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Jackson Education Service District and southern Oregon Public Television and present focus on education. Spotlighting people activities and issues in southern Oregon Public Schools. Your moderator is Gail Mitchell. Welcome to focus on education. I'm your host Gail Mitchell. When I was going to school a trip to the principal's office was not something to be desired but these days you may be hard but hard pressed to find the principal in his or her office. That's because as schools across the state are responding to pleas for reform it's the principals and administrators who are leading the way in new directions. Certainly individual teachers and individual classrooms contribute greatly but it's those behind the scenes those running the buildings who set the ideas into motion. Set the stats and set the climate for the school. How do they do it. Well we here in Southern Oregon are fortunate to have some outstanding administrators and certainly those guests among us now are among those we have with us.
Bob again who is principal from Jacksonville elementary school. Welcome Bob. And next to him is Juanita Fagan from William's own and three in the Three Rivers school district. Oh and to my left is Patty Kenny from Tallinn middle school. Welcome to all three of you. Oh and we've been hearing a lot we hear a lot always about the need for educational reform and I think it seems to me that We Here in Oregon are already doing a lot when it comes to educational reform. Schools are not it's not your father's school they might say what what to you three perceive as and as what is happening in Oregon and what are we doing to to to really make some changes already. Bombing is going on. We have the Oregon Education Act in which most people in our community will recognize probably through the state assessment test and the results that are published in them and in the certificate of initial mastery and and then the cam which is being developed now the certificate advanced
mastery. Those are the components that you hear most about right. Probably what has been most effective is the focus that it's because all of us to have on in our schools and for the teachers what they teach and how they teach it and when they teach it and it's taken away a lot from individual choice and what to teach and that's been one of the complaints that you've heard. But on the same respect it's taken away all those individual educational franchises that teachers have had for a long time in their classrooms and and now they're forced to teach the same curriculum that every other teacher in the state of Oregon is teaching. And there's probably been a great advantage and at the same time as you say though it's also focused I think attention on. Just the whole idea of it. Things can be different. We can make a change and I know that the three of you do each have little things that you're doing that are probably a little different from from when the kids were kids now when their parents were going to school.
You know Juanita and I I think the implementation of psych counsels has really helped to do a grass roots look at what each individual school community needs for success. And when you look at any time you have a road map and you know where you're going then you feel a lot more comfortable on the trip. Getting from one place to another and I think looking at the state standards looking at our site councils are made up of our staff our parents our community. We're able to really look at our own individual schools and make some good decisions about what Williams needs or what Jacksonville needs or talent and plan that ownership. I think the pride of that ownership has really put staffs right up front and making good decisions about what's good for kids. We talked you mentioned the site council which has a fairly heavy community involvement and how important is it for the community for for parents or just get businesses support. How important is that.
I think it's really vital. I mean look part. Of a larger community with the schools being involved in it I think one of the things that the standards movement has helped with is maybe of fostering a sense of collaboration that it can't just be the schools doing all the work we've got to have parents. We need to have businesses we need to have other people in the community working with us as well. The burden just can't be left to the schools to educate the kids these days. Why don't you think that at one point they're perhaps used to be an idea that we're going to separate we're going to keep the parents at arm's length that you know we're going to you know and now it's much more of we want the involvement of the parents because it's important for them to be involved as well. Yeah yeah. We can't do it alone. We've got to have the parents and I started working together with the red. What I said the beginning the beginning the program that you may be hard pressed to find a principal and his or her office involved I know that you do a lot of a lot of out of the office I'm sure I'm sure all these anyway feel like. I spend too much time in the office anyway but you've probably spent less time than
than your predecessor did. What you know what I think that you do. I put I have a great investment in the classrooms and in them with the children and it pays off in so many ways and it certainly allows me to have a kid better in touch with what's going on in the school but I make sure that I visit a classroom every day that I'm at school. There are days I have principles meetings those days I don't make it but on every other days I do I do make the classrooms. But it all starts in the morning then and it all ties into a sense of connectedness that's so important that each one of us I know works very hard at making the kids feel connected in the community connected to their school because that's a real key thing. So I Jacksonville as a principal. I play into that by greeting the students every morning. There's a common place for virtually every child our school passes and I I'm there every morning welcome him them to school and I make sure I visit their rooms every day and then I'm at the
buses waving goodbye to them when they leave. But it's important that they know that they're welcome in school we're glad they're there and that they belong there and that when they leave in the afternoon we're looking for them coming back so they can take it to Jackson Elementary School know the principal whether or not they've been that or not. I mean you know they don't I just don't know. How do you know you would think that if everyone knows you and they do and I think for all of us that's really important. You tell her you're going to be hard pressed to find a movie or in any kind of literature where the principal or the headmaster is or ever portray this as a positive figure and I think we work hard at dispelling that you know one of the things that we also talk about and that you mentioned really was this setting the climate for the schools that led to reform has certainly the ideas of reform you know certainly you are mandated things to get certain things you can teach but it's up to the individual principals set the climate in the school which is what's going to to I think make a difference as to whether or not anything happens in a school I mean the state can mandate everything they want but if it doesn't happen in other than
in an instance certainly not not going to be effective. And it's and it's something something like that it's just the climate the school that says we're going to encourage learning for all students. And one needn't and Patty both touched on what you need to do as principal to get there. You have to be in touch with your community through side councils and volunteers and you have to know what they want and what they desire and what they see as important for their school community and why need a school dramatically different than mine is and Arkell's our school climates are different in many ways I think they're also similar in many ways but they are different many ways but if you if you create a school climate that is not. How the community sees their school. Then you're at odds with your soul. You can't get money to you. You also have a way of Bob is talking about the common area where people go but students go by every day reading reading. Right. And you also do a do a column right. As Bob was saying our schools are different we're very high poverty schools fluctuating between 76 and 80 percent poverty with about 26 percent of our students being
homeless. So my my philosophy in the philosophy of my staff is that the staff is very key in those children's lives they need to become the school family and there are certain things that those children need to experience every day so that they have they understand they know consistency and so we start the morning everyone together in the gym or right outside in the courtyard the whole school doing the flag salute the student council takes over doing morning announcements. And like Bob that's my time to go around greeting kids. Getting my hags giving hugs back all those things that make that morning important for that child because what is ultimate is that as Bob said those kids come to school wanting to be there. That's their school. They own it and feeling like they're a part of it. And that in turn and contributes to their learning. Well absolutely it does because feeling connected
feeling like you are a positive contributor makes you want to perform it. I firmly believe that the reason why the students at my school perform so well in statewide assessment tests in third and fifth graders they want to perform for that teacher. They want to feel good within themselves they want every day. They know they can do it. They're always told you know you can do this. We have very high expectations and very good success for kids and you don't and don't you think it's a good school community pride. When I was a live document absolutely very important culture a great school. So creating a culture a climate of pride and and in the community and being a part of the community connectedness and pride. And you both mention staff and teachers individual teachers of course at petty How do you go about hiring setting that up in the in the school how do you go ahead setting that up as part of our staff. Yes.
I think that it's probably one of the most important things I do as an administrator is hiring staff. Because it's those people around you that build the relationships with the kids on a you know daily basis that that really make the difference. When we have positions to hire we get staff involved. We of last spring we were hiring some staff and we even had our students meet the people and give them a tour around the building and then we got the feedback from the students on what you think about this person. And it was great because they actually pit our top two candidates. You know they would say well we'd like these two and that was the consensus of the groups. Getting people involved in the hiring of the staff and looking at what you need to build those relationships the people skills that that that the teachers have are just almost as crucial as their instructional skills maybe even more so. And when you talk about the hiring the staff I think we should also point out that for you to become administrators you have to go through some
extra steps as far as training goes and education loans. Bob I know you were on the scene. Standards. I mean either that I've been on the air. I just went off the commission here in this recently and that's currently being finalized there missed new ministry of standards or an organ has some of the highest earners in the country for both teacher and administrator standards. You just don't wake up one morning and say I think I will be a principal. I mean you have to plan for it as well you know there is educational programs you have to go through and you do have to have at least a master's degree and an advanced training is really important I'm going to take you take us off a little bit in this direction. You open the door here for me instructional leadership in the training of administrators is a critical issue nationwide. The executive branch this last fall took notice of that for the first time last summer they had a national principal summit where 50 secondary elementary and another 50 elementary principals were gather nation's capital just to talk about instructional training
recruitment of principals and it's become a critical a very critical issue in some metropolitan areas they take. Teachers are the question with no training no internship but I'm in a principal ship because there's absolutely nobody else applying for the jobs. So training has become a real critical issue. There's there's been money proposed at the federal level for training centers nationally nationally. And you know the significant of significance of this is that it's never occurred before never at the national level they talk about principals training and recruitment for the first time they're doing that. That's because there's a real critical shortage and also it's clicked at the national level that successful schools have effective instructional leaders so that that's really click for the first time and now they're looking to see what they're going to do. I know if I have a Fox television has a have a series on called Boston public and it portrays the principal as just being in the middle of I mean getting it from all sides from you know the students from this and parents the community the school board and the superintendent and the
teachers and everybody is is is is coming out and you look at you go why would anybody want that. So so I guess let me ask you why. Why would you want the job obviously. I don't think it's that bad. And yet for at least here in Southern Oregon real live. But you know what you want me to answer that but I do want to comment on Boston Public. OK yeah that's a that's a real unfortunate portrayal of public schools in America. It's extremely unfortunate but it's a very negative. Well if there compresses something that might happen nationally over a month period of time all in one school in a days time. Well it's not it's not an addict an accurate portrayal at all but one that I'm glad to hear that there are days that you know like a letter or things I think the reason why I know personally I enjoy doing what I'm doing is because those children and every day I've seen them have pride in what they do.
Seen them be successful having those kids come back to the doors says high school students and sometimes as adults saying you know I made it think you always remember you know the school remember you personally working with a phenomenal staff that you can see the hard work they do the gleam in their eyes this says I really care about kids and feeling that you can make a difference in a child's life. I wouldn't trade that for every thing. That's a really important feeling to me. When I did that it's the challenge of that feeling like you can make a difference. Maybe add a little bit larger level than when you're in the classroom and their breath back when I was teaching and you know I have my circle of kids that I could have an influence on as an administrator in your hiring staff if you're going out beyond that one class you can make a difference on a lot of kids lives. There's lots of joys to it. You know we all have the days where it feels like they're coming at you from all
sides. But there's also just a lot of pleasure in having kids respond to you and letting them see you as a person. It just makes the day worthwhile. How much freedom do you get. To run things from years school boards or superintendents what what. That it was a vary from district to district. I think it does I feel fortunate. Mar superintendent and our school board you know kind of sets the guidelines that we have a lot of room to make decisions at the school level as well. What are some of the things that it that you're doing at town middle school there are little to take you out of the office. A One of my favorite things as I get to accompany our choir I started my career as a music teacher and so to keep my fingers literally fingers and go on on a daily but not on a daily basis but every so often and be able to play for the choir and that's always a fun thing to do. So that's another way that the kids get to know yeah that person I don't know.
I haven't had a bad day all I have to do is walk in that choir and I literally get a round of applause as soon as I open the door and I mean it's guaranteed and it's a wonderful it's a real high. That is so Ned and then again that goes to deciding the climate and that sort of thing. So how does setting the kind of hiring us write style and setting this this idea of community. How does this translate in and and are there other things that we're doing as well to to increase test scores I mean whether we like it or not. We always have to it has been measured. We have some kind of measurement and the research is showing when you're reading it that it's the relationship and the connections kids have to school that makes a difference in academic achievement. So as you look the way we're structured our students mostly have teachers more than one year. So those kids at a middle school and that's a little bit unique have opportunities to build those relationships as those teachers get to know those students they're able to meet their needs better and find out what their academic strengths and weaknesses are and build on those.
Middle school is a very unique and unique idea. That's exactly right. Yeah it's and it's a unique experience I mean you're taking these kids how important is it for you from middle school that you have a strong support from the elementary schools. Oh it's but I don't get into the whole system has to work together and we're not an island by ourselves you know we've got to build on what they're doing. High schools have to build on what middle schools are doing. And right now the way the benchmarks are set up that's what third fifth eighth grades and tenth for the sim and. It's seems like there might indeed be a tendency you know the 10th graders to say well if only the eighth grade teachers had done their job they'll avoid a fifth grade teachers of only the third grade teachers you know how how do you how do we get around that and how do you how do we you know get it working out together do you think. I think that acceptance and acknowledgement and respect for each other as educators educators I know at my school and I'm sure schools work incredibly hard. And what they're doing and I think just that recognition that
all teachers are doing that are putting forth an awful lot of effort to help make kids successful and I think that helps break that blaming it on somebody else. Well what the benchmarks. Evaluating assessing children all along the way now it's more difficult to do that than the way schools were 50 years ago is that you would have curriculum change literally change from grade level to grade level. And. When children got to seventh grade or eighth grade or whatever sometimes they didn't have what they needed to move on and that's probably where that criticism came from historically. And now days it's it's easier to see and you'll notice that the governor currently is talking about shifting money from the secondary to the elementary which I think is an interesting post. And I said from hellebore you know what he's talking about is holding the elementary schools accountable.
I mean I think there's a real hidden message I mean to us we know exactly what that man here's your money now you can do something with it and the legislature is talking about that they're talking about we'll give you money that you're going to be accountable so third grade if the students are cheating by third grade. We have to do something them so by fifth grade they are achieving what kind of things are we doing what what is in place but what are each of you doing it. Well I have a very strong tight one school wide program. 1989 it was recognized as a national distinguished title 1 program and I explained a little bit what Title 1 is for people who don't understand it's a it's a program that determines funds based on poverty level. But once you receive the funds in those funds you can use in your school to provide remedial services in reading math writing a school wide program has a school where all students would qualify to receive those services with a Title 1 specialist or title an assistant or using Title and materials. And one of the most important parts of the program that we have at Williams is this strong
collaboration between teachers working together getting to what Bob was talking about kind of that seamless approach of education that those children whether it's a third grader fourth grader first grader belong to all of us and we're going to team together and. Work to find out what will make that child successful. So in an environment like that creating that climate within your own professional staff there isn't a feeling of well if you would have worked harder harder at second grade than my third graders would have passed this year. It's more of a. Ok I see what's coming up the third grade let's let's read a line what we're doing let's focus more instruction going on in the classroom for a longer period of time in whatever area that class needs help. So the collaboration is a very key component I think to you to success in meeting those standards. Nominate your high settings as far as meeting standards and what are you doing up
there later to target kids. One of the things we've done that has that has been really successful for Jacksonville school is that we put our school together in a sort of series of teams and their teams of teachers and they meet weekly they talk about all the kids and talk about the needs and the targeting of specific kids to make sure that they progress year to year to year as they need to. I think that's become probably a byproduct of this standards movement nationwide and that's that's a real that's been real successful for us. We had a third grade group a couple years ago who 95 percent of them met standards in reading and math. So that was great and we were happy about that the trick was there's a traditional falling off by fifth grade and then it falls off in my brain. Now we know that just how did losing interest or is that. Why is that. Well there's a variety of reasons and I think aligning the curriculum has helped a lot.
As far as focus but you have you give a test at the end of third grade that assess a child then you get a score and then a year and a half later you're setting them again. So the middle of fifth grade year they go through their next assessment. So you've got students going from primary grade to intermediate grade they're going a longer day. They're making a huge shift both physically emotionally and what they're able to deal with the veldt mentally. There's a huge shift in there and I don't think we've always dealt with that as well as we could have at the fourth grade level so we're finding out that fourth grade becomes a real target grade for finding out which kids are not moving and we did that we target in the fourth grade and broke kids down and paraprofessionals earth educational systems deal with those students and really focus on that a lot of our volunteers and parents to help them. So last year our fifth grade scores were with the same group of kids or as high as they were in third grade. So now they go on to the middle school now that. Was kind of that now we're going to have they're going to there was already talk about tracking those kids to see what happens with them now between fifth grade
you know. That and some teams It sounds like teams are a lot of collaboration yet in lots of trouble. Our situation is like our kids go on to a team for language arts and social studies the does the reading and writing and they stay with that same team of teachers for three years so that they can really work with them and see what we can do to bring their skills up. And that probably helps too in the transition to high school so you don't have that the child has been with one teacher for almost three and you know one teacher a year you know for the first five years of school and then all of a sudden going to middle school and having to deal with different day different classes. They have some other classes they have more teachers than they do at the elementary that we try and keep a group together some way so that they have some continuity of care for one thing for people that may not understand what standards movement is or how schools are operating differently than they used to. What we always did before is we would deliver a curriculum.
We would teach out of a book or a text or something and we would make an assumption of what they would or wouldn't learn as a result of that and what we're doing now is we're setting a series of standards that students will learn these standards and then we assess those standards so there's a big shift from just delivering a crippling approach you know making assumption to checking periodically to make sure they're learning what they need to learn and what the state has told us and the districts they've told us the children need to learn. So there's that that's a big shift from what we're used to and the idea then that that state why children should all be on the same page at a certain time as the third grade teacher whose name ends up in the paper because that's where we test that we assess that that teacher has a real investment what the second grade teacher in first grade teacher are doing so that they're part of the same team at our school and I can tell you those three great teachers are really interested that the saying thank you. 13 are now on the way and on down the first an auto mechanic or mills and become a real important issue. What do you think is your biggest challenge facing him right now.
I think one of them at least at the middle school is is finding that the standards have brought some really great things and trying to standardize I guess the curriculum so you know the kid doesn't get the dinosaur unit for eight years let alone or something like that gives us that but at the end telling us you know this is your curriculum. But at the same time they're kids. And how do you find those developmental needs because not all kids learn it descended on everyone. And so we struggle as a school looking at that you know how much emphasis just emphasis do we put on the testing that. The work samples I'm getting to those standards. But yet at the same time recognizing that these are middle school kids with a lot of issues and finding time to deal with both of them. So I know that's a struggle that's been at we have to challenge what about you. It was a challenge. Right now the biggest challenge right now in my school district or within my school is funding the funds to buy it. He and I used an
old ability to ignore one of the things that we were able to do is show that even with high poverty children if we really worked at collaborating we knew what we were doing. We really looked at the research we designed a road map and we could prove that we know what we're doing. We still need the dollars to do it. And that's not only within you know my school in my district but it's also in every district I think across the state. It's a very it's a large concern nationally right. It continues to be a concern. It costs more to educate a child now than it did 10 years ago 15 years ago. And the way our system is set up we can't predict every two years you know what you're getting the second year. But you know we don't know how much money will be getting next year so it's real hard to build a kind of program because you don't know if you're going to have the funding you may start something that's wonderful and all of a sudden and not you're not you know as a nation we're out of time but thank you
so much to all of you for joining us. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. The Jew creation is pretty strict for Southern Oregon Public Television.
Focus On Education
Producing Organization
Southern Oregon Public Television
Contributing Organization
Southern Oregon PBS (Medford, Oregon)
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Episode Description
This episode focuses on the role of the principals in shaping school policies and reforms as well as general atmosphere. They are not confined to the office anymore. Principals Robert Goerkee of Jacksonville Elementary School, Juanita Fagan of Williams Elementary School and Patricia Kinney of Talent Middle School contribute their thoughts. All of them emphasize a strong sense of standards, inclusiveness and communal involvement in the schools. The Oregon Education Acts role in setting standards and a universal curriculum is discussed. Principals foster relationships with the students by visiting classrooms and greeting students in the morning. Site Councils get staff, parents and the wider community working together on shaping and schools and discussing their needs fostering a strong sense of universal involvement.
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Co-Producer: Raw, George
Co-Producer: Boyarsky, Steve
Director: Hirsh, Terry
Distributor: ESD
Guest: Goerkee, Robert
Guest: Kinney, Patricia
Host: Mitchell, Gayle
Host: Fagan, Juanita
Producing Organization: Southern Oregon Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Southern Oregon Public Television (KSYS/KFTS)
Identifier: SH4009/1 (KSYS)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Dub
Color: Color
Duration: 00:26:30:00
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