October 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) Makes
Recommendation and Seeks Feedback

The Avon Grove School District Facilities Input Group (FIG) has made its recommendation to the Board of Directors. After 16 months of research and analysis, the FIG has 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.

The School District cares very much about soliciting community feedback, and is hosting a series of “Listening Posts” designed to inform District stakeholders about the FIG recommendation and to collect the feedback that will help shape the Board of School Director's final decision.  

Please visit  www.avongrove.org/facilities  to learn more and
register for an upcoming Listening Post.  
Full-Day Kindergarten

Full Day Kindergarten in Avon Grove is off to a fantastic start with 300 students and 14 classroom teachers. Penn London Elementary is working with its first class of full day kindergarten students on building a strong community of learners.
 
In September, teachers focused on getting these young students to practice the routines and learn the rules that create positive learning environments. 
Kindergarteners are also focusing on the strategies that readers and writers use to think and learn, while also building their math skills. Our kindergarten teachers continue to rave about how much they are able to accomplish with their students in a full day.
 
Research shows that full day kindergarten programs provide a strong foundation in academic, social, and emotional skills in ways that a half-day (2 and a half hour) kindergarten program cannot. Avon Grove now joins the approximately 75% of school districts nationwide that 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 in grades 6, 7, 8, and 9 are regularly taking home their Chromebooks to complete assignments and study, in an initiative known in the education world as “1:1” (one to one, meaning one computer or tablet for each student.) Last school year was the first year of this initiative, as the district again aligns itself with the top-performing districts in the nation.
 
More than 1,000 parents have already attended 10 informational meetings about the program. Avon Grove teachers are regularly updating their course descriptions, assignments, class updates, resources and grades online. Feedback from parents, staff and students has been extremely positive.
 
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 for college and careers.
 
The program comes with a $50 annual fee and there are options available to families with financial need.
First Parent Speaker Session to Focus
on Mindfulness

The Avon Grove School District’s first Parent Speaker Series night, “A Mindful Family: Strategies to Use At Home,” will be held October 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Intermediate School Audion. This session will build on the mindfulness work being done in our elementary schools. 

The session will teach parents about mindfulness and how to engage in relaxation and focusing practices with their families. Studies show that students who are trained to use mindfulness experience improvements in attention and emotional regulation, and decreases in anxiety, stress and fatigue.

The session is free and open to parents. This is the first of eight speaker sessions the district will hold throughout the school year in an attempt to reach families regarding many issues that impact children and parents. Click here to register!
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
In an effort to strengthen communication and student success, Avon Grove has formed a new group for parents of Latino children.

Padres Latinos will meet several times a year to share information, answer questions and discuss concerns. An initial meeting was held in September, and the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 1, at 7 p.m. at the high school. That session will focus on helping parents access a variety of online resources and prepare for parent/teacher conferences. Attendees will also have an opportunity to provide input on district facilities. For more information, or questions, contact Avon Grove High School Principal Scott DeShong at sdeshong@avongrove.org or Assistant Principal Natalie Ortega-Moran at nortegamoran@avongrove.org.
 
Task Force to Examine Gifted Program

Avon Grove is preparing to host a day-long stakeholders meeting October 18 as it forms a task force to examine its gifted programming.

Director of Pupil Services, Jeremy Curtis, will lead the meeting in which the group will develop four to six primary questions that will help guide the audit of the program.

School districts typically review programs and curriculum every few years, and the district is excited about this opportunity.
 
Some of the issues the task force may examine include the way in which students are evaluated for the program, gifted programming for middle school students and why some student groups may be under-represented in the program. 

Updates about the work of the Task Force will be sent via email, newsletter and posted on the district's website.

The Task Force tentatively plans to make its recommendations to the Board by March 2018. Click here to indicate your interest in participating the task force.
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.

This fall the coaching staff and administrative team are engaging in a book study about instructional coaching and leadership. Also new this fall, teachers are able to participate in Flexible Professional Learning which offers new “blended learning” or online opportunities for teachers to earn continuing education credits.

The district is also using a new online program to support teacher evaluations and collect better data during classroom walkthroughs to 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.

The district’s New Teacher Induction program is also being redeveloped, incorporating an enhanced mentoring and feedback model and finding new ways to better meet the needs of teachers who are new to the district.
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