Friday, September 27, 2013

Community Partners Make Learning Beautiful

Washington Junior High students will have a new Commons area to enjoy on Monday morning. Dozens of volunteers from Walmart, Scots Miracle-Gro, and Berry Family Nurseries spent several hours on Friday installing new trees and planters on the site. The new landscaping is part of an ongoing effort this fall by Washington’s community partners to beautify the Commons area for students. Other local businesses including Pavestone, Col-Met, AMES True Temper, and STR Trucking have volunteered time, materials, and equipment. The Washington Junior High School PTO also donated $10,000 to pave a new basketball court for students.

Washington’s principal, Tim Sparacino, was very appreciative, saying “We are extremely honored to have been the recipient of such an amazing gift.  Our students will benefit greatly from not only the beautification efforts but also from the constant reminder of how important and powerful it is to serve others and donate your time, talents, and efforts to a worthy cause.”

The school will be hosting a Ribbon Cutting ceremony on October 7th to celebrate its new Commons area and thank everyone who donated. The school ran a contest for students to design the mural that will be painted on a wall on the site. The student whose design is chosen will win a $50 Wal-Mart gift card from Scots Miracle-Gro and have the honor of cutting the ribbon at the ceremony.  

The Wildcat Way Defined

What exactly is The Wildcat Way?

The Wildcat Way for our faculty and staff can simply be defined as all the actions that we take to develop our students above and beyond standardized test scores.

There are many facets that comprise The Wildcat Way so we use the graphic below to easily communicate what it's about.

Let's break the graphic down and explore all the components of The Wildcat Way.

First, the arrow represents our actions.  You see, The Wildcat Way is more than a slogan.  It's a system that we operate within.  Our staff understands the need to move from beliefs to behaviors.  We do more than "say" The Wildcat Way, we live it.

Our CORE values are at the base of The Wildcat Way.  Those values are Collaboration, Observation, Relationships, and Expectations.

Our CORE values drive everything that we do.  In accordance with our "from beliefs to behaviors" mantra, our staff has made substantial commitments to each one of the core beliefs.

At the center of The Wildcat Way is our Focus on Excellence Framework.  We systematically "Look Back/Look Forward" which means that we, on an ongoing basis, seek input and brainstorm ways to improve things that happened over the past few weeks while also anticipating things that we could do in the future to ensure that we live up to our motto of "Excellence in all that we do- Academics, Activities, Arts, and Athletics."

At the pinnacle of The Wildcat Way is the students that we serve.  We strive to be about more than test scores and to connect with students on a personal level.  We know that the specific lessons that we teach may not be remembered for years to come but the relationships that we build and the life skills that we help instill will be.

We want our Wildcats to be Welcoming, Involved, Leading, Dependable, Cooperative, Ambitious, Teachable, and Serving.

That is The Wildcat Way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Marshmallow Challenge

The Science Club had its first meeting yesterday! The kids competed in a marshmallow challenge to see which team could build the tallest freestanding structure out of marshmallows and spaghetti. The girls won this time around. Great work!  What a fun way to learn teamwork and design principles!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Many thanks to a Washington alumnus!

One of our amazing former students, Daniel Henning, just completed his Eagle Scouts book drive. He donated over 300 books to the classroom library in Ms. Pollreis's room. We are very grateful to Daniel for our new books. It was very thoughtful and we know our kids will love them!

Friday, September 13, 2013

PGPs, Focusing on Strengths, and Inspiration from George Costanza

What would happen if we spent as much time striving to develop our talents as we did attempting to eliminate weaknesses?

Recently our administrative team was talking about the teacher evaluation process and how we historically ask teachers to develop a professional growth plan (PGP) based on “weaknesses.”  We identify areas of needed growth, develop detailed plans for improvement, and strive to improve upon these perceived shortcomings.

How’s that working for you?

During our discussion, I thought about a book that I read several years ago entitled Now, Discover Your Strengths which basically encourages you to focus less on trying to repair flaws or weaknesses and learn to identify your talents and purposefully plan to capitalize on them.

Being a big Seinfeld fan, I also thought of an episode where George Costanza vows to “do the opposite.”  In this episode, George begins to do go against his every instinct.  He begins to eat, do, and say things that go completely against his normal behavior. 

Sometimes growth, or innovation, tends to come from deciding NOT to do something that you've always done or to do something that you would normally not even attempt to do.

Does your classroom still operate like it did five years ago?  Change it up.

Think that you lecture too much?  Set a timer and don’t allow yourself to talk more than a few minutes at a time.

Tired of mounds of paper work?  Pick a lesson or unit and make it paperless.

Always ask questions with one right answer?  Ask questions without one correct response.

PGP’s based completely on weaknesses aren't leading to the results you desire?  Focus on building upon a strength or talent that you have.

Again I ask, what would happen if we spent as much time striving to develop our talents as we did attempting to eliminate weaknesses?

What if we, like George Costanza, did the opposite!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crisis Drill Notification- Lock Down Drill Thursday, September 19

Crisis drills are one component of our continual effort to keep our students safe.  They are not a reaction to any perceived threat but rather an attempt to be more prepared for emergency situations.  Our first lock down drill of the year will be held on Thursday, September 19.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Please Remember to Vote

Please remember to vote in the upcoming millage election!

Early voting is Tuesday, 9/10-Monday, 9/16 8am-4:30pm at the County Clerk's Office for Bentonville and Rogers voters. Early voters in Centerton and Bella Vista can vote from Tuesday 9/10-Friday 9/13 8am-4pm at the Centerton Firehouse or Riordan Hall in Bella Vista.

Election day voting is Tuesday, 9/17 at your local polling location.

Design the Wall!

Please join in on the contest to design the wall on the commons.  All students are welcome to pick up a form from an art teacher or the office.  Create the design that will be painted on the wall on the commons area. 

If your design is chosen by the judges, your design will be painted on the wall and you will win a prize package which includes a $50 gift card to Walmart as well as participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating our commons make over this summer.  The designs are due Sept. 23 to the office for judging. 

Good luck!

Friday, September 6, 2013

WJHS Recognized as High Achieving

The Office for Education Policy (U of A) has released their Outstanding Educational Performance Awards which highlight high-achieving Arkansas schools (based on Benchmark Exam performance).

WJHS was identified for both Math and Literacy!!!

Like we say…Excellence in all that we do!

Congratulations to our students and staff.

Go Wildcats!