Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Initial Visit to Connor's School

Some notes/observations of the Conner’s visit:

1) Conner’s is celebrating it’s 100 year anniversary this year and is in wonderful shape. I found the building to be clean, clear of debris, bright, full of student work on the walls and a place that felt warm. Security was obvious and present.

2) I was shown around by the principal to a majority of the classrooms. Of special note was the rooms and how they were decorated. Very alive and with many stimuli. Well kept and orderly and with instruction going on at many levels (centers seem to be a big part of early instruction).

3) Students and teachers wore red, white and blue today in honor of 9/11 and opening announcement had a moment of silence for those who were loss. A touching moment to be sure. One wonders what does 9/11 mean to these young students which raises some interesting curricula and instructional issues.

4) Primary grades seem to be especially strong.

5) Students seemed VERY well behaved, polite and respectful given they had never seen me before.

6) Technology is present throughout the building although need to explore more specifically how it is being utilized and maintained. There is both a computer room as well as computers in most rooms.

7) There seems to be some wonderful services at the school, including child study team, clinician, IB and G&T. Clearly, there are resources and expertise at Conner’s.

8) Wonderful and thoughtful conversation for ½ hour with Principal Erbe toward the end of my visit after she showed me around the building and introduced me to everyone. Some concerns or needs arouse which include:

a) there are presently 3 cafeteria workers, my sense is that there is a perception that there might be a need for additional people.

b) the need for a guidance person was discussed. The principal seems supportive of this notion.

c) There was agreement that we need some curricula alignment in the district

9) Had a nice end of the morning conversation with Ms. Dominique where we discussed IB plans and need for other people to join her in assuring commitment and investment in the IB program which now seems to be at a district wide implementation stage. Currently, things are too focused around 1 person for the success of a program that potentially impacts over 550 students. It is a testament to Ms. Dominique’s commitment but not a healthy situation for the district to have 1 person be so pivotal without additional committed staff and/or mentoring of others.

Connor's is a clean, well light, open and bright atmosphere. It really is a beautiful building and much work has gone into making the place an exciting school.