Soaring News

February 15, 2016

Principal's Message

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Not Your Father's Classroom

"The illiterate of the 21st Century
will not be those who cannot read and write,
but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
- Alvin Toffler

One of my favorite subjects has always been history. I'm often fascinated by events, movements, and the courage of a select few. As I've learned history, I've discovered that some people and events endured a tremendous amount of adversity while they moved our world forward.

Our current educational system has been in place for well over 100 years. This system did not envision education for everyone. I believe we are now in the early stages of an educational revolution.

If you look back through history revolutions have often taken two steps forward and one step back. Education has done the same thing. Let's take a look at the course of events since 1999.

  • 1999 School shooting at Columbine High School
  • 1999 Interactive Whiteboards introduced
  • 2001 No Child Left Behind
  • 2005 YouTube created
  • 2006 Research released on Learning Spaces
  • 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • 2009 2/3 of all schools significantly increase standards on educator evaluations
  • 2010 First EdCamp takes place in Philadelphia
  • 2010 iPads introduced
  • 2010 Highly Qualified Teacher Status developed
  • 2010 Race To The Top
  • 2011 Common Core Standards created
  • 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre
  • 2012 Standard Based Grading created
  • 2015 Obama Administration denounces Standardized Testing obsession

The Industrial Revolution lasted multiple decades. I whole heartedly believe we are experiencing the beginning of dramatic change in education. I often hear people outside of education talk as though they are experts about what happens in schools. This deeply frustrates me. The fact is, this is not your father's classroom. School has changed:

  1. We now know that hours of homework is Stone Age practice.
  2. We now know the practice of teach, assign, collect, grade, and move on, is not best. The role of teachers is to help students grow and aim for mastery.
  3. We now understand increased safety procedures are for the good of everyone in the school.
  4. We now understand that technology can enhance learning and should not be stifled.
  5. We now understand that teaching is not a one-size fits all approach.

I remember reading about revolutions. I remember each one was met with resistance. Sometimes the resistance came in many forms. For example, can we all agree that the industrial revolution was a good thing? I think so. This dramatically changed our world. Yet some people that lived during this time were called Luddites. These individuals fought change, destroyed equipment, and derailed innovation.

Think of all that has changed. We've experienced increased security. This is a good thing and our new norm. We are experience the technology movement. It's hard to imagine teaching without technology. We are experiencing a philosophical change in the way we teach. It seems obvious that we should have been focused on mastery all along...not just covering the material.

So I challenge you.

First, what side of the educational revolution are you on? Are you for progress? Or, do you simply want things to stay the same?

Second, it is critical that you expect setbacks. Naysayers are not going away, but we don't have to let them beat us down. "Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is really worth fighting for."

Third, how can you help the educational revolution? It depends on you. Do you teach the way you were taught? Have you re-imagined learning in your classroom? Are you willing to try new things?

One hundred years from now I hope my great-grandchildren can look back at this educational revolution fondly. I hope education continues to evolve and that their classrooms are beyond our wildest dreams!

Articles Worth Reading

Videos Worth Watching

Amazing Selfie Proposal (2015 proposal of the year)
Raising savvy cyber kids | Ben Halpert | TEDxKids@Vilnius
Hashtags: #WhyImSingle
Schools that work for kids | Eric Sheninger | TEDxBurnsvilleED
Steve Harvey and Miss Colombia Meet Again


* I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to Pearce, Haley, Owens, Green, Williams, Marcotte, Shackley, Keane, Burns, A. Lewis, Phillips, Bradberry, Roehm, Simpson, Garrett, Garnier, McGirt, Murphy, and Parra for helping to make our "Family Math Night" a success! I could not have done it without you all. You all are AMAZING!!!!! ~Geniece Hyman

* Thank-you to Ms. Bailey for stopping what she was doing to repair my printer! She was a lifesaver! ~Jennifer Blais

Kudos to Jennifer Fernandez and Carnell Williams for their outstanding class blog! Take a look at the great stuff they are providing their parents.

Upcoming Events

Next Week

February 15: President's Day, No School

February 16: PTA/School Planning Council Meeting, 6pm at DSE

February 17: Balanced Assessment training during CLC meeting

February 17: Shannon to Principal Meeting (1:30pm)

Coming Soon

February 25: Early Dismissal

February 25: Sooo Soulful Luncheon

February 25-March 4: Book Fair

February 29: Black History Program, 5:30pm

February 29: PAC Meeting, 3:30pm

News to Share

Data Informed Conversations: Beginning this week I will be inviting you to have conversations about your students and the progress they are making thus far this year. Conversations will last approximately 45 minutes in length. Guiding questions will be sent to you electronically as well as items to bring to the data conversation. Please look for the sign up sheet in the mailroom.

Please keep Ebone Taylor in your prayers as she continues to recover from gallbladder surgery.

~Check out the info on the new BE Well program VBCPS is offering. You can track your healthy habits and earn up to $500 a year!


Dr. Sedory has created a new blog, My AP Tried It, where she will share out new ideas for using web sites and apps in your classroom. Some may help with classroom management while others may have instructional ideas. The blog will hopefully have new ideas each week! This week's post is about 100 Questions (, which is a free web site teachers can use to work on questioning with students. It could also be a fun brain break!


I, Ms. Garnier, would like to pass the "I Make a Difference Award" to Wendy Lyle. I would really like to give the award to sooooo many people, but I think I’ll have to choose Wendy Lyle because she gracefully wears many hats in order to ensure the success of Newtown teachers and students. She is a true role model of a caring and dedicated teacher and coach. Wendy, thank you for making a difference!


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Lacy Davis: 2/28

Miriam Bogdanova: 3/6

Lucinda Johnson: 3/7

Keith Eason: 3/11

Emily Roehm: 3/12

Jordan Dosamantes: 3/24

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