From the Castle

Parent Newsletter for Thomas Dale High School-January 2019

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Greetings from the Castle!

Knight Families and Community Members,

During this time of year, there is so much going on in our lives. It is a time of reflection, it is a time of dreaming; and most importantly, it is a time to appreciate and live in the moment. I encourage you to be extra-mindful this holiday season of loved ones around you. Saying, "I love you" and "I appreciate you" are easy (and free) ways to help ground you in the moment. As the proud principal of Thomas Dale and of the school that grounds the Chester community, let me be one of the first to let you know that I love and appreciate you. I have the absolute best job in the world, and it is such an honor and a privilege to work with your children on a daily basis. It is times like these, when we have extended time apart, that I miss them the most, and I am reminded of how blessed I am to serve our school and community. Here is to an AMAZING 2019!

I would like to personally invite you to a "What's Next for Thomas Dale" presentation in the Large Auditorium at Main Campus on January 9, 2019 at 7pm. This presentation will include an update on my transition and entry plan, what I've learned about our strengths and opportunities, and an overview of the direction of Thomas Dale High School. This will be important information that you won't want to miss! For those of you who are unable to attend, I plan to stream this on Facebook Live so that we can reach as wide an audience as possible. Save the date!

For your reference, I am including links to the documents I've used for transition and entry, along with key resources I used to initiate dialogue.


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

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  • Genius Hour. The first two Genius Hour Days have been a hit! On November 26, our 2nd Genius Hour, we offered 85 sessions. On January 28, we are aiming for 100 sessions. Do you have a genius to share? Are you a professional who would like to share your skills with students and staff? Just email ME, and I will ensure we get you linked in.
  • 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? Just email ME, and I will ensure we get you linked in.
  • 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.
  • Community Partners Meeting. Want to be a part of our community school? HERE are the minutes from our last Community Partners Meeting. Our next meeting will be on January 8 at 1:00pm in the Main Campus Library. Join us!
  • From the TDHS Libraries: Please see the newsletter from our librarians by clicking 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).

How Do We Leverage Our Reality?

Now, more than ever, our students and children need great leadership.

I believe it is our responsibility and a moral imperative to prepare our students to be both life-ready and future-ready. I believe a student's time at Thomas Dale must educate them far beyond the curriculum objectives and standards created for subject and content areas. There are skills - such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship (Virginia calls these the "5 Cs") and dispositions such as grit, flexibility, risk taking, resilience, compassion, gratitude, humility, service, and empathy - that our students will need to be successful in whatever path they choose.

Before we can develop a school that ensures the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be life- and future-ready are part of our students' learning experiences, we must first understand the current reality and the "why" behind that current reality we face. I am a fan of Simon Sinek, and I invite you to watch the video, linked below. I believe this 15-minute video into the reality of the Millennial generation, and the transition to creating an environment that prepares our next generation, will be beneficial for all of Thomas Dale's stakeholders. After all, it takes a village, and we are partners in this process. In this video, Simon Sinek explores the four key areas that have an impact on this reality:

  • Parenting
  • Technology
  • Impatience
  • Environment

Please take 15 minutes and view THIS VIDEO. Our children need our leadership more than any other generation. I invite you to engage in dialogue with your children, with your children's teachers, and with me on how we can create a Thomas Dale that prepares our students to be successful in whatever path they choose.

More Enrichment and Support Available

This year, we've tried a new approach to Enrichment, and it has been so successful, that teachers AND students want more! To be able to provide more opportunities for students, it would require a change to the bell schedule. This change will include moving to Enrichment every day; ultimately, we will be better set to benefit all students. Our intention is to make this change when the second semester begins on January 28. Please understand this is not a decision I took lightly; with overwhelmingly affirming feedback, it has become inevitable, necessary, and a step in a better direction.

To prepare our school and to ensure we have it right, we have piloted and will continue to pilot during our first three days back from break. Doing so will allow us to test the new schedule and have plenty of time to make adjustments based on feedback from teachers and students.

Early rounds of feedback from both teachers and students indicate that a change to our schedule NOW, as opposed to waiting will be the best way to go. I do, however, want to ensure that I've allowed more time for input before making the decision and implementing THIS BELL SCHEDULE to take us through the rest of the year.

Please check out the pilot bell schedule for January 2-4 by clicking HERE.

Upcoming Events

Stay connected to OUR CALENDAR and mark yours!

December 20-January 1 - Winter Break (School is closed)

January 2-4 - First three days back (BELL SCHEDULE)

January 8 - Community Partners Meeting (1pm in the Main Campus Library)

January 8 - PTSA Meeting (5:45pm in the Main Campus Library)

January 9 - Coffee with the Principal at 7am at Door 9 at West Campus

January 9 - What's Next for Thomas Dale? Presentation (7pm in the Main Campus Auditorium)

January 19 - Specialty Center Auditions

January 21 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (No School)

January 25 - Last day of the 1st Semester (Adjusted Dismissal for Students - 12pm)

January 28 - First day of the 2nd Semester

Stay In-the-Know! There have been over 4,000 views of our newsletter, From the Castle! Click below for previous issues.