From the Castle

Parent Newsletter for Thomas Dale High School-March 2019

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Greetings from the Castle!

Knight Families and Community Members,

Happy March! It seems difficult to believe that we are already at spring time! This year has flown by, but when I reflect on all that we've been able to accomplish so far this year, it seems about right...we are 6 months into the year and have just 3 to go. And these 3 months will FLY!

Some extremely exciting things are happening at Thomas Dale! Among them is Job Shadow Day on March 26. This event is aimed at Juniors to provide them with an opportunity to "shadow" someone in the field they think they want to engage in after they leave high school, either in college, career, or contribution. Our committee is working hard to line up our businesses to ensure we have the partners needed for matching our students' needs. Please take some time to check out the website we've created to support our Job Shadow Day: If you or a business owner you know would like to participate, simply fill out the short form on the website.

Throughout this year, we have made intentional and meaningful efforts to strengthen trust, communication, and relationships. In particular, our approach to knowing our students has yielded tremendous benefits. We will continue to work on how we develop and sustain relationships with our students as we look to raise our standards of excellence and expectations to which we will all hold ourselves and each other accountable.

We will continue to build the foundation for many exciting things to come at Dale, and it all starts with trust, communication, and relationships. I encourage you to engage in dialogue with your child, a teacher, counselor, administrator, or of course....ME!


Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @GoTDKnights, Facebook: Thomas Dale, Instagram: @GoTDKnights, and SnapChat: @GoTDKnights. Our website is updated regularly for more information:

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  • Job Shadow Day. On March 26, we will host our first Job Shadow Day. The intent of this experience is to offer our Juniors an opportunity to "taste" the profession they think they want to dive into after they graduate, whether it is directly into the field or a major in college. Would you like to serve as a Job Shadow host? Do you own a business? Do you work for a company that would host our students? Check out our website and sign up to participate!
  • Volunteer Opportunities. Many hands make for light(er) work. Operating a school with 2,400 students and 220 adults creates a tremendous workload, and we need your help. Are you in a position to donate a bit of your time to assist with the heavy lifting required to operate a large, comprehensive high school? Just email ME, and I will ensure we get you linked in. For quick access to volunteer information from CCPS, click HERE.
  • Thomas Dale is proud to be a high-quality public educational setting and center of the Chester community. Because of the nature of our service and purpose, there are a few reminders about what is not permitted on school grounds at any time: weapons, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products of any kind (including vapor).

Dialogue and Defiance

Now, more than ever, our children need strong, empathetic, and patient leadership!

Entering into conflict is not an easy thing. When the need for re-directing, holding someone accountable to expectations, or dealing with disrespectful behavior arises, there is an opportunity to either make the situation better or worse in that moment. It is both an art and a skill to be able to remain calm, use productive language and posture, and avoid a power struggle. This is absolutely critical when dealing with teenagers, when they are more likely to engage in risky, challenging, and impulsive behavior.

One of our teachers sent me THIS ARTICLE. Following a presentation during our faculty meeting, including THIS POWERFUL VIDEO, the article seemed highly appropriate for me to share with teachers and staff. It caused me to reflect deeply on how I enter into conflict, confront students for redirection, and deal with defiant behavior.

Full transparency (always), I do not do a great job with this. My actions, behaviors, and words need improvement in this area. I have to be mindful: Am I making this situation better or worse? Am I escalating or de-escalating? Am I worried about the perception of power? Am I leaning into the interaction with my ego? Am I focused on "winning" an argument?

My need for growth in this area is with both adults and students. And THIS ARTICLE helps to at least recognize that it's there, and for my reflection, recognizing I need improvement. When you read the article, I'd like you to add "administrators and parents" every time it says "teachers." We are one team, and it takes every single one of us to be on our game. I recognize how much room I have to grow; how are you at handling these situations? I find myself struggling and needing to improve in this areas as both a principal and a father.

I felt that it would be highly productive and appropriate to share with our parents and families as well. Please enjoy the article -

In Our Eyes - Teacher Edition

Throughout this year, we have made an intentional effort to elevate student voice and increase opportunities for student leadership. In doing so, we've created multiple opportunities for students to share life through their perspective as well as amplifying their view of the Thomas Dale experience through the students' eyes.

This elevation of student voice has ignited a passion for teachers to have a voice in sharing with students what is on their minds and in their hearts without the pressures of curriculum and testing. Here are just 3 voices so far. I encourage you to share this with your children; it is well worth the read.

Things I Wish My Students Knew

Jill Seal

  1. I love it when a lightbulb goes off for you and you have an aha moment!

  2. I worry about you when you’re not here, and that includes nights, weekends, holidays, and summers.

  3. I really want you to learn my content, but I care even more that you’re learning to be a decent human.

  4. I can’t wait to give you a 20 second hug, if you need one. The best thing about a hug is that when I give you one, I get one back, and I always need one!

  5. I know how hard it is to be a teenager. You can’t imagine it, but I was once one too...a LONG time ago...and I’m really glad there were no cell phones back then.

  6. You have the power to make the classes you take a positive experience or pure drudgery for yourself, your classmates, and your teachers. I love it when you use your power for good!

  7. I believe that you have far more potential than you realize. If I seem disappointed in you, it’s because I believe firmly in your potential to do better.

  8. I believe that students who get in trouble at school are asking for help from the adults at school.

  9. I believe that tough love is the best kind of love. It’s as hard for me to give it as it is for you to receive it, but I know that it is often what’s best for you. We don’t grow by being comfortable.

  10. I love you. I really do.

Ruth Loop:

I would like my students to know that…

*Thomas Dale is YOUR school. You play the most important role in what kind of school we have. If you see a problem, be part of the solution.

*I worry about your health. Getting enough sleep and eating regular meals are essential to learning and to good health. I suspect that many of my students stay up until the wee hours and then come to school without any breakfast or lunch. Remember that the Knights in Need pantry is here for students who do not have sufficient access to food, and you can always come to see me in room 1001 for a quick snack. I also worry about smoking, vaping, or other drug use you might engage in, and what effects that will have on your learning, your growth, and the rest of your life.

*I want you to value your life as much as your parents and teachers do and really think twice (or 100 times) before texting while driving or doing drugs. The worst stories that you have heard about distracted driving and drug use CAN happen to you. You are too important to risk your life for these things.

*I worry about your mental health. I want you to know that if you are going through a hard time, that things WILL get better. If I have learned anything in my many years on the planet, it is that nothing stays the same and the way you feel about a situation today will change tomorrow. You have so much to look forward to. If you ever feel hopeless, please please please tell someone, whether it is a parent, a teacher, your guidance counselor, or even the suicide hotline. The world is a better place with you in it, even if you don’t always feel that way.

*Education is about giving you the tools to be a good citizen and giving you opportunities in life. There are people in countries all over the world who have fought for the chance to have an education, and in our own country in the past many people were not allowed to be educated or could not afford to. Please look at your K-12 education as the gift that it is. Seriously, many kids around the world wish they could go to school and be in your place.

*I hope that all of you will become readers. Reading is the major way you will learn as a student and as a citizen. It is the best way to learn new words, be exposed to new ideas, and to have your prejudices and preconceptions challenged. Mark Twain once said that “the man who chooses not to read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

*Whatever path you choose after high school, whether it is the military, higher education, or the workplace, I hope you have gotten the tools in high school to help you be a lifelong learner and a responsible employee (as most everyone eventually enters the workforce). Showing up regularly, being on time, being polite, and being "coachable" are all important aspects of life success.

*I care about you and want to help you in any way that I can, whether that is in being successful in my class, helping you with college, or helping you with a problem or steering you towards someone who can.

*I want only good things for you (and so do all of your teachers)!

Sarah Klinger:

1. I love seeing you succeed. It is so much fun hearing and seeing the amazing performances you put together.

2. You humble me. You are so talented and you work so hard. You encourage me to work harder to be a better teacher for you.

3. That’s just the way my face looks...I’m not in a bad mood, I promise.

4. I like listening to you. I like when I can connect with you outside of just school. You are FUNNY! You have awesome things to contribute.

5. I have high expectations for you because I know you are capable of meeting every one of them.

6. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel and be human. It’s okay to cry. Or laugh. Or scream.

7. I care deeply for you. I am here for you.

8. I believe in you.

Adjustments to the Dismissal Process

At 3pm everyday, we dismiss 2,400 students to either ride the bus, drive, get picked up by a parent, or walk. This is the most chaotic time at Thomas Dale, and I'd like to try something to make this a better and safer process.

  • West Campus: At 2:55pm, students who ride the bus will be dismissed to get on the buses that are stationed at West to go over to Main for the final pick-up. This is no change from what we are currently doing. At 3:00pm, students who either walk home or get picked up by a parent will be dismissed. This is the slight adjustment we will make to ensure a smoother and safer process at West.
  • Main Campus: At 2:55pm, Seniors who drive home will be released. This is no change from what we are currently doing. At 3:03pm, all other students at main will be released for their dismissal process to begin. This change will allow Seniors a few extra minutes to clear out of the hectic student parking lot and will allow students who ride the bus to get directly onto the bus instead of waiting for about 7 minutes for the buses at West to arrive.

This process will not only be safer, but I believe will also be quicker and more efficient.

How can you help? First, if your child rides the bus, please talk with them about going straight to the bus and getting on the bus. Second, if your child stays after school for any reason (tutoring, sports, clubs, rehearsals, etc.), please talk with them about reporting straight to where they are supposed to be in school. Third, if you are a parent who picks your child up from school to drive home, please begin entering the school from Route 10, and picking them up from the faculty/staff parking lot instead of the student parking lot.

Please do not hesitate to contact the school or reach directly out to ME if you have any questions.

Our dismissal procedures need more structure to ensure it is safe and efficient. I believe these three changes will assist with this process. We all have a part in our school's operation, and I appreciate your cooperation!

Upcoming Writing Tests

On March 6 and 13, we begin our "testing season" with the 10th grade writing SOL and the 9th grade Performance Based Assessment for writing. We will follow an adjusted schedule on these days. Our adjusted schedule also allows our students in Advanced Placement courses to participate in "mock exams" with their teachers, as scheduled.

Please click HERE to see our adjusted schedule on those days.

Upcoming Events

Stay connected to OUR CALENDAR and mark yours!

March 6 - Adjusted Bell Schedule for the Writing Test (BELL SCHEDULE)

March 8 - No School

March 8-9 - Specialty Center Dance Company Performance (7pm, Main Auditorium)

March 9 - JROTC Drill Competition (Smithfield, VA)

March 12 - PTSA Meeting (6pm, Main Library)

March 13 - Coffee with the Principal (7am, Door 9 at West)

March 13 - Adjusted Bell Schedule for the Writing Test (BELL SCHEDULE)

March 13 - Sunset Snacks with the Principal (7pm, Door 1 at Main)

March 16 - STEAM Team Competition (CTC@Hull)

March 26 - Job Shadow Day

March 29 - Adjusted Dismissal for Students (12pm)

March 29 - Talent Show (7pm, Main Auditorium)

April 1-5 - Spring Break

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