1. What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
My one biggest struggle this school year has been the large number of students in crisis. We recognize that we have many students struggling with social/emotional issues and we are limited in our responses. It is crystal clear that before students can access the curriculum they must feel safe and secure. We must provide for their basic needs. At this point I can say that there are some students whose needs are very intense and the current system does not provide the needed immediate supports. Our admin team and PBIS team are working together to develop proposals and next steps so that we can work at addressing the needs of the students. This is not an overnight fix but it is extremely important and urgent.
2. Share TWO accomplishments you are proud of from this school year.
There are many accomplishments at Fairfield High that I am proud of. However, I must choose just two to highlight.
First, I am extremely proud of the shared leadership that has taken place on our site this year. This was actually a topic of a previous blog post of mine this year. Students are continuing to forge new ground as leaders in SSA (Safe School Ambassadors), AFJROTC, AVID, and Leadership. The First Annual Special Olympics event was a prime example of students taking on leadership roles to ensure an amazing event took place. Staff this year have stepped up in new and different capacities. Department chairs now play a very integral role as instructional leaders on campus and are helping to guide their departments in developing rigorous learning environments. Our PBIS Team is unwavering in their approach to guide us to a continued positive cultural change.
Second, I am extremely proud of the active integration of educational technology. We have sent over 50% of our teaching staff to attend the GAFE Summit. But, it absolutely does not stop there. The strategies learned have then become part of the regular practice in the classroom. Staff that are unsure of potential implementation ideas reach out to our Ed Tech Specialist or a fellow colleague and are continually pushing each other to try more. People are becoming more and more out of the box thinkers and that makes me ecstatic.
3. What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
We are so close to this school year coming to an end. There is so little time and so much to still do. When I look at the remaining time for this school year I know that I do not want to add any random new processes or ideas. I do however want to ensure that we end strong with our current projects and focus areas.
One: I want to ensure our PBIS Team meets their desired outcomes for Year One and are able to develop a plan for Year Two implementation. That way we can start off running with our next phase in August.
Two: I want to ensure that our plans for approaching our master schedule for the 2016-2017 year come to fruition. The admin team in partnership with the Department Chairs and Leadership Team have come up with some out of the box ideas to support struggling students and increase the academic expectations of all students. I want to make that a reality for the 2016-2017 school year.
Three: Currently we are trending with a significant decrease in the number of suspensions year to date in comparison to last school year. I want to end the year maintaining that positive trend. This has been a direct result of our PBIS implementation and commitment to consistent expectations site-wide. The culture is continuing to change for the positive at FHS and I want to end the year with continued positive results.
4. Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today's rough culture.
There are many reasons that I got into education and many of those are the same reasons I remain in education.
1) To make things better for our world.....
2) To support students to find their inner genius....
3) To help build capacity...
4) To be a part of the most fundamental element to our society's success....
Without education we can not have our innovators, our designers, our doctors, our lawyers, our presidents, our FUTURE.
5. Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?
Josh Harris: Ed Tech Specialist and a great friend. Josh Harris is an unbelievably talented individual. In the classroom Josh was able to spark student interest and engagement through his varied instructional strategies. As an Ed Tech Specialist Josh is now able to impact hundreds more students through his Ninja Like skills and mentorship. Josh is my "Master Shifu!!" I challenge you Josh as you have pushed me in my endeavors, enlightened me on many fronts, and have helped teach me some of your "Tech Kung Fu."
David Avery: Lieutenant Colonel Avery is the spark that created the FHS Pineapple Room!! Lt. Colonel Avery is all about the students and trying new things. As a key member of our XQ Redesign project Lt. Colonel Avery kept pushing students and staff to think out of the box. I admire Lt. Avery for all of his growth mindset thinking and unwavering energy to try new things. Lt. Colonel is "Mantis," a warrior from an early age with a fast paced attitude. I challenge you Lt. Colonel as I know you will accept this challenge with enthusiasm and ensure others carry out the challenge.
Angie Avlonitis: Calm, cool, and collected. Angie Avlonitis has a very pressing position as the Director of Student Services. However, Angie is always able to maintain composure and provide guidance that is timely, meaningful, and STUDENT centered. She is someone that I truly admire. Her courage and tenacity are unmatched by others. Angie is "Tigress" brave, fearless, and heroic. I challenge you Angie as you have always been there for me and provided me with honest and sincere wisdom.
Justin Salazar-Stewart: A brand new teacher and yet has the charisma and soul of someone who has done this for years. Justin is an inspiration to me. He uses his artistry and passion to guide all that he does with his students. He is much more to our students than just an English teacher. He is the equilibrium for many of us. I challenge you Justin because I know you will take it on and find a way to ignite the challenge into something even more. Justin is "Monkey," playful, enthusiastic and has an easy going attitude.
Shannon Balthazor: The one that seems to do it all. Shannon came to a new school and stepped up to take on the role of department chair mid year. She is passionate about student success and improving school culture. Her leadership roles on SSA and PBIS are inspirational. Shannon is "Viper," embodying a cool head and a warm heart. Her power lies in her strength and precision. I challenge you Shannon as I know you take on every challenge and endeavor with gusto and the desire to succeed.
Our ONE goal: To graduate every Fairfield High Student and to ensure that they leave FHS college and career ready!!!
Inspire, Engage, Excite, Lead, Foster, Create, Empower!!
Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!
Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!