December 2017

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
Facilities Input Group (FIG) Gathers Feedback
On Recommendations

Community feedback on recommendations for the Avon Grove School District’s facilities has been gathered through a series of “Listening Posts,” and that information will be presented to the School Board in January.
 
For 16 months the district’s Facilities Input Group (FIG) researched and analyzed the district’s facilities. In September, the FIG recommended that in order to provide the space, flexibility and curricular opportunities that support 21st-century learning, the district should:
 
  • Renovate and combine the current high school and middle school into one large high school
  • Build a new middle school on the Sunnyside Road site
  • Realign grade levels at the Avon Grove Intermediate School and Penn London Elementary

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 support a high performing school system.
 
 Please visit  www.avongrove.org/facilities  to learn more.
Full-Day Kindergarten

The concept and practice of “mindfulness” has reached Avon Grove’s youngest learners.

Full day kindergartners are receiving weekly visits from a Chester County Intermediate Unit educator who specializes in teaching elementary children the art of focusing and paying attention.
 
During the mindfulness sessions, kindergartners are taught how to pay close attention to things, and to notice when they’re angry, sad, or frustrated. Noticing their emotions can help them then control them. Last year, first and second graders at Penn London Elementary School received weekly mindfulness training. Teachers have seen differences in students’ behaviors, actions, and attitudes, as a result.
 
The full day kindergarten program is in its first year with about 300 students, approximately 50 more than last year when the program was just a half day long. Research shows that full day kindergarten programs provide a strong foundation in academic, social, and emotional skills. About 75% of school districts nationwide offer full day kindergarten programs.
1:1 (One to One) Tech Initiative

The ability for every Avon Grove middle school student to have his or her own Chromebook is making a significant difference in the way students are able to collaborate with each other, both during class and at home. Students say the devices allow them to share information, comment on what they’re learning about, and collaborate in new ways. Many feel their classroom discussions are much richer because of this access, and that depth carries over to the work they’re doing at home, as well.
 
The school district is in the second year of its “1:1” technology initiative (meaning one computer or tablet for each student) that gives every middle and high school student a Chromebook. Students in grades 6 through 9 already have district-issued Chromebooks. During the 2018-19 school year (year three of the program), Chromebooks will be provided to students in grades 10 - 12 at AGHS (with hand-me-down devices going to grade 5 at AGIS in the 2019-20 school year making that grade nearly 1:1 as well.)
 
Research shows that 1:1 technology initiatives like these improve teaching and learning by increasing engagement, allowing for customization of learning, giving students equal access to technology, and better preparing them or college and careers.
 
Third Parent Speaker Session Looks at Teen Screen Addiction

The third session in the new Avon Grove School District Parent Speaker Series offers a window into the pervasive issue of ‘screen addiction’ faced by so many of today’s teens. The district is teaming with the Unionville Chadds Ford School District to offer a showing of the documentary “Screenagers,” December 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Jennersville YMCA.
 
Parents can register for the session here .
 
The January speaker series session will be held Jan. 23 at the Jennersville YMCA and will focus on protecting children from different kinds of abuse.
Avon Grove Education Foundation
Board of Directors to be Seated Next Month
 
The Avon Grove School District is reviewing applications for board of director members for its 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 have a new way to connect with their children’s schools. Padres Latinos, Avon Grove’s new parent group, is designed to strengthen communication and student success for families of a Latino background.

The group has met twice this year, providing information about how to access important sections of the school website, preparing for parent/teacher conferences, and gathering feedback about the district’s facilities recommendations.
 
The group will meet several times a year to share information, answer questions, and discuss concerns. The next meeting will be held in February. 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 hosting feedback forums Dec. 6 for parents who are interested in providing input about the gifted program. The forums will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. and again from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Avon Grove Intermediate School Audion. Parents surveys have also been sent to all parents in the district.
 
Director of Pupil Services Jeremy Curtis is leading the task force, which is evaluating the program based on several guiding questions that were developed by the 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 those courses for staff 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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