February 2017 Principal's Message
Dear Homestead --
Welcome to February, which means we are getting closer to course selection time. We put a lot of time and attention into the process in order to provide opportunities for all students to get the courses that they need to be successful both at Homestead and in post-secondary opportunities. The process is very complex, anything that includes satisfying 2400 students, over 4000 parents, and 180 staff members is bound to have some positive as well as negative results; however, we start the process in January to hopefully eliminate as many of the negatives as we can. In working with your students, I would like to offer up some thoughts and suggestions that might help you get to a comfortable place with your choices.
Looking at the early results of the Wellness Survey, it is clear that students and parents feel stress and pressure from expectations of post-secondary education as well as the college application process itself. In the district sponsored survey on Wellness, all of our students reported that they put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to take the most rigorous courses to try to please parents, teachers and friends as well as to increase their chances of getting into those top name colleges. While it is natural to try to strive for the best, it is more important to find a school that suits your student’s needs and personality. To help in this endeavor, it is important that students and families choose the right courses that suit their future plans, the entrance requirements of possible colleges and universities, and fit in with their current schedule of after-school activities and pursuits. Families should discuss what type of load a student can truly handle when you factor in the amount of time needed to do both school and life, and still find enough time to sleep. Our guidance counselors and administrators are also available to help with these conversations. Please click the following link to go to our Guidance Department calendar for upcoming events to see specific dates that might apply to you or your student.
An important first step in the process of organizing courses and options for students is the Residency Verification process that we held in January. This process helps us to begin estimating our student enrollment for the following year. Then starting this month, we begin visiting our feeder middle schools as well as host a parent/student information night for incoming 9th graders in mid February. Our current 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students just went through the course information presentations and will begin receiving in-class presentations in March on course options and the scheduling process. After the Guidance Department receives the course selection sheets for all returning students, we use the month of April to review selections, talk with students who may have questions or issues with their selections, and begin initial staffing calculations. In April, we will also ask students and families to verify their selections as another means for catching mistakes or errors made during the selection process or to adjust for changes in plans by the students. The months of May through August are spent building the master schedule. The build takes this much time as we have to check for and eliminate conflicts for both students and teachers; adjust for staffing increases, decreases or changes; update for student enrollment changes; and double check impacts on available space and facilities.
So by the time students return in early August, our master schedule will have gone through months of work, revisions and improvements to offer the best possible opportunities for the students. Asking questions now and finding the time to talk with counselors or other staff members these next two months will do more to help you get what you need in regard to your courses than waiting until you receive your schedule at the beginning of the year.
Again, please click this link to get to the Guidance Department Calendar of upcoming events in order to be up to date and as informed as you can be.