Monday, May 29, 2017
Last week, I was able to visit the T.E.A.C.H. Academy at Clark High School to sit and talk with the juniors and seniors in the program. T.E.A.C.H. stands for Teacher Education Academy at Clark High.
These bright young women and men are on the path to entering college and becoming teachers. As I walked into the classroom, I realized that this was going to be different than most visits. The students were not only eager to talk, they had prepared numerous questions to learn more about me, my path to this position and various other topics that will impact their futures.
Let me be clear, this was probably the second most difficult interview I have participated in since I became superintendent. (The most difficult, by far, was with a class of fourth-grade students at Kay Carl Elementary School. This includes the numerous media interviews I have done over the years!) These students asked typical questions: Why did you go into teaching? What advice do you have for new teachers? Etc.
The questions that really required me to think deeply prior to answering included what did I believe teachers need to know before going into the classroom, why teachers are not looked upon more favorably in the community and what were my thoughts on school choice. These students were well prepared for the time with me and showed me what great future teachers we have in our own schools.
As I pondered the answer to what teachers needed to know, I had a flashback to having to write my personal philosophy of teaching when I was a senior in college. I truly wish I could locate that document (it was typed on a typewriter) and see how naïve I truly was before my first year of teaching. I am sure that it had all the right words and phrases and reflected the latest teaching philosophy. But it couldn’t have had the real philosophy that our fantastic teachers live by on a daily basis.
As I left the classroom at Clark High School, I shared with the students that I would be writing about this in my blog. They are the future of teaching in Clark County School District and when they are hired into our schools, they will make a significant difference (and Clark T.E.A.C.H. students – the job offer still is real) in our schools with students who are not much different than they are today. The major difference is that the passion they feel for teaching will ensure success for the students they will teach.
If I had to rewrite my personal philosophy today, it would come down to two quotes. One is the quote I have used for several years, “Every student in every classroom, without exceptions, without excuses.” The second is a quote from James Baldwin, “For these are our children, we will profit by or pay for whatever they become.”
A special thank you goes out to the staff at the T.E.A.C.H. Academy and Jill Pendleton, the principal at Clark High School. You are not only preparing our students for the future, you are preparing the teachers for our future students.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Graduation season is upon us, and this means many exciting changes for our students, staff and their families. The stories of our students undergo a very significant change when they graduate from high school, but let’s not forget there are other graduations that take place every year in the Clark County School District. Elementary school students graduate into middle school, and middle school students graduate into high school. These represent big changes for our students that can be scary and exciting at the same time.
Let’s be sure and support our students as they finish elementary school or middle school and look ahead to the next phase of their education. Let’s assure them that we will be there for them, to help and guide them through the transition into something different and something bigger.
As part of the celebration of Eighth Grade Week, eighth-grade students and staff at Harney Middle School hosted a "Battle of the High Schools" event on May 22. They invited student representatives from their future high schools – Chaparral, East Career and Technical Academy and Las Vegas – to establish connections and take part in a variety of exciting competitions. Click here to watch a video of the celebration and friendly competition.
So, while we celebrate the big step that our graduating seniors are making, let’s also celebrate the other transitions that are happening in our schools as thousands of our students move from one level to the next. Thank you to all staff and teachers who make these exciting moments possible for our students.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
On May 12, it was my pleasure to be part of the sixth annual “Reclaim Your Future” senior celebration, at which approximately 700 students from Clark County School District (CCSD) high schools were recognized for their achievements.
The celebration put the spotlight on the Reclaim Your Future initiatives of CCSD, Jobs for Nevada's Graduates and the Family Engagement Resource Center. With the support of community partners, volunteers and staff, students whose attendance, credits or proficiency exam results put them at risk of not graduating, are getting the help they need.
Students are also given additional resources including mentors, online credit retrieval and proficiency exam "boot camps" to earn a high school diploma.
The Reclaim Your Future senior celebration supports CCSD's Pledge of Achievement goal of College and Career Readiness.
At the celebration, there were giveaways courtesy of the NBA Summer League and the School-Community Partnership Program. Plus, four outstanding students were surprised with scholarships from the College of Southern Nevada.
I also want to thank our wonderful staff and sponsors who made this celebration happen. None of this would be possible without the hard work of our staff and students who go above and beyond everyday.
Click here to watch a video of this very special event.
Congratulations to these terrific, hardworking students, and we look forward to seeing you walk across the stage and receive your diploma!
Sunday, May 7, 2017
For the past six months we have been implementing a massive reorganization of the Clark County School District. Please watch my video regarding this and AB469.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! So far, we’ve had some terrific events to honor our wonderful teachers, starting with the Heart of Education Awards at The Smith Center on April 29.
We also had a great event at Helen Jydstrup Elementary School, with Station Casinos donating free buffet vouchers to more than 18,000 CCSD teachers.
In addition, WGU Nevada, Lyft and Dunkin’ Donuts Las Vegas donated donuts to CCSD teachers.
Check out the links below for highlights of these great events, plus my latest Superintendent’s Update.
Highlights of Teacher Appreciation Week
Monday, April 24, 2017
Teachers change the lives of thousands of children every day, and their work and impact extend far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. With Teacher Appreciation Week from May 1-5, I want to express my gratitude to our more than 18,000 educators who deserve the spotlight for their commitment to our students. This important week allows us to continue applauding district teachers by acknowledging all that they do to create a foundation for future generations. Our teachers are educators and so much more.
To celebrate the commitment of CCSD educators, this year Teacher Appreciation Week kicks off with the 2nd annual Heart of Education Awards, in partnership with The Smith Center, The Rogers Foundation and other community supporters. The program will honor 910 outstanding CCSD teachers with a red carpet arrival, swag bags and live entertainment on Saturday, April 29, at The Smith Center. The event will also highlight the top 20 award winners that will receive a custom trophy and a cash gift of $5,000 in recognition of their achievements. Each winner’s school will also be given a cash gift of $1,000 to be used for a program selected by the winning teacher.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Please be sure to thank our teachers for all the hard work and sacrifices they make on a daily basis.
Monday, April 17, 2017
It’s that time of year again – time to register students for the upcoming school year.
Families with current CCSD students can complete the registration using Parent Portal by way of Infinite Campus at campusportal.ccsd.net. For these families, the process will take less than five minutes.
Families who are new to CCSD may begin the process at register.ccsd.net.
Registration can be done on a computer or from a mobile device. Schools will have computers available for registering students.
I urge all parents to register and enroll their students by the first day of class, because of changes in the methods of state funding.
The new method essentially turns every school day into a “count day,” and the district’s funding is based on enrollment data. Students who are not enrolled by the first day of school will have a direct impact on the funding we receive.
Parents can visit ccsd.net/schools/zoning or call Demographics, Zoning and GIS at 702-799-6430 to find out which school their child is zoned for.
To learn more about registration requirements, parents may visit register.ccsd.net or contact the school.
And finally, please remember that the new school year will start two weeks earlier, on Monday, Aug. 14.
Monday, April 3, 2017
This is the time of year that students in grades 3-5 are taking their SBAC tests. If you are a parent, there are ways you can help your child prepare for these tests.
The first thing I’d suggest is to create a study area at home that is free of distractions, a place where your child can prepare quietly and without unnecessary stress.
Try engaging in activities such as grade-appropriate games that make studying fun. You can also refer to old homework assignments and use them as study tools.
Set time limits on the review activities so that your child gets in the habit of working at a steady pace.
Make sure your student gets at least eight hours of sleep the night before test days, and ensure they have a healthy breakfast the morning of testing.
Do your best to enhance your child’s confidence that he or she can do well on the test. It's so important to be positive and supportive, to help your child feel relaxed and self-assured.
On test day, your child should read and re-read the directions carefully so they understand how to complete the task.
For more tips, click here to watch a fun video about testing courtesy of our friends at Lincoln Elementary School.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Prior to the beginning of this school year, our Board of School Trustees asked each high school to make one video, about two to three minutes in length, highlighting their accomplishments and what they are most proud of as a student body. Our students answered the call and have put together some awesome videos.
I do my best each year to visit as many schools as possible, but with 351 campuses total and 49 high schools alone, it can be a little challenging.
Please, support our students and take a look at some of these videos. You'll be amazed at what our students are doing and achieving. Please feel free to utilize social media to share some of your favorites.
Monday, March 20, 2017
One of the most important ideas behind the reorganization of our district is the engagement of our parents and community members in our schools. We have several partners who are helping to increase parent engagement by bringing parents into the schools to find ways to get involved.
The Family and Community Engagement Services Department, or FACES, as we like to call them, has been in place for the past two years. Their purpose is to go into schools and communities to teach parents how to get engaged in their child’s education. They also teach parents how to become advocates for their child and all children in their school.
FACES has a small but mighty staff that focuses on school-based Family Engagement Centers that “establish and nurture relationships with one common goal—student achievement, through academic support, classes and workshops in a variety of topics, and access to community resources.” Visit their site at faces.ccsd.net.
They also work closely with school principals to go out into their community to engage parents in their home schools. This work is essential when recruiting parents to be members of parent organizations and the School Organizational Teams.
Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) began in 1897 and have been an integral part of schools ever since. Nevada has a strong PTA presence in our schools. This is not the PTA we remember from our youth; they still support schools with fundraisers, but are now advocacy groups to help the school and the district with the goal of increasing parent participation in their child’s education.
The Nevada State PTA has been busy this year, providing public service announcements for our Vegas PBS station, giving more than $40,000 to the clothing closets in our schools and are assisting our schools in so many ways. PTA is a valuable partner in the work we do and we could not ask for a better partner. Visit their site at nevadapta.org.
Family engagement in a child’s learning is an extremely high indicator of student success in schools. We must all come together to make a difference for Every Student in Every Classroom, Without Exceptions, Without Excuses.