October 21, 2021

Message from Deputy Superintendent Smith
Welcome to Quarter 2 of the 21-22 School Year! Let’s all take a deep breath, exhale and reflect on all we have done to keep in-person learning and teaching a reality for our 20,000+ PK-12 scholars. SHOUT OUT to each of you for your continued collaboration, ‘can do’ attitude and willingness to embrace this transformative moment. 

A few items for your consideration:

SY 21-22 Academic Office Learning Walks To Begin
There is no better data source than observing teaching and learning happen in real-time in classrooms. We are excited and eager to implement Academic Office Learning Walks (LW) next week with a small group of identified central office staff participating in the process. This school year, the focus of LW is to gather data and to provide feedback on specific ‘Look Fors’ so the Academic Office remains data-informed when thinking about and making decisions about supports we make available for school-based staff. A schedule of when and what schools will be visited during Qtr. 2 will be shared with Network Superintendents and school leaders.
The WHAT of Academic Office Learning Walks for SY 21-22?
The Learning Walks are brief classroom visits (no more than 10 minutes) utilizing a research-based observation tool that provides participants opportunities to observe what scholars are learning, identify learning strategies being implemented, and gather data on scholar interaction with the content and scholar engagement.

The Learning Walk IS NOT evaluative; it IS NOT an evaluation. Data collected during the LW will be provided to the school leader and Network Superintendent, so they may share and discuss trends, work with staff to identify next steps, and collaborate with central office to identify supports as/if needed. The Learning Walk is a ‘snapshot’ in time of learning and teaching in the school based on specific ‘Look Fors’

The WHY of Academic Learning Walks for SY 21-22?
  • To (re)center our attention and focus on teaching and learning.
  • To gather data about instructional practices and scholar learning across the district; use this information to develop and/or modify support structures at central office.
  • To stimulate collegial conversations about teaching and learning by engaging in a structured observation process anchored in collection of objective ‘Look Fors’ data.
  • To learn from other colleagues through their observations, questions and perspectives
  • To deepen teaching and learning practices across the district by providing continuous targeted feedback and spotlighting ‘Promising Practices’ observed across the district.
  • ‘Look Fors’ for first round of LW:
    • 1. Posted Learning Target(s), 2. Scholar explanation / communicated understanding of Learning Target(s), 3. Technology Integration, and 4. Learning Activities.
    • To see the complete 21-22 Academic Office Learning Walks observation tool being used click HERE.

Revised SY 21-22 Assessment Calendar
  • Click HERE for the revised SY 21-22 Assessment Calendar 
Having obtained feedback from school leaders, teachers, and central office administration, including a review of the percent completion status reports from Quarter 1 STAR and Common Formative Assessments, it has been reaffirmed that there are a lot of assessments on the calendar and some confusion as to which tests are required and which are not.  In addition, evidence has been gathered suggesting that schools are having trouble using the data obtained from these assessments to inform instructional practices. Therefore, it has been suggested that SLPS consider removing some of the assessments that are not vital to informing and improving academic success as well as meeting DESE requirements.  To that end, the Scantron Performance Series assessments, planned for two administrations this year, will no longer be administered.  

To meet DESE requirements for Senate Bill (SB) 319 and Dyslexia screening, STAR Early Literacy, Reading and Math assessments will continue in the district and will be required for grades K-12. These assessments must be administered during the Fall, Winter and Spring testing windows.
  • Renaissance Learning’s suite of tools includes Curriculum-Based Measurements (CBM), progress monitoring and Math Assessments among other instructional tools.  Renaissance Learning’s assessments are adaptive, aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards (MLS), and predictive of state assessment performance. The platform provides multiple reports that allow staff to identify specific foundational learning standards that are critical to continued growth and learning, as well as a means to build instructional lesson plans with skills based on scholar, group and/or class performance on the assessments.  The platform includes a means to plan and monitor scholar progress and set goals.  
  • So What? Now What?
    • The assessments identified as core to our learning and teaching work for this school year will be REQUIRED and accountability checks have been put into place to ensure 100% participation from all schools. No exceptions!
    • In the next Academic Office Newsletter, you will receive information from our Professional Development Department about resources and supports developed to assist staff in using formative assessment data (Assessment FOR Learning vs. Assessment OF Learning) to inform everyday learning and teaching practices. 

Cognitive Coaching Leadership Cohort 
  • Everyone in our system is a coach! To that end, to support the current work taking place with Academic Instructional Coaches (AIC), Consultant Teachers and Mentor Teachers, and in efforts to create a common language, common understanding and common practices in the area of coaching, we will offer a Cognitive Coaching Leadership Cohort. On November 4, 2021 we will host an introductory Cognitive Coaching professional learning session for central office and school-based leadership involved in this first cohort.  Follow-up sessions will take place throughout Semester 2. Dates/Times/Location forthcoming. Learn more about Cognitive Coaching HERE
Radical Departures
I recently revisited a text resource titled “Radical Departures: How the Reinvention Lab (currently) defines innovative learning” and I would like to share it with you. I invite each of us to challenge ourselves to move beyond ‘status quo learning’ and toward ‘reinvented learning’ by exploring these five questions.

I look forward to our continued learning/unlearning/relearning together. 
Your partner in education,

Marion Smith Jr, Ed.D
Deputy Superintendent of Academics 

Special Shout Out
SHOUT-OUT: Nance 3rd Grade Teacher Marquitta McBride
A special shout-out goes to Ms. Marquitta McBride of Nance Elementary. Ms. McBride was featured during a recent KMOV channel 4 "Salute to Teachers" segment. Thank you Ms. McBride for setting such a wonderful example for the scholars of Nance Elementary. 
Click here to view the KMOV segment honoring Ms. McBride. 
Department Spotlight: 
St. Louis Plan
PEER ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW: St. Louis Public Schools in collaboration with AFT Local 420
The STL Plan Peer Assistance and Review process provides support to new teachers in St. Louis Public Schools.  The STL Plan’s mantra is professional development for teachers by teachers. The Consultant Teachers and Induction Coaches of the STL Plan introduce all new teachers to St. Louis Public Schools with a 3-5 day orientation focused on professionalism and the performance standards of the Performance Based Teacher Evaluation (PBTE). Any new teacher without prior public school experience receives 2 – 3 semesters of support from a Consultant Teacher.  Since 2018, the Induction Coaches of STL Plan have offered a three-tiered system of support to selected new teachers with prior public school experience.

Cohort 34: The New Teacher Academy

In addition to the New Teacher Orientation, all teachers in the STL Plan are assigned to a cohort for district-level professional development.  This provides the Consultant Teachers and Induction Coaches with the opportunity to address the learning needs of the new teachers in a variety of ways.  Whenever possible, the Consultant Teachers and Induction Coaches consider the district required content and redesign it for new teachers.  In addition, the Consultant Teachers and Induction Coaches plan and deliver booster sessions based on their observations, the requests of AIC’s, and suggestions from new teachers.

Upcoming PD

In addition to direct professional support to new teachers, the STL Plan Induction Coaches and Consultant teachers collaborate with Lead Mentors to design and deliver professional development to mentor teachers 4 times a year.  The next mentor teacher professional development will be delivered virtually on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, from 4:00pm – 5:30pm.  All mentors should attend.

STL Plan Induction Coaches and former Consultant Teachers also provide professional development to substitute teachers.  Since the 2019-2020 school year, substitute teachers have been involved in professional development designed and delivered by the STL Plan.  This year three cohorts of substitute teachers will receive professional development.  The first cohort completed their first series of training sessions in the 2019-2020 school year.  Because of Covid 19, professional development for them was suspended and will resume virtually on October 27, 2021. The second cohort began their professional development with in-person sessions from July 19 – 22, 2021.  Finally, the third and newest cohort will comprise all new substitutes hired this semester. They will have their first in person session in November 2021.

A Budding PD Center
Since 2016, 450 Des Peres, St. Louis, MO 63112 has been the home of the STL Plan.  The building has six classrooms available for professional development and all classrooms are equipped with a projector or a promethean board.  In addition, the off-street parking lot can accommodate 50 – 75 cars. If you would like to schedule a meeting or Professional Development session in the STL Plan building, please contact Dr. Wanda C. Clay at 345-2240.
Department Spotlight: Professional Development / Professional Learning Department 
Tiered Professional Development Support for Savvas
SLPS Teaching and Learning Staff,

We heard you, and we will continue to listen and provide support based on your needs!
We understand from our most recent districtwide PD survey feedback that there is more support sought in effectively teaching and implementing our new reading curriculum resources through Savvas.  We would like to remind you that there are Tiered Professional Development supports available to you to help you continue to navigate and effectively implement the Savaas resources, lessons, and assessment tools. 
Please bookmark the Savvas Professional Learning Support Plan linked HERE and opt-in to the offerings that are available to best meet your specific needs.  You may also be interested in 24 hour, on-demand, virtual training at My Savvas Training linked HERE which can be accessed and used by anyone with an SLPS email account, including substitute teachers and support staff.  We are here to support all your teaching and learning needs.
For more guidance please contact Dr. LaTisha A. Smith, Director of Professional Development -  LaTisha.Smith@slps.org
PLCs Reimagined: A Fresh Approach to Teacher Collaboration 
Presented by Albert Morton, Project Manager, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and Dr. Lisa Corbin, Instruction and Leadership Coach, International Center for Leadership in Education
Are your professional learning communities ready to navigate the latest landscape of teaching and learning, regardless of how the new school year unfolds?

Join this edWebinar to gain ready-to-use strategies that will reinvigorate tired PLCs and create future-focused teacher communities. Learn how to create engaging spaces for educators to collaborate, practice, adapt, and support each other and their students.

In this edWebinar, attendees will:
  • Explore how to establish a collaborative learning community
  • Identify concrete measures of a successful PLC
  • Learn how effective coaching can elevate your PLC and improve student outcome.
This edWebinar will be of interest to K-12 teachers, school and district leaders, and district curriculum coordinators. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation. Learn more.

Curriculum & Instruction Spotlight

Support to Schools with Limited Instructional Staff

The Academic Office recognizes that additional support may be needed in schools due to staffing issues related to Covid-19. To cover an absent teacher’s schedule when there is no substitute teacher available, Instructional Leaders may typically implement an emergency/contingency plan. 
Considering current circumstances related to Covid-19 recovery efforts, there may be times where instructional staff may be more limited than others.  The document linked HERE offers some general guidance as well as some content/grade-level specific supports to assist Instructional Leaders in navigating the daily business of learning and teaching when instructional staff is limited.  Though circumstances differ according to who is absent and/or the type of vacancy, as a public school system, it is our responsibility to maintain our commitment to St. Louis Public School's scholars and remain focused on the business of learning and teaching, even in the face of some of our most challenging circumstances.
For more guidance about Curriculum and Instruction, please contact Dr. Kimberly Moody, Director of Curriculum & Instruction - Kimberly.Moody@slps.org

Subject Area Spotlight:

Performing Arts 

Sounds of Music—Auditions were held in September for the prestigious Artist-In-Training program offered by Opera Theater-St. Louis.  Eden Burks (McKinley CLA) won a position and will receive free transportation to weekly voice lessons and an opportunity to sing for scholarship $$ next spring.  Good luck Eden!

Thirteen students from Carnahan, Central VPA and McKinley received private lesson scholarships for two semesters from the R. Hesse Memorial Foundation.  Congratulations!

Middle and High School musicians in our Metro District 8 conference will participate in honors ensembles over the next six weeks. Click Calendar-Metro District 8 to see the audition/rehearsal/concert schedule. 

Because public performances are not recommended in SLPS at this time, teachers are finding other creative ways to share student presentations. Some are recording classroom practice sessions from the beginning through the final in-class performance to show a progression timeline.  Others are having students record themselves, after which the teacher uses editing sorcery to thread them together in a unified virtual performance.  Whatever the medium, we are taking small, socially distant steps to the return of making music, dancing and acting.     
2021-2022 Expectations for the Performing Arts

For more guidance about the SLPS performing arts curriculum, please contact Kaye Harrelson, Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist - Kaye.Harrelson@slps.org
AIM Zone Project
AIM Zone is a designated area within the classroom where physical activity is integrated into academic learning.    

AIM = Academics In Movement

What: This project is piloting AIM Zones in classrooms at 12 Healthy School Movement school sites.  The AIM Zone will integrate physical activity into the classroom environment.  Classroom teachers receive Professional Development on Active Classrooms and the AIM Zone equipment for use in their classroom.

Why: AIM Zones will help scholars meet the National Physical Activity Guideline of 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily for children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years old.  And the AIM Zones will integrate physical activity into the daily academic classroom routine, enhancing the learning environment for our SLPS  scholars.

Where: AIM Zones are located in classrooms at the following schools:  Busch, Gateway Elementary, Gateway Michael, Humboldt, Laclede, Mason, Mullanphy, Nottingham, Patrick Henry, Stix, Walbridge and Wilkinson.  
Patrick Henry is our one designated AIM Zone School, with AIM Zones setup in all 10 classrooms and 1 located in the hallway for the Reading  Support Specialist.
How:  The AIM Zone Project is funded by the Anthem Foundation for the 2021-2022 school year.  
For more guidance regarding AIM Zones, please contact M. Leanne White, Ed.S., Director of AIM Initiatives - Health Schools Movement, Healthy Schools Healthy Communities, Green Schoolyards & AIM Zone Project - Margaret.white@slps.org
Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional Championship
Dear SLPS Music Teachers,
Music for All would like to invite you to be their guests at the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional Championship! The event will be held on October 22 and 23 at The Dome at America's Center. You may attend any portions of the event with in/out privileges. The schedule may be found HERE. If you are able to attend, please complete this form

Updates Around The District

KidSmart October Drive Thru Supplies Distribution Sign Up

Our partners at KidSmart are hosting a Halloween themed drive-thru supply giveaway on October 23, 2021 from 8am - 10:30am. Click HERE to register for your spot. 
Please note:
  1. This sign-up is for teachers at Enrolled Schools only. 
  2. We MUST have your Up-To-Date School Roster on file to provide free school supplies for your students. The roster MUST be on school letterhead or signed by your school principal, AND it MUST include your first and last name and specific classroom assignment.  
  3. Each teacher may only attend ONE Drive-Through Event per month.
  4. Please have your photo ID ready. You must stay inside of your vehicle with the windows rolled up. Please pop/unlock your trunk for KidSmart staff to load your vehicle with supplies for your students. 

The new KidSmart facility is located directly past QuikTrip on Dorsett Rd by 270. If you are having trouble finding us, try putting QT's address into your GPS: 12200 Dorsett Rd, Maryland Heights, MO 63043.

If you are taking 270 to Dorsett, you will make a right turn at the light for Progress Pkwy, drive past the QT, and continue on through the gates to KidSmart's new home.

For more guidance about the event, please contact Michael Smith with KidSmart
Employee Referral Program
SLPS is looking for talented individuals to join our team for the 2021 – 2022 school year!   Know someone?  Refer them to the Recruitment Team.  If your referral is hired for one the following positions, you will receive a referral payment: 
Instructional Care Aide, Teacher Assistant, Custodian, or Safety Officer - $100
Teacher - $250

The first 50 people to refer a candidate will get a free T-shirt, regardless of whether their referral is hired.
For more guidance about the Employee Referral Program, please click here or contact Danielle Jackson - Recruitment Associate - Danielle.Jackson@slps.org
Opportunity for Substitute Teachers: Teaching Certification Pipelines 
The HR Recruitment Team sponsors several pipelines to support our non-certificated employees in securing their teaching certification. Since 2018-19, we have hired 100 new teachers through these pipelines! If you are interested in becoming a certified teacher on TeamSLPS, consider these two things:
  • Complete this form to tell us you're interested and receive more information
  • Save the date for our Certification Opportunity with UMSL Information Session: November 15, 2021, 4:30 pm-5:00 pm (register HERE) Our first session was a success and candidates are already signing up for the program.  Do not miss the opportunity!
For more guidance about the teaching certificate pipeline, please contact Danielle Jackson - Recruitment Associate - Danielle.Jackson@slps.org
Standards-Based Learning Corner
Click here to explore past topics related to Standards-Based Learning and Grading in SLPS.
For more guidance, please contact Dr. Kimberly Moody, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Kimberly.Moody@slps.org
Curriculum Specialists:
  • 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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