Posted on October 12, 2016
Hello DeKalb America,
I am glad that we have this forum to be able to share ideas, questions, accolades and concerns. It is my goal for everyone in the district to feel a sense of openess and transparency of the district. We operate for one reason – Care for Children. Help me help them.
in your opinion, when is homework considered too excessive? We spend hours every night on Spanish homework. This taking away from our family time causing serious problems. They are told not to use Google translate, but when everything is in Spanish, what else can you do at home to complete it? directions are in Spanish, questions are in Spanish and the answers have to be in Spanish.
While we want our classes to be rigorous I agree that if you are having to spend several hours a night doing homework then it is too much. We have been working across the district to improve homework and focus on quality instead of quantity. I did look at the Spanish teacher's web site and feel that it is an excellent resource. I would encourage you to visit with the teacher. I have found him to be open and have a true concern for the students. If after a period of time your issues are not resolved I would urge you to speak with the Principal or contact me directly.
I had a student make a post about several concerns but they used a teachers' name so I cannot show the post. However, I do wish to address the concerns as best as I understand them. First, quality of lunch room food. We have been in lengthy discussions with TISD (our food service provider) about this issue. I feel confident from the feedback they provided we will see an improvement in food quality in the spring. TISD has hired proven food service people from other districts to come in and advise them. We will evaluate at the end of the spring semester. Please feel free to give me feedback then as to whether or not there is improvement. Second, dress code. Dress code has been an issue as long as there have been public schools. Ours is ultimately decided by the School Board and our job is to implement fairly and consistently. I will admit that we are more focused on student learning than dress code so there may be times when we are not as consistent as we would like but we do try. Third, bathroom stalls not having latches. Work orders have been put into the system and repairs should be made expeditiously. Thank you for the nice comments about how great our school is to you. Yes, when we can address these minor issues then major issues are less likely to appear.
I have an issue with the food in the cafeteria. It's always cold when it is served, it's hard, slimy and wet. Is there anything that you can do to make this better for us?
I have great news for us. I just had an extensive conversation with a representative from TISD food service. She is in charge of quality control. She was hired 5 weeks ago from the Quitman ISD where she had earned numerous statewide awards for food quality and service. Further, she told me that TISD also hired a lady from Paul-Pewitt ISD who had similarly won awards for the work she did for them. She laid out a plan about how much more of the food will be prepared from scratch and will include more variety. This is to start beginning January 1. I look forward to the new menus and a quality food program for all our students.
Thank you for taking care of this issue.
Why must the elementary curriculum be almost 90% based on the star testing? I do realize these Star test are mandatory and state required which means the staff does have to focus on helping the kids learn the tasks to pass the test. But why must the grades be based solely on exercises star test driven? My childs reading grades for his class are one reading passage after another. That's all that's in the gradebook. no fluency, no skills writing grades, no punctuation, etc. My thoughts are that if we only teach star testing then how will my child learn how to write a paragraph, what is a sentence? Are these part of what reading is anymore? or is this supposed to be taught in another class? In your opinion what things should be taught in elementary reading other then fluency and comprehension? If these are the two main focuses of the class then I feel it would be very helpful to incorporate different exercises other then reading passages that are only star based driven. My child needs to prepare for other things outside of the Star test.
Thank you for your time and information. It is greatly appreciated.
I was told that we purchased a new baseball scoreboard to replace the one that was out or had been going out continuously last year. Was told we have had it all offseason. Why hasn't it been put up? Will it be up at the start of our season?
Dear STAAR test:
I am really glad you wrote this. You have touched on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Because of the accountability system we have “to a degree” teach to the test. We loath having to teach this way. We would much rather teach engaging curriculum with upper level thinking skills like creating, evaluating and analyzing. Last year we didn’t mention STAAR at all. We told our teachers do not “teach the test” and our scores were less than average. Our Board and community understands and we have documented the upper level thinking we are teaching in classrooms. However, reality does set in at some point and in order to be fair to our students we are teaching to the test more than in the past. I would ask that if you are truly tired of seeing what this is doing to your child - Write your legislator. Write the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, your state Senator and State Representative. These people are elected and they don’t like it when a voter (especially a Mad Mom) writes them and tells them they are upset with what the state is doing.
A couple of other thoughts, Elementary students get two different grades in English Language Arts. One grade for reading and one grade for Language. In Language you will find the grades for writing, punctuation, etc. There should be grades every two weeks for fluency/comprehension. Further, we have focused on writing more this year and our teachers have been to several trainings on improving student writing skills.
Please feel free to follow-up with Ms. Matteson or Ms. Hodgson and get more details about the exciting things that are happening in English / Language Arts.
I am sorry about the length, this is a subject about which I am most passionate. Finally, one of your last statements was “My child needs to prepare for other things outside of the Star test.” I could not agree with you more! I urge you to contact a Legislator and express these concerns. Please let me know if you need an address or phone number.
We do have a new scoreboard and I am assured it will be up and running by the time we need it during baseball season. It is going to be very nice.
Where did you decide to put the bear?
The tentative plans are to place the bear in front of Elem/HS by the flag pole. We are still working on the details for the foundation. There has been discussion to make it portable and place at FB stadium during season. We have also discussed a second bear for the FB stadium. This is a work in progress.
since we have painted the lion don't you think new boston will paint the bear?
You know doing this blog is interesting because of people's perspective. Sometimes things are written in a way that I don't want to promote so I won't post the comment but I do want to answer some of what was being asked, this is one of those times. I believe the food is getting better but it is a process that takes time for us to get to the level we expect and we expect hot food. However, I'm not thinking we will serve both white and wheat bread. As far as if an employee of ours or TISD is rude to you, you need to report that person with specifics to me, Mr. Henslee or Mr. Burgin. We do not condone rudeness but I need specific information. Lastly, you sent a blog post dated 2-7-17 at 11:05AM and another asking for a reply to your first post on 2-9-17 at 7:49AM. Today is 2-9-17 11:03. I think this is an extremely quick turnaround for a reply. In the adult world of busy my goal is to reply within 10 days. Just an FYI if you send another blog comment in the future.
Yes that is a possibility. However we will have a light on the Bear and a surveillance camera with nice resolution. We will be able to see the dastardly deed and apprehend the malefactor.
Dear "If you could only see"
I have had a comment posted with concerns about some teachers and also the amount of time we watch movies in the elementary Library. Thank you for your concerns they are concerns of mine as well and are well noted. Your teacher concerns will be addressed. As far as the watching of movies in the library, I agree and steps are being taken to ensure that Library is for reading or being read to, time. You should notice an improvement.
Why is the daddy daughter dance not a formal dance this year? Little girls like to dress up and dance with their fathers.
Actually there is a good reason for the change. Last year we had a Mother/Son dance and there were some interactive games and other things activities that allowed for quality time with each other. The girls can still wear dresses if they choose but we are going to change the format somewhat to add more activities. Our goal is to provide a richer experience with Fathers and Daughters.
I would like to thank you for making the school a better place i cant imagine a school that could have great statistics and engaging technology followed up by modern design other than Dekalb i love how this schools is almost perfect . the lunches are good and the teacher help us stay engaged.b once again, Thankyou.
Thank you very much. I want you to know that this is very much a group effort of which I play a very small role. But it is an extraordinary place to be isn't it? And for all of you reading this I promise I did not write or cause to have the previous comment written for us. :)
I have a student who has made a couple of comments about a particular class. To all students I would like to say that if you have an issue you and/or your parents need to visit with the teacher and if that doesn't help the situation then visit with Mr. Burgin or Mr. Hensley. Usually that should solve any issue you might have. If it doesn't then set up an appointment with me and I'll be glad to visit with you.
Sometimes this Blog is frustrating for me because there are comments made that I would like to answer but cannot because this is a public domain. Also, change and knowing what might be happening behind the scenes can take time to be brought to light. Just know this. Having the best academic program for our students is paramount for me. We will continue to do everything legally, morally, ethically and financially we can to provide that program.
I want to say a job well done at the DMS Athletic Banquet. This was the first time to ever come to a athletic banquet. I am so impressed on how each student is recognized for their participation. I have nothing but good to say about each coach my daughter has ever had. She isnt one of the strongest players but her coaches encourage her and build her up. They dont make her do anything she doesnt feel comfortable with. I know if it wasnt for the praise she would even participate. I also impressed how the Athletic Boosters work together. I can't say that for every organization. I believe strongly treating everyone fair and making these kids feel good and want to stay in athletics or wherever they may be.. Build these students up so they feel like they are doing something!
Thank you Connie for your kind comments. We do have a great coaching staff who care about students. I am continually please how all of our people embrace "We Can Because We Care."
When will the school goals be updated? What are the goals for 2017?
Thank you for reminding me, I dropped the ball on that one. They are now posted.
I was looking at the board minutes, and noticed a few months missing. can you get those posted? thanks
Dec, Jan, and I think May
Dear Board Meeting, they should all be up on the site now and it be current. We did not meet in December so there is not a meeting posted. However if in the future we have missed a meeting please feel free to contact my office and ask us to e-mail or send you a copy of the minuets.
As I look around I see a lot of schools in our area really taking interest in getting the younger kids involved and even putting a lot emphasis in Jr High athletics. New Boston is holding a football camp (free) to teach basic skills and such for grades 1-9. Coaches hold this camp. They are even involved in the little league football. Redwater has volleyball for girls grades 5-12. They too had a camp. They have a summer volley ball league the girls play in. Oh and their softball coach has started a league for girls ages 7-14. This is to build a foundation. Just makes me wonder why DeKalb Athletic dept does not try to build a foundation starting with younger kids in athletics. It is obvious we do not put any emphasis on Jr high or JV athletics not mention getting involved with grades lower than 7th. Seems we wait until the kids are old enough for varsity to even care, but then our competition is ahead of the game because of the foundation built.
Dear Athletic Department: The reason I have this BLOG is to improve communication with the community. In fact, your comments prove just how much this is needed. Apparently we have done a horrific job communicating all that we do with our young athletes. Without spending too much time on the past just let me say that we are light years ahead of where we were five years ago. The following are some of the activities we have added for our young students. (1) Pre-athletics is a program for all 6th grade students. The girls are taught by one current varsity coach and two very successful former varsity coaches. The boys are taught by a current varsity coach and two varsity assistant coaches. They are taught basic skills in three major sports for 170 days.This is a significant amount of training by some very talented coaches. (2) Our JH athletic program has three former varsity coaches working on the girls side. I don’t think you will find that level of coaching for JH anywhere. All of our male coaches are available during the boys athletic period. In fact we are moving the boys class period to where they can be better trained by all the coaches. (3) In years past students had to choose between athletics and band because both were during the same class period. However, we changed that so students would be afforded the option to participate in both, strengthening both programs. (4) Our coaches have a conditioning program available for both male and female athletes grades 7-12 for the entire summer. (5) Coach May has held a clinic for the Youth Football coaches the past two years in an effort to build/coordinate that program. (6) Coaches have offered summer clinics in VB, Basketball, Softball and Baseball. (7) The community youth programs in DeKalb are excellent. The youth football program is very strong and works well with Coach May, our new VB coach has encouraged a summer program, the little dribblers groups work well, and our summer baseball and softball programs are some of the strongest in the area with our young kids playing deep into the playoffs. With all of this we continue to explore ways to improve our programs. For example, we are moving the boys JH period this year in an effort to improve what we are doing in that program.
I learned many years ago from one of the best coaches in the state, they said “the key to success is teaching fundamentals.” I agree fully with you about building foundations whether it is in reading, math, science, social studies, art, band, agriculture, or athletics without a strong foundation our students cannot be successful. Yes we care deeply about our students no matter the grade. To say “we don’t put any emphasis on Jr High or JV athletics” possibly means we have done a poor job of informing the community of all we do for our students
Are home schooled middle schoolers allowed to participate in athletic programs and conditioning classes?
I am sorry no we cannot allow home school participation. The University Interscholastic League (the ruling body for our athletic program) states that all student athletes must be enrolled full time the school in which they participate.
I know school is just starting but I got something in my child's folder I am concerned about. I would think we push kids to succeed, and I know failure is part of that, but this seems like the teacher is saying my child will fail before they ever have a chance. I will quote what is in the note:
"I also do not discourage failure. I know that sounds unusual, but I want the kids to experiment with math and learn that failure is a natural part of life. its how they recover from failure (resiliency) that matters. Failure is really just a stepping stone to success."
that's just part of it, but I feel like this is saying my child will fail and lets see how they bounce back. I would like all kids to succeed no matter what it takes. just my thought.
We too want “all kids to succeed no matter what it takes.” In fact, educational research suggests that a child failing and then overcoming builds confidence and self-esteem. I do not feel, however, that the teacher is expecting failure but her note is an effort to educate parents that students being perfect in their grades is not the goal, but failing occasionally on the way towards success, will be part of this class, as well as part of life.
I applaud our teachers for pushing out this initiative. There is a growing body of educational research called “Growth Mindset.” If you would like to learn more “Mindset: the new psychology of success” by Carol S. Dweck would be a great place to start.
Can you help get the cafeteria menu posted on line?
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. TISD creates those and provides the link. We are in contact with them and they should get them fixed soon. How about the every child eats free program? We want to tip our hats to TISD for doing the paperwork to make this program possible. Also, please encourage your child to eat in the cafeteria even if they bring something from home. We need maximum participation in order to keep this program going.
Can you help me? I am being told by my child that they are rushed to eat their lunch. said they are being told to hurry up and eat and go outside. I understand little kids start talking and are slow to eat but they have an allotted time so they should get to eat in that time frame without being rushed. What happens is they throw their food away and don't eat. can you please check into this.
I am glad you asked this question so other readers will know the answer as well. Child nutrition is extremely important to us. We have worked hard to provide two quality meals to every student every day with out cost and have plenty time to eat those meals. When I asked Mrs. Lee, Elementary Principal this is what she said "Currently, all elementary students have a full 30 minutes to eat lunch. If they are not finished eating they can stay and finish their lunch, we have several that choose to do so." We all want our children to be well fed. However, if you don't think this is not an accurate representation of our lunchroom please come by and visit with Mrs. Lee or come to lunch with your child on me. We will be glad to have you.
I just wanted to give a little shout out to our new elementary principal-Mrs. Emily Lee!!! In the midst of her hectic schedule she is taking (rather scheduling and finding) the time to meet with each staff member to hear concerns we may have and ask our opinion about the campus, etc. It may take her weeks, as the kids and other duties are far more important. She will still manage. It speaks highly of her character to do this as a one on one. Be it child, parent, or faculty member she is a great listener and prides herself on solving any problems that may arise. Glad she's on our team!!!
I am very glad she's on our team as well! We have been fortunate since I have been here to have had 3 very good principals. Our exceptional elementary program is a reflection of their great work. Mrs. Lee's attention to detail is one example of the many leadership qualities she possesses. Not only does she fit into our culture of "We Can Because We Care" she epitomizes that culture.
is it possible for our band to hang around 10 more minutes after half time and play for our football players coming back on the field to start the 3rd quarter?
Thank you for the idea. We are discussing some of the possibilities of how that might look and checking with other schools as to what they do.