February 2, 2023
Message From Deputy Superintendent of Academics
Dr. Marion Smith Jr.
February is National Black History Month.
In 1926, Carter D. Woodson and the ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) launched “Negro History Week” to promote the study of African American history as a discipline and to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans.
Often when Black History is recognized and celebrated, stories of oppression and overcoming are centered. Other times, we are reminded of heroic achievements from the period of enslavement. These are important and key to understanding the Black experience in the United States; however, rarely do we connect that history to Black experiences that center joy and celebration.
Click HERE to read an Edutopia article written by Hedreich Nichols, “Connecting Black History to Joy”, (January 31, 2023) that offers a counter-narrative.
As we enter February, below are additional resources that may be used beyond the scope of this one month. Unless Black history is taught throughout the year, it perpetuates an “othering” of Black Lives and Black scholars and is also a manifestation of Anti-Blackness. Ensuring the ongoing integration of Black history and experiences throughout all curricula is imperative as educators continue to uplift every scholar and reinforce that Black Lives Matter every day.
“Progress means ease, relief, peace, less strife, less struggle and happiness.” – S. Khan
How many times have we heard someone say, “That’s just the way I am,” or “This is how it’s always been.” Oh, how we fight to hold onto what may limit us. Oftentimes, holding on to what has been keeps us from realizing what can be and what we can do together.
It may be natural to resist change and/or transformation. However, history documents that it is counterproductive to fight against it; change is constant. For some reason, we might believe that if we change, there must be something wrong with the way we are or the ways we do things. With our focus on learning and teaching, the issue is not right or wrong. The issue is working or not working. What evidence of impact do we have to show it? Everything must change. The best can always be better. The fast becomes faster. The great becomes greater. When we make minor adjustments (or holistic adjustments) as needed based on data, we save time and the expense of a major overhaul.
Keeping “The Work” of the Academic Office Front and Center
The WHY of our work for School Year 22-23:
To develop and/or deepen the habits of mind and adaptive leadership moves critical to disrupt and dismantle inequities in our systems, practices, policies and procedures so each scholar thrives.
The WHAT of our work for School Year 22-23:
Strengthen the *instructional core, so each scholar has access and targeted supports to achieve Standards and to engage in deeper learning through the ‘Key 3’
Use multiple sources of data (qualitative, quantitative and perceptual) to inform decision-making
- Apply “best we know right now practices” to educate the Whole Child
*teachers’ knowledge and skills; scholars’ engagement in their own learning; academically challenging content
The HOW of our work for School Year 22-23:
“We speak for the no longer and the not yet.”
- Subcomandante Marcos
Your partner in education,
Marion Smith Jr, EdD
Deputy Superintendent of Academics
For more information, please contact Dr. Marion Smith Jr., Deputy Superintendent of Academics– Marion.SmithJr@slps.org
Network Spotlight: Network 1
“Believe Project” Literacy Lab @ Froebel Literacy Academy
In December 2022, Froebel Literacy Academy became the first school in SLPS to become home to a “Believe Project” literacy lab. This initiative of the St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, is designed to improve reading proficiency for students (Kindergarten-3rd), by providing access to 1,000 culturally relevant books. In a colorful, culturally responsive setting, for 90 minutes/week, the lab keeps students engaged in reading books by local authors, furniture for flexible seating, access to a beautiful wall mural produced by local artists, and four visits per year from national and local authors. The images below are from the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony that took place.
Check out this short video (2 min, 9 sec) of the reaction from Froebel students during the first visit to their new literacy lab (Video link).
Robots Come Alive @ Dewey International Studies School
Students at Dewey International Studies School engage in designing and programming a variety of robots in a new enrichment club led by Ms. Link and Ms. Lato.
Dewey's robotics club has over 30 students that engage with robots such as Dash, Sphero, and BeeBots. First, students create designs to enhance the theme of the project with maker space materials. Then students program the robots with their Ipads to develop the movements. The robotic students also engage in many different challenges and compete by utilizing their programming skills.
Their latest projects include the Macy Day Parade Floats and the Chinese New Year Dragons. Some of our most recent challenges have been the BeeBot Maze Challenge and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Our Students enjoy problem-solving and working together to make their creations come alive.
Extracurricular Activities Help Grow Community @ Herzog Elementary School
Herzog Elementary is an important part of the Walnut Park neighborhood community. We are continually looking for ways to grow our sense of community at our school that also align to our school mission. Extracurricular activities are a fun and valuable way to provide exceptional learning experiences that address the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of our scholars. This year, we have launched a variety of daytime and afterschool opportunities for our students to explore.
Academically, 4th and 5th grade scholars have a new lunch-time book club that meets twice a week to discuss high interest books such as From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Herzog's new enrichment club will soon allow 2nd-5th graders the opportunity to meet afterschool four times a week.
In addition to these academically focused activities, we have a variety of opportunities that help focus on our students’ social emotional needs.
Girl Scouts focus on building confidence in our students and supporting them in their goals.
Girls in the Know is a local organization that has partnered with Herzog’s counselor, Ms. Gasper, to provide support and resources as our students learn to make positive life choices. Critical thinking skills are important to develop and our chess club meets weekly in the library during the afternoon to help develop those skills!
The physical health of our students is important as well so Herzog Tigers have been participating in the SLPS elementary league in both volleyball and basketball. The Volleyball team placed 3rd in the District tournament! We added a cheer team to the mix for basketball and they really help our Herzog Tigers ROAR!
All of our activities are fun and supported by our dedicated teachers and staff as well as our amazing families.
Network Spotlight: Community Partnership Network (CPN)
For more information, please contact Jay Hartman, Executive Director of Community Partnership Network - Jay.Hartman@slps.org
Subject Area Spotlight: Physical Education/Health
Healthy Schools Movement “In Action” @ Patrick Henry Downtown Academy Elementary School
The Healthy Schools Movement, one of the Academic Office’s Healthy School Initiatives, jumped into action at Patrick Henry by collaborating with community partners, to create positive change for their students in their quest to create a healthier school environment. In November, dedicated group of district personnel and community partners made it possible for all students at Patrick Henry to have equal access to the Outdoor Learning Space and garden.
Perspective: Collaboration Builds “Miracle on North 10th Street” at Elementary School – Construction Forum (constructforstl.org)
The mission of the SLPS Healthy Schools Initiatives is to empower students and staff to create a healthier school environments. A healthier school environment is developed and sustained through positive change, and by developing policies, practices and environmental change that improves the overall health and wellness of all students and staff. Our approach is data-driven to deliver equitable, direct services to support a healthy school environment and to build a healthy future for all SLPS students, staff and families because every SLPS student deserves a healthy future.
For more information, please contact M. Leanne White, Director of Healthy Schools Initiatives – Margaret.White@slps.org
DepartmentSpotlight: Special Education
Special Education: Postsecondary Planning At The High School Level
As a student approaches the time to leave high school, it is important that preparations for adult life are well underway. For early transition planning and active participation in decision making to occur for students with disabilities, members of the planning team need to be well informed about the student’s abilities, needs, and available services. This section highlights educational opportunities, credentials, and employment strategies designed to assist students with disabilities while in school to prepare for a meaningful postsecondary education and/or thriving career.
Transition Planning - “A truly successful transition process is the result of comprehensive team planning that is driven by the dreams, desires and abilities of youth. A transition plan provides the basic structure for preparing an individual to live, work and play in the community, as fully and independently as possible.”
Local educational agencies (LEAs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies participate in planning meetings to assist students and family members to make critical decisions about this stage of the student’s life and their future post-school goals. During the planning process, schools and VR agencies work together to identify the transition needs of students with disabilities, such as the need for assistive or rehabilitation technology, orientation and mobility services or travel training, and career exploration through vocational assessments or work experience opportunities. The individualized education program (IEP), developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for each student with a disability must address transition services requirements beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and must be updated annually thereafter.
The IEP must include:
- Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills.
the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student with a disability in reaching those goals).
While the IDEA statute and regulations refer to courses of study, they are but one example of appropriate transition services. Examples of independent living skills to consider when developing postsecondary goals include self-advocacy, management of the home and personal finances, and the use of public information.
The Department of Special Education will sponsor its annual ‘Transition to Life Fair’ on Friday, March 31 from 8:30am-1:00pm at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Please contact Marlene Glover in the Department of Special Education for additional information.
New Spotlight: MTSS Corner
Shifting the Framework: “Multi Level Prevention System”
The Academic Office continues to outline the “What and Why of MTSS” and equitable practices for each scholar. There are key components that are critical to the success of MTSS and equitable practice: Strong leadership and communication, capacity building opportunities, and collaboration from all stakeholders are part of the driving forces of MTSS.
Strong leadership and communication: Communicating common language, specific goals, and outcomes are key for leadership teams. In order to communicate effectively, data- informed decisions are the catalyst of the work. Part of the responsibility is to review and analyze the data in order to make decisions that will address the needs of each scholar in each tier. Through professional development, empowerment, and guidance, the leadership team supports the implementation and the stability of MTSS practices.
Capacity Building Opportunities: Shifting from RTI to MTSS requires us to take a deeper dive into our educational practices. This isn’t an easy process and requires work from all stakeholders. This work includes examining infrastructures of data, instruction, and multi- tiered support in an effort to tailor those systems to meet the needs of each scholar. Leadership teams help build capacity by creating spaces that allow staff to plan and implement high intensity teaching and learning, and the on- going improvement of MTSS.
Collaboration from All Stakeholders: Staff members, families, and community partners are essential stakeholders of MTSS. Staff involvement is the most important team that needs to exist outside of the roles and responsibilities of the leadership team. Collaboration through coaching and decision making creates ownership and positive intentions for all staff that is in charge of the teaching and learning process. Families are the glue of MTSS. Once families are included in the decisions and the process of equitable practices, it is more likely that these practices will be supported and sustained. The involvement of community partners enables them to become a part of the leadership team. As both organizations begin to share the same goals and outcomes, increased resources can be provided to address the needs of scholars.
As we continue the transition to the MTSS framework, it is important to remember the ‘Why, What, and How of MTSS.” Linked below is the one pager to support our move forward.
For more information regarding MTSS and resources for each tier, please contact Ravetta Jackson, MTSS Specialist - Ravetta.Jackson@slps.org
DepartmentSpotlight: Professional Development
Professional Development Frontline Updates
Just in Time Frontline Training is available this month for teachers and school leaders to ensure they can complete required components and get support with utilizing Frontline efficiently and effectively.
Are you a STEM educator looking for professional development opportunities? Join us for our STEM themed unconference, where you'll have the chance to connect with like-minded educators and explore the latest trends in Coding, Career Technical Education, Project Lead the Way, and E-sports.
Click here to learn more.
Saturday, February 25, 2023
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Carr Lane VPA Middle School
1004 North Jeﬀerson Avenue St. Louis, MO, 63106
Avila University Master's & Certification Programs For Teachers
Spring enrollment for Avila University's Maser's & Certification Programs for Teachers is coming to a close. The admissions deadline is Monday, February 13 and classes begin Monday, February 27. If you are interested in this program click the flier or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Esther Palsenberger, Elementary ELA, 314-779-5939
- Judine Keplar, Secondary ELA, 314-532-6427
- Zehra Khan, Secondary Math, 314-532-3574
- J. Carrie Launius, Elementary Science, 314-934-5258
- Dr. Valentina Bumbu, Secondary Science, 573-544-6835
- Dr. Glenn Barnes, Social Studies, 314-934-5267
- John Grapperhaus, Visual Arts, 314-934-5320
- Kaye Harrelson, Performing Arts, 314-934-5445
Dr. Taresa Wright-Fraser, Elementary Math, 314-943-5266
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