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A Warrior Family?


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I wanted to start a thread on what needs to be done to get something like a bond issue to pass. 

First, I think it fair to say that 40% of the WW voters will never vote for any bond issue..no way.. no how.. Never ever ever. It is true no matter where you live... be it NCH, Mt. H, Fairfield ,Princeton, Ross, or any other place that has place that has passed a bond issue in recent years.  You start off with a 40% base of opposition.

So, you need about 83% of the remaining voters (50%/ remaining 60%) to affirmatively come out and say YES to whatever the plan is.

So where do you start?  How do you sell it?
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The truth is that there is a lot of merit and just push forward with the positive.  As someone that is an independent business owner, I am well versed on the concept that you sell "value" and not the product.  People will pay for value.   But how do you persuade those 83% that are "open minded" to approve more money?

I don't make comments on here to anger people.  Remember, I have spent a lot of time on this project.. and really.. this is just a continuation of the same project.  I really hope that the administration is reading these posts.  They need to hear things that are unpleasant truths.  Perhaps they will pass this bond issue in a presidential election because a lot of people that don't pay property taxes will be voting.  I get that.  We tried that in 2008.  Perhaps if (in the future) the board trots out the ole "pass the operational levy or choir goes away" the choir voters will band together to pass THAT issue.  I am not saying that this will happen, but we've been down this road before, right?

I have said many times that I want WW to win. I want Cicero to win.  I want Paula to win.  But obviously, I want the students of WW to win.

However, this is a little like the failed McCain and Romney and possibly even Trump campaigns.  Nobody wants to listen to people that are interested in the success of the candidate but don't march lockstep behind every boneheaded thing that they do.  They blow them off and disregard their counsel.  Time after time after time.   I point out things that might sound negative.. but folks need to be honest with themselves when it comes to the real problems.  

WW's problems aren't rooted in academics.  They are rooted in too many people being forced to play the "short game" and too many people that feel that are not welcome in the WW family.  The brass really should focus on developing a real Warrior family among their staff.

Again, it's hard to build community spirit when you are playing a football team from Missouri.  Lakota West vs. Lakota East.  Oh yeah!    Fairfield vs. Hamilton?  Yes.

It's hard to build teacher morale when you do things to make them feel like the grass is greener somewhere else.  This is true in any organization.

it's much more than that. 

Unless you are in Band, Choir, AGS, Gifted or a sport.. you don't feel the love.  Students really don't.  I've seen it.  So many students view WW from a prism of being isolated.  I speak with a lot of graduates.  Trust me.  WW has a real problem that places like Princeton don't seem to have.   As a teacher, we tried to get them involved in different things, but this is a huge problem.  I am NOT saying this is anybody's fault.. but instead of worrying about Lacrosse and Rugby, why not make it a goal to get 100% of the students involved in an extra curricular?

When students are involved, grades improve.  When grades improve, self-esteem improves, families are more involved and taxpayers start to pay attention.

Stop "Waiting for Superman".  

You have 30,000 people that could be part of a great Warrior Family.. but how many of them are?

It's the same with your teaching staff.  So many are there because they "can't afford to leave".. so they won't.   Is that good for morale which leads to student achievement?
Others.. will simply leave on a hot July day without any notice...  requiring you to pay a huge premium to find a replacement at the last minute.

Instead of blaming them, why not inspire them by lifting them up.. THE VERY SAME THING YOU LECTURE THEM TO DO WITH THEIR STUDENTS?

Again,  I love the place.  WW needs to build some serious bridges of trust.  If they just try gimmicks to pass bond issues and levies, I don't think they will ever be successful and the state will have little choice.   Finally.. and again.. Cicero and Mad B HAVE been part of that solution.   True, I have sparred with them over the years and don't agree with them on everything.. but my time away from the place has inspired me and given me some insight as to ways that it can be done.

I am well aware of the "strong personalities" that hold big chairs in the high command.  I know them very well.  I am not going to critique them personally, but... I wonder if the same things that are crushing Donald Trump right now could take down WW?   Does WW have a bit of a Trump complex when it comes to community relations?  Does the district pander or inform?  

I remember the consultant that came into advice on this bond issue.  You do as well.  It wasn't good.

Build a family and you build a school district.  Love your staff and they will inspire the children.  Don't pander to "communities"... uplift and unify everyone.

One final thought.  Say what we will about Colerain, there is a real love of the students for that place.  It's not perfect, but there is a huge wall of love there.  Same at Princeton. Those are your neighbors to the left and to the right.   More than a few WW teachers went to work at both places.  A former WW assistant principal was the principal at Colerain.   The demographics aren't that far off from WW.  It can be done.

Winton Woods can win if they are one team and everyone feels that they have a place at the table.  Right now, does anybody think that this is the case?  If not, what can be done about it?

So.. to Cicero's point.  I think the talk about academics is analogous to framing the house before laying the foundation.

Academics don't come before unity.  They are, in fact, a result of that. 
 

Edited by equalizer

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Equalizer,

I agree with you that Winton Woods needs to become more of a "family", but I don't think it has anything to do with the football team playing in other states - the football team and its supporters already are a strong family.

In fact, sports in general at Winton Woods is a family.  Our daughter saw that once she started playing sports this past year - suddenly she gained status at the high school, not just with her fellow students but also with the adult administration.  They gave her awards in fall and winter for being on honor roll - awards that only athletes were given - awards that she didn't receive the previous year as a straight A high school student who wasn't an athlete. 

You may think I have gone off on a tangent, but it's actually related to our talk of "family."  We have a sports family at Winton Woods, we have a band family at Winton Woods, we have a choir family at Winton Woods, we have a theater family at Winton Woods - and we are excelling in all these fields.  We don't have an academic "family", and that is the area in which we are struggling as a district.  Just think how motivated our students would be to succeed academically if Winton Woods had such a family to support them, cheer them on, praise them for their successes, and make them feel valued and included.

Some community members and I are trying to do just that by starting a new non-profit called the Winton Woods Achievement Boosters.  We received our paperwork registering us as a non-profit about six months ago and our board has been busy planning since then, and we are now ready to "go public."  We are having our first public meeting on Tuesday, August 30, at 6:30 PM at the Kemper Road Christian Church.  Our goal is to be for academics what the music boosters are for our music program, or what the athletic boosters are for our sports teams.  We have some exciting plans already in the works, with a new math tutoring program launching this fall at the primary schools.  We would welcome any community members to our August 30th meeting to hear about our plans, and we invite anyone who would like to contribute their time and talents to our positive goals to please volunteer with our organization.  Please e-mail wwachievementboosters@gmail.com for more info.

Equalizer, you hit the nail on the head that we need a Warrior family, and this is one way we can help to do that.  

 

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Gambier, what I suggest WW has is something like this.  When you have a wedding reception, everyone is in the same room.. celebrating the bride and groom, right?  

What you describe is a banquet hall where the bride's family is in one room, the groom's room is one room, the co-workers in another, and the childhood friends in a fourth.

You all are celebrating the marriage.. but only from a prism.. you are not celebrating the whole. 

 Who is looking out for.. and championing the 50% of WW students that feel disengaged from the place?  Cicero pounds on this daily... and I can tell you.. there are a lot of students that are "forgotten".   Free tutoring (for as much as I think this is a good idea) is just a start (and an important one).  But will students show up?  We've tried many gimmicks over the years at the HS when we left the library open for 2 hours after school.  Turnout was poor... and it couldn't have been more convenient.  

In my new HS, there is a really totally different take on all of this.  The focus really is on building a relationship with the child and their family FIRST.  So many kids in WW have so little in their lives.  They could care less about the fact that you offer tutoring.  They love being in school because it is an escape.. but they want to know that you care about them first.. in a genuine way before they think about the tutoring.  I almost think I am detoxing after 10 years of this "academics first" approach when.. in fact.. it seemed like I was building a house on uneven quicksand... using paper mache instead of wood and brick.   Instead of building relationships, we were worried about khaki pants.  Of course, when the boss gave the student "absolution" or an "indulgence".. it was the teacher that looked like the jerk.  Seriously.  I'm not the only that has said that.

It's also true with parents.  Some parents will show up no matter what we are doing.  We love it.  "Never on Sundays" was frequent poster on this board who passed away in 2015.  Great guy.  He always showed up to our events and made an observation that is 100% true.  The Calculus teacher (a legend) would have a full house... the AP teacher.. full house.. David Bell.. standing room only...  every other room.... crickets.

Yeah, you have strong sports families, but who is showing up for the games?  I remember a game in 2012 when Winton Woods was beating the crap out of Edgewood in the 4th quarter by a score of 50-0.   The Edgewood side was packed.  The WW side.. bare!  Now, why would one side stay for the whole game despite the fact that their team was being given a beat down of epic proportions?  What does this say about Edgewood?  That's what I am talking about.  Perhaps there is a kid that isn't in AGS or Spring Musical.. but they have a cousin that goes to Princeton.  Wouldn't that game inspire some enthusiasm in that kid about Winton Woods?

Do sports just serve as a vehicle for a college scholarship or can they have a real function in generating some community excitement?  So yeah.. playing the Indianapolis Home School All Stars isn't the same as facing off against a Princeton or even Colerain.  (They play St. X and LaSalle regularly)

I keep hammering about how teachers are valued because if they are discouraged or feel like they are going to be given they "you're not a good fit" speech, they are really going to go into a survival mode where they just do enough to keep their jobs.   Yes, your teachers are professionals and they are paid well.. but it is like any other organization. The City of Cincinnati had this issue with their police force not too long ago.  I don't make these comments to be self-serving, because I don't think anybody learned from the mass exoduses of teachers in 2014 and 2015.  I saw the list.  It wasn't as bad as last year... but that isn't saying much.  You need to retain and develop your staff.   Turnover depresses the students too.  So many people in their lives have walked out on them.. they just look at the newest teacher as another phony that will do the same thing.  And yes Gambier.. I did get a speech and a letter from 2 former students who thought I did the same thing to them.

It sucked. 

PBL will not solve a deficit of love.  A non-profit group focused on academics is great.. but how is it going to be different than the PTA or WWAC?  I think you are a fine person Gambier.. but you are sort of cursed by two organizations that have dubious reputations in recent WW history.  Both claimed the same mission to varying degrees.  From 2011-2014, we had a parent room in the HS (Room 223) for parents to use to do.. I don't know what.. But it was there.  Never saw a parent in there.   Creating a room for paents, no doubt, was an action item on an agenda.. maybe even shipped to Columbus to impress some pinhead in an office.  But.. was there any real outreach?  Weird.

I slammed WWTA for being weak for the same reason.  Weak teachers don't build academic reputations.  My administration clearly understands that and was one of the reasons I went there.  (Don't misunderstand.  I was also treated well at WW.  I really enjoyed my time there as I have said many times.)  Strong teachers are good for everyone.

 Gambier, you are doing the right things for the kids of WW.   But I would suggest that maybe a step away from the "academic push" and maybe a gesture of good faith to your staff, students,families and TAXPAYERS might also have some value.    WW has talked the talk. How well have they walked the walk? 

Edited by equalizer

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Equalizer,

I agree with a lot of what you said.  Many people don't feel the love of the district - I've heard it over and over from the parents, that when they try to get involved, they feel as though they are treated as interlopers rather than being welcomed with open arms.

I chuckled to myself when you mentioned the parents' room, because I just brought up that very idea to the administration yesterday.  I suggested that since we are headed toward being fully online (Echo, ProgressBook, EZpay, plus now all the back-to-school forms), why not have a parent room with a computer or two for parents who don't have computers or internet access?  Maybe even a computer set up in the lobby of the high school office?  My idea was shot down - I was told they had such a room in the past and no one used it.  I pointed out that there's a greater need for it now that so much school-related stuff is online, and I also questioned if the parents even knew such a room existed back then, because none of the parents I know had any idea about it.  They answered that by saying that there was no need for a parent room or an accessible computer in the high school office because if a parent wanted to use a computer, they could call any of the school's offices to ask to use one.  I asked how the parents were supposed to know that they could do that, and was answered with, "The parents know" as though it's common knowledge, when in fact it is not.  I then requested that they please reach out to let the parents know that they can call the schools to use a computer rather than just assuming that they know.  This is the kind of thing we need to resolve if we want parents to "feel the love."  They need to be included more, as well as other community members, or they will never feel like part of the Winton Woods "family."

In terms of your description of a banquet hall with different groups in different rooms - I see your point, but I also think that improving the academic success would serve to bring the district together.  When a public school does well academically, people want to move there, and it brings a sense of hometown pride to the residents of the district, something that Winton Woods is seriously lacking.  Think Wyoming.  People go to all kinds of effort to be in that school district, and those who are in it think they're all that. (and they have some real reasons to feel that way.)

As far as the dubious reputations of PTA and WAAC hurting our new Winton Woods Achievement Boosters - I can only hope that people will see how different our group is.  WWPTA is not an academics-focused group by nature and appeared to suffer from in-fighting and other drama - our group is academics-focused and is very cohesive and professional.  WAAC had a reputation for being negative and divisive - our group is insisting on positive actions and goals that serve to bring people together rather than divide.  Before anyone jumps on me, let me clarify that these are simply the public perceptions of WW PTA and WAAC, and I am not implying that I agree with those perceptions.

I agree with you, Equalizer, that the students must feel the love, as well as their parents, their teachers, and community members, if they are to see Winton Woods as their "home" and their "family."  We can continue to talk to the "brass" (as you put it) about steps they can take to accomplish this, but it's up to them to actually take the steps we suggest - it is out of our hands if they choose to ignore us.  I don't mean to imply that we are helpless in this - far from it - we can choose to take action ourselves, through groups such as our new Winton Woods Achievement Boosters or as individuals, and set an example that the administrators and board may take to heart.

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Yeah.. I think the administration (particularly those that were around more than 5 years) are still very bitter about the WWAC and their antics of a few years ago.  It too was a parent group that was committed to academics, but this group was also loudly opposed to AGS.  I see the brass's point.  They attacked all of us pretty good.  

Still, the board and the administration have the burden of convincing the voter to approve more money.   They can't shut the door.

I know that I went to two PTA meetings (2011? and 2014).   Both times, I left fairly depressed.  As the "T" in PTA, I could see why very few, if any, teachers wanted to be involved. Very depressing.  Again, I have no idea what that looks like now... but.. the antics of that group seemed to be more focused on certain people and their own personal agendas than much of anything else.  90% of the talk was about by-laws, constitutions, etc.  

In some ways, I see the administration's point when it comes to some of the groups.   Some of them (not you specifically), but so many groups want to convene meetings and talk about the district's problems... and talk.. and talk.   Some think that all of the answers can be found by just copying a Cinci public model.

Many schools struggle with getting teachers, parents, administration on the same page.   It is also true that there are a few people wanting to work for better at WW.

But.. there is a lot of pain and people that were burned.

So many people are sitting on the sidelines because they have been hurt.  Too many play the "short game" where the build their resume and move on.  Too many just "fly under the radar" and just do/say enough to keep their jobs.. expecting others to fight those battles for them.  I know this because I lived it for a long time. Forget me.  So much talent has been discarded in this thought that they "weren't meant to be here anyway" or "well, they weren't a good fit".  Hello!!  They were awesome and you drove them away!  Students.. parents.. volunteers.. sub teachers... and teachers.  I laughed at how new teachers were introduced and hyped as "far better" replacements for the people that left... and they up and leave after two weeks.

Sigh.  Demoralizing to those that care, right?


------

So what is the answer?  Sure, offer the students something.. but I think that the whole house needs torn down and re-built.   Folks can't just sit back and look for Mr. Smith and his team to do that.  Everyone needs to play an important role.   Yes, a new building is necessary.. but even if you do get the money to build it (possible), I don't see the publlc coming back to support it with more money every 5-8 years.   If your school is more about who you can get through "open enrollment" or from China... does anybody think that unified community will arise out of that?  OR... will it just be a school that reflects the vision of the administration?  These are questions that need to be asked. 

Academics can't be improved unless a relationship exists FIRST.   That's the big takeaway that I got after a year somewhere else.  Relationships are important.  You can't just manufacture them or pit one group of people.. be it teachers, parents, students, taxpayers against each other.  It is much more profound than one person's vision.  

We heard "we need to these things at the same time"  (Build a building and fix the other piece).  The problem is, does anybody think that's happening?

Again, I think being out of the picture for a year has really shaped my thinking.   Many of your neighbors are taking a far different approach to these problems.  

I wish you well Gambier.  WW is worth saving and it's worth fighting for.  BUT... something clearly is broken despite the pockets of success that are often broadcast to suggest that "all is well".   Cicero is right.  You can't just say (not that you do) that because 1/3 of the students are doing well that 2/3 (the ones NOT in music, sports, etc.) are doing well too.  Nobody is speaking for those people.  Sadly, they take those tests too.  =)

It's hard to celebrate success when it is overshadowed by the misery of those left out  EMOTIONALLY.  PBL, for as much a I love it.. can't address that piece.  It's also the hardest to work at.  I hope someone does.  

Edited by equalizer

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"suggest that "all is well".   Cicero is right.  You can't just say (not that you do) that because 1/3 of the students are doing well that 2/3 (the ones NOT in music, sports, etc.) are doing well too.  Nobody is speaking for those people.  Sadly, they take those tests too.Edited 13 minutes ago by equalizer "

EQ,

Well said!  Time and time again the first thing the administration responds is "we are doing this and is working (for 1/3")...and "NO what you are suggesting cannot be done!"

  I have been yelled out and verbally abused by a parent who has used the word F to my face and B and get out of my Village...and people like you have no place at Winton Woods.  Well,  just because it works for YOUR kids does not mean that  every thing is well with the Universe.

People do not get the whole picture and more importantly do not see or do not want to see the elephant in the middle of the room.  Ignoring it is not the answer.  Acceptance that there is a big problem...is the start...but no one wants to start they all want to be at the finish line...well that does not work...and some one needs to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  It is obvious that it is not working for a large group otherwise we would not have received the F's that we did and it also obvious that we are not doing what it is mandated by Statue as to take care for the Gifted since we have received time and time again an F. 

Well I am afraid that the gifted solved their problem by leaving the school system in several manners: 1. by being home schooled. 2. by going to another public school. 3. leaving with the blessing of the State Department of Education  "by the means of Vouchers" , to private institutions.

I just had a lengthy conversation with the a member of the State Board of Education about the Spring of 2016 test's scores, and also with the statistics department.  The so called "safe harbor" will come to an end.  The scores are in and the Report Card will come out to the website September 14th / 15th.  The suggestion from that end is to communicate with special State Rep and State Senator in charge of Education reforms and start making the suggestions up in Columbus.  I am seriously considering going up to Columbus when their Fall session begins and ask for an audience.  Starting Communications from the bottom has not proven effective.  I think is about time to start from the top.

At least I am not sitting down and accepting the statement that it is working for 1/3.  I am not pleased with the fact that the brightest students left are carrying the classmates who have missed one or more of the building blocks along the years. 

Sincerely,

The Mad Botanist

 

 

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MB

It looks like they are going "all in" with PBL, which isn't a BAD strategy.  I agree with it being one key piece even as you have to respect that whole piece about individual learning styles.  Teachers are always lectured (esp. at WW)  about "differentiating" their classroom.. but.. I guess a "one size fits all" approach is appropriate on an organizational level..and is certainly what New-Tech promotes.  (And I am a huge fan of New-Tech.  I have presented at their national conferences.)

The gifted kids are no different than the teachers.  They are only going to fight for the mountain for so long and they they realize "Hey, I only have so long on this ball of dirt.. I can't waste time if this is how things are going to roll".  Yes, you can say that kids are moving into because of fine arts, but.. and this is no disrespect to my friends that work there..  One could argue that there isn't a school in America that DOES NOT have a great fine arts program that has won awards and honors. It's subjective to a great degree.  No, not all of them get to go China.. but many bands/choirs do travel places.  They offer different programs like Show Choir that might look differently than what they look like at WW.   There is a huge tendency (and I have noticed this) to only judge success based on the top 1/3.    For years, every school could get away with that.  But.. now they are judged by how the bottom 1/3 are doing as well, and this is disproportionately students with an IEP plan. 

"Safe Harbor" is what saved WW on more than one occasion.  If that comes to an end, there really does need to be a LOT MORE focus on that end of the population.. particularly those in Special Education.   At the HS, I think you only have 5 teachers (out of 18?) there with any significant teaching experience (and a Masters degree) in the Special Education.  Most are new and aren't quite at the leadership level yet.  If they keep those teachers, you will see some real growth at the HS level.. but that is not for a couple of years.  The Director of Special Ed. (D'Arcy) is retiring at the end of this year, so there may be a change with whomever the new director winds up being (and I understand that successor has already been selected).

I suspect that the brass knows the results of this report card already.  I don't see it changing radically any time soon.

The changes that are needed really are 2-5 years away.. even from this point out. It seems like this has been said since 2010..09..08.  I know. They simply MUST focus on consistency at some key teaching roles and build morale and confidence in those that are charged to do the impossible.  WW has not done a very good job of doing that.  Even their (administration selected) "Teachers Of The Year" for 2014 and 2015 aren't with them anymore.  Both were out of state moves, but there needs to be a real push to keep people.. even the ones that struggle on that whole "rigor" piece.  I have said this a million times, but I did notice a number of veteran teachers left WWHS even this year  (one retired).  A few one and doners too.  Turnover is a fact of life in education, but WW can't afford any of it.   Mr. Smith bragged that this was one of his strengths when he ran Taft High.  Why is WW different?

 The HS routinely is the strongest part of the district (and has been for years).. so the focus really needs to be in K-8.. particularly grades 3-6.  I am actively encouraging my friends that are still at WW to do great things as I have a lot of respect for their work on a personal level.  WW does not win if they lose.  I hope that their leaders match that level of commitment to taking WW to where it needs to be... and not "lead from behind".

The problem with a lot of the academic committees that are formed in the district is that teachers often shy away from participating.  They know where their "bread is buttered" and aren't going to stray from the company line.  This is what frustrated me about WWTA.  They have power that they wouldn't use and it has played a large role in what you have now.   That is probably a mistake and is why these committees have largely been ineffective in bringing about the change (at the pace) that people seek.   Just a thought.  I still say some candid discussion is really what is needed.. and badly.
 

Edited by equalizer

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EQ,

"They have the power that they wouldn't use and it has played a large role in what you have now.  That is probably a mistake and is why these committees have largely been ineffective in bringing about the change (at the pace) that people seek.  Just a thought.  I still say some candid discussion is really what is needed...and badly."

 

I could not agree with you more!  That's why when all teachers met informally I continued to ask What Do You Need To Happen?  Some of them openly expressed fear, because their food on the table depended on being a company person first. 

My husband and I formed part of the group of advisors for the AGS.  I brought them to present themselves in Greenhills and the program.  The first Chinese students in the district I brought to Greenhills with their host families and gave them a Certificate that read for their courage to be Global Pioneers.  We were sold on the program, but as soon as the group started to wonder about certain kinks it ceased to exist.  We were also part of the Curriculum Committee.  Again as members started to ask questions it ceased to exist. 

We have been members of the Academic Achievement since its Conception when Eric Thomas was a Board of Education Member and conceived this committee.  As soon as  Mr. Thomas  left and we started to ask question it was changed.  Certificates for achievement were not delivered and now we had to apply ( I just found out that no one else had to apply but us two how about discrimination! ) and now we are just lectured. 

My point is that a candid discussion IS REALLY NEEDED.  We have begged, demanded, pleaded...nothing.  I agree with you 100%!

 

The Mad Botanist

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MB

You wont see too many people from wwta jumping out and speaking up about many of the things that you discuss even though a number of them have lifetime tenure. 

 It really is no different than what you are seeing right now with the Republican party and Donald Trump.  There were a number of people loudly wanted to change things and there were a number of people that wanted to keep the status quo and that is just among the teaching staff.  Believe me I had many more enemies among the teaching staff than I ever did among the administration.

 I am not looking to make it more difficult for people running things now but many of them seriously need to consider the district's direction.... whatever direction that is

But you have to wonder if the district isn't on a collision course at some point three to five years down the road.  The demographics do not favor Winton Woods ... people are moving to places like West Chester and Ross Township where there are no local wage taxes for one.  Project-based learning is being introduced in many school districts whatever advantage Winton Woods has right now is quickly going to be lost and then you're just going to be playing catch-up.  Chinese foreign exchange students do not really show up in third grade test scores. 

I just think that there is a mentality that anybody that criticizes the place is some kind of bully... and even when I was on the payroll I thought that was a horrible strategy.  They really need to focus on building a family and bring the Skeptics into the fold.  The one thing going for Winton Woods is that they do not have an organized opposition (COAST) to this bond issue or the operational Levy the way places like Fairfield have had in the past.  They probably need to build those bridges pretty quick before one of those rises up.

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