I get many questions directed my way – via email, at the grocery store, via social media, at school events, and even as phone messages. It is difficult to share these questions – and answers – with our community as a whole. From time to time we will post Infrequently Answered Questions in an attempt to clarify rumors, provide interesting information, and simply “get the work out.” This is our community; we are partners. If there is something you’d like to know . . . shoot me an email, send @drjcm a tweet, or stop me in the halls and ask away.
Why did we have a 5-day weekend in the middle of February?
This recent extended weekend served numerous purposes. First of all, Friday was time to compensate our dedicated teachers and administrators for parent conferences that were scheduled in the evenings. Years ago Parent/Teacher Conferences would have been scheduled during a traditional school day. With societal changes, holding conferences during the day wasn’t convenient for many parents. So, we now hold conferences in the late afternoons and evenings. Our partnership and communication with parents is essential. Monday was Presidents Day. Presidents Day – sometimes referred to as Washington’s Birthday – is a federal holiday. Generally speaking, public schools close for federal holidays. Finally, Tuesday was a professional development day. Education is changing rapidly; we ask a great deal from our teachers, support staff, and administration. We must provide time for training, collaboration, and instruction. Simply stated, there are times we need to teach our teachers. You will be hearing about our One2One initiatives, Canvas, and iBooks. We need to make sure our staff is ready to implement the great things we are doing to continually improve the product we provide our students and community.
Finally, and this is purely a bonus for the schools, taking 5 full days away from school in the middle of cold and flu season has health benefits. Our wonderful custodial teams have an opportunity to thoroughly clean our classrooms and shared spaces. Our students are provided an opportunity to get well and recover from previous illness. This isn’t the reason for the extended weekend, but it is a beneficial unintended consequence.
Why are our schools used as polling places for elections?
Simple reason . . . we have large open spaces, accessible entrances, appropriate parking, and we are in easy to find locations.
Philosophically, one of the bedrock principles of American Democracy is the responsibility and right of voting. Our schools are publicly funded facilities; schools are part of our democratic foundation. It is a reasonable expectation that schools work with the local boards of election to make the ability to vote as easy and convenient as possible. We are all community partners; our collective efforts make Hilliard a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
In the future our goal is to schedule professional development for both the general and the primary election. This time is essential for our professional staff; we must take time to provide training and collaboration. At the same time, as we open our doors to the community to exercise their democratic voting duty, we need to be able to maintain a safe environment in the buildings when school is in session.
What type of innovation and changes can we expect in our elementary schools
The coming year will provide great opportunities for dreaming and collaborating for the future instructional opportunities in Hilliard’s elementary schools. We will be unveiling the initiative “It’s Our Turn to Dream” in each elementary building. We’ve made amazing innovative strides in our secondary buildings. We have the ILC, iBooks, One-2-One initiatives, online classes, and blended learning for sixth grade students through the high school experience. It is now our turn to DREAM in the elementary buildings.
We will be hosting parent meetings, engaging each building staff, and examining successful programs in other districts. Each and every building in Hilliard has a great opportunity . . . an opportunity to be better. We strive to personalize education, to tap into the passion of both students and teachers, and to partner with parents in meaningful ways.
We understand that change can create fear; but there is no reason to be afraid. There will be opportunities for input and sharing. Each change will have a purpose; each decision will have the opportunity to be discussed. Sure, we may make some changes that won’t be universally accepted, but we will do this work together. We will build relationships, engage in conversation, and continue to provide Hilliard students with opportunities to truly be Ready for Tomorrow.