Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and in the process, care for ourselves. ~Princess Diana
It’s a great time of the year, and if you deeply reflect for a moment – it’s an exciting time at Benton! I was talking with a teacher this week about how fabulous our school is, and he said to me, “We need to share this with everyone. People just don’t know. It’s like we need a billboard or something!” I agree; we need to share the good news with others. We have come so far and have so much to celebrate. I think this is certainly the time of year to do so. We have so much to be proud of at Benton. After talking about it, I realized we should start by sharing with our own staff.
If you look back from the start of just this school year, our progress is pretty impressive. First of all, just consider all the facilities improvements that have been completed… the nurse’s office, mailroom, staff conference room, main office, and, of course, the beautiful, new field house. Our student services are stronger and more kid-centered than ever with our new counseling center, college and career office, school store, SRO’s office, and nurse’s office being localized and available for our students. It wasn’t all that long ago that our facilities use included travelling teachers – several in core subjects — and our special education department had only one dedicated classroom. And get this…we were inspected this week for the cleanliness of our building, and so far, we are one of the top schools in the district. Just a few years ago, we were dead last in the district. That kind of difference doesn’t happen accidently. We have so much to celebrate! And if you ask Coach Tabor, our facilities’ improvements have only just begun!
Our progress, however, isn’t just about brick and mortar. Our progress can be seen in our professional work as well. We have at least fifteen teachers that I can think of right off the top of my head who are pursuing advanced degrees or National Board Certification at Benton. We have an entire staff, through thick and thin, who are learning and implementing the process of data teams. Learning the process has not been easy. It challenges us every day, but we are making progress.
Progress can often challenge us when it is wrapped up in different concerns that we have yet to master, but we should never forget how much we struggled when we didn’t have the fully available technology that we do today. Our school is a one-to-one school now with amazing capabilities for teaching and learning due to availability of our wireless access and individual devices. I talked to a principal on Friday who told me not to call him back on his cell phone during the day because his school doesn’t get any reception. I know somehow this sounds like a slice of heaven on some days, but when you think about all the safety and instructional opportunities we do have available with our current level of access, you have to at least wonder what the life differences are for those students compared to ours.
Our professional and academic improvements do not stop with technology. We have two departments (CA & SS) in the process of moving to a fully integrated team teaching model – something that is mighty difficult in the best of circumstances – who are finding success early and continuing to challenge themselves to improve for our students. And you have to admit, our instructional coach and library media specialist provide support you have come to take for granted. Those two individuals have a way to make working harder (and smarter) seem like a gift … a gift wrapped with CARE.
Finally, we are seeing results. Just last week, we were informed that Benton High School was awarded with nine finalists for the Northwest Missouri Cotillion. There are only 20 students TOTAL selected for this prestigious honor each year. In our last ACT testing cycle, we had three seniors score a 30 or above composite score. And if these awards are not enough, two of our students made All State Choir and two others were selected as the top two winners in the state of Missouri for the Voice of Democracy Contest. These results are not by accident nor just lucky. They are results of dedication and professionalism of our staff, and the hard work and education of our very own students.
These few celebrations are just a few of the great things happening at our school. I will make sure I share more and more with you each week. There is nothing that makes a teacher or administrator more proud than to brag about her teachers or students. I know you all understand. We are a proud #CARDNATION!
Our walkthroughs this week will continue with our EOC courses, but we ask all faculty members to take one day this week during your plan period and walk through classrooms that are not in your department. Observe something positive about the learning in that room and email the teacher. It’s a gift that we all need – positive feedback from our colleagues.
Monday – 10th Day Countdown/Crazy Holiday Socks; [FYI: Westfall and Z will attend the City Council Meeting as a final request to change the street direction in front of our school. If approved, the city/district will facilitate necessary changes for school bus loading/unloading to begin in the front of Benton. Look for info on this Tuesday; changes would not begin until next year.]
Tuesday – 9th Day Countdown/Holiday Décor (wear some); Data Leadership Team to KC
Wednesday – 8th Day Countdown/Reindeer Antlers (wear some); JEPD in Library each block for 20 minutes; Staff Christmas Party at 6:15 in the Enright Morgan Field House (it will be fun, you should sign up!); Staff Meeting after school is cancelled (due to JEPD).
Thursday – 7th Day Countdown/Bah Hum Bug Day (wear black)
Friday – 6th Day Countdown/Candy Cane Day (wear red & white/hand out candy canes)
~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~
Images are available in CC on Flickr: “Happy Christmas Shopping” by Sherlock77 (James); “tiny bell” by kitsu; “packages” by grabadonut.