Sunday, June 5, 2016

Our "-" Dash

It's not a new song and certainly as far as country songs go it has been played many times at ENHS. 

Friday morning we played it one last time for the class of 2016 and it felt final. A hole kinda gripped my gut. This class, the class of 2016, was my first freshman class four years ago. And like them I had no idea what was in store for them... or my superintendency. 

It has been an amazing four years! This dash has not been without gut wrenching decisions, staff and faculty changes, and gripping blows to what we thought was to be at ENHS. This dash has been a lot of work and on some days I think we all wondered if we could really do it.

Four years ago I was eager to help make EN better. (Hindsight: I had no idea what that looked like or what that would entail but I knew the board wanted it to be back to the days where there was a significant amount of pride on campus.) In my mind every decision stemmed from "make it a place you would want to send JT or Ava".  And even though that was a ways away it softened the hard decisions and gave rationale for our direction... No one could argue that ENHS is not better for it. We are and I knew we were on the right track when earlier this year our AP's son was strongly considering EN for high school - we had proverbially "arrived".

The dash of the last four years has not been without sacrifice and hard work - ENHS has a staff that continues to put everything they have into their work and our students. And sometimes the work is hard... Really hard.
We would not change our dash, or water down the experiences to make it easier. That is not in the Spartans's spirit. 

As we return to summer schedules and sports conditioning I am reminded to stop, acknowledge the hard work of the  dash and celebrate those who have given of their time and energy. They deserve the kudos - the recognition and the "Thank you's". 

To the ENHS Staff. Thank you... This dash, my dash with you is heartfelt some of the sweetest moments of my career... and I have to believe the next dash will be as easily exciting; with new staff, new programs and a new class of freshmen.
Here's to our future dashes. Let's celebrate the dash, revel in it and be sure when we look back we can say we have enjoyed each moment!

May you also enjoy your dash "-"... Congrats!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NGSS... An Adventure in Science!

Today the ENHS Science Department spent the day long-term planning the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and an Integrated Science Pathway for ENHS's course matriculation thru 2018/2019.

Conversations included an agriculture emphasis for both Integrated Science 1 and Integrated Science 2.  Offering this would ensure that our students who select the Ag Pathway will meet the same NGSS requirements as students pursuing a STEM or Academic Pathway, as all classes will address the NGSS, a-g approved, and include similar scope and rigor.  

Ag teacher, Mrs. Laurie Goss, will write to Integrated Science 1 and 2 with an Ag emphasis. Her colleagues, Ms. Tori McDermott and Mr. Karl Johnson are eager to support Mrs. Goss in the writing  process of these new integrated science courses to meet a-g requirements across the integrated science curriculum.

Learning Director, Ms. Preet Cheema, Assistant Principal, Ms. Aman Kandola, and superintendent/principal Villalobos collaborated with the team during the day to ensure leveraging maximum district resources for implementation and integration into existing structures.

ENHS will offer Integrated Science 1/Integrated Ag Science 1 in 2016/17 and add Integrated Science 2/Integrated Ag Science 2 in 2017/18. 

Planning today also included a discussion to review the two year ENHS science requirement, possibly increasing it to three years mirroring the three year math requirement the district adopted in 2013. (Currently, CA requires two years of science and math, with passing grades, to graduate. Although, CSUs and UC recommend additional years of science and math.)

It's exciting to have the time to collaborate and vision plan and this team is enthusiastically tackling the NGSS.  

One of the activities the team completed today included breaking the NGSS into the two years of required Integrated 1 and 2 Science to ensure that each of our 11th graders are prepared for the SBAC. By dividing all of the NGSS into two years our students will have had access and exposure to all of the standards, even if they do not enroll in a third year of science as a junior.

The day also included some "fun"/"what if's" in the planning process. A new CTE Health/Science class that will be funded by ROP was discussed, as well as bringing back a Forensics class and a project based science class (modeled after FFA's SAE project) for students electing a 3rd and/or 4th year of science. These courses will also include identified NGSS within the curriculum, supporting a deeper understanding of the NGSS for student mastery.

What's Next?
Next steps include the team writing to Integrated 1 Science and Integrated 1 Ag Science in the upcoming week before the first round of a-g submission deadline. Mr. Johnson will also be working with ROP on next steps, training, and  curriculum for the CTE science course which has already been a-g approved. All materials, training and curriculum will be paid for by the Tri-County ROP Pathway Grant. 

Exciting time to be a teacher... Especially a science faculty member! Go NGSS! Go Spartans!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Missing My Blog

write, specifically blog, for pleasure and although our English Department at ENHS pause at my verb agreement on occasion, I take writing seriously... and for me, it takes dedicated time. I'd like to think my posts are thoughtful and a vehicle to share our life at ENHS and my musings on a high school campus. But 2015/16 has been an extremely busy year at ENHS. We started the school year under construction... read: chaos. We grieved the loss of Colton in early fall and it was hard to write.

But admidst the construction and healing something really neat was happening... athletics. Volleyball reached the playoff round for the first time since my arrival at EN four years ago, the cheerleading squad acquired a new coach who had cheered at the collegiate level, and our football team was winning. A lot. We began anticipating that we would playing football thru Thanksgiving. A welcome distraction.

Athletics pulled us thru the beginning half of the school year... and kept our mind focused on students and a positive campus environment. It helped. A lot.

It's time to start catching you up around here... It is time to share the story.

Here's to 'Small Town, Big Dreams'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Grieving a Student: A Reflection

I have thought about this post for weeks. I am not sure I am the "right" person to write this... but writing has always been a positive outlet for my heart.

A little over three weeks ago we did not know.
We relished that title.
We could have gone our entire careers with not knowing. 

How does a school community grieve the death of a student?

Friday morning, October 23rd, changed everything.
I returned to my desk to have not one, but two messages from a parent, who also happens to work for the local Sheriff's Department. My stomach sank as I returned his call. 
"Karen, there has been an accident. One of your students."

I fell to my chair as I drew in what I think was air... thinking of what students were off campus in the middle of the day. He continued, "One of your alumni... Colton. Colton Babcock."

"Oh God, no." I remember stating. 
"You saw him yesterday?" 
"Yes," I replied in disbelief, "He was on campus."

I hung up with Joe. Pull it together Karen I remember saying to myself... It was lunchtime. A myriad of things ran thru my head... staff... students... his girlfriend.

The first week was a myriad of emotions. Some of which were out of pure shock, some of grief, some of duty, and some from a humbled place.

There are a few things I want to share with my administrator colleagues that I learned following the loss of our student. While not new to any school crisis (which a death is) they were helpful in how we processed this loss.

Reach out
The educational system is filled with trained professionals who are poised to help and offer resources. We are grateful for SCSOS and YCUSD for extending their support to our high school that first week.
We have also found that ongoing support is important. We have tailored a grief group for our students and staff, we have rallied around Colton's girlfriend, and we have offered time off to staff. They grew organically according to our school community needs. 
Be willing to let the grieving process evolve based on your school culture.

Let yourself and your team slow down and give each other time away...
Let yourself process with colleagues and your loved ones. Give yourself and your team time to form correspondence, respond to inquiries, make calls.  The message, the tone, the words are more important than being "first".  
We also learned that once the crisis team was on site and providing additional support giving each other (administration, teachers, staff) time away and time off is critical. 
The grief process is long and everyone needs to tend to themselves - to be healthy for the staff, students, and community. 
Be willing to support your school community with alternative options for support.

Communicate with love
With the ease of texts and robocalls we made a conscientious decision early on to not use these modes of communication to share news. We voice recorded calls, we sent out personal email messages, we made ourselves visible for students and staff to communicate face to face.

One of the loveliest showings of love came from a banner one of our ENHS students made... it was to Colton's family and the messages our student's and staff wrote were humbling. Their words were healing and powerful.
We also had an activity after Colton's services which was very healing for ENHS.
The balloon release was very symbolic.

Our hearts are healing at ENHS. We have grown as a staff and a community and we know Colton's life impacted our lives significantly.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Colton Dean Babcock

Colton Dean Babcock
7/9/1997 - 10/23/2015

Colton was 18. 
An avid hunter, fisherman, an outdoorsy guy. 
He loved his family, was great with kids, adored a lovely EN junior, 
and had a truck he cherished.  

Colton's smile was that between mischievous and pure joy. 
Probably both. 
You'd be proud to be his friend, 
happy to have a son of his caliber, 
and lucky to be his principal.

There is one incident that had a profound influence on our interactions with Colton.
Goodness knows ENHS was better for it and we never let him forget our gratitude. 
It was a badge he wore with honor.
Colton was a stand up young man. 

There is anguish in the fact that we will never see the man he was growing into.
But life cannot always be measured by the quantity of time,
but for the quality.
Gone, but not forgotten Colton. 

Colton Dean Babcock

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Construction 101: Hands-On Learning

As a Superintendent/Principal the "duties as assigned" lessons are long and often times wrought with perils of not having all of the background expertise or experiences needed. Mostly these duties make for a lot of great learning opportunities and with the right people in your corner construction can be manageable with a successful outcome. (Note: as of posting ENHS has a new roof and we hope to finish construction on our non-DSA projects this summer.)

Fifteen months after the passage of  Measure W I offer these thoughts.

1) Hire an architect and construction firm that "get" your school. (e.g., If you are small town, hire a firm that feels like you do. Trust me this wil make a difference down the road).

2) Comnunicate. Communicate. Comnunicate. Discuss with the team who will call meetings and how often. Schedule check in meetings regularly and often. Ensure the topics during these meetings are captured in notes/minutes. These will be a useful tool for follow up discussions and punch list items as construction wraps up.

3) Trust your gut. Hire from this instinct. When you have a "feeling" and your MOT has a feeling - voice it, argue for it. Trust your gut. 

4) Seek help. If construction is out of your zone look for help. Firms may charge a fee, but in the end these fees well pay for themselves easily in the time and energy not having been wasted spinning you and your personnel' time.

Happy Building!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rite of Passage

Webster's defines Rite of Passage
as a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life.

One could argue that the entire high school experience is a rite of passage. Four years of guided practice, growth opportunities, and culminating experiences resulting in graduation. But let's hold that topic for 16 days... Today I wanted to point out a few of the less obvious rites of passage we witness each spring on our high school campus.

Spartan Football Spring Skills Camp
How can a football camp provide a rite of passage you might ask?
This camp is offered every spring for our youth and feeder school students in the community. It's a tradition and one that our high school football squad looks forward to offering each spring. 
What I see during this week is our freshman, sophomores, and juniors moving on to "upper class men" status. During this week the starting string of the Spartan Varsity football squad comes together and the upcoming leaders on campus emerge. 
A rite of passage on our campus for these young men.

Spring Camp... Spartan Football players teaching our youth new skills.

The "Lasts"...
I love when parents capture their own rites of passage. This "last" EN Honor Roll was a rite of passage captured by one of our parents on Facebook. It is reassuring to see parents who take the time to bookmark these moments for their students and value them enough to see how they frame their student's lives on our campus.

Spartan Softball
Likely, not an uncommon occurrence for our Lady Spartan Softball Squad, but I have to admit that there may come a day when our ENHS lady Spartans are not League champions (I know it's hard to fathom). For the fifth year these ladies brought home the sectional title and on Tuesday they will begin their quest to retain the regional title. 
Go Lady Spartans. 
This rite of passage is pretty exciting for these ladies as they work for another ring!

Junior Prom
Certainly, one of the sweetest rites of passage for every high school student is the prom. At ENHS, the Junior Prom is attended by junior and senior students on campus and their dates. Junior Prom is a lovely evening celebrating these students in their finery. This year's prom had the largest attendance in our history and was hosted in the beautiful water district garden in Sacramento. 
My favorite moment this prom season was from a parent,
"I just pulled out the rental shoes from his tuxedo for this weekend, shed a tear."
Prom is also a rite of passage for our ENHS parents. Love that.

Just a few of the beautiful students looking dapper in their finery.
A rite of passage for our own Ms. Kandola and Mrs. Ruiz
who also attended their VERY first Junior Prom.
In a few weeks we will share the ultimate "rite of passage" for our high school students... graduation. 
I am already excited to talk about the class of 2015 and the legacy they will leave behind for ENHS.

Proud to be a Spartan... Love being a part of their "Rites of Passage"