Dear Students, Parents, Staff Members, and Residents,
It seems like only yesterday that summer recess ended and a new school year began. Now, the ground is covered with snow, winter break has ended, and the first semester is drawing to a close. I am very proud of what our students, teachers, staff, support staff and administrators have accomplished so far, and I commend them for their hard work and determination.
The weekend honoring and celebrating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a time when we think about the importance of selflessness and sacrifice. Those very qualities are embraced in our International Baccalaureate philosophy that views education as a way of creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. I hope that you will take time this three-day weekend to attend a MLK, Jr., event, volunteer in the community, or donate to one of our service projects.
It is the time of year when many of our students and families are watching their mailboxes each day for early college admissions decisions. Already, there has been much good news. Our amazing students have received early acceptance letters from some of the best colleges and universities in the nation including Yale, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, George Washington, Princeton and Duke. It is gratifying to see the hard work of our talented young people rewarded in such an impressive way!
I am looking forward to our annual State of the Schools address, which is scheduled for February 29 at 6 p.m. in the Large Auditorium of the High School. This event gives me the chance to highlight the great progress our students, teachers, staff, support staff and administrators are making and to share with the community our upcoming plans and initiatives. I hope you will make time to join us for what promises to be an outstanding event.
It has been a busy winter in the world of education. In early December, President Obama signed into law a bipartisan bill known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the new law represents a significant and positive shift in our attitudes about how we use assessments, the real work is just beginning. Every decision the state makes about educationhas an impact on our students in both good and bad ways. That is why we will be asking educators and parents to participate in an advisory committee that will make recommendations to the Ohio Department of Education. We want to ensure that assessment is used as a tool to enhance teaching and learning as well as support the well-rounded, robust, holistic education our students receive in Shaker.
Closer to home, we began the New Year with two lively and well-attended facilities master planning workshops. Embracing the theme of "Instruction Drives Construction," some 200 Shaker residents, students, teachers and staff members shared ideas about how our facilities can support our students' 21st century learning needs. We'll be examining the potential, cost and practicality of those ideas at our next session, which will take place February 3 at 7 p.m. at the High School.
In December, our Board of Education adopted revised board policies. The revised policies are the culminations of a review process that took more than a year. With the help of the Ohio School Boards Association, the revised policies are aligned with state law and with our aspirations of excellence, equity and exploration as well as our vision, mission and core values. Please take a moment to review and familiarize yourself with these policies. (Click here to view the policies.)
The month of January is "School Board Appreciation Month." Please send a note, email or card to members of the Board of Education for their vision, integrity and passion, and their selfless efforts to continue Shaker's tradition of excellence. (Click here to view the District's thank you video.)
Finally, our districtwide transition to Google will be completed by the end of February. The change required everyone in the District to leave their comfort zone and try something new. Like many of you, I was anxious at first; however, I am a Google convert now. Furthermore, I am convinced this change will help us raise teaching and learning to a new level in Shaker.
As you can see, it has been a busy year so far. I thank you for your continued support, and I wish you and your family a healthy and productive New Year!
Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Ed.D.