... from the Cheltenham School District (December 18, 2019)
OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
Cheltenham is proud to lead the charge in establishing a cultural proficiency/equity student ambassadors program for high school students in Montgomery County. With students, teachers and administrators from Cheltenham, Upper Dublin, North Penn and Norristown, the cohort has met twice (first at the district administration building, second at the Ambler NAACP) to engage in robust conversation around collaborating and designing solutions to issues of social justice. The goals of the cultural proficiency equity student ambassadors are to provide students the opportunity to develop a cultural proficiency/equity student leadership council; build capacity to engage and serve as allies for their peers and others; create a space for student voice on social justice issues; develop strategies to self-advocate; establish peer leadership opportunities; and develop student diversity trainers.
Cheltenham School District has a unique enrollment experience compared to its Montgomery County neighbors: A high number of students enroll in the district through the school year. In October and November, the district enrolled 61 students. Of those, 55 percent were enrolled in grades K-6, while 45 percent were enrolled in grades 7-12. The vast majority of those students are coming from the Philadelphia area and charter schools. As enrollment increases, CSD will monitor the data, as it has a significant impact on our curricular programming and budgetary constraints, and continue to keep the community informed.
OFFICE OF EDUCATION
- CSD STEM Supervisor Dr. Brian Reilly presented an overview of the successes and challenges from the first four years of the Voyage Summer program at each elementary school’s well-attended November PTOs meetings. The program has experienced declining enrollment (43 participants in 2019, a 32 percent decrease) and been a persistent cost to the district despite tuition received for the past two summers, including the 2019 "Taking Flight" program. Community members are encouraged to submit comments, feedback and suggestions about the future of the summer experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. [Strategic Plan Pathway 5: Communications and Engagement]
- CSD Director of Secondary Education Charlene Collins and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tamara Thomas Smith attended the second part of the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity (DVCEE) Social Justice Standards Working Group with other Montgomery County teams. The group reviewed the Teaching Tolerance Curriculum and Social Justice Standards: The Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework, standards which will be incorporated into CSD’s curriculum documents. The anti-bias framework is 20 anchor standards and 80 grade-level outcomes organized into four domains — Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action — reflecting the desired impact of successful anti-bias and multicultural education on student development. The standards provide a common language and organizational structure, and teachers can use them to guide curriculum development, while administrators can use them to make schools more just, equitable and safe. [Strategic Plan Pathway 1: Curriculum & Instruction] [Strategic Plan Pathway 3: Professional Development]
In late November, CSD Supervisor of Elementary Special Education Christina Lewis and Director of Special Education Dr. Beverly Gallagher attended the District Special Education Administrators’ meeting, where the following were discussed:
Language enrichment classroom for K-2 students opening next school year at a yet-to-be determined school district;
Anderson School’s overview of the therapeutic setting available for students with internalizing behaviors;
A hearing aid center will open in February to provide hearing aids, ear molds, batteries and technology for those from birth to 21;
An audiological processing program to provide hearing tests and complete reports;
PASA updates on the number of eligible students receiving the alternate assessment;
Legislative updates; and
Upcoming training sessions.
[Strategic Plan Pathway 3: Professional Learning]
During the first week of December, Special Education Department meetings were held with the CSD Special Education Supervisors, and the following items were discussed:
Progress monitoring confirmation;
Special Education "curricula";
Case manager meetings using a new form with emphasis on data;
Areas of strength and concerns/lack of progress, and supports continuum;
Extended school year determination for “Armstrong Group” and use of eligibility criteria;
Early intervention students;
Indicator 13 follow up training at CBK; and
CHS Career Scope testing.
[Strategic Plan Pathway 3: Professional Learning]
Special Education paraprofessional staff received two days of professional development in late November, including topics such as crisis prevention, safety care, mental health first aid, targeted modules related to specific and critical special education topics and needs through The Master Teacher Paraeducator online courses and technology. [Strategic Plan Pathway 3: Professional Learning]
- CSD has expanded its partnership with the UPenn Graduate School of Education (GSE) to support the district’s equity work. Through the GSE’s Catalyst Office, Cheltenham, along with Springfield (M), Haverford, Centennial and Interboro school districts and Philadelphia’s St. Peter’s School, will be developing solutions to address problems of student belonging. Cedarbrook Middle School and Cheltenham High School students took or will take the school belonging survey, “Psychological School Sense of Membership Scale.” Survey data will assist in programmatic development to support students’ academic, social and emotional needs.
Supervisor of Counseling Dr. Ray Realdine, CBK Counselor Khary Blackmon and CHS Counselor Paul Bryant attended a Catalyst meeting prior to Thanksgiving for school district partners to discuss survey dissemination and consider interventions for enhancing student belonging. Director of Student Services Dr. Cheryl Horsey participated in the meeting virtually to share the district’s survey dissemination plan. [Strategic Plan Pathway 2: Student Achievement] [Strategic Plan Pathway 4: Holistic Experiences]
As part of the social and emotional learning (SEL) speaker series the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit’s, Cabrini’s Dr. Colleen Lelli discussed the impact of trauma and strategies for supporting students with such experiences in late November. Dr. Lelli is a special education advocate specializing in pre-service and in-service teachers’ knowledge on trauma and how to support students who have experienced and/or witnessed trauma. CSD Director of Student Services Dr. Cheryl Horsey attended the presentation, during which Dr. Lelli shared a TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General, and author of “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity.” Dr. Burke Harris is known for her work in linking adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress with harmful effects on health later in life.
Monthly emotional support meetings have continued, and are opportunities for emotional support teachers to be proactive in troubleshooting challenging cases. Students in emotional support programs are typically at-risk or high-risk for behavioral, emotional and academic issues. In an effort to program for some of CSD’s neediest students, various stakeholders meet regularly to address programmatic needs related to specific students, classes and initiatives. [Strategic Plan Pathway 1: Curriculum and Instruction] [Strategic Plan Pathway 2: Student Achievement] [Strategic Plan Pathway 4: Holistic Experiences]
- Director of Student Services Dr. Cheryl Horsey continues to represent Cheltenham in the “Start School Later” advocacy group. Most recently, Dr. Horsey attended a presentation on later school start times sponsored by Springfield (M), Upper Dublin and Hatboro-Horsham school districts. A preeminent sleep researcher and senior behavioral and social scientist with the RAND Corporation, Dr. Wendy Troxel (pictured) discussed the benefits of adjusting secondary school start times. Click through for research studies and articles on adolescent sleep health.
Representatives from High Tech High, the San Diego-based project-based learning institution with whom CSD has partnered, delivered a design workshop for nine PBL teachers from CHS and CBK. The training was focused on project planning, and specifically intended to provide teachers with documentation tools to track projects from inception to exhibition. The High Tech High team will return for the second half of this training workshop in the spring. Read more>
Director of Student Services Dr. Cheryl Horsey and Director of Communications Kevin Kaufman hosted a breakfast meeting in December with teachers who serve as the district’s stipended New Family Welcome Ambassadors. These positions were created four years ago to establish a welcoming atmosphere in their school through strategic outreach techniques/protocols that become ingrained as school culture. With the goal of creating a space for an exchange of ideas and discussions about what works in different schools, the meeting served as the administration’s attempt to reinvigorate the program to increasing family engagement across the grades. Horsey and Kaufman are working on revamping the position description.
As part of a growing partnership, Director of Communications Kevin Kaufman attended an open house planning meeting with members of the United Parents Group in early December. Focusing on “Why Choose Cheltenham,” the open house has been cast as a recruiting event to engage and excite families whose children are at or near the transition pressure points of kindergarten, fifth, seventh and ninth grades. The event is scheduled for Cedarbrook Middle School on March 23. Format and programs are being worked through, but the UPG wants all CSD schools and district wide programs like arts, PBL, athletics, counseling and associated programs like Eastern to highlight their points of pride.
At the Tuesday, Dec. 10 legislative board meeting, the CSD Board of School Directors adopted the following:
- Policy 301: Creating a Position (New)
Based on the recommendation of the superintendent or designee, the board will determine the need for creating positions.
- Policy 314: Medical Examination (New)
To certify the fitness of employees to discharge the duties they will be performing and to protect the health of students and staff from the transmission of communicable diseases.
- Policy 106: Guides for Planned Instruction will be renamed “Adoption and Guides for Planned Instruction.” The purpose of this policy is to provide a comprehensive instructional program to enable district students to achieve educational objectives and attain academic standards required for student achievement.
BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS
- Educational Affairs Committee met on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Summary> | Presentation>
- Policy Committee convened on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Summary> | Presentation>
- Communications Committee met on Thursday, Nov. 21. Summary> | Presentation>
- Facilities Committee convened Tuesday, Dec. 3. Summary> | Presentation>
- Financial Affairs Committee convened Tuesday, Dec. 3. Summary> | Presentation>
- The Homework Committee will convene once more at the Administration Building (2000 Ashbourne Rd., Elkins Park) to review findings from this past spring's homework survey and develop revision recommendations for the homework policy for a presentation at the February Education Affairs Committee meeting. Following the Educational Affairs presentation, recommendations will move to the Policy Committee then to the board for an adoption vote. The next meeting is Monday, Jan. 6 @ 10 a.m.
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE BOARD MEETINGS
- The Board of School Directors of Cheltenham School District generally holds its legislative meetings on the second Tuesday of the month (except for July) at the District Administration Building (2000 Ashbourne Rd., Elkins Park) at 7 p.m. Viewers can "tune in" at cheltenham.org/stream. The remainder of this year's schedule is below:
INCLEMENT WEATHER PROCEDURES AND NOTIFICATIONS
- Regardless what Mother Nature may have in store for Cheltenham this winter, the district wants everyone to be as informed and prepared as possible for when the inevitable first snow day robocall is made. Click through for info on the snow day decision-making and notification processes. The district understands its decisions surrounding inclement weather have a huge impact on families and staff, and the district strives to announce any schedule changes as early as possible. Read more>