Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Interim Superintendent

I received the following information from the District today.

"With the retirement of Superintendent Barry L. Newbold, the Board of Education has made the decision to name David Stoddard as Interim Superintendent of Schools for Jordan School District. As part of this re-assignment, the Board has approved some temporary modifications of assignments to provide coverage of necessary District administrative functions.

"These assignments will be temporary and will continue until such time as a new Superintendent of Schools is chosen by the Board of Education. Once a new Superintendent has been chosen, employees will return to their previous administrative job duties.

"Effective Jan. 1, 2011 John Taylor, currently Administrator of Auxiliary Services, will assume responsibility over the Riverton and Herriman schools and temporarily move to the District offices at 7387 S. Campus View Dr. In addition, he will assume the responsibility of the high school level.

"During John Taylor’s time at the District offices, Scott Thomas will have responsibility as Administrator of Auxiliary Services, with the support of John Taylor as necessary. He will remain at the Auxiliary Services building located at 7905 S. Redwood Road.

"All other cabinet members will retain their current assignments and will be providing assistance and support to Mr. Taylor and Mr. Thomas during the interim."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Matt Lund, National Board Certified Teacher

Congratulations to Matt Lund, Physics Teacher at Copper Hills High School, on earning National Board Certification!  He said it only took a year to complete.

More School Visits

Yesterday I spent lunchtime in the faculty room at Kauri Sue Hamilton School.  What a great staff and a beautiful facility built for the needs of that special population!  I was at Elk Meadows Elementary after school.  I showed them the TEF video and discussed reaching out to legislators and inviting them into our classrooms to see what we do everyday.  As the legislature begins in January, we all need to take the time to write our representative and senator on issues related to education.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

UEA President on National Panel

This press release from NEA is dated December 13, 2010.
UEA president and former second-grade teacher Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is one of 21 educators nationwide selected to participate on an independent commission to study the teaching profession and make recommendations on maximizing teacher and teaching effectiveness.
The National Education Association (NEA) announced that the national Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching (CETT) will draw on the wisdom and experience of accomplished teachers—supported by researchers, policymakers and academicians—who will examine the policies and practices governing the teaching profession and craft a new teacher-centered vision of teaching and the teaching profession. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel first announced plans for this Commission during his keynote address at the NEA's 2010 Representative Assembly in New Orleans.
“There is a fundamental need to shake up the nation’s collective thinking on quality teaching,” said Van Roekel, “and we believe the best way to do that is to get the perspective of professional educators who are recognized for their innovation and accomplishments in the classroom. Our hope is that this Commission will not only focus on the professional practices that make a difference in student learning but also address the critical issues facing the future of the profession. NEA is dedicating significant resources and staff to support the Commission’s work because we recognize the significance of this task.”
Chaired by Madaline “Maddie” Fennel, 2007 Nebraska Teacher of the Year and fourth-grade teacher from Omaha, Neb., the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching is charged with accomplishing work in four areas:
  • Analyzing existing standards, definitions, policies and practices related to teacher effectiveness and effective teaching and developing a teachers’ definition of an effective teacher and effective teaching.
  • Crafting a new vision of a teaching profession that is led by teachers and ensures teacher and teaching effectiveness.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for the National Education Association about the union’s role in advancing and promoting teacher effectiveness and the teaching profession.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for education leaders and policymakers about the future of the teaching profession and the role of teachers in governing it.
 The Commission will meet four to six times over the next year and conduct public hearings to gather input on topics of interest to the panel. Individual members of the Commission will work on various committees and activities in order to accomplish the goal of delivering preliminary recommendations to the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago. Commission members will solicit feedback from NEA members and deliver a final report to the public in the fall of 2011. NEA will use the recommendations to examine the Association’s policies and long-term vision for teaching.
“The current policies and processes that govern our profession do little to support teachers or students today,” said Van Roekel. “Those with little understanding about student learning or the teaching profession have been allowed to establish programs, set standards and shape policies that impact teaching and learning. Absent a new approach to teacher policy, it is unrealistic to expect schools and teachers to prepare all students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the 21st century and beyond. Supporting the work of the Commission is one of many steps the NEA is taking to help transform the profession and give teachers greater authority over their profession, the quality of teaching and quality of public schools.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mountain Shadows School Visit

I had a good visit with the teachers and staff at Mountain Shadows this morning.  It was also fun to see people I have taught with over the years.  I am trying to visit all schools at some point this year.  If I haven't been to your school yet, I will be!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Educator Day on the Hill

Plan ahead now to attend a UEA Educator Day on the Hill.  Most of the scheduled days are Fridays.  Below is the list of the dates with which schedule would accommodate educators attending. 

January 28 (D track is off) - I will be teaching that day.
February 4 (D track is off/track change day)
February 11 (C track is off) - I will be teaching that day.
February 18 (C track is off)
February 25 (C track is off/track change day) - I will be teaching that day.
March 4 (B track is off/secondary PTC comp day/traditional elementary grade transmittal day)
Monday, March 7 (B track is off) - I will be teaching that day.

If you are prepared and are able to make your track change early or submit your grades early, every teacher, except A-track teachers, have the opportunity to attend at least one UEA Educator Day on the Hill.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending and let me know which day you would like to attend.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I thought you might enjoy this.

image from www.newyorker.com

Governor's Proposed State Budget 2011

Good news!  Governor Herbert's proposed budget includes money for growth and extended-day kindergarten.  See this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.


I spoke with Laura Finlinson about elementary reading and math.  She said, "We (the curriculum department) are not here to crack the whip.  We are here to be supportive."  She also stated that if principals request, she will come to individual schools to present the framework into which reading and math fit.  If you are having a lot of questions at your school, ask your principal to invite Laura Finlinson, Administrator of Curriculum and Staff Development, to come share this information with your staff. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellowship

Applications for the US Department of Education's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship are now available online.

Teaching Ambassadors are outstanding teachers who have a record of leadership, strong communication skills, and policy insight who work for one year for the US Department of Education, either full-time in Washington, DC or part-time in their home states. The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship supports the Department's mission by enabling a cadre of teachers from across the country to contribute their classroom expertise to the national dialogue and in turn facilitate discussions with educators across the country. More information about the program and application is available at this website.  Questions can be sent to teacherfellowship@ed.gov

Applications are due January 17, 2011.

New Administrative Assistant

Cari, the great JEA administrative assistant, is expecting a baby girl in January and has decided not to return.  Laura, Cindy, and I have interviewed six candidates for the position.  We should be making a decision in the next week.

It was a learning experience for me.  I have been involved in interviewing teachers for positions on my team, but I have never helped to hire an administrative assistant.  I'm so grateful for the experience of Laura and Cindy in this regard.  They knew how to narrow the candidate pool, what skills to look for, and the best questions to ask.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Yesterday was the Sick Bank Committee Meeting and the School Board Study Session.  Sick Bank was pretty routine in looking at requests to use Sick Bank.

The School Board Study Session included the Interim Superintendent, Dave Stoddard, and the two new School Board members, Corbin White and Susan Pulsipher.  Changes to DP 303:  Staff Selection Guidelines and DP 308: Auxiliary Personnel were discussed.  Most were language changes to bring policy in line with practice.  The part that will impact some is the neopotism piece added to DP 303.  It states, "No one with supervisory responsibility shall hire or recommend for hire any family member including parent, grandparent, spouse, child, grandparent, sibling, or any corresponding in-law, step, adoptive relative, or anyone residing on a permanent basis in the supervisor’s home."

See DP 303 for all the proposed language changes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Literacy Coaches

I spoke with Kathy Wittke again today about the role of Literacy Coaches and how classroom teachers need to understand the job of the coaches.  The job description was changed this year as the District transitioned from Literacy Facilitators to Literacy Coaches.  The same level of services provided prior to this year cannot be expected with Coaches servicing two schools.  Coaches are to help teachers provide interventions in their classrooms.  Coaches are not to be pulling students out. 

The job description for Literacy Coaches is going to be redefined again.  Kathy has said she will give me that job description once it is finalized.  I will distribute it, so all teachers will understand the role of the Coaches.

Costco Shopping

In conjunction with CEA, GEA, and the classified association, JEA is hosting a shopping event at the Murray Costco (5300 S. State Street) on Saturday, December 4.  Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:00.  Shopping will be from 8:30 to 9:30 with or without a Costco membership.  A drawing for two turkeys will be held at 9:00.

Come and enjoy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Legislative Supply Money

"According to the Utah Administrative Code R277-459, Teachers Supply and Materials Appropriation is to be distributed to classroom teachers who provide instructional services to students.  These funds are intended to be used for school materials, supplies, and field trips."  -- TEACHERS SUPPLY AND MATERIALS APPROPRIATION GUIDELINES FOR IMPLEMENTATION

The Legislative Supply Money will be at your school next week after your principal attends the level meeting.  Here are the full-time amounts, which include the $50 you should have been able to access already.  If you teach part-time or job-share, your amount is half of what is listed.

Step 1 - 3:  $250
Step 4+:  $190.72

Step 1 - 3:  $200
Step 4+:  $140.72

Elk Ridge Middle School Visit

I enjoyed meeting and talking with the teachers at Elk Ridge Middle School today during lunch.  Overall, they are positive and enthusiastic about teaching.  They are concerned about kids and talked about how to help them. 

Meeting with Superintendent Newbold

I had a good meeting with Superintendent Newbold this morning.  We discussed Literacy Coaches, Guided Reading Levels, Math benchmarks, high school parent teacher conferences, District curriculum specialists, Herriman fire make-up day, and legislative priorities. 

I will be following up on the curriculum and parent teacher conference issues.  The grants funding District curriculum specialists will are for the next two to three years.  The District hopes to phase those positions in a few a year to permanent funding. 

I have received a few e-mails about the Herriman fire make-up day scheduled for Presidents' Day in February.  Superintendent Newbold stated that teachers are correct that the day will not be productive instructionally.  If the day is not made up, the District is out of compliance with the 180-day state law and will lose state funding.  Another issue if the day is not made up is Herriman area teachers receiving pay for not teaching.  The teachers in the other 45 schools would see an inequity in pay.  I hate to deliver the news, but these are the reasons Herriman schools will be in session on Presidents' Day.

The School Board met with Merlynn Newbold, Jim Bird, Ken Ivory, Wayne Harper, and Howard Stephenson's representative, Corbin White.  They discussed the Utah School Board Association's Legislative Priorities and the Jordan School Board's Legislative Priorities.  They are similar but in a different rank order. 

Jordan School District Legislative Priorities, December 2010:
  1. No reductions to the 2010-11 state funding levels to public education for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
  2. Fund new student growth.
  3. Maintain county-wide capital outlay equalization funding.
  4. Support efforts that strengthen local control and flexibility for local boards of education.
  5. Support direct non-partisan elections for state and local school boards.
  6. Reauthorize funding for full-day kindergarten.
  7. Provide long-term equalization of funding for school districts.
  8. Fully fund state-mandated student transportation.
  9. Oppose laws that would enact new education requirements until current requirements are fully funded.
  10. Restore the Quality Teaching Block Grant, or provide funds for teacher professional development.
  11. Maintain current bond election requirements.

Special Education Task Force Meeting

Yesterday afternoon I attended the special Education Task Force.  It is interesting to hear about the unique problems facing Special Education.  They lost money due to the split and the economy and had to cut aide help back, which is impacting nearly all Special Ed. classrooms.  They are also struggling to inservice teachers on policies and procedures that must be followed.  The Special Education budget is separate from the District's Maintenance and Operations budget.  All costs for salaries, benefits, aides, substitutes, etc. come out of their budget and not subsidized by the District budget.

The laws that govern Special Ed. are tight with repercussions if not in compliance.  Special Ed. teachers should contact Beth Usui at the District if a parent requests an Independent Education Evaluation or Revocation of Services, so all proper paperwork and notifications are completed.  This paperwork must be done correctly to show the District offered a Free Appropriate Public Education, FAPE, to the Special Education students, and why parents did not accept.

All schools should be using the tiered intervention system.  Before students are referred through TAT to Resource, Tier 2 interventions should be utilized within the classroom.  See the Resource Team at your school if you would like more information.

JEA Members serving on this committee include Deb Dolph at Jordan Resource Center, Barbara Wightman at West Jordan High, Jenny Pedler at Heartland, Renee Sass at Oquirrh Hills, and Christie Jarrard at Eastlake.  Contact them with Special Education issues you would like addressed through the Task Force.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ethics Review

I just received information about an Ethics Review all teachers renewing their license for June 2011 will be required to complete. The following is from UEA President, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.

"I spoke with Carol Lear, USOE Director of School Law and Legislation, to clarify this new requirement. The review is not graded nor is there a penalty for missed questions. A teacher may even have the copy of the Ethic Standards with him/her as they participate in this review. The USOE is hoping to bring the Board Rules regarding ethical teacher behavior to the forefront. Should a question be answered incorrectly, there is a tutorial provided to educate the practitioner."

More information will be available at USOE License Renewal after January 3, 2011.