Dear Wellesley High School Families,
Happy August! I’ve recently returned from a week long vacation with family and friends. It was great to get away and be with my kids in new places. We got great craft beer in Utica (lemonade for the kids), real hot wings in Buffalo, got doused by Niagra Falls, went to the top of the CN Tower, then saw a Blue Jays game in Toronto, and had a great stop in 1000 islands on the way home. We were crazy enough to rent a 10 passenger van for the trip. Hours of driving were made more fun because we were all together, and more intense too. The good news is we’re all still friends after the trip.
Since then my rising 8th grader is at horseback riding camp in New Hampshire and my sixth grader is at Yankee baseball camp in New York (he may get a call up given how that team is playing). My second grader is spending time with her grandparents in Long Island. I’m trying to work shorter hours, read books that have nothing to do with work (as if that’s possible), get in a little running with my wife before we ramp right back up in a couple of weeks.
Thanks for indulging me. In our continual commitment to bring our school wide community closer together, I think it’s essential to share our personal tales with one another. I hope your summers have been filled great stories and I look forward to hearing about them from you kids as we come back.
End of Year Work
I wanted to give you an update about the work we’ve been doing around how we end the school year. The administrative team and I have spent our June retreat going over feedback we’ve received from the student and staff surveys, as well as the many folks who chose to communicate with us. I want to share some of our findings and let you know our process for improving this coming year’s experience.
Process : The Administrative team is working on altering the end of the year to reflect themes that came up in the staff and then the student surveys. We will be working with the faculty in August so we have a completed draft. We will hopefully be letting students know the school wide plan early this fall.
Themes from the faculty. In no particular order.
- Confusing directions beforehand
- May was brutal because departments gave exams and then did final experiences
- The scope of some projects was too great and created a workload that was way more than 10 minutes a night
- Math would like to give their exams all on the same day in two hour blocks
- Tell the students and staff what to expect as early as possible
- Science would like to be able to count their IRP but are wary about moving it later.
- Many experiences were described as being much more meaningful and powerful than previous exams
- What works for one discipline doesn’t necessarily work for all of them.
- Fix the 504/IEP mechanism for extra time
747 students (of about 1100 students total without the seniors) completed the survey. The students offered some of the same themes listed above about the challenges of May and the amount of work sometimes being much more than the 10 minute per discipline guidelines. They were also asked if they preferred this year or last year (9th grade was excluded from this) and in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and C&ML they responded overwhelmingly (the highest was a 5 to 1 margin, the lowest was 2 to 1) in favor of this year’s new format.
Wellesley High School is going through it’s 10 year accreditation visit this coming April. Teams of teachers and community members have been working on different standards committees since last January and that work will continue through the fall and winter in order to get ready for the visiting team’s arrival. Thanks again to all of you who participated in the survey we sent out for them last winter. The NEASC report on the high school is something that will be a public document and should arrive back a month or so after their visit.
Start of the school year
Please note the letter included about the opening of school from our Challenge Success team. We’re excited kick to off the school year with our theme of balance around technology, workload, and sleep. The schedule for the first day looks a little different for the 10 -12th graders, so please take a look.
This has been more than enough for an August letter. We’ll look forward to seeing all the kids in a couple of weeks. Until then, enjoy your people and enjoy your time.