Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My favorite day of the year!

I love it!  The first day of school is my favorite day of the year.

The children come in with new folders and pencils.  We hear the squeaking of new sneakers in the halls.  Some students are shy, some are noisy and full of stories about the summer, and the littlest ones need to get a hug from Mom at the door.  I love it all. 
It’s my favorite day because it is filled with promise.  It is a time for resolutions, just like New Year’s Day.  My letter to our families this week suggests a few “resolves” for parents.  Here’s my list:

-          Determine a schedule for bedtime and wakeup, and stick to it.
-          Set a curfew time.
-          By the end of the first week, know the names of your child’s principal, teacher and best friends.
-          Update all emergency contact forms.
-          Set rules for use of TV, video games, and computers for non-school projects.
-          Mark school events on the family calendar, and plan for them.
-          Schedule and attend parent-teacher conferences.
-          Know your school’s dress code or uniform policy. 
-          Each morning, check that your child is dressed appropriately and has the supplies needed for a successful day at school.
-          Be certain your child is up-to-date on immunizations. 

We will continue the focus on reading this school year, and will introduce our Comprehensive Math and Science plan.  We anticipate a Facilities Master Plan to be completed this fall, and it will tell us a lot about the steps to take to right-size the district and assure that students are in spaces that work best for them.   

Throughout the district, MPS will use PBIS this year.  PBIS is a system for establishing calm, respectful school environments.  We used it in dozens of schools last year and it helped us cut down on suspensions and classroom incidents.  PBIS stands for Positive Behaviors, Interventions and Supports.  PBIS is changing everything from conduct in the cafeteria to the tone in the hallways as children pass between classes. 

We are doing our best to position children well for their futures.  Squeaky sneakers and all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A note of thanks, and an invitation

This has been a great day!
Today 2,500 volunteers, all employees of our good partner, GE Healthcare, showed up at 15 of our schools.  Let me tell you what they did.  They cleaned windows, washed desks, spread mulch, planted flowers, calked, spackled, painted -- I am sure I left something out.  This is the 17th year that GE Healthcare has flexed its volunteer muscle to benefit our kids and staff.   A lot of those muscles will be sore tonight.  But the muscles I use to smile are getting a workout, and I don't mind.

Here's quick video of some of the Community Service Day activity at our Roosevelt Middle School.

That was my note of thanks.  Here's my invitation. 

Please join me at the starting line for the Run Back to School on Saturday, August 27th.  Many participants gather as early as 7:30 a.m. to take part in some of the fun at Wick Field (N. 52nd and W. Vliet Streets) but the race actually begins at 9:00 a.m.  You will get a t-shirt and a bag of goodies for participating.  Here's a link for more information:    You do not have to be a sprinter or a power-walker to have a good time.  You simply have to believe in kids!   All proceeds go to MPS sports programs.  I sincerely hope you will join us.