Superintendent's Corner: A survey of programs ongoing in Nordonia Hills Schools

by Joe Clark Published:

It's hard to believe that it is February already! So much is going on with the schools, I thought I would take this month to update you on some of the irons we have in the fire.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Looks can be deceiving. That's the message behind a unique traveling exhibit coming to Nordonia High School on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. The display is called "Hidden in Plain Sight" and was created by the Bath and Copley Township Police Departments.

The departments construct what appears to be the bedroom of the average teenager. But items that are taken for granted as nothing but the usual accessories may actually be signals that the teenager could be involved in risky and even illegal activity including substance abuse, underage drinking, eating disorders, sexual activity and more.

Exploration and interaction with the exhibit is encouraged.

The adults in attendance will be able to get an up-close look at the items in the room and be shown how they can be used. Participants will be enlightened, educated and astonished.

The presentation is open to adults only. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Digital Knights: Having completed a full semester, the Digital Knights program is in full swing.

As you may recall, we developed the Digital Knights program to recoup some of the money we lose each year to online charter schools. You might remember that the district loses more than 50 students to online charter schools each year; roughly $5,700 of district funds goes with each of these students.

Currently sixteen Nordonia students are enrolled in Digital Knights full-time and are taking classes at home.

Digital Knights also provides Nordonia High School students the opportunity to regain credit for failed courses and take electives for courses that we can't offer.

So far, one student has been able to enroll in a Music Theory course as an elective. This class is not offered at NHS and is needed for the student's collegiate program.

To date, 24 students have enrolled in credit recovery through Digital Knights, and seven students already have successfully completed their course.

Additionally, two students who did not graduate last year due to failing one class, were among those who recovered credits and were presented with their diplomas.

Overall, we are pleased with the success of Digital Knights so far and are looking to expand the number of students taking advantage of this program.

Strategic Plan: Using data gathered from dozens of community meetings last spring, a district Strategic Planning Committee met in early December to develop a new five-year plan for the district. The committee was comprised of school employees, parents, students and community representatives.

The plan was presented to the Board of Education in January, and the Board will vote to support the plan in February.

After approval, the plan will be communicated to the community.

You will find the plan to have goals related to Teaching & Learning, Relationships, and Operations.

It will include much work that we have already begun, and it will give us guidelines to keep us moving forward in the right direction.

The committee also developed a new district mission statement: Inspiring every student to value learning, community and excellence.

School Start Times: Based on the results of a parental survey in the fall, a committee has been formed to look at the possibility of making slight adjustments to the starting and ending times of some of our buildings.

The survey results showed that most parents are content with our starting and ending times at all buildings except Lee Eaton, where parents would prefer to start and end the day a little later. As you might imagine, many factors are interconnected in making these types of decisions, including transportation, athletics, and research on what's best for kids.

The committee is investigating all of these factors to see what possibilities exist.

If it is determined we can and should make adjustments, we will communicate those decisions in good time.

Weighted Honors Classes: After a lengthy study by a team at the high school, we are moving to weighted honors courses at NHS next year.

We are currently doing our students a disservice by not allowing them to be fully competitive with students from other districts when it comes to college admissions and scholarship opportunities.

Students in honors courses will receive a 4.5 for an A, 3.5 for a B, 2.5 for a C, and 1.5 for a D. An F will still be 0 points.

Our hope is the weighted grade will encourage more students to take rigorous courses to prepare them for college, and that the higher GPAs will play a factor when competing for scholarships and admissions. This change will be implemented for all high school students starting with the 2013-14 school year.

Community Service: Schools must not only provide a quality education to students, but also develop students into responsible citizens. To that end, a high school committee is looking at the reinstitution of a community service requirement for graduation.

This requirement likely will begin with the graduating class of 2017 (next year's freshmen), and will allow kids a wide range of opportunities to be involved in community organizations.

The details are still being finalized, but we expect to bring a proposal to the Board of Education for its approval sometime this spring.

As you can see, even in the dead of winter, the schools are hopping with activity.

As always, thanks for supporting the Nordonia Schools, have a great month, and remember to follow me on Twitter @DrJoeClark.

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