GRE Staff Newsletter

For the Week of April 29, 2019

Dear Team,

This week was a bit challenging in the Thoma household. I found out in February that Allie needed to have major back surgery to straighten her spine as her scoliosis curve had jumped immensely from 34 degrees when we first started bracing in 2017 to 64 degrees! I'm pretty sure I stopped listening after the doctor said the word surgery. People with William's Syndrome don't respond well to anesthesia so major surgeries like this are complicated and high risk. We've been so lucky that Allie hasn't had many health issues associated with William's so I have to check myself often to remind myself how lucky we are. So this week Allie had the start of her pre op appointments resulting in four doctors visits in one week. We learned about the MAGEC rods that will be placed in her back, we saw models of the spinal fusion that will need to be done in the future, we visited the dentist to have two teeth extracted, saw our regular doctor for clearance and referrals for 5 outside clinics and drew 8 tubes of blood. You guys...she didn't cry once. Not through all of it. Not when looking at the screws or hooks that would be placed in her back, not when laying on an x-ray machine and getting "stretched", not even when she had teeth pulled or a needle in her arm. She kept her eyes on me, she asked questions for clarification and she focused on helping her new tiger (given to use with rods in it's back to help us through the process) through each step. Yesterday, as I was laying on the couch with her watching one of our favorites, The Greatest Showman, I realized the extreme mental toughness that is going to be required to be the kind of mom she needs. You see, also this week, in my normal morning routine, I heard an incredible podcast about the "Keys to Being Mentally Tough" by Tim Kight. I heard this on Tuesday, before our appointments began. In the podcast the tips he talked through were:

1. Be self aware

2. Gain situational awareness

3. Dig deep for discipline at defining moments

4. Create the energy required for the action you need

5. Know how to get yourself out of a negative emotional state and into a positive productive one

There were many times when I felt emotional this week, mostly because I am scared. Scared isn't going to help me be the mom I want. It's not mentally tough but I know it is also an expected reaction to what is going on. Mental toughness doesn't mean you don't have breakdowns, roller coaster emotions, or anxiety through the roof. It means that you recognize when you are in those moments and know that they are symptoms not the reality. Mental toughness means you go through it all and you pick yourself back up. You recognize where you are at, you find strategies to get into a better place and you do the work. Ironically, on Wednesday morning I listened to a sermon called "Say It Loud Enough" where the pastor was literally yelling at me, "Get up, we don't stay down, we get up. Get up! Get UP! GET UP!" in reference to when we fall down, make a mistake, or are stuck in grief. He talked about how we fall down 7 times, we get up 8. I didn't realize it, but I needed these messages this week. They kept me going. I still had melt downs and crying fits. I couldn't sleep and raged with anxiety. But...I am mentally tough...and so are you.

No matter how tired you are, no matter how overwhelmed you are, no matter how scared you are to let this years students move on and leave you-you can do it. Take a lesson from Allie, you can do hard things. That's what she would tell you. You. Can. Do. It. Let's keep going GRE! We have 18 days! 18 days to be at our best! 18 days to show kids they are amazing! 18 days...let's show em' what we got!

Here's to a great week!


News to Share

1. A quick note about subs. Many of us have saved our Personal Days throughout the year in case we needed them. Now that the year is wrapping up, personal days are getting scheduled. Please be aware that finding subs at this point in this year is difficult. Finding subs on Data Team meeting days is almost impossible. Here are the Spring Data Team dates and the current number of unfilled positions:

Thursday 5/9- 4th Grade

Friday 5/10- 1st Grade

Monday 5/13- Kinder (1 unfilled)

Tuesday 5/14- 3rd Grade (3 unfilled)

Thursday 5/16- 2nd Grade (7 unfilled)

Friday 5/17- SLC’s (3 unfilled)

Please secure a sub as soon as possible and get your paperwork in for Data Teams. As a reminder, Intervention groups will continue through May 17th. They are down to the wire with testing their students as well and will not be pulled from groups unless absolutely necessary.

2. Have you ever heard of an LMS? LMS stands for Learning Management System. The easiest way to think of it is to think of an online classroom. When Jen Young learned that Big Walnut is one of the only schools in Central Ohio that does not use one, she dug in to understand the value of such a robust tool. After researching the top LMS options, it was narrowed down to two-Canvas and Schoology. Recently, a K-12 committee met to review the two products and decide which option met BW's needs. Schoology (/skoo.luh.jee/) was the clear front runner. The group chose Schoology because:

  • User-friendly (easy to create student groups, including athletics, clubs, etc.)

  • Everything links to Google

  • Multiple professional learning communities in Central OH and free resources

  • Very teacher-friendly, including

    • Access to printable assessments

    • Personalized learning paths through mandatory completion

    • Easy personalized of feedback options

    • Tools for standards-based grading

  • Students can create portfolios that will stay with them year to year

  • Easy login (QR code)

So what does this mean for you? Schoology will be used as one platform for all communication and learning. This will remove the need for Google Classroom, class websites, newsletters, Remind, etc. The timeline for Schoology is as follows:

  • April: Technology integration (getting everything setup (accounts, PowerSchool, etc.)

  • May: Teacher access

  • Summer: PD offerings

  • August: Schoology Rollout

Having used Schoology in my previous district, I am very excited it is coming to BW! Ginna and I are both signed up for a free summer PD. Check it out here and join us if you would like. As I get more information, I will be sure to pass it along to you. In the meantime, check out their website to learn more.

2. We are close to wrapping up evaluations for the year. Please be sure you have “Pinned” all formal and informal observations in the eTPES system. This helps ensure the Final Summative Rating Sheet is actually complete.

3. As a reminder, we will be using Spring BAS data to form our beginning of the school year Intervention Groups. Key points include:

-Intervention teachers will do EOY Assessments on students they have in group

-Classroom Teachers will test all of the remaining students, unless a teacher communicates with their Intervention Teacher that they would like to test a specific student

-If you find you can't meet this timeline, please reach out to Kate and we will come up with a way to support you

-Classroom teachers need to make sure you know students as a reader because you will be speaking to whether or not a students is put in an Intervention Group in the Fall

-You do not have to test a student who is reading a year or more above Grade Level (I do expect that you will write what level text you are working on with the student in Guided Reading on the Benchmark Assessment Letter, there will be further discussion if we need to revise the letter to simply say Reading Level instead of BAS Reading Level)

-Please know that if you tested a student for SLO on STAR, you have the option to retest them when EOY Benchmarking testing starts (it is not mandatory).

4. 4th Grade: Teacher roster verification is underway. Please make sure you are working on linkage.

  • Teacher Roster Verification Period deadline is May 3rd.

  • Principal Review and Approval Period (May 4 – May 23)

5. As I mentioned above, Allie is having surgery. She is scheduled for May 9th but there are several clearances that are still needed. I plan to be out May 9th and 10th for sure. I am not sure what my schedule will be after that but will keep you all posted. The building is in good hands with Ginna! She's got this! There will be other administrators pitching in to help so don't be surprised if you stop by my office and find a different face in there, they are committed to helping us out so please use them. I have a significant amount of work to complete prior to Allie's surgery so I have reached out for some help to handle discipline so that I can focus on staff evaluations, SGM's, making sure end of the year events are secured, etc. Those of you that were aware have asked how you can help, which I greatly appreciate. My family is doing a terrific job supporting us. When I know what help I need, I will reach out:)

6. Please make sure that you refer to Lynn Starner’s email regarding the Kiosk. The goal is for all certified staff members to login in and make sure that your years are correct. Should you have any questions please reach out to Claire Paul or Lynn Starner.

7. We are excited to announce our Groundbreaking Ceremony on April 30. Due to the limited parking and construction site, the attendees are minimal and by invitation only. However, we hope you will join us on Facebook Live to view the ceremony at 7:00 p.m. We will be hosting a viewing celebration at the high school in the auditorium.

*Rain date will be determined if necessary.

PLC Challenge

This week's PLC Challenge continues from last week. During your PLC, please review one of the BAS video's here and complete the common scoring practice we modeled in the staff meeting. Don't forget to invite Ginna to come score with you:) If your team completes the challenge, please let me know and you will be rewarded! I've got lots of rewards coming out to teams this week-wahoo! Thanks for your participation in this month's challenge.

Shout out to Christine for an amazing Art Show and Casandra or delicious Food Trucks!

Big picture

Week at a Glance

Monday, April 29- D Day; Fire Drill at 2:30pm

Tuesday, April 30- A Day; Ground Breaking for New Building

Wednesday, May 1- B Day;

Thursday, May 2- C Day;

Friday, May 3- D Day;

Upcoming Important Dates:

May 6-10 Staff Appreciation Week

May 7 Box Tops Due; 9:30 4th Grade visits BWI

May 9 PTO 6:30 pm

May 10 3rd Grade Field Trip

May 16 1st Grade Field Trip

May 20 Field Day 9:15-11:15 and 12:30-2:30

May 21 Variety Show (Pie in the Faces) 9:30-10:30, 2-3; Volunteer Lunch

May 22 Discovery Day AM and Eagle Ed PM

May 23 Last Day of School-Dunk Tank/Kona Ice; Clap Out for 4th Graders; Report Cards & Assess. Letters