Rosie Sorrells School of Education and Social Services

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October 4-8, 2021

We're almost there! On October 7, 2021 we will cross the finish line of our first grading period! Keep moving! Please make sure all students have a grade for your course and meet (beat) the deadline if possible.

Friday, October 8, 2021 is our professional development day. There will be time for us to meet as ESSM, engage in professional development per your content, meet as a department, and it is my plan to meet with you as a department as well. Townview is also celebrating our custodians this week. Each campus has been given a day to show our appreciation to custodial staff and our cafeteria staff. Our day is Friday! They will join us in our catered Fiesta buffet as we remember Hispanic Heritage Month. Our time together will occur in the commons since we are speaking of 50 people. Please plan to join us!

Relax and enjoy this final week of the first grading period,



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This Week at ESSM

Monday, October 4, 2021
  • Final Week of the first grading period
  • TPR Calibration Exercise: Special Education (Kendrick)
  • Magnet Principals' Meeting
  • Spot Observations and Feedback
  • Office Staff Meeting 2PM

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

  • Morning Duty
  • ACT Testing
  • TMC Principals' Meeting
  • CIC Collaboration

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

  • Counselor Collaboration
  • Spot Observations
  • Recruitment Logistics and Planning
  • Educators' Day at the Arboretum

Thursday, October 7, 2021

  • Last day of first grading period

Friday, October 8, 2021

  • ARD @8AM
  • Grades Due
  • Professional Development Day
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Rethinking "Rigor" in Secondary Schools

In this article in Independent School, Percy Abram (The Bush School) and Olaf Jorgenson (Almaden Country Day School) say that academic rigor has been “catnip” for many parents, “associated with favorable outcomes ranging from high standardized test scores and weighted grades to the grand prize, admission to elite colleges and universities.” But what does rigor mean in the classroom?

The usual association is with difficulty – rigorous classes are hard – and not necessarily that they are intellectually challenging and conceptually deep. Rigor is more often associated with piled-on reading, homework, and assignments that produce anxiety, sleep deprivation, isolation, and emotional fatigue. Rigor-as-suffering harkens back to the Latin derivation – stiffness, rigidity, harshness – and echoes contemporary dictionary definitions – inflexibility, strict precision, exactness, making life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable.

“This is not to suggest that academic achievement, ambition, or aspiration aren’t worthy and noble drivers,” say Abram and Jorgenson, “but there is an argument to be made against unnecessary, unhealthy, and inhumane academic distress – about the peril and the ethics of putting student achievement ahead of student wellness, and the fallacy that the two are competing aims.” The additional layers of stress placed on young people during the pandemic have added urgency to the need to rethink rigor in middle and high schools.

The irony is that parents who push schools to implement the hard-nosed conception of rigor are not helping their children prepare for the “best” careers. Many elite companies are looking for a different set of skills: emotional intelligence, listening and empathy, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, generosity, and fairness. “Certainly,” say Abram and Jorgenson, “students need exposure to direct instruction, core knowledge, memorization and recall, and automaticity – and some students truly blossom when fed and watered by facts.” But this is only part of what young people require to lead fulfilling lives.

The authors propose a new definition of rigor: The degree to which a student is in equal parts intellectually challenged, engaged, enriched, and empowered. The big idea is challenge, not in the sense of an onerous workload but the “provocative, stimulating, sometimes vexing challenge of grasping complex ideas that make learning meaningful and rewarding (as well as empowering) to master.” And this has to be tuned to students’ incoming knowledge, skills and attitudes, so that work is at the Goldilocks level – not too difficult and not too easy.

“As schools courageously embrace a new conception of rigor that rises above merely a crushing workload,” conclude Abram and Jorgenson, “we expect to see both increased student wellness and higher levels of more-meaningful academic achievement.” They believe that even the most driven parents should be persuadable around the goal of producing graduates who are also healthy, well-adjusted, confident, and happy.

In a series of sidebars, Abram and Jorgenson share steps that several secondary schools have taken to tone down rigor-as-suffering and improve their students’ experience:

- Later start times;

- Block scheduling with fewer, longer classes that don’t meet every day;

- Individualized work-study options;

- Integrating co-curricular programs (versus piling them on top of academic courses);

- Tweaking schedules to allow more unstructured downtime;

- Expanding advisory programs;

- Increasing teacher conferencing time;

- Adding mental health counselors;

- Providing forums for students to discuss their school experience;

- Rethinking homework policies.

- Allowing re-dos of tests;

- Eliminating AP courses and replacing them with honors courses designed by teachers;

- More emphasis on experiential learning;

- End-of-term interdisciplinary, immersive experiences on real-life challenges;

- Replacing final exams with expositions in which students demonstrate their learning.

“Out of the Shadows” by Percy Abram and Olaf Jorgenson in Independent School, Summer 2021 (Vol. 80, #4, pp. 70-77)

An SEL Moment Outside with Humanities Practicum Students

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Rosie Sorrells School of Education and Social Services


All scholars from the Rosie Sorrell School of Education and Social Services will graduate as empowered citizens equipped to lead and serve as impassioned educators and humanitarians.


We engage and equip scholars to thrive in and out of the classroom through relevant, experiential learning, self-efficacy, and caring relationships to be college and career ready