Seasons of Excellence

Next to excellence, comes the appreciation of it.                      ~William Makepeace Thackeray

 Week 12 in Review

I love this time of year.  It’s the beginning of the winter season.  The snowflakes are happily on their way.  It’s the beginning of the holiday season.  I enjoy the lights and love that comes with this grace-filled time of year.  This Friday we celebrate our military veterans – a group of Americans who I feel allow us to begin each day with the freedom we so easily enjoy.  I especially enjoy this season of the school year.  It’s a time when we all begin to settle into the path our journey takes us – this year we have claimed the road is toward excellence.

We hit a milestone on our journey to excellence last week.  Our district Data Consult was powerful.  It brought us to a point in our work with data teams to really check where each team had progressed.  It forced us all to grapple with the fact that we have committed to an exceptional level of examining and breaking down our teaching and what students were learning –more so than we have in many years at Benton.  This path has pushed us to reflect on the most basic elements of good teaching, and we are growing as professionals because of it.

This is the beginning of Benton’s season of excellence.  Have you noticed? Perhaps like me, you missed the obvious signs when they are right in front of us.  As it turns out, after visits and conversations in the last two weeks from two district superintendents, two high school principals and a teacher from Liberty North High School, I realized something I had never taken the time to ponder…other schools wish they had what we have.  From wanting to emulate our library (and steal our librarian) to being envious of such an improvement-oriented staff that works diligently on data teams (one of the principals asked me, “How did you get them all to buy in and try this [data teams]?), I began to grasp what has been eluding our staff for years – we are measuring the wrong signs of success!

Our commitment to data teams isn’t about how “right” we are as we work through the process – excellence is about the fact that ALL of Benton is working data teams.  There are no short cuts, and we all understand that.  We have an advisement program in CAMP that is sought out by other schools.  We have a library that is a model for future libraries in the state and beyond.  We have a made great strides with our graduation rate this year; we give CAMP the credit.  Do you give yourself the credit you deserve?  Have you compared the professional you are outside of our school?  You should.  You would realize that our journey to excellence has changed you professionally.  You are stronger, smarter, and more prepared to tackle the challenges of teaching into the next few years.  The future of education is forecast as a season of change.  I hope you are committed to staying prepared to be excellent in it.

Week 13 – A Look Ahead

I hope you are all happy for the upcoming week of wearing jeans.  Thank you so much to everyone who was able to donate to Backpack Buddies.  Monday brings the StuCo Blood Drive.  The altruistic behaviors of our students and staff continually humble me.  Just a reminder, our fire drill is cancelled on Tuesday.  Wednesday we have JEPD in the library each block.  Please bring your computers and power cords.  We will be upgrading our laptops and updating our SchoolWires sites together.  It will be fun.  Friday (11.11.11) is a two-hour early out in observation of Veteran’s Day.  Our own JROTC will participate in the city parade in honor of our local veterans.  Also Friday is the opening night for our musical “Phantom of the Opera.”  Please plan to attend one show if at all possible.  It will make you proud you teach and work these students and colleagues.  This is our season of excellence.

Photos found in CC on Flikr:  “Seasons” by*~Dawn~*,  “Autumn Dew” by SFB579, “Where it lay” by EJP Photo, “lunar eclipse” by Logan Brumm Photography and Designs.

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