Monday, December 22, 2014

The Future of High School Education

I recently read a recent article published in Education Week regarding a survey that was recently administered to high school graduates. In short, here are a few highlights of the survey:

Among the findings in the 2014 survey:
• Eighty-three percent of college students reported at least some gaps in preparation in one or more subject areas , while 49 percent of those surveyed reported large gaps in one or more subject.
• About two-thirds of graduates said they would have taken higher-level courses in high school if they had realized the expectations of college and the working world.
• If high schools had demanded more and set higher academic standards, 87 percent of those surveyed said they would have worked harder.
• About one-third of college students wished their high school did a better job teaching work and study habits.
I have long argued there needs to be more of  a joint collaboration among K-12 Education and Higher Education. As a former 12th grade English teacher, I would grow increasingly frustrated when I would have former students return to tell me they had to take remedial English. 
Unfortunately, now that there is a required exit exam (Keystones), my fear is that some of the 'gaps' will not be adequately addressed as we strive to meet the new mandates. 
I vehemently believe in the value of this type of survey; in fact, I believe this type of feedback should drive what we do. Our job as educators is to prepare our students for the next phase of their life. If they are not being adequately prepared, it is time for us to go back to the drawing board. Our aim is to prepare students who can be contributing members of society- all else pales in comparison to this! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The True Meaning of Community

The past 8 days have been a true whirlwind of events. It feels like I have spent more time with my Manheim Family than my own immediate family. Nonetheless, the team work and selfless service I have witnessed over the past week have left me feeling like MCSD is a pretty awesome place to come to each day.

We met as an administrative team last Saturday (October 19th). As we brainstormed ideas, our Maintenance crew said if we gave them a week, they would have the old Middle School up and running. As we took a tour, I was cautiously optimistic. Little did I know the amount of work that would occur over the next week...

The administrative team reconvened on Sunday afternoon. The transformation that was taking place in less than 24 hours was already astounding...

As the week unfolded, I was utterly amazed at the amount of community members, businesses, retired teachers, etc. who came in to volunteer their services. It was as if the entire community rallied around Doe Run Elementary/MCSD to see our students get back to school. The teaching staff, support staff, custodial staff, and maintenance staff should be highly commended for the magnificent work performed.

Although I have only been in MC for about five months, the past week has left me feeling very fortunate to be a part of something this special. To essentially see an entire community roll up its sleeves to get Doe Run on Gramby operational in a week's time is no less than amazing.

The transformation over the past week is a true testament to the old adage "If there's a will, there's a way." The Manheim community is determined...this morning (October 27th) is the fruition of its respective will.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Nope. It's not Christmas time. Next best thing. Back to School!

Tomorrow, the teachers of Manheim Central come back. I am looking forward to seeing the teaching staff in its entirety.

Even though I have been away from the classroom for a number of years, this time of year always brings with it great anticipation and enthusiasm.

We have an action packed three days for our teachers. We start tomorrow with department time in the middle and high school. The elementary teachers will be trained on the new math series...

Wednesday brings more math training along with work on state initiatives (SLO Common Assessments).

Finally, we will have training on the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) along with intense SLO training.
Friday is a breather...and then the real fun starts on Monday!

Let's have a great year!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

College and Career Ready

I recently read an interesting article by Yong Zhao, author of Catching Up or Leading the Way. In the article,  College Ready vs. Out-of Basement Ready: Shifting the Education Paradigm, he highlights recent statistics that show more than half of college graduates in 2012 are either unemployed or under-employed. In short, he states that K-12 education is missing it- the new Common Core standards are missing it- and we must be more innovative with our practices in the 21st century in order to get our students, upon college graduation, out of their parents' basement and into the workforce.

I can't argue with statistics: if the students we are producing are not in turn contributing to society, we need to make adjustments in education. I believe our greatest responsibility in education is to produce productive members of society. Zhao spends some time bashing the new CC standards. In all honesty, I do not believe these are the problem. In fact, I have been highly impressed with how rigorous the standards are. We are continually raising the expectations of our students. However, we must strive to work smarter, not necessarily harder.

I plan on reading his new book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, where he suggests a number of innovative practices. I will report out on the book once I have read it.

If you have read any of his books or read the aforementioned article, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, June 27, 2014

So Glad To Be Here...

Greetings! I wanted to bring you up to speed on current happenings.

I started here at MC on May 19th. It has been extremely gratifying yet at the same time overwhelming. I can unabashedly say the people I have come in contact with have been amazingly receptive and warm.
I have marveled at the school spirit of Manheim Central School District. And, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I recently read the football team has not had a losing season in 42 years. Talk about an attitude and culture of winning!

I plan on using this forum to keep you abreast of my entry plan. To date, I have met with all the administrators as part of my early entry plan. Details to follow.

Hope you have a great weekend! Please feel free to stop in and see me or send me an email (

It's a great day to be a Baron!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leadership Lessons from Bruce Arians

I begin my day the same way everyday. I come downstairs, start the coffee pot, and read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. (I never claimed to be normal). 

I read a great article this morning on Bruce Arians that piqued my leadership curiosity. Bruce Arians, now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was once the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The article went on to explain how he has been a successful coach wherever he has been. One of his current coaches explained it this way: Bruce is successful because he places great emphasis on relationships. He has a real passion for people.

He has a real passion for people. This statement has resonated in my mind all day. I began to think of how successful you could be as a leader if you truly, intimately, adopted this mindset; and carried it out in action- not just words. Think of how much better our schools would be if we all had a real passion for people? How about the workplace? How about our neighborhoods? How about our world?

All around us negativity swirls. Turning the tide starts with each of us. I challenge you to have a passion for people. See how much better your life becomes by pouring into others. From an ancient proverb: your life will be refreshed by refreshing others.

He has a real passion for people.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Snow Day!

Good Day!
As I write this most recent newsletter, it is 9 degrees. We have been off of school for the past two days. As much as I hate to admit it, my thoughts over the past two days, coupled with the other snow days/delays we have had this year, run to standardized testing. What impact will the weather have on our kids this year?!

Unfortunately, this is our reality. Standardized testing has really become the driving force behind what we do each day. As the snow pelted us yesterday, I was in touch with various teachers to reschedule our third benchmark test of the year. To note, our third benchmark test comes on the heels of our 8th grade class most recently taking the CDT tests.

In the midst of the various cancellations and delays, one school in particular caught my attention. I noticed that a local community college had posted “On-line learning day”. Rather than cancel school, all students were expected to log into their respective computers to complete the day’s learning. What an awesome idea! I am not sure all of the logistics this would take; however, students could log into their respective classes to ensure no learning was lost due to inclement weather. If there was a way we could make this work at CWMS, learning would never be lost to a snow day again!

Here is a link to a news story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. This highlights three schools from Pittsburgh who do not lose instruction due to poor weather.

Education in 2014 is not relegated to a building. Let’s keep striving towards a ‘wall-less’ school room!