NG’s Tim MItchell does a Q&A with Edison interim principal Tony Howard

re: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-06-18/qa-tony-howard-interim-principal-edison-middle-school.html

 

And I’ll add my own two bits. I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with Mr. Howard when I mentored a young boy at Edison, and then again via the Parent Advocacy Committee. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Howard, and I am excited that he continues to involve himself in the lives of our young children. One of the things that I appreciate about Mr. Howard is based on something he shared at one of the committee meetings; he frequently forms a support group of middle school students that need help in one way or another, and does his own brand of mentoring and relationship building at the library next door, after school. Here is a guy who keeps going even after the last bell rings.

 

For everyone transitioning from elementary school to middle school, and specifically for those going to Edison, I encourage you to make time to meet Mr. Howard and get to know him yourself.

Other Board Meeting tidbits

With all the hoopla surrounding SROs and the Central relocation saga, I did not see anything in the media that mentioned two other awesome things that transpired at the Board meeting on June 9th.

 

1. Parent Advocacy Committee

Three representatives of the Parent Advocacy Committee, including new Edison Principal Mr. Tony Howard and Edison Math/Avid Teacher Ms. Tomeka Whitfield, presented an update from the committee. However, the PDF by itself does not do their verbal delivery justice, hence I very much encourage you to tune into the Vimeo recording of the meeting and fast forward to 36:17.

For a little disclosure, I am listed as a member of the Parent Advocacy Committee, but I have not attended any of the meetings during the past school year. During that time the committee met almost monthly to hash out how to realistically implement recommendations they made to the board last year, as well as meeting with many area experts on the topic of family engagement. They have formed partnerships and come up with some tangible action steps; an “engagement” survey at several schools this year and planning to have a significant welcoming initiative in place for the 2015-2016 school year.

I have to confess, these timelines are … a bit slow for me, and I want to see “more” (more initiatives, more action steps, more people involved). *grin* However, I was completely inspired as I listened to Mr. Howard and Ms. Whitfield speak at the board meeting. They even roped in Board President Laurie Bonnett to participate and support their efforts. I think their ideals and the concepts they embody are crucial to the success of our community and the school district. There must be a solid sense of collaboration and cooperation between the schools and the community in order for us to succeed.

 

2. Trades and Unit 4 Partnership

Marc Changnon (Director of Education to Careers & Profession) is no less charismatic than Mr. Howard and Ms. Whitfield – it was a double-header of passionate people trying to make a positive difference in the lives of those around them. On this blog and in comments to various online NG articles, many folks have talked about basic skills needed for “the trades” (carpentry, electrical, plumbing, automotive, etc). What I really liked about Changnon’s approach is that he makes it clear that college isn’t for everyone, and that there exists the very real, very much needed, and rewarding alternative of pursuing a job sans a four-year degree. While this portion of the meeting got a little long-winded (another guest speaker was invited up to augment Mr. Changnon’s presentation), I was reminded of how much we need people like Mr. Changnon, Mr. Howard and Ms. Whitfield to champion these ideas before the board. And part of that work involves being persistent – many issues clamor for the board’s attention, so unless it is consistently percolating to the top, it will not see much action.

 

3. (BONUS) TALKS Mentoring

Last but certainly not least, I noticed in today’s NG an article about Rev. Harold Davis and his work with the “TALKS” mentoring program. As a mentor in the Unit 4 One-to-One mentoring program, I have rubbed shoulders with folks from TALKS on several occasions. I am glad Rev. Davis has been honored with this aware, but more importantly, that he had an opportunity to share his beliefs on the topic of mentoring and fathering, and how these small steps can have such a positive impact on our society.

Notes from the April 22nd BOE Special Meeting

I took the time to watch the BOE meeting a little while ago and typed up some notes. Unfortunately, they are not yet formatted very well. Instead of delaying, I finally decided to just dump them here, and hope that readers will forgive the horrid formatting.

 

{the times listed below are elapsed times from the beginning of the video}

start at 5:02

spotlight on middleschool to highschool transitions: 10 minutes (music stops at 15:36 after all the credits roll *roll eyes*)
jamar brown – found it entertaining, found the whole thing very good, transitions are important

public comment:
laurie bonnett – only quotes from one vendor, are we reaching out and seeking participating from other vendors?

CFT:
Cathy mannen – thanks to the board for support of the early childhood center.

PTA Council:
Sheri Williamson – summer reading program, 300 books from UofI. Parent Resource Group.

Communications from board members:
Kristine – shout out about the amazing musicals past two weeks. Big praise for the stage design, acting, music, etc.
Van Ness – College Career Center; great facility, great idea. Shout out for the CUSF. Need to support them better.
Ileana – Make the College Career Center grow bigger – good stuff.
Brown – PSUs (?) at Novak, like a graduation thing. Lots of praise/congrats for many other events at other schools.
Stig – congrats to those who run board elections. Interesting thoughts about “supporting” more folks on future candidates, getting more folks to run.
Board retreat follow-up: how to make the school district a family-centered organization. hmm… not child-centered? 🙂

Asia Fuller-Hamilton & Joe Williams start with Transitions. jwtobe.org?? jw2b.org??
Jamar and Kristine mention how awesome this is. Kristine reiterates the pain/confusion of the first day. Mentions how awesome it would be for every freshman to have a mentor/guide. Joe says they are working on it.
Stig asks the same about middle school. He says why can’t we divulge as much information as possible BEFORE they come to school, and then handle the unknowns as they arise. A bit of discussion (even Wiegand intercedes); can the kids have the data before the first day of school? 🙂 Lots of great things are happening in pockets, working towards making those things consistent in general.

Elizabeth DeGruy (no presentation, just reporting).
Stig asks a lot of questions and makes comments. Very engaged. 🙂 Again, can parents have as much information as soon as possible? All about transistions. Importance of setting a first impression by making the first day in school a very positive one.
I think a question from the audience was fielded about “child time”? Yes, Sheri Williamson from the audience is given the floor. Awesome! 🙂

Tony and Cheryl are up at 1:05:40. Tony walks through the overview of the goals and “ideal reality”. Cheryl talks about the specific multiple recommendations. Elizabeth chimes in with SpecEd recommendations.
Stig asks how parents who are in these situations can reach out to a person (*not* a helpline). Maybe a FAQ?
Action Items:
Kleber announces the promotion of 3 assistant principals.
1:23:40
TALP – Orlando Thomas
Kristine wants to verify this is not fun, and that students don’t really have a choice once suspended.
student discipline procedure – lockman
confirming adoption for administrative reasons … ?? That’s not vague. 🙂

Kleber on adding an administrative position for overseeing the food department; one year appointment for a proof-of-concept.
Van Ness asks where the person will be housed. Kleber doesn’t really answer the question, saying they will be “everywhere.” Interesting that the Board is asked to approve the position even before the job description is finalized. Doesn’t that seem backwards?
Item A from Consent Agenda moved up – Champaign Telephone contract. curious, was this moved up in Executive session? Meg Dickinson mentioned that Phil Van Ness moved on it, but I did not witness it.
Brown asks, we will *never* bid out these jobs? Joe Davis assures the board that if they need to, they will. Who bids it out? “talk it out” with architects and superintendent.
Van Ness comes out and says he pulled it out of the Consent Agenda. Wants to make sure the board is putting things before the public. Likes that we are keeping this local.
Kristine mentions that consistency is very important.
Ileana: not exactly sure what she said, something about good for the community and taxpayers knowing.
Kristine, we don’t want everyone to know what the budget is….. interesting. In the context of bidding… they want contractors to bid competitively, not to the budget.

1:44:40 remaining items of the consent agenda

April 22nd special board meeting

I have not had a chance to watch it – only spot-checked it to make sure it was recording:

http://www.cb-pta.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/board_meetings/2013-04-22-special-board-meeting.mp4

 

A couple interesting things on the agenda; Cheryl Camacho and Tony Howard presented on the Parent Advocacy recommendation(s) and Elizabeth DeGruy presented on special needs (aka, “Board Retreat Follow-up”),  Orlando spoke again on TALP, Lockman again on the changes to policy concerning discipline, three folks bumped up to Assistant Principals, and a couple other things.

 

Meg’s article focuses on the approval of the TALP program, and mentions a couple other things as well.

Jan 28th board meeting

Video posted: http://www.cb-pta.com/wp/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=53

 

This was a monster meeting – about 3 hours. The video has about an hour of black afterwards because I recorded on Tivo and I didn’t get it shut off soon enough. Also, you might want to fast-forward the first 10 minutes or so, as it looks like the Board came back from Exec session a little later. David Hohman is working on making the Jan 7th and Jan 28th videos on Vimeo (soon).

 

I don’t have the mental stamina to comment much (watching that thing really taxes me). I’ll be brief. The preview I did also covers a bit of stuff.

[PS – Houlihans tomorrow]

 

 

Cathy Mannen gave a statement on behalf of the CFT. The CFT typically does not say anything at Board Meetings, so my ears perked up when she got up. Ms. Mannen shared about the need to focus on appropriate assessments as opposed to standardized tests. I felt myself very much agreeing with her statements. I have asked Ms. Mannen if she is willing to share the short survey they did.

 

I didn’t really get the talk by Dr. Rice; it was obviously just for the board’s ears, about how to be board members. I was a bit surprised when Stig segued into giving public acknowledgement to the board member candidates that were currently in the room; he had them stand up and he even introduced them (Stuckey, Williams, Bonnett).

 

The committee presentations (Parent Advocacy, Transitions and 504 plans) were pretty much straight from the documents saved on BoardDocs; I was tickled that Tony Howard highlighted the weebly website. The irony is that Joe Williams pointed out how much overlap there is between the committees, but the committees don’t even know what the others are doing (at least, as a committee member, I didn’t have a clue). I mean, there is lots of sincere and good intentions, but it seems to me that a ton of work and research is silo’ed. How many people will even become aware of these Committees? (you blog readers have a slight advantage, I like to think *grin*) Much less what they even do. If nothing else, this is why I jumped on the opportunity to create a public website and a public google group for the Advocacy Committee – I want people to learn more about it.

 

Ken Kleber tried hard to make his AEEOO report interesting. It’s just hard. Or maybe I have horrible attention span. It’s good stuff to talk about it, but the meeting is already long.

 

Having said that, Read the rest of this entry »

Advocacy: what comes to mind when you hear/see that?

At tonight’s inaugural Parent Advocacy Committee meeting, the one major action item is to go out and ask other people how they define “advocacy”. It is expected that we all have different mental images of this concept, different dictionary definitions. And since I blog, you are my lucky audience and in this case, participants.  Don’t worry, I know a number of you trollers so I’ll be dropping you a personal email in the near future to ask about this. 🙂 I am hoping that at least 20 of you make a comment below.

What is Advocacy?

For those that want to read the meeting documents first, you can skip down to the bottom of this post.

The first meeting, as you might expect, was a “sending out the feelers” kind of gathering. Tony Howard and Cheryl Camacho introduced themselves and how Dr. Wiegand charged them to essentially research what advocacy is and how the district can best implement it; this idea came out of the June 21st Board Retreat, along the lines of creating safe environments for discussion and empowering parents to become more involved. Both Tony and Cheryl have done a lot of planning and both are obviously very passionate about this topic. In fact, when listening to Mr. Howard introduced himself, it was a pleasant surprise to hear how involved in the community he is. I am reminded that people all around us are already doing amazing things and most of the time we simply do not know it. One thing in particular is that Mr. Howard will be hosting a Minority Parent Round Table for anyone that considers themselves a minority at the Champaign Public Library next Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. It sounds like this will be a great listening event when staff from Edison will simply listen to what Edison parents have to say. He has hopes of doing something similar with a larger audience and at venues like the Douglass Branch Library (there was a conflict for this time around).

As other committee members introduced themselves and spoke about Read the rest of this entry »