Monday, October 19, 2009

Who could ask for more?

Pssst, can I let you in on a little secret? You have to promise not to tell anyone. Okay here it is – I have the best job in APS and I think I am extremely lucky to have it.

Here’s why I believe this: I get to work with gifted and talented kids from wonderfully diverse backgrounds who continually amuse and amaze me with their crazy ideas, savvy insights, and wacky sense of humor. I enjoy the camaraderie of a caring and compassionate cadre of educators who continually challenge me to be the best leader I can be (nice alliteration, no?) I have the privilege of dealing with concerned parents and community members who want our school to be better today than it was yesterday. Finally, I get to represent you on occasion to our legislators and local officials. It was in this last capacity that I received a phone call today from State Representative Ben Rodefer, (D – Corrales).

Rep. Rodefer, a Taylor alumnus, called to let me know of his strong support for public education and his opposition to cuts to schools in the upcoming special session. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the budget crunch and the hard choices he and his colleagues would be faced with. I shared with him our hopes for funding of construction of a new classroom wing to replace our 12 portable classrooms. I invited him to visit Taylor after the session was over to take a tour of the campus. Whatever the outcome of the special session – whether we have to make cuts or not – I was impressed that our state legislator cared enough about our school and our children to call and listen. So I guess I have one more reason that I feel lucky to be at Taylor – a state representative who takes the time to care for his alma mater. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New staff added to our school

I am pleased to announce three new additions to our Taylor staff.
• Valerie Ortiz who is our new automatic substitute. Valerie came to us from Taft MS where she was the autosub last school year. She has her BS in Secondary Education from NMSU and is endorsed in language arts. She is pursuing a master’s in degree counseling from NMHU.
• Jana Rupp joined us this week as our newest math teacher. She will filling in for Mrs. Muxworthy for remainder of the year during her maternity leave. She has a BA in math from Benedictine College and an M Ed from Framingham State College. She has eight years teaching math teaching experience and is HQ in math.
• Sam Smith has joined our science department as Bonnie Bissell’s partner under the STEMS program. He and Bonnie will be reconfiguring her classes once he becomes acclimated. Sam has his BA in chemistry from UNM and is pursuing an M Ed in education from UNM.
• We have interviewed for the new Trans Math position this week and hope to be able to fill the vacancy by today.
Finding just the right teacher or staff member is always a challenge and we feel we have been extremely fortunate this year to have been able to hire some great new teachers. Research shows that the key to success in classrooms is the teacher. Great teachers make learning fun and challenging for all learners. This is our goal at Taylor. Have a great weekend and I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the beauty of our lovely North Valley during Balloon Fiesta.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quality of Education Parent Survey Observations

Principal’s Corner with Mr. Bateson

I look forward to seeing our school’s parent survey results each fall much like a proud parent looks forward to seeing his child’s report card. Parents can find the survey on the APS website under schools and then under School Report Cards. Follow the link to Quality of Education surveys.

In many ways, the survey is our report card. Granted only 25% of parents completed the survey but I have to believe it is a fairly accurate representation of your opinion of Taylor. So the first thing I do is look at the percent that agree and disagree. The next thing I do is compare our results with aggregate results for all APS middle schools. This is like the kids in class who upon receiving their tests back from the teacher ask “what did you get?” The results were intriguing and I want to share some observations about how we did:

Questions with significant differences between Taylor and APS:
Q 2: When asked about the school building, 72% of Taylor parents said they agreed the building was in good repair and with sufficient space compared with 80% of all APS middle school parents.

Q 7: When asked about school-sponsored extracurricular activities, 61% of Taylor parents agreed they were adequate compared with 71% of all APS middle school parents.

Q 12: When asked about improvements in the school, 66% of Taylor parents have seen improvements compared with 57% of all APS middle school parents.

Q 15: When asked about preparation for life after high school, 56% of Taylor parents agreed their child was well prepared compared with 68% of all APS middle school parents.

Questions with significant similarities between Taylor and APS:
For the remaining 11 common questions, the responses were virtually identical varying by 1 to 5 points.

The final five Taylor-specific questions raise further questions:
• For question 16, only 61% agreed that the amount of homework was appropriate. Does this mean those who disagree think we assign too much or too little?
• For question 17 about dress code, 26% disagree that it supports campus safety. Maybe some think it too lax; others that it makes no difference and should be scrapped?
• Question 18 indicates that 80% of parents felt welcome. That statistic bothers me a little and I wonder what we can do to make it 100%?
• Question 19 shows 76% of you thought your communication from teachers was timely. Why not more?
• Question 20 shows 70% of you opined that your child found the learning environment fun. How can we do better here?

So how do I think we did? I see areas where we shone (teaching math and reading, high expectations, safety, welcoming climate) and areas we need improvement (extracurricular activities, preparation for life beyond 12th grade, homework). I invite all parents to attend our monthly PTO meetings and share ideas for improvement. Taylor is here to serve our community and we need your ideas to get better.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Preventing the flu at Taylor

Principal’s Corner with Mr. Bateson

I want our parents to know the steps we are taking to prevent an outbreak of H1N1 flu here at Taylor. We are in the process of distributing Purell Hand Sanitizer to every classroom, office, and area where students and staff work. We have ordered disinfectant spray for each classroom and reinforced for our custodial staff the importance of wiping down doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces. In the meantime, I want to share with you information from the NM Department of Health and APS about parental responsibilities regarding this flu outbreak:

1. Make sure your contact information (e.g. phone numbers) at school is up-to-date and correct. Information that is not correct causes delays in getting your student care. Give the school nurse other emergency numbers to call if you cannot be reached immediately.
2. Have a family plan about who is going to be able to pick up your student if he or she becomes ill during the school day or the school is closed. It is important that your student be picked up quickly and that you telephone your provider about how to care for your child.
3. Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effec¬tive. Please supervise children while they are using hand sanitizers.
4. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
5. Stay home if you or your child is sick for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen). Keep¬ing sick students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than spreading them with others.
6. If your child was sent home from school one day, your child may not return to school the next day (must be without a fever 24 hours or more without the use of fever reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin).
7. Get your family vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.
8. Call your healthcare provider for instructions regarding making arrangements for your child to be seen. Do not go to the provider’s office without calling first.

If your child or children are at high risk for flu complications from getting sick with the flu:

1. Make sure your child’s hands are washed for 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often and especially after coughing or sneezing.
2. Have your child cough and sneeze into a tissue or into his or her elbow or shoulder if a tissue is not available.
3. Keep your child away from people who are sick.
4. Clean surfaces and objects that your child frequently touches with cleaning agents that are usually used.
5. When there is flu in your community, consider your child’s risk of exposure if they attend public gatherings. In communities with a lot of flu, people who are at risk of complications from flu should consider staying away from public gatherings.
6. If flu is severe in your community, talk to your doctor and child’s school to develop a plan on how to handle your child’s special needs.
7. Get your child vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.
8. High risk students such as preschool, medically fragile, or pregnant students should be held out of school for a minimum of 7 days and until they are without symptoms and without a fever or signs of fever without antipyretics for over 24 hours, whichever is longer, if there is a case reported in their class or site.

If you have any questions about our response to the flu please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or email. In addition you can contact our nurse Evelyn Martinez