First Two Days

“End users” is becoming a focus for me this year.  I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to say about the first couple of days this year. But,  instead of sharing my perspective, I decided to share the perspective of the “end users”… in other words… our students.

I asked several students how they are feeling about the start of school here at Red Hill.  Remarks I got were:

“Fun, making lots of new friends, good lunches, love the playground, I like the ‘control’, see some of my old friends, classrooms are futuristic…”

Nothing can be more important than understanding the perspective of those we serve and teach.   I plan to continue to deepen my understanding and to a degree, “experience” the perspective of our “end users”…

because what matters most is what our students are experiencing…

 

 

 

 

 

What Principals do all summer

Ever wonder what Principals do all summer?   It’s a well guarded secret, but I’ll tell you anyway!

We sleep a little later, but come in every day except when we squeeze out a week of vacation with our families.  Mine was at Litchfield Beach South Carolina with my family.  Got too much sun, I’m still pealing!

We coordinate and help with summer school.

We have MEETINGS.  We meet with folks from Central Office and school staff to look at we did last year, what we want to continue, what we want to tweak, what we want to stop doing and what we want to start doing.  Our meetings always focus on what’s best for our students.

We hire new staff.  We post vacancy openings, interview and find just the right people to join our Red Hill team.

We meet families.  This, other than vacation, is my favorite part. For instance, this summer I was able to meet with almost every new family that’ll be coming to Red Hill, in addition, I got to see lots of folks that are already part of the Red Hill community.  It’s too quiet around here in the summer after summer school, so I’m always glad to have the company.

Also, we revise handbooks, analyze data, create schedules and class lists, prepare letters for staff and parents, etc. etc. etc.

This last week before teachers come is REALLY busy because principals are helping to get our new teachers started and to prepare for the staff to return next week.  I always feel like teachers do when they prepare for their students to come back to school.

Now, I’m sure I forgot a bunch of other tasks, but this’ll give everyone a clue as to what we Principals so all summer.

OH, one more thing we do…  We UPDATE our BLOGs!

Wait for more messages soon.

Less than two weeks and my kiddos will be back.  I can hardly wait!

Closing out our year, 2016 – 17

In all my years at Red Hill, this, by far has been the most exciting, fastest paced, most challenging and most rewarding.   With the renovations starting just about a year ago and extending into the fall, the students, staff and I were consistently in awe of the transformation of our school. Amazing changes happened to our building while amazing things happened in our classrooms. The pace was fast too. As each new section of the building was ready, we quickly packed up the old trailers and moved into the new learning spaces. The challenges came with designing our instruction in such a way that capitalizes on our new learning spaces. We are proud of how we use these spaces to meet the educational needs of our students. But, honestly, the STAFF and I have learned so much this year and how we plan to build upon, improve and expand on what we’ve accomplished so that next year will reap the benefits of this growth and learning. And, finally, this has been the most rewarding. Our rewards have been great. Our long awaited renovations have finally become a reality, our staff has strengthened and offered our students the best that they have.   Our community, has stepped forward more than ever to support us in these transitions and again stepped forward as our community expands with the new families from Yancey. I shared with the new students when they visited yesterday that they are joining a very special community and school. The exciting part, is having the new families will make us BETTER.   So, to sum it all up… The close of this school year brings many successes, prepares of for new opportunities to improve and enhance next year and has given us much to be thankful for.

 

Saying farewell.

Unfortunately, in this last message from me each year I have the duty to report departures of beloved staff members.   This year we will be losing our School Psychologist, Karen Ferrer due to county reassignments. Coming in her place is a School Psychologist very familiar with many of our new students who will be serving both Scottsville and Red Hill, Janie Irons. Also leaving us will be Jo Crowder, tutors: Jenny Turner, Morgan Wagoner, and TA, Michael Monroe and ESOL teacher Sarah Skarr. All are off on to new and exciting steps in their professional careers. We wish them well and know they will find further success. Also, retiring, for the second time! Is Pam Walker. Pam is “really” retiring this time from her roles as a teaching assistant to enjoy life and spend time with her family. Lastly, I have the duty of announcing the retirement of Jane Brennan. Mrs. Brennan has been with Red Hill for 26 years. Serving as a Special Education teacher for most of those years, but also as a fifth grade teacher. Mrs. Brennan represents the heart of Red Hill School because of her commitment, passion and YES, humor.   I know I speak for the hundreds of children that you have served over the years… Thank You!

While there will be a few other vacancies filled this summer, we can announce the names of two new teachers that will be joining our staff from Yancey. D’Ann Dickerson and Tim Howeth. Both of these outstanding teachers come with great recommendations and skill sets well matched to our needs. I am very thankful to have these two professionals join our staff and expect great things.

 

Enjoy your summer, do fun things with your families. Those things don’t need to be far away or expensive, they just need to be TOGETHER.

First Semester Finished!

Half of the school year has finished. And, we are finally ALL inside the building. Hats off to the teachers and students that made this year’s transitions go so smoothly. No other school, no other year has been quite like it has been at Red Hill this past fall. Now that the dust (literally) has settled and everyone is in their permanent learning space, the staff’s attentions are not divided between moving and teaching… just teaching.   So, how are things going in our Shared Multiage Learning spaces? From this principal’s perspective, I’ll tell you what I see.

I see teachers and support staff working harder than ever to collaborate for all students. Never is there a conversation about a child that only one teacher has knowledge of for a singular perspective.  It is always a team perspective on a child’s needs and progress. A group of expert professional educators for each child.  I see the results of more integration of multi grade level content areas helping kids make greater connections in their learning. I also see a type of family growing amongst our students that results from children learning together at different ages.   This year, so far, has produced fewer discipline referrals to the office. I translate that into improved classroom environments and increased engagement.

We all knew this was difficult, time consuming work. And, we were right. None of what the Red Hill staff is doing with regards to multiage shared classrooms is easy. But, we are starting to see the benefits and believe as we move forward, these challenges will pay off in student achievement and the development of life skills.

Visit your child’s classroom, come by and see it yourself.

Our New Era of Learning begins today…

Good morning!  It’s less than an hour away before the students return on this very unique first day of school.  What makes it different from the others?  It’s because today is the first day our students will start school in our newly renovated learning spaces.  This type of change has happened only a few times in the long history of Red Hill School.  Way back in 1905 students must have felt similar to our kids today when they entered the original cabin that housed this school. Then, a few years later when they entered a larger wooden school with a big porch. Eventually, in the 1920’s students got to walk in on a special first day to a three story red brick building.   Eventually, in the 1980’s Red Hill students entered the building we occupy now.  Each of those first days marked the beginning of a new era of learning.  TODAY, again, Red Hill School marks a new era of learning…

July 2016 Post

Hello Red Hill Community,

With school ending in June, followed by hasty packing for this summer’s construction work, this month has flown by at lightning speed.

If you don’t already, please keep checking the school’s twitter feed for weekly updates on the progress of our renovations.   Currently, it appears that construction for our renovations is coming along as planned.  Amazingly, early this month, walls came tumbling down within days after the students and teachers left and within a couple of weeks, the new walls have started appearing. Revealing the many transformations for Red Hill School.

Other transformations have occurred as well with staffing.   Listed below are the new staff that will join our team this fall.

Our new pre school teacher will be someone known to us all and well suited for the job of teacher, Sylvia Jenkins.  We are thrilled to have Mrs. Jenkins make the transition from teaching assistant to teacher.

Other new staff include three new teachers for our 3/4/5 graders.  Mrs. Collins accepted a teaching position at Greer Elementary School, creating a third opening for our upper elementary classes.   Teachers of our 3/4/5 graders next year will be Susi Page (returning), Ali Summers and Misty Campbell both teachers from Northern Virginia and Jo Crowder who is returning to Albemarle County, having taught previously at Hollymead and Baker Butler.

Please contact the school at 434 293 – 5332 if you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule a tour with Mr. Stow.

 

 

June 1016 Post

This is it!   Finally, this school year has drawn to a close.   As everyone knows, we’ll have LOTS of changes as we open our doors next year.   Our school will be partly finished and still under construction.   But, we WILL be ready to start the year off strong, ready to provide each Red Hill child with a learning environment that is engaging, challenging, and compassionate.  Listed below are some special announcements about upcoming staffing changes and assignments.  Here are our current plans of who will be teaching what and in a few sad cases, who will be leaving for new places and directions in their careers.

 

Pre School:  Sadly, Mrs. Waggy will be leaving us to teach in her children’s school in Louisa County.  While we’ll miss Mrs. Waggy, but we know this move is a wonderful opportunity for what’s most important, family.

Teaching Kindergarten in our double size Kindergarten learning space will be Mr. Marshall and Mrs. Kavounas.

Teaching First and Second graders in our triple size learning space will be Mrs. Shiflett, Mrs. Bolen, and Mrs. Hilker.

Teaching Third, Fourth and Fifth Graders in our quadruple learning space will be Mrs. Page and Mrs. Collins.  Leaving us will be Mrs. Wooten, who was a temporary hire for this year,  Ms Wiehl as she moves to Seattle with her husband. (Congrats Ms Weihl!) And, after many years of devoted and passionate teaching here at Red Hill, Ms. Davis will become a Math teacher at Burley Middle School.  Loosing both Ms Wiehl and Ms Davis is tough, because they are great teachers.  But, both want to stretch and grow in their careers and have taken these next exciting steps forward.

Current plans keep all of our teaching assistants, specialists and intervention teachers here at Red Hill serving each of our students in their area of expertise.

 

Keep an eye and ear out this summer for any other changes that may occur.   The office will be located in the art trailer if you stop by and summer school will be at Walton Middle School June 27 – July 14. So, on summer school days, I’ll be at Walton.

 

Take care and have a wonderful summer.

Mr. Stow

Quarter 2 Principal’s Message

Finally, the snow came and it seemed to make up for lost time!   With the days we missed due to the snow, four student holidays are now school days. Mark your calendars so you remember that school is in session on February 15th, April 1st and June 6th and 7th.   The last day of school will be June 7.

Other important dates you might want to mark your calendars for are the meeting dates of the Board of Supervisor Public Hearings. These meetings give the public an opportunity to share their opinions with the BOS about important topics such as the funding for the Red Hill Modernization and Renovation. The BOS Public hearings are scheduled for:

February 23

March 30

April 12

For more information go to: https://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=bos

The renovation/modernization plans include flexible learning spaces for our multi age classes with teachers sharing these spaces as instructional teams, along with new furnishings, storage, and technologies. If funding is provided for these changes, it will be the first major upgrade to our school since the old brick building was demolished and the current building that houses the library, office, gym, lunchroom and rooms 1 – 8 was built in the 1980’s. The renovation/modernization plans will impact every classroom, library, and office area.   While the only aspect of the school’s “footprint” that’ll change with the new construction is the front of the school for the new office and entry, we anticipate moving most of the classes that meet in the trailers into the main building. These changes in the entrance, office, and some interior spaces will create less dependency on the trailers which will increase the safety of our school.

If you’d like to have more information about the upcoming changes at Red Hill, please contact my office at 293 – 5332 or email: astow@k12albemarle.org

 

 

 

It’s a new beginning

Happy New Year Red Hill Family.

I am so pleased that sweet 2016 is finally here.  This new year promises to be the year that Red Hill “redefines” itself as a school.  As we move forward with the renovation/modernization plans, which are scheduled to begin this June and continue through December of 2016, we are just beginning to realize the opportunities our new learning spaces will give us in creating a school that is truly child centered…   A school designed and built for the Whole Child.

As you know, this is our 3rd year as a “multi age” school, with three k/1’s, three 2/3’s, and three 4/5’s.  We’ve learned a LOT about teaching to multiple ages and it continues to challenge and intrigue us.  And, we are ready to dig deeper, explore MORE opportunities for our children in multi age settings and to continue on this journey.  With the new learning space designs, we will no longer be limited to single or just double grade configurations.  With the new learning spaces available starting next year, we will be able to build multi age grade level configurations that evolve and change in ways that are always student centered.

As we take these next steps, I believe it is important to start this leg of the journey with a reminder of the answer to the question; “Why multi age?”   Please read the quote below from a very helpful Multi Age website at: http://multiage-education.com/index.html

Multiage educational practices are grounded in a philosophy that holds that every child can learn and has the right to do so at their own pace, that learning is a continuum rather than a series of steps, that diversity is not only a reality but is something to be embraced, and that a classroom is a family of learners.