John Hay News – April 2011

Dear John Hay Family Member,

One of my responsibilities as your principal involves evaluation of our work and reflecting on the road ahead of us.  This past month, I’ve completed round one of our budget for next year, have led three open house events and talked with over 100 families.  I’ve conducted numerous staff meetings where we engaged in what I call innovation conversations¸ and have spent hours and hours in classrooms.  I’ve met personally with many of you, have sat and chatted with kids over lunch, and have met with principals across our region to discuss and reflect on the celebrations and challenges faced by each of our schools.  All of these rich experiences have provided much food for thought around our amazing school.  Here are a few of my key reflections, and questions I have for our learning community…

  • Innovation and creative approaches are key ingredients to the making and sustainment of a successful and effective school. There is no one recipe that a school can implement or a one-size-fits-all garment that a school can wear.  School planning just isn’t that simple.  This is why it is so important that we reexamine our practice every spring and determine who we are serving, what we need to do our best, and what we know works for kids.  Are we able to be flexible with changes in programs, teachers and practices?  Are we aware of how important it is to monitor our effectiveness and make changes as needed?
  • Quality classroom instruction must continue to be a top priority for every school desiring to successfully meet the learning needs of the studentsWhat does it look like? It involves hiring the best and the brightest, providing meaningful professional development, engaging teachers with time set aside for collaboration and teaming.  It involves keeping an eye on our practice and creating time for reflection, observation, and coaching.  It looks like teachers monitoring progress frequently and creatively providing differentiated instruction to meet the needs of individuals, while broadening and enriching the skills base of the collective.  It involves teachers building positive relationships with students to not only enhance the classroom atmosphere but to also build a basis for imposing high expectations and accountability.
  • Creating a positive and welcoming community is a worthy goal and a steep challenge – Our faces have changed this year – we’ve opened our doors to over 175 new k-5 children and broadened our diversity.  How are we doing at making all feel welcome?  Are we greeting each other when we pass in the hallway – especially those we don’t know?  Are we taking the opportunity to engage someone unfamiliar in our after-school chat groups? Helping all community stakeholders work toward and prioritize an atmosphere of welcome to all who are a part of our school is a worthy goal for John Hay. But it requires all of us to look outside our circles and meet or greet someone new.   Building community and providing a place for families to make connections within our fast-paced society is one of the key roles a neighborhood school can play!  Are we intentionally seeking to make someone feel welcome whenever we are in our school?
  • Communication, communication, communication – Students listening to teachers. Teachers communicating with parents.  Parents listening to Teachers.  Principal listening to teachers, students, and parents.  Students talking to students… The cycle of communication goes round and round and has become so complex in today’s school experience!  And yet, consistent and frequent communication, the lack of communication or mis-communication leads to perceptions, community talk and even decisions about what goes on in classrooms and around the school community.  With the speed of e-mail, and the expectations of immediacy, with so many engaged stakeholders of varied opinions, with doors open and transparency a value, choosing to communicate positively and productively to enhance a school environment is a real challenge today! But an important challenge to embrace and overcome.  So I challenge us!  When we are in the halls, at the ball fields, on the phone – whenever we talk about our school, our staff, our students, our families, let’s build one another up and celebrate the amazing school we all share.  Let’s recognize the improvements that are needed with grace and cooperation.  There is power in how we communicate – power to build up and power to tear down.  How are we doing in those times when we talk about our school, our teachers and our kids?

Spring is the time for much reflection and examination as fall plans begin to be made.  This spring we’ll once again be examining our practice, our communication, and our school’s climate to see where we can improve and where we are strong and effective.  As you read the Hay News each month, you may see some of these changes reflected in the Looking Ahead to Fall section.

As always, should you ever find the need to talk with me or one of my staff, please feel free to give us a call or have Wendi schedule an appointment for you with me.  Drop ins are more challenging as my day is typically planned bell to bell, but know that I always look forward to hearing from each of you.

Kari Hanson


Inside this issue of the John Hay News:
Thank you!
It’s Auction Time!  April 30th
The John Hay Big 5 – Safety: Emergency Response Procedures
Extensive Construction Project to Begin May 2
Coming Events
Student Highlights
A look Ahead to Fall


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