January 2018

The Avon Grove School District’s Strategic Plan guides its work toward fulfilling its mission: to foster a learning environment for all students to be exceptionally
well-prepared to succeed and lead full, meaningful lives.

This newsletter provides an update on the progress Avon Grove is making toward many of the strategic initiatives that are part of that plan.

- M. Christopher Marchese, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
Board to Hear Community Feedback on
Facilities Input Group (FIG) Recommendations

Community feedback on recommendations for the Avon Grove School District’s facilities will be presented to the School Board this month. The feedback was gathered over the last few months through a series of “Listening Posts."
 
This Spring, the Board is expected to vote on the pathway for the District's facilities plan.

Currently, three of the four schools in the District are over-capacity as of this school year, and are continuing to age. These changes will provide the updates and space necessary to continue supporting a high-performing school system.

Community members are invited to attend upcoming Committee of the Whole Facilities Planning Meetings at 6:00 p.m. on:
  • January 30 - Avon Grove High School (Library/Media Center)
  • February 8 - Avon Grove High School (Library/Media Center)
  • February 27 - Fred S. Engle Middle School (Library/Media Center)
  • March 8 - Penn London Elementary School (Little Theater)
  • March 27 - Penn London Elementary School (Little Theater)
  • April 3 - Fred S. Engle Middle School (Library/Media Center)
  • April 12 - Avon Grove High School (Library/Media Center)

All Committee of the Whole Facilities Planning Meetings will be broadcast live on AGtv .

 Please visit  www.avongrove.org/facilities  to learn more.
Full-Day Kindergarten

Avon Grove’s first class of Full Day Kindergartners are exceeding expectations at the halfway point in the school year. Teachers say the transition to the full day program has been nearly seamless.
 
“The amount of time we’re able to devote to going deeper into content and moving at a more natural, relaxed pace provides so many benefits,” says kindergarten teacher Joan Leaman.
 
“Children have more time to express themselves and their ideas,” she says. “I’m seeing them develop stronger social skills because they have more time for recess, lunch, morning meetings, and playing games that help them learn. I’m able to incorporate more music and movement in the classroom, which helps them develop fine and gross motor skills. Children are also taking on more responsibilities in the classroom.”
 
Academically, teachers say the biggest difference is seen in kindergartener’s writing and reading, which is more advanced than it was at this time last year during the half-day program. Daily practice is making a difference, and students are making stronger connections with their learning.

Photo credit: AGHS student Lea Boddorff
1:1 (One to One) Tech Initiative

Teachers in the Avon Grove School District say they are better able to personalize or “differentiate” assignments for students because of the District’s “1:1” (one to one – meaning one device for each student) technology initiative.
 
“Students can be placed into learning groups and all students receive different assignments based on their strengths and needs,” says sixth grade math teacher Kelly Vaughn. “We can provide videos and interactive games with lessons to help students with understanding and retention. The technology also allows us to use a variety of instructional media for presentations to help engage students with content.”
 
Overwhelmingly, students say the program makes it easier for them to learn, offering them a wider variety of ways in which to get and understand information.
 
The School District is in its second year of the 1:1 program. Students in grades 6 through 9 already have District-issued Chromebooks. During the 2018-19 school year, the program will expand so that students in grades 6 - 12 will each have a device.

Photo credit: AGHS student Colby Jones
  Parent Speaker Series Addresses Sensitive Topic of Protecting Kids from Abuse

The fourth session in the new Avon Grove School District Parent Speaker Series addresses the very sensitive topic of sexual abuse. Trained professionals will discuss the issue with parents on January 23 rd at 6:30 p.m. at the Jennersville YMCA. “Protecting Our Kids From Abuse” is free and open to the public. The session is recommended for adults only. Parents are asked to register by clicking here .
Avon Grove Education Foundation
Board of Directors to be Seated Next Month
 
The Avon Grove School District is interviewing board of director applicants for the new Education Foundation, forming this year to maximize resources and help students achieve success. The board of directors will be seated in January, with operations expected to be begin in July 2018.
 
The Foundation will build bridges between the community and classrooms, and extend and diversify student learning capacities. Each year the Foundation will award scholarships and grants to teachers, support staff and students who want to maximize their learning through specific programs.

Through this non-profit foundation, community members and organizations both within and outside of the School District will have an opportunity to provide resources to help students reach new levels of success.
Padres Latinos Parent Group Reaches Out to Latino Families
Latino families in the Avon Grove School District are receiving assistance to help them better communicate with their children’s schools, access information and help their children with school work. Padres Latinos, Avon Grove’s new parent group, has met twice this school year and will meet again in February.
 
Parents are eager for information on how to access grades, homework assignments and how to contact teachers. Administrators are eager to speak with families about upcoming events and information, and about the best way to communicate with them.
 
The group will meet several times a year to share information, answer questions, and discuss concerns. For more information, or questions, contact Natalie Ortega-Moran at  nortegamoran@avongrove.org .  
Task Force to Examine Gifted Program

Avon Grove’s Gifted Task Force is collecting feedback via surveys through the end of January about the District’s gifted program and how it can be improved. Last month, feedback forums were held for parents, and administrators met with groups of students at the elementary, middle and high school levels to gather input and perspective.
 
Director of Pupil Services Jeremy Curtis is leading the task force, which is evaluating the program based on several guiding questions developed by parents and staff members. The task force is focusing on: professional development regarding gifted learners; design and delivery of the gifted program; effective communication about the program; screening and identification; and staffing and resources for the gifted program. 
 
The Task Force is hoping to make recommendations to the Board before the end of the school year. More information about the task force is  available here .
Professional Learning for Staff

Avon Grove’s administrators and Instructional Coaches are working with the District’s staff to deliver the best possible professional learning opportunities.
 
A team of AGSD teachers and administrators are reviewing 14 new professional development courses to ensure that each new offering meets District or building goals and correctly incorporates available technology. Each of these courses will be made available through Schoology, the District’s online learning management system.
 
Through the work of individual building teams, as well as facilitated learning for these teams at the District level, plans to support students are being implemented. Expanded professional learning will occur throughout the spring semester. 
 
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