November 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

The Avon Grove School District Facilities Input Group (FIG) is seeking feedback from the community on its recommendation to the Board of Directors about how to proceed with the District’s physical space.

Avon Grove is currently hosting a series of Listening Posts to collect stakeholder feedback to help shape the Board of School Director’s final decision.

The information from the Listening Posts will be presented to the Board in January 2018.

Please visit www.avongrove.org/facilities to learn more.

Full-Day Kindergarten

Full Day Kindergarteners in Avon Grove are officially settled into their new routine and are already showing gains over where kindergarteners were last year at this time. The full day 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.
 
Teachers are seeing great progress in student writing. With a longer day, students have the time needed to compose a story that provides details, the development of complete sentences, sight words and illustrations. The kindergarten team analyzed students’ writing samples from the beginning of the year and compared them to samples after approximately six weeks of instruction. The progress was significant for students, especially in comparison to where students were last year in the half day program. 
 
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. After the initial first-year costs, the District is projected to save significant funds with the reduction of tuition expenses paid to charter schools, as many of those students return to Avon Grove to take advantage of this program.
1:1 (One to One) Tech Initiative

Avon Grove students are aligned with the top-performing students in the nation as they work collaboratively with peers in and outside of school hours. Students in grades 6 through 9 complete their homework and in-class assignments on their school-issued Chromebooks, in an initiative known in the education world as “1:1” ("one to one" - one computer or tablet for each student.)

Teachers have seen students extend learning to their home, because of 1:1. Many students enrich themselves after learning about a specific topic in class by Googling it on their own Chromebooks. The access to technology also easily allows students to integrate videos and pictures to enhance their projects and presentations.

Last school year was the first year of this initiative. 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.
Second Parent Speaker Session to Focus
on Signs of Bullying

The Avon Grove School District’s Parent Speaker Series is successfully underway with the second presentation in the series, “Spotting Signs of Bullying,” presented by the Crime Victims Center of Chester County. The session will be held Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Intermediate School Audion. The session is free and open to parents.
 
The presentation is focused on students from kindergarten through high school, and will cover how to identify if your child is the victim, aggressor, or both, and how to address it. Parents are urged to come prepared with questions, scenarios and topics they would like to discuss. The presenter is also available to speak privately with parents after the session.
 
This is the second of eight speaker sessions the District will hold throughout the school year in an attempt to reach families regarding many issues that impact our families. The next session, December 19, is a screening of the documentary Screenagers. For more information and to register for sessions, visit this link .  
Avon Grove to Create Education Foundation;
Seeks Board Members
 
As the Avon Grove School District works to maximi ze resources and help students achieve success, the district is establishing an Education Foundation. The District is currently accepting applications for executive board members for the Foundation.

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. 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.

The Foundation will be formed this school year and will expect to begin operations in July 2018.  If you’re interested in serving on the Board of Directors for the Avon Grove Education Foundation, please send a letter of interest and resume to AGEF@avongrove.org by December 1, 2017. The Board will be seated in January 2018.
Padres Latinos Parent Group Reaches Out to Latino Families
Padres Latinos, Avon Grove’s new group for parents of Latino children, recently held its second meeting of the school year as the district works to strengthen communication and student success. At the November meeting, attendees will participate in a listening post on school facilities. Administrators are also working with Latino parents to help them access important sections of the website such as Powerschool, and prepare for parent/teacher conferences.
 
The group will meet several times a year to share information, answer questions, and discuss concerns. The next meeting will be held in February – dates to be published shortly. For more information, or questions, contact Natalie Ortega-Moran at nortegamoran@avongrove.org.  
Task Force to Examine Gifted Program

Avon Grove’s task force to examine its gifted programming has formed and is beginning its work. More than 50 parents and 20 staff members signed up for the initial stakeholder meeting held in October.

The District is limited in the number of parents it can select so as to keep the group’s work manageable. However, the District wants to gather feedback from anyone who is interested. Feedback forums for parents who are not already serving on the task force will be held December 6 from 9 – 10 a.m. and again from 4 – 5 p.m. 

Director of Pupil Services Jeremy Curtis will lead the meeting in which several guiding questions were developed for the task force to focus on, including: 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.
 
Planning is underway for the winter Flexible Professional Learning sessions being offered to teaching staff, giving them new “blended learning” or online opportunities for professional growth and development.
 
The district’s New Teacher Induction program has been incorporating video technology in each classroom s to allow each new teacher and their mentor to analyze lessons, provide feedback and enhance practice.
 
The District is also using a new enhancement to the teacher evaluation process to collect better data during classroom walkthroughs and offer more frequent and valuable feedback to teachers. That information is being used, in turn, to help the district spot trends and develop future professional development sessions to address areas of need.
 
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