Many of you may have noticed some recent changes that have been made to the security measures in place at Jackson, and as with any change, we are in a period where we are revising our safety procedures. In this post, I'd like to discuss the changes and the rationale for them. I'd also like to thank all parents for their patience and understanding while we get the new system in place.
CHECK-IN and OUT:
Jackson is now using the Complete Campus Security System to monitor who has access to our buildings and students. This system will automatically track any potential predators to our school. It will also alert the office staff of unauthorized pick-ups or visitors to the campus. The goal of this change is to fully monitor who has access to our students, and to ensure that every measure is being taken to protect our students.
To learn more about the CCSS please take a few moment to watch this video: HERE
Jackson gets numerous transportation changes on a daily basis. As we currently allow transportation changes over the telephone, we are going to begin requesting an addition piece of documentation to verify the changes. When a parent calls to make a change, we are requesting that the parent follow up with a written request via fax or email. This will allow us to verify who is requesting the change (as we cannot fully verify over the telephone). In the age of smartphones, this is one additional step that can easily be completed quickly and will ensure that students arrive to the correct location safely.
It is unfortunate that these steps are required at an elementary school to ensure the safety of our students. However, we appreciate the patience of our community as we do our best to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students.
If you have any questions or have additional information that will help secure the safety of our Jaguars, please do not hesitate to contact me. Brent.mcbride@atlanta,k12.ga.us
We would like to send a special SHOUT OUT to Ms. Fiftal, Ms. Morris, Ms. Scott and Ms. Slawson for their hard work in coordinating our trip! The students had a great time and learned so much. Thank you to all of our chaperones, we could not have done it without you.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST....THANK YOU to all of our 5th Grade Teachers.
Ms. Schirmer, Ms. Van Wormer, Ms. Preiss, Mr. Stokes and Mr. Lamotte, if it were not for your dedication to your students, on a daily basis none of this would have been possible.
Enjoy our short recap of the trip!!
Hi Jackson Jaguars,
This morning as I was running, I reflected on the events of the past week. The more I reflected, I kept getting hung up on one question that I couldn’t quite answer. How could I communicate the leveling process to parents in a way that would make everyone happy? The answer was simple; it was so simple in fact that I felt a little dumb that I hadn’t come up with it earlier. The answer was that I couldn’t. No matter what I do or how I communicate it, the unfortunate reality is that two results come out of the leveling process. One, a teacher will lose their job at Jackson and will be moved to another school. Second, students will be affected.
What I can do however is work to communicate the process of leveling and answer as many questions as I can. I can do my best to reduce anxieties over the process. What I cannot do is eliminate the effects of the process, but one thing I will promise you is that I will be as transparent as possible in every process that has an impact on Jackson.
This post may be lengthy, but I would like to address two issues. One, what we can’t control and two, what we can. A quote was recently shared with me and it gave me some perspective. I feel that it speaks to this past week. “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll
First, let’s take a moment to review the 10%.
Each year in the spring, the district makes enrollment predictions based on past enrollment, historical data and enrollment trends over the past few years. Once the schools receive these enrollment predictions, they begin to prepare for the upcoming year to ensure that staffing is in place based on the predicted enrollment. This has the possibility of creating a catch 22 situation. Many parents have recently asked “Why didn’t this happen earlier so that students aren’t disrupted?” To answer that question, you have to understand that our enrollment is always an unknown. We staff based on enrollment predictions. Each year there are students who enroll the week before and during the first week of school. There are students who move without notifying the school, and those who come off of waiting lists at private schools last minute and do not notify the school. If we waited until school started, then there is the possibility that we would have to add a class based on enrollment and again we would be asked the same question of “Why didn’t this happen earlier so that students aren’t disrupted?” as we move students from one class to a new one.
During the first 10 days of school, we take daily enrollment counts based on students in seats. Even if we know that a student will be starting AFTER Labor Day, we cannot count that student. We can only count students that are physically IN CLASS during our 10 day enrollment count. Based on the reported enrollment numbers, the district begins to look at overages and areas of need. Just like every organization that operates on a budget, the district must maximize its budget and resources to meet needs on a systemic level. In this case, Jackson’s enrollment is considerably lower than predicted. Based on enrollment numbers, Jackson lost an allocated EIP teacher position. There will some required adjustments to facilitate this loss, but those impacted can rest assured that Jackson teachers will ensure that students' needs come first. Once a transition plan has been fully solidified the classes will be officially notified.
Now, over the past few days I have received many comparisons to the private schools in the area and how they care about their students more than the public school system does. This is not a fair comparison, as we are not comparing apples to apples. The schools that we are comparing are on separate funding models. Private schools are tuition-based organizations that utilize an application process for their enrollment. They are able to control their class numbers easily. They fill their classes to their designated max numbers and waitlist any overage. Public schools do not have that luxury. We provide services to all students within our attendance zone who register. We are also funded on a state-wide model that sets our max and minimum classroom sizes, it is not a school based decision as at individual private schools. There is a funding model in place (and I won’t lie, it’s pretty complicated) in which we must work. Even within the model, we work to have the lowest class sizes possible while still leveraging our human capital and budget to meet the needs of individual schools as well as the district. Please do not take this as a slight on the area private schools; this is just a comment on a tuition-based funding model and a taxpayer-based funding model.
This is an oversimplification of the leveling process, but what I wish to convey is that this is a statewide process that all public schools are subject to. Schools are not targeted or selected based on their achievement level or socio-economic status. The leveling process is a transparent process based on the state’s funding model. Every organization operates based on funding models. If a law firm does not have enough cases, they lay off employees. The same is true for hospitals with patients and Wal-mart with shoppers. Unfortunately, the school’s model happens to be teachers to students.
Now, I would like to address the 90% and how we react to it.
In the past week, there has been much inaccurate information shared and anxiety caused by information that was passed through channels that were not official. As the Jackson Community, we are responsible for our own morale and culture, and the preservation of both. As a community, we allowed damage to be caused to both this week.
There will always be outside forces in our community at large that work to harm the unique culture that is Jackson. There will always be those who take bits of information and attempt to craft their own scandalous narrative with an end goal of causing anxiety and strife. The goal of gossip and misinformation is never to help but to harm. My goal is to present the community with information as it becomes available and shutdown unofficial channels.
As we move forward, I can make a promise every member of the Jackson Community. I will be as transparent as possible through every process that affects Jackson and its students. I will always advocate for our school and I will always do what I feel is in the best interests of my students. As we moved through this process, as information was solidified, it was shared and the leveling process timeline was followed. Once all options were researched fully and a definitive decision was made (based on the data that showed what was in the best interest of Jackson) that information is being shared, and will continue to be shared, through official channels. I encourage the community to trust only official information that comes from the school and challenge all other sources. When decisions are made officially, we will share our data and rationales for decisions in a transparent manner. Parents will never have to rely on word of mouth for school based decisions.
I thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post and for your continued support of Jackson and for the efforts you are making to preserve its culture.
Jackson Data Talk August 25th:
Have you recently received your Milestones Scores and don't have a clear understanding of what all the numbers really mean? Have you heard our CCRPI score but really don't understand how we arrived at it or what the school can do to help increase it? If you have any questions about the DATA the helps define Jackson in the eyes of the state, district and community, please join me on August 25th of my principal's coffee on Jackson's data. We all agree that our students are more than test scores and that Jackson is more than a number, but it's importation to understand the framework in which we operate.
Are you Anti-Social??
Our students are growing up in a time of social media and we are doing our best to celebrate our successes yet balance the protection of our students. Each child at Jackson was sent a Media Release form in the APS student handbook. In order for teachers, PTA and the administration to use your child's image in outside of the building communications, permission must be obtained. While considering if you would like to provide this permission, know that we are using the professional guidelines as outlined at www.commonsensemedia.org/educators and www.webwise.ie/teachers/posting-pictures-to-your-schools-website-2/
In short, here are the bullet pointed guidelines.
We are making every effort to ensure that your child's needs are met and celebrate the accomplishments that they achieve, as well as celebrating our school's successes.
Since we are back at dual campuses, there have been some changes to carpool. At Main Campus, carpool will take place on the side entrance of the building. Please do not drop off students at the front entrance of the building, we reserve this space for bus drop-off.
WEEK III Celebrations:
Curriculum night will be held at Jackson Main on Wednesday, August 17. At Curriculum night, you will get a glimpse of your child's academic day. Teachers will discuss a variety of topics that will better prepare you as you support your child this year. Some of the topics that teachers will cover are:
1. Methods of classroom communication
2. Academic programs and expectations (the IB:PYP Program)
3. Grading policy
4. Volunteering in the classroom
5. Fall Conferences
This is a valuable time for parents to make connections with the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher is your first contact through the school year regarding your child's educational and socio-emotional needs.
I encourage you to come and see all of the wonderful things taking place in your child's classroom!!
Friday will be a special Spirit Day at Jackson. Teachers and students will wear their favorite superhero t-shirt to celebrate the superheros that work at Jackson everyday. We invite parent to join in on the action. Wear your favorite superhero shirt in support and appreciation of your favorite superheroes....our teachers!!!
Our Jackson teachers are working hard to ensure that the needs of the FULL CHILD are met. For more information on SEL in APS, please visit the district's website HERE. For informaiton on how our teachers are implementing it in our classrooms! Check this out.....
As many of you are aware, there is a change in the math program this year at Jackson. The math program we had in the past featured an accelerated component that is no longer being offered. Several parents have reached out to me with their concerns and I am currently gathering information on this matter. The issue with the program was just brought to my attention this past weekend. I ask that you please allow me time to gather information on the program and the decision to discontinue it. Once I have all of the information, I will be able to make an informed decision as to how Jackson will proceed.
During that time however, the needs of our students are being met. Teachers are differentiating instruction in their classroom to ensure that students are being challenged on their level. Teacher will be administering the STAR Math Diagnostic Assessment within the next week to determine individual student's areas of strength and need. Based on the data that we collect, instructional plans will be developed by the teacher to meet student needs. Parents will receive a copy of the report outlining their child's instructional level and need.
Teachers are also focusing on delving deeper into the content beyond "computation" in the classroom. The teachers are presenting students with real world problem solving opportunities that are higher order in thinking. We are also providing resources that are more rigorous so that students are required to take learned mathematical concepts and apply them to solve problems. The Eureka Math curriculum that the teachers are using embeds this rigor into it's lesson. Another source are Exemplars. Attached is an example of an exemplar where students are asked to extend their thinking to an expert level. An exemplar is just one form of challenge that teachers will incorporate into their classrooms. Many resources will be used. Please note that the tool is not important, but what is important is the extending of applied mathematics.
We are currently reviewing data and consulting with the district to come to a resolution on this matter. I am taking steps to ensure that the communities concerns are heard. Once I have fully researched the matter, I will better be able to discuss a possible solution. I realize that this issue is a timely one and I am working as quickly as possible to address your concerns. In the meantime, please take a few moments to review the level of work students will be engaged in.
Melissa is a passionate educator who believes in fostering the development of the whole child. She has sixteen years of experience in public education spent in California, Georgia and South Carolina as well as five years of being a mom to her daughters Hartison and Solara. After nine years of teaching, Melissa became a Literacy Instructional Coordinator where she coached and trained teachers. It was from this experience that Melissa was able to support the learning beyond her single classroom. Continuing to grow her skills, Melissa became a Compliance Facilitator and trained Principals to implement Response to Intervention (RTI) within their schools. For the past three years, Melissa has been a RTI/SST Specialist where she implemented systems of supports for all students. Most recently, Melissa was the Summer Site Administrator at Fred Armon Toomer Elementary School for 10 APS elementary schools. Melissa holds degrees from San Francisco State University and Georgia State University. Melissa lives in the Southeast Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park, with her family, where is the current President of SAND (South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development) and an active member of SEACS (Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools).