Wednesday, November 18, 2009

new principal coming to the newton school

well- i said that i was going to talk about some of the changes that are happening at our school and i guess one of the biggest ones is that we are going to have a new principal. we aren't really happy about the whole state of affairs but it's the way things have fallen. we are trying to make the best of it and are in the middle of a principal search right now. let me tell you the story of how this came about.
back in the summer, the state of nc (in all the infinite wisdom of government bureacracy) decided to end the practice of what has been deemed 'double dipping.' this practice describes hwo the state was letting retirees from schools come back and teach and earn both their retirement and a salary. the process came about because there was a teacher shortage in nc a few years back and the legislature figured that this would allow them to work their way around the shortage. many, many, people took advantage of the 'loophole' and continued to work in a job that they were passionate about. many, many, good educators stayed in schools and continued to teach children.
fast forward to this summer and the current economic meltdown. many teachers lost their jobs as districts looked for ways to cut money from their budgets. some bright soul in the state legislature thought that ending double dipping would cut back on money spent and enable young teachers to get their jobs back as the retirees retired again. i understand the logic, but in many cases it is flawed logic.
specifically, our case. our principal is an excellent teacher who has retired twice. he came back to our area and put his heart and soul into our school to get it up and running. now the state is telling him he can't continue to be principal because he will reach his salary cap for earnings pretty quickly. so he is having to cut back to 22 1/2 hours a week. this makes him an hourly employee. supposedly saving the district and the state money. but he was not only our principal he was a teacher. he was being paid on a teacher salary scale for 12 months. now he will just be a teacher and we are having to hire a new principal. the new principal will be paid on the principal scale. this will cost the district and the state more money. the state was also only having to pay into one retirement account for our principal, now they are going to have to pay into two. this shows what happens when you pass blanket legislation without giving local districts any leeway in interpreation.
so anyway, now we are looking for a new principal and our old principal is staying on to teach. our ex principal (i should have probably used this throughout-he might be mad that i am calling him old) and another teacher are part of the interview process for the new principal. as a staff we were able to submit questions and it is great that we are part of the process. the circumstances are not preferable but we are looking forward to working with someone else who shares our commitment to kids and our commitment to doing school the way that we do it. we are a consensus style group and almost nothing we do is driven from the top down. we look forward to working with someone else who shares our ideals and is excited to be a part of the great experiment that is our school.
and that's it in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

while i was away

ok- lots of things have happened here at our school while i was not blogging and i thought that maybe i could get back at this blogging thing a little more. i have lots of things to talk about but i should probably start with the events that are going on today and then work my way backwards. several posts about all the craziness happening around here are to follow but let's focus on today for now.
today my school is being visited by a team of people from other schools for our school wide peer observation. this is something that we do at least once a year and it is part of how we gauge how we are doing with regards to many of the things that we have stressed as part of our school improvement plan. it is based on the idea of rounds that doctors do. if you want to know how you are doing, you can't be afraid to ask others to come and look at you. that's what this is all about.
so today, there will be 14 or 15 people from other schools wandering around our rooms and our labs looking for answers to questions that we have given them. i will talk about the questions but first a few comments.
question 1
as part of our purposeful design, we created a time for students to work. we are attempting to simulate something of a 21st century work place where they are somewhat more free but still have to get work done.
1. to what degree is the free search lab philosophy of the school helping students develop college ready habits of mind?

question 2
as part of our original mission we were to establish rigor as one of the founding tenets of our school.
2. according to our definition, what evidence do you see of rigor in the classroom?

question 3
we have a fifth day schedule that is a different schedule than the rest of our days. the fifth day schedule is used for tutoring, enrichment, and to develop social and emotional intelligence.
3. does the 5th day schedule enhance the learning of those needing extra help? do kids feel supported both academically and emotionally? are enrichment courses meaningful?

so these are the things that we want to know and we hope that we get some good input back from our peer observation. we will have the observers here from around 11-3 today and then from 3-4 we will have a post rounds session for our school rounds.