Thoughts as the School Year Begins

DSC_0292I’m not a big fan of “potpourri” blog entries, but I’m hoping that a few random thoughts will magically coalesce into a complete theme.

  • While it will certainly add to the weekend activities, the district has debuted a new web site using WordPress which will help the district’s Principals add content easily. We are trading some flash for practicality and the feedback from parents has been positive. When it comes to school web sites, ease of navigation and content robustness is likely the greatest desire of parents. A perfect GUI may not be as crucial.
  • Judging from parent comments, podcasting is becoming  an effective mode to communicate to parents. Some are subscribing to the podcasts in iTunes and many others are listening right from their computer. Perhaps a better name is “Netcast”, popularized by the computer guru Leo LaPorte, who acknowledges that Apple may not have the monopoly (i.e. iPod) on every technological advancement. (Although I am a little partial to Macs-check out the pic of my podcasting “studio” complete with ironing board.)
  • Our district utilizes our first major workshop day to collaborate together within a fairly elaborate schedule which involves face to face meetings between classroom teachers, unified arts teachers, paraprofessionals, reading specialists, and special educators. This occurs after two days of school when teachers know little more than a student’s name and general personality. This day truly adds to our ability to differentiate instruction and grasp our students’ learning styles.
  • I had a great conversation with a couple of parents today during our first “Coffee with Carozza” of the year. One parent felt strongly that we need to ask parents (with great vigor) for what we need as a school and those that can afford to write a check will contribute. Another parent suggested that check writing may not be her preferred mode to pony up and that volunteering her time might be more useful. The “take-away” from this conversation was that it might not be so evil to ask for donations from those who can afford it. The faculty is so reticent to ask for financial contributions in this economy but could we be losing a segment (albeit small) of our community who prefers contributing in this way? Perhaps if we don’t ask, we have little chance of receiving. Somehow, this has to be done without offending those who are not as economically solvent.
  • One of the great mysteries of public schools is the ebb and flow of enrollment. We received more new first graders this summer than at any time in my 10 year tenure in Hopkinton. This is likely due to a.)  housing prices having dropped in town and b.) our school receiving many private school students whose parents may be finding tuition too much to swallow.
  • I continue to be impressed with the quality of our instructional assistants who provide such crucial support in the classroom. I’m thankful for the experience of the veterans and impressed with the credentials of the newbies. In fact, my two newest IA’s both have Masters Degrees.
  • I am working on a grant from Lowe’s to handle some landscaping headaches that I have had for quite some time. While we can always find some bark mulch and flowers to spruce up the grounds, the bottom line is that our topsoil is in poor shape and we are in need of replacing as much as possible. Along the budget theme again, it’s tough to ask for landscaping funding when beautification does not directly affect student learning. But as our topsoil has eroded, doesn’t pride erode in a school (perhaps slowly) when the grounds are not kept up? There must be a long term affect on student achievement as a result. You think?
  • Finally, it is embarrassing to see how long it has been since I last added a blog entry; after all, blogs don’t lie. It reminds me of a comment overheard during a workshop that I gave last year. I was passionately describing  the power of Web 2.0 tools when a Massachusetts Superintendent stated to a participant next to him, “How does this Principal find the time to do all this stuff?” Turns out that this Principal doesn’t always have the time. Sometimes the job involves triage. Sounds like a good topic for a future blog entry.
4 comments Add yours
  1. Dear Mr Carozza,
    I work in the Newfound Area School District. I am in the process of completing my CAGS with Principal Certification. As I look for ways to learn more about principals, the technology person at my school suggested your blog. I am so glad Chris Hunewell gave me your site information. This site is a treat to read and I look forward to reading more about your school and thoughts.
    Sincerely.
    Jeremy

    1. Hi Jeremy:

      Thanks for the kind words! I wish I had more time to write on the blog…and read others. If we could all collaborate to a greater degree, we’d be better educators. Glad you’re heading into the Principalship. It’s a tough job but can be very rewarding! Let me know if I can help you in any way.

      Bill

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