As we wrap up the school year, I want to deliver a big “thank you” note for delivering 100% of yourselves to your students and one another. I’ve been able to catch up with so many of you in the last few days and weeks and I think it’s fair to say... we are all ready for summertime!
Ensuring students make excellent educational and social-emotional growth is what we’re all about as a profession and organization; hopefully you are already taking a moment to celebrate each of your student’s personal gains, as well as your own professional accomplishments. I am absolutely certain that you have made a positive difference in children’s lives over the course of 2014-15.
As an organization, we’ve accomplished so much this year. Here are just a few examples...
- Just this year alone we started the Hood River Academy with literally hundreds - yes hundreds - of professional development activities for our professional educators. Only two years ago - we had $0 in training dollars to help us pursue our own professional growth. (Make sure you sign up for something this summer - so many great opportunities!)
- Our elementary teachers initiated a new K-5 Common Core reading program (Wonders) with new interventions and classroom assessments to monitor each students progress toward mastery. Get ready middle school teachers... we are seeing big-time growth.
- The middle and high schools successfully started the AVID program aimed at changing the trajectory of students on the cusp of academic success - and Hispanic parents of middle scholars came together in monthly evening “Juntos” meetings to work together with teachers in supporting their children to excel in school.
- Our ELD teachers met over the course of the year to analyze student outcomes and make recommendations for changes in curriculum and instruction for next year to better serve our large percentage of English Language Learners.
- Teams of teachers and administrators worked together to continue to bolster other systemic, research-based efforts such as our Positive Behavior Support and Response to Intervention practices in our schools - we are really making headway as a district in these important, data-driven practices.
- The Dual Language program at Mid Valley is taking off and soon our bilingual/bi- literate students will be knocking on the doors of Wy’east and HRV.
- A new alternative school program will be ready to launch at the high school next year and we are developing new relationships with 4-year universities in efforts to provide a wider breadth of advanced, dual-credit opportunities for our students.
- We have ramped up efforts to advocate in Salem for increased dollars in addition to our ongoing work to find efficiencies to protect classroom resources to the greatest extent possible. Through your advocacy efforts - and through efficiencies in technology and transportation infrastructure - we are very close to avoiding overall budget cuts for the first time in 10 years, we’ll be able to continue to reduce K-3 class sizes from 13-14 levels, AND will be able to provide salary/benefit increases to every single employee (if new bargaining agreements can be ratified and board-approved by the start of next school year). There is still time for the legislature to invest in K-12 for the next biennium - keep those calls and letters going!
- And if all this doesn’t get you excited - how about state championships in Boys Soccer, Wrestling, Lacrosse, Skiing, Track and Field, and Baseball?!? Or a 2nd place finish for the Speech and Debate Team?! Or a Cascade Cup Championship for Boys Lacrosse?!
I know you’ve all been a part in successes such as these and so many more. Just like any professional in any occupation, reflecting on one’s practice and looking for ways to advance one’s knowledge and skill is a critical component of true excellence. Have a wonderful summer of fun and reflection - and thank you for a fantastic school year.
My best- Dan