January 19, 2023
Message From Deputy Superintendent of Academics
Dr. Marion Smith Jr.
Hello, SLPS Colleagues!
As I reflect on this week and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I am reminded of three of my favorite quotes by Dr. King:
“If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don't want peace. If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don't want peace. If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don't want it. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people.”
- “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
In response to the critics who told him he was ruining his reputation, going to lose money, and that he was becoming unpopular by being against the Vietnam War, and that he should change his position to a more acceptable one Dr. King said:
This last quote, “You don’t know me,” stands out to me for being direct and poignant. It’s clear and speaks to the depth, complexity, and evolution of Dr. King.
The first two quotes seem to stand in opposition to one another, yet may be complimentary.
If we want peace, we must take bold, intentional, and brave action toward justice. Love is the only force strong enough to compel us toward that action and sustain us through the trials of it.
Love is anchored in two things: truth and courage.
Question: What personal or collective truth are we avoiding because it’s uncomfortable to look at?
May we continue to have the courage to face it and take action toward the light of that truth, as we work each day to do what is right for our scholars and families.
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:
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
- Arthur Ashe
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
Subject Area Spotlight: Social Studies
A little over a month ago, I attended the National Council for Social Studies Conference in Philadelphia with 4,000+ other educators and leaders. This is one of my favorite events to attend every year, as it is a wonderful opportunity to learn and connect with others. Over the years, I have built up a connection with educators across the United States. In our conversations, we discussed many of the issues we face on a daily basis in our respective districts. Among the common issues being faced are time for social studies in elementary school, the marginalization of social studies practices in classrooms, and the pressure of various outside influences on our schools. These were comments from educators in urban, suburban, and rural districts. In response to many of the pressing issues facing us and our kids, the National Council for Social Studies has advocated for teachers and school districts to take a multitude of approaches in confronting these issues. At the heart of all initiatives is the role of inquiry.
At the heart of social studies for the last decade is the C3 Framework centered on College, Career, and Civic Life. Within this framework are five forms of inquiry (among others):
Focused Inquiry: The teacher develops the inquiry but focuses on a particular disciplinary skill and piece of content (e.g., causation, map work, research).
- Structured Inquiry: The teacher develops the blueprint to scaffold the disciplinary and civic outcomes of the inquiry
Embedded Action: The teacher develops the inquiry, but focuses on structuring the Taking Informed Action (understand-assess-act) sequence into the core of the blueprint.
- Guided Inquiry: The teacher develops the inquiry but there are dedicated spaces in the formative work for students to conduct independent research.
Student-Directed Inquiry: The student develops the blueprint on a question that he or she is interested in and plans the inquiry using the blueprint.
How are we preparing our students to be critical thinkers, if we don’t ask questions or allow for debate? How are we preparing students to be advocates for themselves, when all of the heavy lifting is done for them? How are we helping kids make change, because adults in the past and present made an existing problem? I ask all of this, as I believe our kids are capable of so many great things in changing our world and making an impact on our world. Much of which is not assessed by a test. How are you facilitating this process? If inquiry is not at the core of your planning, we are depriving our kids many opportunities to grow and thrive. I would advise you to examine the NCSS Statement of Professional Ethics as a point of reflection.
As I think ahead to the next school year, I am also thinking ahead to professional development needs. Take a minute to submit your ideas, or wants for Social Studies PD HERE.
Grades 6-12 Professional Development Day is at the MO History Museum on February 17th. Vivian Gibson will be joining us, as we discuss her book “The Last Children of Mill Creek.” Please be sure to read the book before attending. She will also be sharing some strategies to incorporate research and writing techniques into your classroom. If you have not visited “Coloring St. Louis” at the museum, check it out. Lots of fun! Also, be looking for an up upcoming exhibit on soccer in St. Louis.
- Textbook adoption process is ongoing and we hope to announce selections very soon. I cannot thank our reviewers enough for the work they have done in making this review happen. This is such a critical process for what we do in providing resources to our schools, students, and families.
NCSS is in Nashville later this year. If you have an amazing idea worth sharing, or presenting, be sure to submit your proposal HERE.
Finally, welcome to the three babies who have joined the SLPS Social Studies family since the start of the year: Ezekiel Steven (Sara Eplin, Metro), Rachel Louise (Brian Bettlach, CVPA), and Weston Michael Sam (Trenton Fulton, Long; Katherine Vastis, Stix; and Grandpa William Vastis, Sigel).
KKC Study Tour to Japan 2023
Keizai Koho Center (KKC), in cooperation with the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS), will offer the “KKC Study Tour to Japan 2023” for U.S. and Canadian social studies teachers.
The KKC Teacher Fellowship will be held in-person from June 19-27, 2023!
Since 1980, more than 700 social studies teachers have taken part in the “KKC Study Tour to Japan”. The project aims to deepen participants’ understanding of Japan and contribute to international mutual understanding across the Pacific. Their experiences and findings in Japan have significant value to their students, who will build future ties with Japan.
Social studies classroom teachers (grades 6-12) who have not been to Japan are eligible to apply. Applications, including a project proposal for how they plan to employ their learning, are due by March 1, 2023. Full application instructions are available at https://us-japan.org/kkc.
For questions about the program and eligibility, please contact Amy Boots, Executive Director of The Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania, at 412-856-8608 or email@example.com.
For more information please contact Dr. Glen Barnes, Social Studies Curriculum Specialist – Glenn.Barnes@slps.org
DepartmentSpotlight: Virtual Learning
Academic Office K-8 Coding & Robotics Pathway
School year 2022-2023 was the kick-off to the Academic Office Coding and Robotics (computer science) pathway. The coding pathway is an initiative to provide access to computer science instruction through robotics and coding for all learners.
For school year 2022-2023, our goal was to identify at least one classroom in every K-8 building to implement coding and robotics (computer science) in their Tier 1 classroom instruction (whole group instruction for all students.)
Key Performance Indicators – K-8 Robotics Pilot Classrooms
All scholars engage in a minimum of 50 minutes per week of Tier 1 computer science instruction that includes robotics and coding.
By the end of SY 2022-2023, 100% of scholars in robotics pilot classrooms will successfully complete one full coding pathway (Elementary Dash, Middle School Lego Spike Prime.)
Computer science drives job growth and innovation throughout our economy and society. Computing occupations are the number 1 source of all new wages in the U.S. and make up over half of all projected new jobs in STEM fields, making Computer Science one of the most in- demand college degrees. (Code.org – Support CS in MO)
Upcoming Professional Development: Dash Robotics (Elementary) & Lego Spike Prime (Middle School)
February 17, 2023 – 8:00-11:00
All Dash Robotics pilot teachers are invited to attend an in-person professional development session led by Wendy Wells, certified trainer (location TBD)
Lego Spike Prime Middle School PD Cohort will take place at Mason Elementary School
Stay tuned for more to come as the Academic Office continues to grow and expand computer science for all scholars!
For more information please contact Natasha Mitchell, Interim Director of Virtual Learning & Gifted Education – Natasha.Mitchell@slps.org
New Spotlight: MTSS Corner
Shifting the Framework: “Multi Level Prevention System”
An important aspect of MTSS is the provision of equitable resources to assist scholars at each tier. As we dive deeper into the shift from RTI to MTSS, we must ensure that equitable practices are embedded into each strategy, resource, and intervention. The tiered MTSS system addresses equity by requiring educators to ensure each scholar has a sense of inclusion, belonging, and opportunities that will help them grow. In SLPS, we have specific and tiered resources to meet the need of each scholar in all content areas. The chart below provides an overview of our current MTSS resources.
It is important to think of MTSS as part of “The Work” of the Academic Office. Although the transition from RTI to MTSS requires a paradigm shift in our thinking, we already have resources in place to support the change, and many educators across the district who are already engaging in MTSS practices. The Curriculum and Instruction team is committed to providing equitable resources and instructional support in the best interest of our scholars.
As we move into 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
Spring 2023 Application For Recruitment & Selection Fellows
The HR Recruitment Team has launched the Spring 2023 application for Recruitment & Selection Fellows, teacher leaders who support the teacher selection process from February-July. Fellows will conduct interviews, support recruitment efforts, and work with potential candidates as we hire new teachers for Fall 2023. Fellows typically complete 4-6 hours per week of work and earn stipends up to $1,500 for the semester. Click here to review eligibility requirements and apply. Interested applicants should apply by January 31, 2023, but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
2023 State of Black Educators Symposium (SBE23)
The 2023 State of Black Educators Symposium (SBE23) will take place on February 3, 2023!
This is an annual event for discussing issues and topics that impact Black educators.
The original vision of the symposium was to increase recruitment, support, mentoring, and development of Black educators. With over 4,000 registrants since 2020 and more than 30 states represented, we anticipate SBE23 will enter another level of success as we continue to grow in popularity and further expand across the country!
Ibram X. Kendi, Christopher Emdin, Erin Jones, Howard Fields, Darryl Diggs, and Karen Hall are all confirmed speakers for SBE23!
Get your tickets now!
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.
Washington University/Institute of School Partnership STEMpact Teacher Quality Program
The 2023-2024 STEMpact Teacher Quality (TQ) experience is a year-long (100 hours) learning opportunity involving teachers in St. Louis and surrounding areas. The Institute will meet July 10-21, 2023, between the hours of 8:30 – 4:00; and four full days and four after school sessions to occur throughout the 2023-2024 school year. During the school year, participants will continue their learning with quarterly after school sessions between September and April; and one quarterly full day session (specific dates TBD by district calendars).
Upon completion of expectations, participants receive $100/day stipend for the Institute (10 days x $100 = $1,000) and $75 each for each of the four after school sessions (4 x $75 = $300).
College credit is available for those interested through Washington University. Credit cost/stipends/tuition reimbursement is administered in whatever way is standard for each teacher/school district.
If you are interested in participating, please contact Carrie Launius: email@example.com for an application. All applications must be received by January 31, 2023.
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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