A New Day Dawning in the Centennial School District?
There is a new initiative afoot in the Centennial School District. It has been growing for a few years now, and it is terribly exciting. You probably haven’t heard it mentioned before because there isn’t a formal name to this initiative, but I will be very surprised if you aren’t hearing from your children that things are changing. School is increasingly exciting, interesting, and even at times, really fun!
What is happening is that joy in learning is working its way back into the day.
Time and again, we are seeing pockets of excitement and patches of enthusiasm surging to the forefront. Our launching of Full-day Kindergarten has been fantastic. The teachers are having a ball, and the kids are thriving. A robust Kindergarten program is the launching pad for future success. Most of us educators can quickly crush an interesting conversation by diving into data and educational theory, so I will try to avoid those pitfalls today. But it is noteworthy to repeat, the evidence of the benefits of early childhood education are indisputable!
Moving up the grade levels, a fascinating partnership with Khan Academy, the revolutionary free world class educational on-line content provider, is allowing us to customize our education for each and every student in ways we could only dream about 10 years ago. While focused on third through fifth graders for this year, it is surging out of these grades and into other courses and grades across the district. Our third through fifth graders worked on a Khan Academy competition called LearnStorm. Impressively, our district is ranked in the top 5 of over 10,000 school districts in the nation that participated. And we did that well because our students were having fun and taking great joy in their own learning.
The following video was created to share Centennial's success with the LearnStorm competition, our Khan work is all outside the normal instructional day. So, our students are getting their normal education plus Khan. The video also serves as a great introduction to the work our teachers are doing with your children and Khan Academy.
I love how excited these students are to be hitting their personal goals and celebrate their own learning. These students engaged, voluntarily in over 52,000 extra (let me repeat that, extra) math assignments, which totaled well over 4,200 extra hours of math learning. That is above and beyond the normal course of the day. As something of an education nerd, I love that. It certainly helps us on our goal of becoming a top math district in the region, if not the state.
The thing about our current collaboration with Khan is that we are meeting approximately 1,200 students where they are educationally, and it is occurring in Willow Dale, McDonald, and Davis. The students can access their Khan accounts from anywhere; and they are.
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
On behalf of Centennial School District Board of School Directors and Administration, welcome back! We are thrilled to be going into the 2017-18 school year on a number of incredibly positive notes. We are supporting our students, teachers and administrators on such important work. Never has the role of public schools been so important and fortunately, we are ready for that work.
We want to thank the Centennial Community with entrusting your children to our care. We are striving to provide them with world class learning opportunities. We are thrilled that test scores are rising, certainly, but far more importantly, we are pleased that more and more students are taking advantage of Genius Hour opportunities, Maker Spaces and our Open Education Resources like Khan Academy, to name a few of the exciting programmatic opportunities.
You will see, in the months ahead, creative and collaborative seating arrangements in our classrooms. Follow your children and classroom teachers on Twitter and classroom Facebook pages. Students will be talking about brain breaks, moodles, and other cutting edge practices developed through our partnerships with The Franklin Institute and Character Lab, a University of Pennsylvania collaboration that is allowing us to figure out how our students learn best and most effectively.
As a school district, we are committed to several core concepts. We are moving the district forward by building our structures on three core ideas: First, academic rigor and relevance means that each youngster will have a standards based education that prepares him or her to participate in the real world. Second, a commitment to equity and excellence means the district will not settle for allowing gaps in gender or race to define our students and that we are committed to helping each youngster be excellent depending on that youngster. Lastly, innovation is vital. Innovation is incredibly powerful and exciting, and we are committed to helping our students, teachers and administrators be innovative. The challenges facing the world today will not be solved by the solutions of yesterday. Centennial is fast becoming an innovation hub. All three concepts are wrapped in the one big idea of growth mindset.
Growth mindset is the opposite of fixed mindset. All of us demonstrate both mindsets at different times. A growth mindset is incredibly powerful, and it is the idea that with work, practice and feedback we can all get better, regardless of age or skill level. Another way to think about this might be, “I’m not good at something, yet. But I will be better tomorrow than I am today.”
With these ideas, I invite you to join us on our journey to get much better. Centennial is a district on the move! Please join us as we strive to get better. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/csdinfo, Twitter at @Centennial_SD and we are always open to feedback through our electronic suggestion box at District Electronic Suggestion Box. Again, thank you for entrusting your children to us, we look forward to partnering with you and we wish you a great year!
Dr. David E. Baugh
Superintendent of Schools