Principal's Message November 2016
Dear Homestead Families and Visitors,
Welcome to November! October has flown past us and we are now looking at the second half of the first semester, which means we will soon be heading into winter and finals. The start of the school year has been very successful as we welcomed the class of 2020 as well as several new staff members. Homestead continues to be the largest school in the district with just under 2400 students at last count.
Homecoming was the highlight of the previous month as our students brought their Mustang Pride to the forefront.
One new program that we have piloted this year is Homeroom for all of our 9th grade students. The basic idea behind the program is to organize students into small groups and pair them with an adult or two for the entire year. The Homerooms meet every Friday during tutorial with the goals of making stronger connections between students and staff, helping develop the whole student beyond just academics, and to build momentum to possibly turn the program into a four year, school-wide initiative. There is a lot of work to be done before that happens but there is a lot of data and research out there that says students who feel a connection to their school will do better academically. So even though we may not be teaching a specific curriculum or subject matter during these Homerooms, we feel that providing students a safe space or a safe advocate can have benefits that will help them now and in the future. Every Homeroom is different with a variety of activities planned to appeal to the needs of the students. Usually, the Homerooms have activities that range from short check-ins to team building. The Homeroom advisors may also facilitate conversations among and between the students about successful tips for studying or how to deal with issues or problems on campus among others. I have also had the pleasure to visit a few Homerooms and will continue until I have had the chance to meet every Homeroom. So if you have a 9th grade student, please ask them how Homeroom went on Friday or what their thoughts are regarding the program. We will be gathering information and data about the success of the program as we evaluate the steps for moving forward or not. I am also really grateful to the 30 teachers and classified staff members who volunteered to take on a Homeroom assignment this year, which is just another example of how dedicated our staff members are to working with your students.
Speaking of dedicated staff members, I also had the pleasure of handing out our first Mighty Mustang Awards for Homestead teachers and classified personnel who have exceeded our definition of an excellent staff member:
- A Homestead teacher is one who engages students and uses best practices in collaboration with their team to positively impact student learning
- A Homestead staff member is one who supports students, parents, and teachers to positively impact student learning
- A Homestead administrator supports students, parents, staff, and teachers, guided by the District Belief Statements, to ensure high levels of learning
Our three winners for the month of October were Adrian McMahon, Kelly Ronsheimer, and Judy Gonzalez. Mr. McMahon is an English teacher who has been overhauling his grading system to be a Standards Based Grading system. This practice has been common more in the elementary and middle school systems, and is much more difficult at the high school level. Mr. McMahon started on this journey on his own but has been working with a handful of other teachers across the district to investigate the benefits. Mrs. Ronsheimer is a French Teacher who has fully embraced the Collaborative Process after attending a three day workshop this past summer. Over 70 of our staff members have been through this training but none have come through with as much passion and renewed vigor for helping students learn as Mrs. Ronsheimer. Her passion as well as that of her team mates (Mrs. Von Stein and Ms. Wills) was recently highlighted in the October 13th edition of the Epitaph. Mrs. Gonzalez was given this award for her continued support of Latino students and families in her position as the Senior Clerical in the School Climate Office. Her nurturing and caring personality is evident as she provides support for all students who come through the office, but this is particularly evident in her numerous phone calls, conversations, emails and meetings with Spanish speaking families. These three individuals are not the only ones doing great things on our campus but they distinguished themselves recently to capture our attention and then earn a green horseshoe, which is the trophy for the Mighty Mustang award. We are always looking to reward our staff members, so if you would like to nominate an individual or group of staff members please email me.
Finally, please remember to go out and vote this election day as there are many important issues and candidates on the ballot. You can be a great example for our students to be productive members of our society and to contribute to the history as well as future of our country, state, and city.