Dear Bulldog Supporters—
For this month’s report, I want to share with the Board of Education and the community three important pieces of information that have ‘building-level-significance,’ as well as broader, more strategic significance for the Garfield Heights City Schools: A summary of some of the findings from the survey we posted for parents at William Foster, an update of how our all-day kindergarten component is unfolding across the district, and finally, a brief word about our technology team. First, as a recap of some of the things you have already heard and seen tonight from Mr. Patton, we launched this survey for this building as the “next step” in the outreach that we plan to continue throughout the Garfield Heights City Schools. With the help of Mr. Ruggiero, who is very helpful in posting the surveys and providing me with results, our plan is to continue surveying parents at each of the buildings in the entire district. As you recall, we surveyed the parents of the Middle School, and for the last two weeks, William Foster parents. In making good use of a form of surveys, we also asked graduating seniors for their input on a variety of topics, and that I reported to you late last year. The use of survey data is important and useful, and as we get results, we will continue to incorporate findings into our decision-making. We will also communicate those results with you and the community. Again, just to recap from Mr. Patton, a few of the survey highlights include:
When asked to rate the level of education that their son or daughter is receiving at William Foster, nearly 70% of respondents said "very good."
When asked about learning in a safe and secure environment, 82% of respondents answered "Yes, they believe their child is learning in a safe and secure environment."
More than 80% of respondents indicated that their respective students had a positive connection with teachers at William Foster.
More than 85% of respondents demonstrated support for the programs and initiatives that the administrators have implemented to improve student achievement.
I want to thank the approximately 45 individuals that took time from their schedules to fill out and submit this survey. As I hope you can see from tonight’s presentation, we take your responses…though anonymous when submitted… very seriously. Please be on the lookout for future survey opportunities from the Garfield Heights City Schools.
The second aspect of tonight’s report includes a brief update on how the all-day kindergarten aspect is unfolding throughout the district. Though I do not have quantitative data at this time, I am confident that it would reveal positive information since we have implemented all-day kindergarten, along with the summer program “Kinderbound.” In talking with several of our new all-day kindergarten instructors over the last week or so, including Ms. Maher at Elmwood Elementary School and Ms. Walden right here at William Foster, I can tell from their feedback that kindergarten students are learning letter names and letter sounds—which is the building block for all future reading—at more advanced paces compared to years past. More than half of these two teachers’ respective students are already at “grade level” when it comes to reading, or exceeding grade level standards… and it’s only February. Both of these teachers feel extremely confident that their students will be reading at or above grade level by school year’s end. Though we know that the true test will come during test taking season, I feel very confident that teachers like Ms. Maher and Ms. Walden, with their excitement and enthusiasm for learning, along with these structural changes like all-day kindergarten, are helping.
And, since enrollment numbers have been on the rise over the last two years, we want them to continue to increase. Consequently, as a fun an interactive way to promote kindergarten registration, Dr. Dupree, Dr. Continenza and Dennis Markiewicz have developed a “Kindergarten Awareness event” that will take place on two nights in the month of March, so that parents can pick up an informational packet of what they will need to register and they also may actually be able to meet some of our kindergarten teachers at this event as well. Thank you to my team for developing this concept and you can be sure that you will see more of it, in the upcoming few weeks!
On a final note, I want to share with the board one more piece of good news that I will come back to in the future…a note about our elementary technology team. Bottom line, is that we are introducing our young students to technology at an earlier and earlier age. The district’s elementary technology team is led by our Director of Technology, Shari Bailey, and I want to thank her for her leadership… the team also includes veteran instructors Joseph Neluna at William Foster, Jim Portik at Elmwood, both who have taught in the district for the last eight years, and 23-year Garfield Heights veteran teacher Patty Graham at Maple Leaf. Together, this “Tech Team” is on the front lines of ensuring that our K-5 students are being exposed to the latest in digital learning. This includes at the most basic levels, awareness of keyboards and how to use a mouse, along with advanced programming where students can actually create their own animation and video presentations. The idea here, according to Mrs. Graham, is “to promote critical thinking and learning, and encouraging students’ curiosity to stimulate learning.”
As the school year progress, I will work with this team to share with you, the board…and the entire community, how our investment in technology resources is certainly paying off. As always, there’s a lot going on in the Garfield Heights City Schools, and it makes me proud to be… A BULLDOG!
Terry Olszewski, Superintendent
Garfield Heights City Schools