Secondary Spotlight

December 6, 2015

Power Up!

Happy Sunday all! This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Conference. Three of HCS schools were recognized: Weatherly and Morris Elementary received the Blue Ribbon Beacon award and Monte Sano Elementary received the Blue Ribbon Lighthouse award. Our district now has 7 schools who have received the Lighthouse award. Several HCS schools are in the 2016 Blue Ribbon assessment process: Huntsville High School, Grissom High School, Challenger Middle, Challenger Elementary, ASFL, AAA, Mt. Gap, and Highlands Elementary. Each year, schools will be added to go through the Blue Ribbon process. Congratulations to the schools on this accomplishment and to those going through the Blue Ribbon process- enjoy the process! After all, it is about the process and not the prize!

During the Blue Ribbon conference, attendees had the amazing opportunity to hear Jayne Ellspermann's, NASSP Principal of the Year, keynote address as well as her session on "Power Hour". If you are not familiar with Mrs. Ellspermann, I highly encourage you to read articles that she has submitted to NASSP. She is currently the principal of West Port High School in Ocala, Florida. The school has an enrollment of 2,600 students located in a rural area of Marion County. She has moved this school from an "F" to an " A" school due in part to her leadership and innovative strategies to increase student achievement. One of her innovative ideas is the implementation of "Power Hour". Power Hour is an hour that includes lunch and club/tutoring/ study session time for students. There are no "lunch periods". Instead, students are empowered to seek out tutoring or participate in club meetings and grab their lunch during this time. Huntsville High School leadership team and I were able to visit West Port High School last week and observe "Power Hour". It was truly an amazing experience. We spoke to several students and they all responded with positive comments. Comments included:

  • "I can participate in clubs now. I ride the bus and I wasn't able to stay after school."
  • "I usually go to my AP study sessions during this time."
  • "I can practice for my theatre performance."
  • "I can retake or make up a test during this time."
  • "I can work on assignments and go meet with my teacher during his office hours."

So, what was my big ah-ha moment? As I learned about Power Hour during the session and prior to my school visit, I honestly was concerned that students would view this as a time to find "other" avenues to entertain themselves. However, what I observed was the complete opposite. Students were self-regulated, empowered, happy, polite and intentional about the use of this time. My ah-ha~ if students are given the opportunity to own their learning and be responsible for their learning, they can and they will!

How can you increase student empowerment and ownership of learning in your school? Let's think outside of the box! Each of you posses the spirit of innovation just like Jayne! Go for it... I am hear to bounce ideas around with you!!!

To check out Power Hour, click the link below.


Teacher Surveys- please ensure that your school has 100% student participation for teacher surveys. Matthew Creel sent an email to each principal detailing student participation. If you have a question regarding surveys, please email Matthew before the survey window closes.

Lead Alabama PLP- please make sure that you have entered evidence for November and December.

Career Tech Exam Exemptions- Susan Moon emailed high school principals last week regarding CT semester exam exemptions. Students who receive a credential in a carer tech course ( courses are noted in her email) can choose to exempt their semester final. If you have any questions, please email Susan Moon or Shelton Cobb.

Schoolnet- Schoolnet begins this week. High school semester exams will begin next week.

Principals' Meeting - Look forward to seeing everyone Tuesday, December 8th. We will have time for feeder pattern conversations again during this time. :-)

Self- Monitoring Plans- Please make sure you share your self- monitoring plans with you faculty and develop ways to measure your progress with each of your self-monitoring.

Grades- please ensure teachers are updating grades. At least one grade should be added per week.

The Week Ahead:

Complete teacher surveys

Schoolnet testing week

December 8- Principal's Meeting, GRADUATION RATE CORRECTIONS DUE

December 10- AP/TOSA meeting; Board meeting

December 10- Freshman Academy Roundtable- Columbia High School

Upcoming Events:

December 15- AP/ TOSA meeting; High school principals- please pencil this date to meet at 1:00 to discuss the Course Description Guide ( location TBD)

December 16, 3:30-4:30- SGA meeting for high school principals

December 21-January 1 Winter Break

January 4- Teacher work day

January 5- Students return

January 11- STAR ( the assessment calendar states- January 5- we have asked this be moved to January 11- more to info to come)

January 11- Report cards go home

January 12- Principals' Meeting- you will conduct Instructional Rounds on this day

January 13- Proof of Residency Window opens

January 14- Principally Speaking, board meeting

January 18- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday- No School

January 20- Digital 1:1 tour ( school TBD)

January 21- Vertical team meetings ( location TBD)

January 25-29 SITE DATA

January 29- LTF training

February 1- ACCESS window opens

February 1-5 National School Counselor Week

February 2- Principals' Meeting

February 9- ACT WORK KEYS for 12th grade

February 12- BUILT IN SNOW DAY- possibly no school

February 15- BUILT IN SNOW DAY- possibly no school

February 17- LIFE PE Waivers due to Secondary Programs

February 25- Graduation Planning meeting with principals and senior counselors

February 27 - i Register for rising 6th through 12th grade- VBS 10:00-2:00

Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships

Last week, I shared Dr. Blackburn's theory of rigor. I hope you had a chance to reflect on what rigor looks like in your school. This week, I wanted to discuss the connection between rigor and relevance. Many of you are familiar with the work of Dr. Daggett. He is part of the ICLE, International Center for Leadership in Education. Daggett has completed extensive research and work in the implemenation of rigor as it relates to relevance. In fact, Dr. Daggett believes that in order for there to be rigor, there must be relevance. Thus, he developed the Rigor/ Relevance Framework. This framework is based on four quadrants:

Quad A- Low level of knowledge, no application

Quad B- Basic level of knowledge, real world application

Quad C- High level of knowledge, no real world application ( "the giver of content")

Quad D- High level, real world application ( cross- curricula, inquiry based, student driven, project based)

The Lee High School feeder pattern will be piloting this model beginning next semester. In the meantime, if you are interested in the rigor and relevance framework, please check out the link below ( ICLE homepage). Also, one important aspect of this model are rubrics, specifically rubrics for detemerming if a lesson is rigorous and relevant. I am also providing a link below of a high school that developed a rubric guide for what students are doing and what type of questions students are asking. One great way to empower teachers is to have teachers develop the rigor and relevance rubrics based on the framework. This allows teachers to dig into the standards and collaborate across disciplines to discuss strategies that increase conceptual learning. Please let me know if I can help with this! How will you build rigor and relevance in your school?

Thought for the Week:

"Graduation is not a destination; it is the threshold to a student's future."

~ Jayne Ellspermann