National Blue Ribbon



This post is about Central. According to the article: “Champaign Central was a two-time winner (1989, ’94)”


This is fascinating. Some think that Central is an “outdated piece of garbage school”, and while I agree that Central does indeed need major repairs and overhaul work, I think it is pretty clear that there is much to be proud of despite the conditions of the facility.


It would be very helpful to see a study that calculates the correlation between the average age of a building versus the notorious “standardized” measuring sticks we use to gauge academic excellence. I would be surprised if there were any strong correlation; is it not the people inside who make all the difference in the world? Which makes me very thankful for the totally awesome teachers we have at Unit 4.


Let us assume that the “National Blue Ribbon” is something every school should strive for. We could then look at every school that has won this prestigious award and find out what makes them tick, what makes them successful. Those elements should be our bread and butter, whatever they are. According to the Dept of Ed, there are two paths to achieving eligibility, “High Performing” and “Achievement Gap Closing”. Also, note that other Champaign alumni of this award include Carrie Busey, Dr. Howard, Garden Hills, Middle school at Columbia and Jefferson. Not too shabby, more so that they won before any of them were remodeled or built new.

Trevor Nadrozny’s Prezi presentation on Common Core State Standards

The Jefferson PTSA was scheduled to host a Common Core (CCSS) presentation this past week, but it got snowed out. I asked Trevor for the presentation materials, and now I have a link to the online Prezi presentation:


The bulk of the presentation is an RSA-like whiteboard animated drawing from (not exaclty sure how to embed that here in WordPress). The transcript is also included below the flash animation.


Buried in the Prezi (you won’t see it if you just click through) is a blurb from Mary Crego of State Farm (, and another blurb from an unidentified woman, both trying to share the positive aspects of Common Core. Also included are two screen shots of web pages that look like progress charts, ala Khan Academy.


For those that would like to attend the presentation in person, it has been rescheduled for Tuesday February 11th 6-7pm (at Jefferson).


Other links: [broken]


8th grade promotion

I had the opportunity attend 8th grade promotion at Jefferson this morning. While the keynote speaker from Leaders for Life was good (“If you don’t see before you see, you won’t see” *grin*), what I was most impressed with was the sheer number of family and friends (way more than the number of tickets handed out). I don’t know how many people can fit into the gym (much less what it is rated for), but we totally packed it (overflowing, even). Wow! Keep in mind this is 8:30 to 9:40 on a Friday morning. When I arrived at 8:05am, the line was already down the sidewalk outside the building. This is serious stuff. The parents really consider this an important event; grandparents flew in, families dressed in their Sunday best, balloons, flowers…. absolutely amazing show of solidarity and support for these kids. I also saw a lot of Unit 4 folks I know; secretarial staff, assistant superintendent, and I think Lanesskog’s daughter was in there as well. This reminded me that we are all in this together.

I had a mischievous thought. What if parents demonstrated that passion more frequently? At first I thought of PTAs, but our PTAs have become rather dry. But what if….. what if some gathering of teachers and parents could entice such large crowds and such strong support? To give up an hour on a weekday morning?

Another interesting observation I had; a number of African-American parents were loudly clapping and yelling support for various children even though the Interim Principal encouraged parents to wait until the end. One white father yelled support for his child. This is very similar to what I observe about cultural churches; black churches tend to be a lot more energetic and participatory, whereas white churches are very much “follow the program, be respectful and somber.” Personally, even though I am white and grew up in a white church, I much prefer the former. *grin* Why do I point this out? We all have different backgrounds, different ways of showing respect and support. I don’t know if one way is “better” than another. But I personally like the inherent richness of variety. I also do not subscribe to following all the rules “just because”. Some rules are good, some are bad, and we have to have a way to figure that out for ourselves. For me, it was encouraging, amusing and celebratory to hear and see parents show such vocal for their children. It filled me with good feelings. And I hate traditional ceremonies because they are way too stuffy for me.