The Pulse September 2015
Supporting Learning that is Vital and Personal
I thought it only fitting to begin our first edition of The Pulse with a common greeting from the Masai Tribe in Kenya. Among the tribes of Africa, few have warriors traditionally more fearsome or more cunning than the Masai of Kenya. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting among Masai warriors. One warrior would always say to another, “Kasserian Ingera,” which, in Swahili, means, “Are the children well?”
As you remember, Jessica Jetton, who travels often to serve the children and people in Kenya, provided us great professional learning on servant leadership at the beginning of this school year. She is truly a role mode for servant leadership, as are many of you. I hope you are reading and sharing the book she shared with us, The Heart of Leadership, by Mark Miller. Here are some bullet points from the book you may want to share:
Hunger for Wisdom
Expect the Best
Respond with Courage
Think Others First
We will be publishing issues of the Pulse on a monthly basis this year. If you have anything you would like for us to include, please send it to me or to Paula Koon. We are wishing all of you a successful school year!
Excellent Information in the October 2015, Educational Leadership Magazine
As we have often discussed, the social emotional learning of our students is imperative to academic success, as well as success in life. All of the research supports the fact that both non-cognitive and cognitive skills must be focused on in our classrooms.
The October issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership has excellent articles that support this work. Here is a link to the articles in their October, 2015 issue. You must be a member of ASCD to access these articles. I have included an excellent full length article (Rx For Mental Health) for you to review.
REACH Scholarship Recipients Chosen for the 2015-16 School Year
We are pleased and excited to introduce our 2015-16 REACH Scholarship Recipients! As you know, the State of Georgia provides $5000.00 for each student, and our district matches that amount, for each eight grade student chosen, and who is able to maintain good grades, behavior, and attendance throughout the middle and high school years. Several colleges in the State of Georgia have offered to match (or double match) this amount, providing a possibility of $30,000 for college tuition for each of these students.
I would like to thank our middle and high school counselors for their work in making this possible for these students. I also want to thank Beth Buursema (CHOA), Ruth Goode (United Way), Cindy Mills (Forsyth County Commissioner) and Carter Patterson (Forte Data Systems, Inc,) and Toyota, for their help in raising funds to support these students and for their many hours spent with over 27 students throughout the interview process. Also, a special thank you to Paula Koon, Hannah Orr, and Lindsey Simpson for all of their help and support throughout this process.
Congratulations to our 2015-16 REACH Scholarship Recipients!
Liberty Middle School – Kathryn Bauer and Erika Guerrero
Little Mill Middle School – Tristen Brooks and Ann Davis
North Forsyth Middle School – Bailey Ferraro, Madison Martin, and Olivia Roberts
South Forsyth Middle School – Taylor Andronica
Connie Trent and our School Nurses have been working hard to make certain our students and staff members are well taken care of, and that our staff members are well trained. They have also been working hard to ensure all immunizations are up-to-date. Thank you to each one of them for the many hours of hard work they give. The are an amazing team!
I have included some important BOE Policy changes below as an FYI for you. A new waiver form has been developed that parents must sign. Because it explicitly states the very things Connie goes over with them in person, and because of our growing number, Connie will no longer be meeting with them in person. If you would like to see a copy of the new form, Connie will be happy to email you an electronic copy.
The 2015 School-Based Flu Clinic will be on Wednesday, October 21 from 2:30-6pm at Otwell Middle School. Forsyth County Health Department will partner with Forsyth County School Nurses to provide Flu shots and Flu mist to our student’s age 4-18 years old. If a child has insurance, the Health Department will file for them. If the child does not have insurance, it will be free of charge. Please encourage your students to come on this early release day and get a Flu vaccine. We want all of our students to be healthy and ready to learn.
News From our Social Work Team!
Below are links to updated BOE Policy. Please make sure you take a moment to look this over. Also, I have included the information on this year's community Holiday Program. Our social work team has been working closely with community members to make this a reality. Great Job!
Excused Absence for Death in the Family
Please share with your attendance clerks that grandparents are considered immediate family and should be considered an excused absence in the case of a serious illness or death. You may access the Student Attendance Regulations, JB-R (0) below.
This year, a Holiday House will be hosted at Freedom Tabernacle where parents will be able to choose gifts for their children for a three dollar donation per child. There will be a point system implemented based on the number of families signed up and the donations that are received where a parent will be able to choose one large item (bike, gift card, technology) and a few small items (games, book, action figure) for each child. We are hoping that the Holiday House will provide a joyful experience for children as well as the opportunity for parents to feel that they have provided a holiday for their family.
We need your support! In order for this new model to be successful, we need schools, the faith community, business, and community partners to mobilize toy drives and volunteers to support the Holiday House. We have developed a list of suggested gifts that we will be collecting to stock the holiday house. As school employees, we often know the popular toys that children would most want for the holiday. Schools may want to conduct a toy or gift card drive, or you may want to collect gift wrapping, holiday decorations, and gingerbread houses to provide to families. We also need volunteers to make the Holiday House a success. Every family will be assigned a volunteer shopper to assist in gathering items and answering questions. We plan to have children’s activities in the gym while the parents are shopping. We would love for school groups, faith based small groups, and civic organizations to sponsor and host arts and crafts, face painting, music, bounce house, or games for children ages three to teens to enjoy in the children’s activity area while their parents shop. When signing up families for a time to shop, we will be utilizing the vertical team/school cluster model and concentrate the families in the North, Central, West, and South/Lambert clusters on particular days. This information will be shared with schools once we have finalized that plan. This will allow churches, schools, and community groups to volunteer or host activities when their families are likely to be at the Holiday House, as well as allow families in the same areas to share transportation.
Please send out the “Holiday Assistance Flier 2015” information regarding the program to your school community the week we get back from fall break. We will be sending out a Spanish version of the form on October 5th. You can communicate this information in the way that makes the most sense for your school population. Also attached is information that you may want to share with your community, perhaps electronically, to spread the word about the need for volunteers and the new sponsorship model. If you would like to volunteer to help with the program signups in October/November, please email me with the day you would like to volunteer. In the next few weeks, please discuss your school's plan to participate in the holiday program. We will be asking each school social worker to find out each school's plan to support the holiday program by October 23rd. This will allow schools to participate in the way and capacity they would like to contribute while allowing the committee to coordinate community support so that we will be able to fill the holiday needs of our children.
While we understand that change can be difficult, we hope that you will join us in this opportunity to bring some dignity and ownership for parents back to the program. We hope that the Holiday House will be a place of joy where families who are hoping to bring the spirit of the holidays to their home are greeted by community volunteers excited to share the generous outpouring of support from the community. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me and I will share your feedback with the committee.
Gail Waldron Freund, LMSW
School Social Worker
Forsyth County Schools
Susie and Lindsey are working diligently to train more mentors for our schools. They have been providing training throughout the summer and this school year. They will also be helping assign mentors to all of our REACH Scholarship Applicants!
Also, we are happy to announce that the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council has received a grant that will provide our community with over $100,000 each year for five years to fund programs for Drug Awareness and related topics. Please mark your calendars and share the attached flyer about the upcoming Drug Summit on Monday, October 26 - Exhibits at 6:00 p.m. and speakers at 6:30 p.m.
I Have a Choice Campaign
I Have a Choice is a public awareness campaign designed to educate and reduce alcohol use among youth, inspiring them to make informed decisions regarding these substances.
For more information about I Have a Choice click here
After an extensive search last school year by a multi-departmental team, FASTBridge has been adopted to replace AIMSweb for universal screening, targeted screening and progress monitoring. School psychologists have been initially trained and continue to learn about this new assessment system to provide professional learning at the district and school level. With the fall universal screening window closed, implementation is now focused on progress monitoring. Do not hesitate to contact your school psychologist for any support you may need.
Thank you to our psychologist team for all of their hard work, to our FASTBridge team, who met often last year to review programs and help in the decision making, to Mike Evans, and our Information Systems Department for all of their help in getting this program and running, and to all of our staff members for their patience in this role out!