Monday, September 27, 2010

Homecoming 2010

The leaves are beginning to change, the corn is turning crisp and brown, and we have all begun digging our jackets out of the closet.  These are all sure signs of fall.  Another dear fall tradition is about to take place at OHS.  Homecoming week is being celebrated during the week of September 27-October 1.  We have a number of homecoming activities this year for students, alumni, parents, and community members to enjoy.

The theme for homecoming 2010 at OHS is "Traveling Through Time: Past, Present, and Future." Click HERE to see a document with all of the important information regarding events, places, and times for the week.  One change has been made in the schedule and that is the date and time of coronation.  With this being a redistricting year in football we did not find out our football schedule until after our other fall sports schedules were set.  Due to away athletic events on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, we have moved coronation to Friday evening.  The crowning of this year's homecoming king and queen will take place beginning at 6:30 on the track in front of the home-side bleachers. The coronation will be followed immediately by a performance from the middle and high school bands and the opening kickoff vs Spirit Lake.

Homecoming is meant to be an event for all.  We hope to see lots of OHS alums as well as parents and community members!  It is a great time to show our Pioneer Pride.  Parents, please take the opportunity to remind your son/daughter about the importance of enjoying homecoming responsibly and of course displaying the high character that we expect from OHS students at all times.

Thank you for your continued support of our high school and GO PIONEERS!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Character really does Count at Okoboji High School...

Hello again!

First of all, thank you to all of you who took the time to fill out my survey last week.  I got a lot of great information from it and will certainly be applying what I learned as I go forward in this venture.  I learned the vast majority of respondents are parents with children in the Okoboji district.  I also learned that 52% of those who responded visit the blog weekly.  63% first learned of the blog from the school website and a vast majority want to see either specific discussion of issues and events affecting our school district or discussion of how global, national, or regional shifts and trends in education impact our school.  The responses were great and reaffirmed my thoughts and rational for starting this blog in the first place.

Several weeks ago I learned the administrative team would be giving a presentation to the Iowa Great Lakes Rotary on the Character Counts program in our district.  Before I joined the Okoboji team I knew Character Counts was an important program in our district.  Banners featuring the six pillars of character are in every building and the district was chosen as the very first Iowa District of Character in 2007.  I did not have much personal experience with Character Counts and had not been in a school that implemented the program at the secondary level.  I believe with all of my heart in the importance of instilling the importance of good character in students - I just hadn't really ever seen Character Counts in action.

Over the first couple weeks of school I had visited many classrooms and kept waiting to see one of these "Character Counts" lessons in action.  I wondered what it would look like at the high school level.  As I visited classrooms I never did walk in on one of those lessons.  The day of the presentation grew near and I didn't feel very much more enlightened about Character Counts than I had been on day one.  The idea of standing in front of a group and speaking about how we implement the program and what it means to our school seemed very daunting.  So I did what I knew I had to do - I asked for help!  I grabbed one of our flip video cameras and hit the hallways in search of teachers and students who had experienced the program for themselves and could certainly tell me how it is "done" at OHS.

What came out of my morning of taping (which, in the interest of full disclosure, came on the same day as the presentation - kids, don't try this at school) was more than just a four minute long video about Character Counts.  I learned quite a bit about our school and the power of instilling the importance of character in a generation of students last Wednesday.  Over and over I got the same message from both students and staff.

Character Counts is not something we do, it is what we are.  Wow.  The high school seniors who have been in our district throughout their school years started with Character Counts in 6th grade.  The others started even younger.  What they were telling me, each in their own way, was that the lessons of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, had been so developed within our students so deeply that they had become ingrained in who they are.  In educational terms this level of learning is sometimes called "transfer."  The importance of good character had been taught and learned to such a level that they had ceased being lessons and become a part of who these kids are.  I have since learned more about how the program works in our elementary and middle schools.  In the elementary a lot of direct instruction is done in what each pillar of character means. Students are given awards when staff members catch them doing good things.  Students get to eat lunch with the principal after a monthly assembly totally focused on recognizing good character.  The reason each student was nominated is read aloud to everyone.  In the middle school the pillars of character are embedded in discussions on how to be a good friend, how to succeed in school, etc.  Less direct instruction is done as the students begin to transfer what they have learned and continue to make it part of their personalities.  One of the staff members I spoke with said that the high school reaps the benefits of the work done at the lower levels.  I would have to agree with that.  By the time the students get to us we get the luxury of expecting good character and a vast majority of the time, that is exactly what we get. 

Below you will find the video that was created and shown at the Rotary meeting.  I am very happy with the way it came out.  I recently shared it via Twitter with the Character Counts Iowa program and they sent it out to all of their followers and put it on their Facebook page.  I don't think there is a higher compliment I could pay the Character Counts program and those in the Okoboji School District who have worked so hard to implement it than to hear student after student say "It's not what we do, it's what we are."  Since the first day I stepped into Okoboji High School for my interview last spring, I knew there was something different about OHS students.  After learning about the importance everyone in the district places on strong character, now I understand why.  Character really does count in the Okoboji School District.

Make the week great!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Taking a Step Back, Finding my Audience...

I am no language arts teacher.  I never was.  That being said, I have taken my share of composition courses and as any good teacher of writing will tell you one of the most important things is to know your audience.  The content, tone, and style of your writing has to be appropriate for your audience.  I have been blogging for almost a year now.  I started this particular blog a couple of months ago mainly as a way to stay connected with stakeholders of the Okoboji School District. I had hoped it would become a place where parents, students, teachers, and others could find information relevant to our district and also discuss these issues in an online forum.  As I mark two full months on the "From the Hallways" blog I have decided I need to take stock of what I am doing here.  What is my purpose?  Who is my audience? Have these changed since the inception of this blog?  I have been surprised at the large number of visitors this blog has seen but for the most part, I know almost nothing about my audience.  That is where I am in desperate need of some audience participation.  I know some of you are parents in the Okoboji District.  Some of you are educators in our district as well.  I also know that some of you are educators who have never even been to Okoboji, much less inside the halls of our school buildings.  I am glad all of you are here.  I am humbled that you have decided to take time out of your busy days to visit and examine what I have to say. I would like to get a better idea of who my audience is.  I believe it will help guide the course of the subjects and style that this blog takes going forward. 

Please take just a moment to complete my Google survey.  You can get to the survey by clicking this link: FROM THE HALLWAYS SURVEY  It will not ask for your name, just some information to help me better understand who is reading and participating in this blog.  I promise it will only take a minute but please do it right now.  If you get onto something else with the idea of coming back to fill it out later, chances are you won't.  I am so thankful for your time and once again I am honored that you have taken the time to listen, think about, and participate in this discussion. 

Make the week great!