NASSP President Gregg Wieczorek’s third leg of Leading Forward: The Listening and Learning Tour continued in late October with visits to four schools in three states: Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. Below are brief highlights from the latest stops, one of which garnered a story in a student newspaper.

Dunlap High School, Dunlap, IL
Scott Adreon, Principal

A Different Kind of In-Service

Instead of the usual first day of in-service before school starts, where there’s a lot of sitting and listening, staff are sent videos of all the information that would usually be disseminated so they can watch them beforehand. During the time typically used for this information sharing, they instead do a “Great Race” type of team activity in person, which includes kayaking in the school’s pool, school handbook Jeopardy, and other games. Teams consist of cross department groups so that every staff member gets to know each other better.

Buchanan High School, Buchanan, MI
Stacie DeMaio, Principal

Language Arts Library

The language arts teachers have created a library filled with high interest books for teens. The students get to pick the books they want to read for their language arts class. All the teachers encourage students to read during the last couple of minutes of class when they have completed the day’s lesson. Grant money and district funds were used to supply the library. School officials report significant increases in students’ SAT reading scores and credit the improvement to many factors including the language arts library.

Gregg Wieczorek, second from left, at John Adams High School.
Photo credit: Nika Anderson for The Tower.

John Adams High School, South Bend, IN
James Seitz, Principal

Graduation Coaches

In early November, the school counselors determine which seniors are at risk of not graduating. Those students fill out a form where they indicate three staff members who they feel most connected to: a teacher, coach, aide, secretary, or administrator (but not their counselor). Then they are assigned to one of the staff members they identified, and they meet with them weekly so that the staff members can monitor their attendance and academic progress. The coaching has helped prevent students from falling through the cracks and failing to graduate.

Huntley High School, Huntley, IL
Marcus Belin, Principal

Project-Based Classes

Students can take blended, project-based classes that don’t require daily attendance. Teachers determine which days each week students are required to attend in-person. During those lessons, teachers cover the necessary content in a traditional way. On the other days, students are expected to work at their own pace on various projects. Students who have less than a C in the classes must report to class every day. The teachers who choose to teach using this approach (it’s voluntary) receive the necessary training first.

About the Author

Gregg Wieczorek is the president of NASSP and the principal of Arrowhead Union High School in Hartland, WI. Follow him on Twitter (@gregg_wieczorek).

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