become single-minded in their focus, cutting back on multi-sport participation, and specializing in just one. Some student athletes are even leaving their school teams to participate on “elite” travel teams. Our society has created the fear that if we do not have our child specialize or get extra coaching, or give up our entire family life for a sport, our child may be left behind. The family fears that their child will get cut from the team or won’t get to play for the best program. This creates problems for the families that may not have the time or resources to keep their child in a program. Families cancel vacations and family gatherings as they are made to feel guilty by coaches and teammates if they don’t fall in line with everyone else. Too often our society has developed children that have been asked to achieve parental dreams instead of their own, and have been pushed too far. The pressure and anxiety may be stealing dreams and opportunities that the child may never get a chance to experience. Coaches are challenged in trying to develop athletes for long term excellence, instead of short term success. Many coaches have walked away from sports because while they encourage kids to play multiple sports, other coaches recruit these kids and ask them for a year […]

Are We Safe?

February 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

I vividly remember sitting in my father’s recliner, bored, and flipping through channels to entertain myself. I had undergone shoulder surgery four days prior and was at home recovering while my peers were in school. I was in the final semester of my senior year at Rockford High School. It was April 20th, 1999, and my channel surfing ceased when I came across a local news channel. What was playing out in front of me would turn out to be one of the most well-known school tragedies in American history. As the events of Columbine High School unfolded that early afternoon, reporters began to draw conclusions, although very little information was known. The trend of live reporting was in its infancy stages, so reports were faulty, but the video footage that was broadcast across the country left little to the imagination: Students fleeing at random, in formed lines, or the unforgettable image of a young man dangling from a second floor window. I was eighteen, confused, like the rest of the nation, and asking the questions “Why?” and “How?” Most of the safety practices and protocols that are prevalent in schools today are a result of the mistakes made on that horrific afternoon. Throughout our school system, safety plans are consistently reviewed by school officials and law enforcement from various levels. In my tenure as an educator and administrator, I have attended more conferences about school safety than I have for those designed around teaching and learning. Our current state of education and the concern for safety is unfortunate, but we will continue to grow and address the needs of RHS and the district as a whole in regards to safety. In the wake of recent events at RHS, we have made several adjustments to how we operate as a school. Some of these adjustments are apparent to students and parents, and others are subtle and will go unnoticed. With these adjustments comes change, and change is difficult; however, it is a necessity.   Part of the student body has expressed frustration with the changes, and many have welcomed them. Convenience has been reduced, but safety has been improved, and we have greatly appreciated the support as we work through these changes. The tragic events of […]

School Beat

February 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

National School Boards Association Advocacy Institute 2015 Update By Laura Featherston, Secretary Rockford Public Schools Board of Education Last week, Carol Hillman (School Board Treasurer) and I joined nearly 800 school board and state school board association leaders in our nation’s capital to advocate for strong public schools for all students. We were in Washington, D.C. to take part in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) 2015 Advocacy Institute, held Feb. 1-3, which centered on informing board members and arming us to be year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. Presenting on federal legislative priorities at the Institute were key members of Congress: Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee; and John B. King, Jr., Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. With the 114th Congress in full swing, this annual event came at a pivotal time for school board members to hone our advocacy skills and use them on Capitol Hill to influence the outcome of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), and affect legislation to ensure maximum local flexibility and decision making for districts. Our message is that all local school districts need to have greater flexibility and authority to make educationally sound decisions, and that Congress must adequately fund public education to help support local innovation for greater student achievement. The main focus of our visit was our day on Capitol Hill. Along with 13 other representatives from Kent County, and 70 advocates from the state of Michigan, we were able to bring our issues and concerns to our members of Congress. In addition to large group meetings with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, our Kent County coalition met with our Representative, Justin Amash (R-MI) and his policy staff; and the education policy staff of Representatives Harry Reid (D-NV) and Bill Huizenga (R-MI­). We also had a productive meeting with the senior staff member in the Department of Agriculture, who heads up policy for the Child Nutrition/School Lunch Program. During our visits, we stressed to our members of Congress that we, like them, are elected officials and are accountable to our local constituents. It is our […]

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