The Reds Tale

March 9, 2017

From the Desk of Mr. Roote

I regularly receive all sorts of promotional items. Most of the time a quick leaf through the pamphlet, magazine etc. will lead me to lots of advertisements and the conclusion that someone seems to have an unlimited printing/marketing budget. Today, I did as I typically do and cracked open the beautifully printed booklet titled Responding to Hate and Bias at School from an organization known as Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I am not sure what drove me deeper and deeper into the magazine. Maybe it was Ryan's recent column referencing the worries of one of our Hispanic students, maybe it was the middle school student that referred to me several times as Mrs. Roote, maybe it was the confederate flag logo on the freshman's hat from last week or maybe it was the cringe-worthy exchange with a senior at a basketball game as I introduced Jack to a few kids interested in my personal life. Different things stimulate my thinking in this area and motivate my quest to keep momentum positive when it comes to school climate. Below is an excerpt from the article that can help drive us as we look for opportunities to coach our students and their families to be the best versions of themselves: Listen, Watch and Learn: When you walk the halls or spend time in the cafeteria—wherever you are on campus—be alert. Are you hearing putdowns and slurs? Do you notice tense or fearful looks between some groups of students? These are early warning signs of potential trouble. Unacknowledged and unchallenged, these attitudes and behaviors can set the stage for worse to come. Safety, of course, is your first concern. Are direct threats being made? Is danger imminent? These situations may require immediate action. More general, indirect behaviors indicate that there might be a problem with the school’s climate. Is this the type of school you want? Pose that question to students, teachers, parents and staff, and listen closely to the answers. Take notes. Identify patterns. Be the person who knows what’s really going on at your school.

One more thing: Make sure your staff members exercise the same vigilance in classrooms, playgrounds, the cafeteria, buses—everywhere. Being alert is the responsibility of everyone on campus, and everyone has a duty to report problems they see and hear. Make this an expectation and set up an efficient reporting system, like an anonymous complaint box or a designated staff member. After problems are reported, there must be clear signs of follow-up.

Here’s a checklist to consider as you travel the halls, classrooms and school grounds:

  • Casual pejoratives. Do you hear certain words used regularly in a derogatory manner? That’s so gay. That’s lame. That’s retarded. Is the word “bitch” used casually to label female students? Work to establish a climate where casual slurs are uncommon—and are challenged when they do occur. Speak Up at School offers advice on responding to everyday bias.
  • School “pride.” Do cheers and chants at sporting events focus on positive aspects of your school, or do they demean opponents instead? Chants or taunts based on ethnic stereotypes and socioeconomic differences have no place in an inclusive school community.
  • Assemblies and holidays. Skits and costumes can convey bigoted and stereotypical messages: the “day-laboring Mexican,” students dressed as “rednecks,” people in blackface. Pep rallies, Halloween and other events, like spirit days, can become steeped in stereotypes and bigotry. Set expectations beforehand about appropriate costumes and cultural sensitivity. Discuss the inappropriateness of caricatures or disturbing representations that are rooted in bias and bigotry.
  • Marginalized students. Engage students who appear to be left out in the cafeteria, on the playground or in other school settings. Watch for patterns or changes in the way groups of students are aligned. Check for signs of hostility, depression or a marked change in behavior or academic performance, and reach out to the students’ parents or guardians and/or the school counselor as appropriate. Alienated students—either as individuals or in groups—are more susceptible to bias-based bullying and even to recruitment by gangs and hate groups.
  • Student recognition. How does your school recognize student achievement? Long-standing traditions may contribute to a sense of entitlement among some students, and feelings of frustration or inadequacy in others. Who is spotlighted and who is ignored? Is there a perception—fair or not—that athletes, advanced placement (AP) students and student leaders enjoy privileges or are disciplined less severely for misconduct? Collaborate with students and faculty in developing more egalitarian ways to honor an array of student achievements.
  • The Anti-Defamation League’s Pyramid of Hate offers a lesson—suitable for older students as well as for professional development—exploring levels of hate and bigotry. This can be helpful in gauging the seriousness of what you might encounter on campus.
  • Staff lounges. How are teachers and other staff talking among themselves when outside of student hearing? Are teachers making negative comments about the “kids from the trailer park?” Are they telling casually bigoted jokes? Model inclusive, nonbigoted behavior yourself, and interrupt moments of bias among staff.
  • Your own perceptions. Pay attention to the comments or complaints you automatically dismiss or discount. Is there a pattern? Is there a gap between your perception of a certain issue (bias-based bullying, for example) and the perception others have of the issue? Explore that with an open mind and a willingness to learn from others.
  • Involve everyone. Every person in the school—from the music teacher who visits twice a week to the newest transfer student—should understand the climate of tolerance at your school. “If you see something, say something” should be the model everyone uses. Let everyone know that incidents and concerns should be reported to school leaders in person or anonymously.
  • Don’t forget the school bus. Speak regularly with bus drivers about what they are seeing and hearing on the buses. Occasionally assign staff to ride buses (or ride the bus yourself ) to monitor behavior and to reinforce to students that the climate of tolerance includes not just the school grounds, but the bus as well.

For the most part, I leave here each night feeling like our kids are never at a point that they have lost the capacity to grow as individuals. With that said, I will ask you if we are having enough of a conversation on this topic? Think about it!

From the Desk of Mr. Wagner

After meeting with our alternative school team, a thought provoking question came up: What does success look like for an alternative school student? Like most thought provoking questions, there is not one clear answer. Students are placed in the alternative program because behavioral, attendance, or academic data suggests a need for something different than the traditional model. Each student has a different profile and different needs, so success is also different for each student. For some students, success may look like social and emotional growth, with gradual academic success following. For other students, it may be an improvement in attendance leading to academic gains. Or, success for some students can mean earning enough credits (through the school year and possibly summer) to get to the next grade level by the following year. Whatever the situation, there are some common themes that exist for all students. First, the alt program is a Tier 3 intervention as it is a dropout prevention program. Second, the students require differentiated approaches to provide them with opportunities to meet learning standards. This is where teachers can have the largest impact on the success of students. When we think about differentiation, we should think about content, process, and product. A differentiated product is where we will want to focus our attention. At the recent meeting with the alternative school team, concerns were expressed about work completion as the typical alt student requires more time to complete assignments, making it difficult for them to keep up. Some solutions may be consolidating multiple assignments that focus on the same standards into one or providing a choice of assignments that focus on the same standard. 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do is a clear and concise resource that provides some information and strategies that can help with not only alternative education students, but students in the regular program as well. Lastly, on the idea that alt students need something more non-traditional, flexible grading can be effective to allow for more time. If a student is engaging in his/her academics, but needs more time as the marking period is coming to an end to complete missing assignments, consider giving an incomplete and developing a plan with the content teacher pushing in. Or, consider determining if students have mastered the standards based on quarterly assessment data. To summarize, success means something different for alternative school students and each student is going to require a different path. The goal of course is to keep students on track for graduation and differentiating to meet individual student needs will create the greatest opportunity for success.

Mash Up

Benjamin Franklin once said, "A small leak can sink a great ship." I make mention of this quote because I have identified its sentiment as one useful antidote for the challenges that creep up in the February break to April break stretch of our school calendar. The antidote is to pay attention to the small stuff! Think about your tone, is it welcoming and positive? Think about your classroom norms, are they maximizing your time with students? Think about your expectations, are they consistent and high enough? Think about your procedures, do they respect the effort of your colleagues? If not, I would ask you to tidy them up. Lets get it right...starting now! Remember too what Dale Carnegie once said, "Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves."

See you at the Tuesday staff meeting from 2:30-3:00 pm in the LGI. Currently on the agenda:

  • Matt Roelands and NHS safety and security through the eyes of a future Eagle Scout
  • DASA refresher
  • Planting the seeds of social and emotional learning (adverse childhood experiences) with a film preview (Paper Tigers)

We are seeing an uptick in classrooms behaviors that I would identify as "popping off." What is being said/written (threats) is getting quite a bit of main office attention. Please be sure you are cautious in how much access/license you give for expressing themselves. We have many safe and more appropriate venues for our students to express themselves that do not include entire classroom rosters. I understand this entry is a touch vague so see me if you are not reading between the lines.

Social Emotional Learning and the Plan for Excellence

Calendar Share

Tuesday, March 7 at 2:30 pm in the LGI. Staff Meeting. Contact: T Roote.

Tuesday, March 7 at 7:00 pm at Wayne High School. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Panel. Contact: N Reinholtz.

Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 pm in the NHS gym. Cavalcade of Bands. Contact: B Humphrey.

Tuesday, March 14 at 6:30 pm at Pittsford Calkins Middle School. Mental Muscles with Dr. Wallace. Contact: N Reinholtz.

Wednesday, March 15 from 7:00-8:00 pm. Board Presentation: The NHS Plan for Excellence. Contact: T Roote.

Wednesday, March 15. Kick Butts Day. Contact: N Reinholtz.

Friday, March 17. Public Health at NHS. Contact: N Reinholtz.

By 3:00 pm on March 22 and May 2. ↓65 Infinite Campus Grade Reports. Contact: T Roote.

Thursday, March 23 from 5:30-8:30 pm at WTCC. Career and College Fair/WTCC Open House. Contact: C Logan.

Friday, March 31 at 10:00 am at Nye Road office. Wayne County Suicide Prevention Coalition Stakeholder Kick-Off Meeting. Contact: N Reinholtz.

Monday, April 3 and Wednesday, April 5-6. Tom and/or Ryan Out for Teacher Recruitment Road Trip. Contact: T Roote.

Tuesday, April 4 in the afternoon. Capstone Presentations. Contact: K Ganter.

UPDATED: Thursday, April 13 in the afternoon (time TBD). Student Assembly/Pep Assembly. Contact: T Roote

Friday, May 12 at NRW. Special Olympics.

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The Newark High School Mission, Vision and Values

The Newark High School Mission: We are a school community with deeply held hometown pride, committed to readying young people to be life-long learners with experiences aimed at continuously motivating us to hone our skills in the complex tasks of teaching and learning. Our community is devoted to providing supports for the aspirations of our adolescents as they mature into adults with ambitious plans for college and careers.

The Newark High School Vision: Staff embody the school values and impart confidence while providing an inviting classroom environment with clear expectations and specific academic and behavioral goals. Students embody the school values through intellectual and emotional perseverance. Families embody the school values while remaining actively involved as advocates for their children and supporters of the school programs and staff.

The Newark High School Values: Safe, Responsible, Trustworthy, and Respectful.