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Superintendent's Corner: Middle Schools to include career-tech education; safety tip line available

by Dr. Joe Clark | Superintendent of Schools Published: September 7, 2016 12:00 AM

School has started! I hope everyone had a great summer creating wonderful memories with your families.

The Nordonia Schools are committed to giving your children the best education possible. Every day, nearly 4,000 kids walk through our doors. We are excited they are here and pledge to provide great instruction, to treat the kids as our own, and to maintain excellent communication with families.

I encourage parents to become involved with the schools as much as possible by being active with PTA and attending school events such as open house, parent-teacher conferences, athletic contests, concerts, and the other many activities the schools offer.

The class of 2029 is entering kindergarten this year. 2029 seems like a lifetime away, but it will be here in the blink of an eye. Parents should take advantage of every opportunity the schools provide to spend time with their kids, because before you know it they will be grown and gone.

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Middle School Career-Technical Education Requirements: Signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in June, 2014, Ohio HB 487 requires school districts to provide Career-Technical Education opportunities to students in seventh- and eighth-grades.

As you might recall, the Nordonia Schools Board of Education approved a waiver for the 2015-16 school year so that we could research the best option for our students. After visiting several middle schools to review their CTE programs and consulting with our partners at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, we have implemented Project Lead the Way for our seventh graders this year. Next year we will expand the program to include our eighth graders.

According to www.pltw.org, PLTW "is a strong foundation for further STEM learning in high school and beyond, challenging students to solve real-world challenges, such as cleaning oil spills and designing sustainable housing solutions. Using the same advanced software and tools as those used by the world's leading companies, students learn how to apply math, science, technology, and engineering to their everyday lives."

This year our seventh grade students are exploring the first PLTW unit called "Design and Modeling." This is an elective and part of the Encore rotation of classes for students. In this unit, students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using proprietary design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.

Next school year, our eighth graders will be able to take the "Automation and Robotics" unit. Students will trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students will use the VEX Robotics platform to design, build, and program real-world objects such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.

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Former middle school science teacher Andy Matlack has been tapped as the instructor for PLTW. Mr. Matlack has a background in STEM instruction. We are very excited to provide this opportunity to our students. If you are interested in visiting the PLTW lab, please contact Nordonia Middle School principal Ryan Durr to schedule a visit.

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SaferOH Tip Line: The Nordonia Schools use a free safety resource available to Ohio Schools that could prevent and alert local law enforcement to a school safety crisis.

This resource -- an anonymous tip line -- is available free of charge to every school district and public and private school in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Public Safety provide the SaferOH tip line that accepts both calls and texts 24 hours a day.

This tip line allows students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety--whether that involves a threatened mass incident or harm to a single student.

Every tip can remain anonymous. School safety analysts may ask for additional information, but the caller can remain secret or leave his or her contact information for later follow-up.

Calls or texts to 844-SaferOH (844-723-3764) are answered by analysts in the Ohio Homeland Security's Threat Assessment and Prevention Unit. When action is needed, the TAP Unit immediately forwards information to local school officials, local law enforcement agencies and others, if necessary.

TAP Unit analysts always follow up quickly with the affected school and law enforcement agencies to make sure that the incident is investigated, action is taken and the outcome is tracked.

The assurance that their calls or texts cannot be traced and that serious, proper action will be taken to end the threat is helping to persuade young people to take a stand against school violence. If you hear of any possible threats to our schools, please dial 844-723-3764.

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Did you know that last year, 78,872 books were checked out of our school libraries? That is more than 20 items per student.

Parents, take time to read with your kids at home. Research shows that reading builds vocabulary, and vocabulary leads to academic success.

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


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