11/10/2009: "Superintendent’s Corner"
By Walt Wegener
1st Quarter Report: To make a memory, one method we use in the school district is the student-led conference. Nothing leads to making a memory more than having personal ownership in the process or content; especially by telling the story yourself to someone who is really important.
Educators and psychologists have learned, make the learner tell the story.
We consider you the “parent/guardian” of the schools for a quarterly report, a student-led conference, if you will, that might begin as follows:
“The mission of the San Juan Island School District is to educate students and to help them realize their full potential as responsible, productive, contributing members of society by providing an environment in which students are challenged, excellence is expected, and differences are valued.”
The blessings of San Juan Island are evident by so many elements and features. Consider the Phone-a-Thon. What an experience! Our Public Schools Foundation involves as many people on the island as possible with contributions to the schools, this time focusing on money for books, supplies and defined programs.
Amazingly, Vern Howard through his Valmark Company ponied-up with $50,000 to show his real and measurable support for education on the island. We were able to lever that promise of a matching donation into support for special materials needed by the students in the district, such as, but not limited to 6th grade reading and math books, middle school history books, high school Algebra I and Algebra II books and special classes including French, drama and art.
Further reporting in our conference using a quality-of-life theme includes our deep appreciation for the risk the Island Parks & Recreation District took in running their levy with activities for secondary students included. So far, the approximate 63% positive vote is a truly powerful reminder of the blessings and support we have on this island.
As members of the community we have quality-of-life and special option expectations. For one, we have decided to provide the most nutritious food possible, as local as we can make it, and as close to revenue neutral as possible. As an element of this foods-program choice we will include students in pre-apprenticeship classes in the culinary arts. We get better food for students and staff, more recognition of food as an art form, students will learn etiquette, respect for skills, be introduced to new tastes, have career options and improved learning based on better nutrition. Win for the community-win for families-win for learning at school!
Parents and patrons of San Juan Island Public Schools, things are going well in at the quarter point of the year. With your continued support and our communal hard work we are making memories everyday with high levels of professionalism and continued focused efforts.
When students do their conferences they cover their student learning plan with the parent. The student learning plan is intended to guide and direct choices the family make, directly associated with decisions and choices related to their student’s future in school and beyond.
In particular, ideas and plans for a student’s life after their formal school participation are completed with parent input and monitoring. The intention is to be partners in the future to “… help them realize their full potential …”
We do student-led conferences to help students present a snapshot to a very important person establishing student identified progress. This process establishes the criteria to make memories by providing a foundation for linking their choices and their classes over a period of time to targets they defined.
Our purpose in our schools is to actively engage both students and their families in making memories. By explaining their grades, attendance, behavior, career goals, personal progress and next steps we assure maximum personal student ownership. This sort of reporting with as many children in the district as possible is a powerful tool.
Just as a student grows to own their educational progress, our district continues to develop professionally; teaching, learning and working to connect our mission to that of the individual child. Thank you for reading, thereby participating in our “conference.”
And, thank you for all you do to support San Juan Island Schools.
(Walt Wegener is the San Juan Island School District Superintendent of Schools)