Selection

Selection

Over the next few weeks we will be confirming course selections for the second semester, which concludes at the end of January. In most cases, first semester courses will continue through second semester, so the student’s schedule will look much the same as it does now. Students with single-semester courses such as Government and Health, however, will have a new class for the second term. 

Since we have block scheduling with four classes a day for a total of eight classes each term, most students have independent study time as one of their classes. At New School High, we strive for students to be able to complete the bulk of their schoolwork during the school day, so this arrangement is very helpful. Additionally, those who need more time or wish to make-up or improve their work may use independent study time to accomplish this. When I recently asked students about having this discretionary time in their schedules, they were very strong in their support. Using this study period wisely is a challenge for some students; however, learning to efficiently manage time is an essential life skill for our students to practice.

Finally, we encourage all students to take advantage of the unique options available at New School High to design a schedule that suits their individual needs. Throughout the year, Ms. McCarthy provides plentiful information about dual enrollment to students in all grade levels. Last week Mr. McClary offered an after-school help session for students who wish to design an Independent Study course or internship based on their interests. For some students, elective online courses through Michigan Virtual School are a wonderful way to expand their personal program. Like most high schools, New School High requires more than the minimum 18 credits of the Michigan Merit Curriculum to graduate. Since all students must have a full schedule of courses, they are advised that if they do not take advantage of opportunities to personalize their schedules, they will be placed in the most appropriate and challenging courses available to ensure their program meets our school’s standards of rigor. Please discuss course selections with your child when the confirmation form is sent home later this month. As always, Ms. McCarthy and our staff are available to answer any questions you might have. Let’s work together to ensure that academics for every NSH student are not only rigorous, but also relevant!

-Cynthia

Some Tech Reminders

Some Tech Reminders

At New School High, we work hard to help our students use technology in a safe and responsible way. The Acceptable Use Policy reminds students that the  “school account is provided by the school for school-related activities and is not a personal account. School administrators have the right to review and/or monitor student account activity as necessary to ensure the safety of other students, staff members, and school property.” 

Sometimes students are found to be in violation of this policy. Common offenses include using school Chromebooks or laptops to play video games, shop online, chat via email, etc. Engaging in these activities during the school day rather than completing assigned schoolwork is not helpful.  

When a student uses technology for non-academic purposes, the student is placed on one week of restricted use for the first offense. This means the student cannot access websites outside of the Google suite and that Internet research must be done at home. Be assured, however, that students always have productive work to do at school. If you have any questions regarding the impact of restricted access in a specific class, please do not hesitate to contact the teacher by email, which is listed at the end of this week’s message.

Learning to use technology appropriately is a challenge for today’s young people, who do not remember a time before computers and smartphones. Together, we can help them use these tools safely, ethically, and with forethought. 

-Cynthia

Nurturing the Strong

Nurturing the Strong

 High school is a time of transition from child to adult. Here is the poetry of a former NSH student that beautifully captures the complicated feelings of adolescence:

Untitled

Safe in the nest,

protected at all times,

soon the sun will rise and the time will come.

Should I stay close,

with the opportunity to fly back when trouble arises?

Or do I fly to the stars,

encountering obstacles at every turn?

When I read these words, I think about the tension between wanting to stay where it is safe and familiar, and choosing freedom, with its potential risks and rewards. For our young adults, autonomy is exciting and compelling, but the responsibility and uncertainty that comes with it can be frightening, too. 

As parents, we worry: Will our children be ready? Are they learning to make choices that lead to healthy lives, positive contributions to the community, and personal fulfillment?  Are they strong enough to withstand setbacks, injustice, or misfortune?

The reality is that the passage of time and the mandates of nature will prevail. Our children will grow up.  And as much as we would like it to be otherwise, we cannot ensure their happiness. This they must find for themselves. Something we can help foster, however, is the development of a growth mindset, which is discussed frequently in Advisory and Health classes. This weekend, please ask your student to describe growth mindset and why it is important for a person’s well-being.  As parents, encouraging growth mindset is a powerful way we can demonstrate our confidence that they will thrive when “the sun will rise and the time will come.”

-Cynthia

Conferences: How we do it

Conferences: How we do it

On November 5 and November 12, New School High will be holding parent-student-teacher conferences. This is an opportunity for those who are closely involved in your child’s education to come together around the twin goals of celebrating the student’s strengths and supporting their continued growth. 

Since we know parents and students are able to keep up with grades and coursework online, conferences will focus on personal growth rather than academic progress. Instead of individual meetings with teachers, parents and students will meet with a small team of teachers who know the student well. Meeting with a group provides insight into various points of view; it can also reveal consistent themes while reinforcing the whole-child approach that we embrace at New School High. Parents who have questions regarding academic progress in a specific course are encouraged to contact the teacher individually by email or phone. 

During the high school years, the primary developmental task is achieving a substantial degree of independence. Part of this process is taking ownership of choices, setting worthy goals, and driving one’s own education. For this reason, it is essential that the student is present at the conference. Parents who wish to speak privately with staff are invited to arrange an appointment with Ms. McCarthy, our guidance counselor, or Ms. Lynn, Dean of Students. 

Parent-student-teacher conferences at New School High are positive experiences that strengthen the bond between school and home. We look forward to meeting with you!

-Cynthia

Some Words on Grading

Some Words on Grading

Standards Based Grading                                                                                                                   New School High is committed to standards-based grading (SBG). This means that the scores you see will reflect your student’s progress on the individual State standards (what Michigan students are expected to know and be able to do) rather than class assignments. Scoring according to the standards provides everyone with more precise and useful information: when students know their specific strengths and weaknesses, they know where to focus their efforts to improve. 

Proficiency                                                                                                                                                NSH students will have numerous opportunities through their class assignments to reliably demonstrate their proficiency in the standards. This is a far more authentic measure of learning than a one-time test grade. A score of N/A for a standard means that there have not yet been enough opportunities/assignments for the student to demonstrate learning in a particular standard to identify a trend. When grading for proficiency, we expect scores to be low at first, and as the student practices, the scores should improve. To reflect the student’s learning trend, the data system uses a research-based algorithm called Power Law that gives more weight to recent scores and less weight to early scores. It also projects future scores if the current learning trend continues. It is important to remember that students whose scores decrease over time will see their grade in that standard drop, too. 

Improving Grades                                                                                                                               Grading reports will also show an overall score for each course, which is an average of the in-progress scores for the individual standards. NSH students are strongly encouraged to re-demonstrate their proficiency at various points throughout the semester in order to raise their grades. Individual teachers can provide more information about how this can be done in their classes.

-Cynthia

Thank you.

Thank you.

Every New School High family is unique, but I have noticed that there is one characteristic they share: loving support for our students and for our school. 

In just a few short weeks, our NSH parents have:

  • installed three whiteboards on classroom walls
  • provided design services and marketing expertise
  • taught a science lesson 
  • donated food, drinks and hospitality for three school events
  • repaired the Quiet Room stage
  • answered the call to serve on our Board of Directors
  • contributed numerous boxes of copy paper, tissues, wipes, and school supplies
  • attended the September Family Welcome and Parent Advisory meetings
  • represented NSH at the Plymouth Fall Festival Rotary Spaghetti Dinner
  • collected materials for upcoming science projects
  • volunteered their free time to coach our basketball and robotics teams
  • signed up to present to our students about their careers
  • delivered boxes of books for our library of choice books 
  • shared kind words of gratitude to our staff

And the list does not end there…

Education is a partnership of student, school, and family. Four years ago at the ribbon-cutting celebration, our student speaker rightly observed, “New School High is small, but mighty.” It’s no secret that this statement remains true today because of the many people who have given their time and care into creating and sustaining it. 

-Cynthia

Building on Success

Building on Success

On Monday, we will begin week #3 of the 2019-20 school year. So far, what have we accomplished? 

The first week was dedicated to building a foundation based on knowledge and positive relationships so every student has the best chance of academic and personal success:

  • Members of the New School High community enjoyed breakfast together and learned about expectations at the Family Welcome event. By starting the school year in this way, we seek to demonstrate that success in high school requires communication and trust among the students, the families, and the school staff.
  • Students were assessed in math, English, science, social studies, health and PE. As a result, several students demonstrated the level of proficiency that allowed them to test out of requirements. Also, teachers have a better understanding of each student’s knowledge and skills, which will guide instruction and provide baseline data to measure growth.
  • Students learned about our facility and practiced how to respond in the event of an emergency.
  • Technology procedures were explained; new students were given accounts for school email and access to Google classrooms, where assignments will be posted and written work submitted.
  • Students were introduced to our library of books they are encouraged to use during choice reading time. They also shared their favorite books with their peers.
  • Everyone participated in cleaning our learning spaces: sweeping the floors, emptying the garbage, wiping tables, and vacuuming carpeted areas. 
  • The NSH Code of Conduct was introduced and students had the opportunity to ask questions of Ms. Lynn, our new Dean of Students.
  • Students were introduced to the Get Smart method of using feedback to improve, which applies to their personal goals as well as academics. Last week’s Advisory classes followed up with additional information and practice to reinforce how using the method can help them succeed.
  • The topic of the first NSH Trivia competition was fun facts about New School High’s history and staff. Three students with perfect scores as well as the team of eight that had the most answers right were the proud winners of a pizza lunch!
  • Seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen created designs for their signature class shirts. (Look for ordering information soon…)
  • Students learned about after-school clubs and activities and signed up for their choices. They also made suggestions for new groups.
  • To round out Orientation Week on a beautiful late summer afternoon, the entire school took a walk to Plymouth Township Park. 

Our second week focused on the routines of the daily schedule as students attended their first semester classes. Those with scheduling issues met with Ms. McCarthy or myself, while students with independent study and Michigan Virtual School online courses, dual enrollment classes at local colleges or internships finalized their plans. 

We will do our best to keep you informed on any and all subjects that touch your lives throughout your child’s high school years. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime; your feedback, questions, and ideas are very important to us!

-Cynthia

Hello!

Hello!

The Labor Day holiday marks the official end of what we hope was a wonderful summer break for you and your family. It’s hard not to notice that it is getting darker earlier in the evening and that the air has begun to cool. Now that September is upon us, this Headlines edition includes some last-minute information and reminders to help your family have a smooth start to the school year.

The weeks leading up to the first day of school can be a time of significant stress for everyone. It is completely normal if your teen-ager has been showing signs of anxiety, especially if he or she has recently enrolled. Worries about having the “right” clothes, shoes, supplies, hair color or style, as well as concern that they will not know anyone or make friends quickly are all to be expected. Fortunately, this fear of the unknown has an expiration date: Tuesday, September 3. After the first day, your child will have gained a mental picture and a little experience with the surroundings, school staff, and other students. From that point on, I think you will discover that they will adjust rapidly to the new routine. 

While some teen-agers will share numerous details about their school life with their parents, many will maintain an impenetrable wall of silence. Once again, this is natural since a primary task of adolescence is developing independence. At the same time, as caring parents we may feel a little left out. With so much of the focus on the child, we often forget that the teen-age years mark a transition in our own lives as parents. Just as we experience mixed feelings when our child takes his or her first steps – we are so proud they are learning and growing, yet we will miss our snuggly babies – it is natural to have ambivalent feelings about our child becoming a young adult. 

To support our parents when they have questions about our school and to provide a place to discuss timely topics of interest with other parents, I invite you to join us at our monthly Parent Advisory meetings. Later in this newsletter you will find more information on this month’s meeting. 

-Cynthia

New Partners, Same Priorities

New Partners, Same Priorities

 In this edition, you will learn more about some of our most important priorities regarding our school policies and culture. I also have some exciting news to share regarding our charter school authorization. 

Beginning July 1, 2019, New School High is chartered by Eastern Michigan University. This is a change from being authorized by Central Michigan University since 2014. The Eastern Michigan University Charter School Office’s first authorized schools opened in 1996, three years after the passage of the first public act allowing for charter schools in Michigan.  Currently, EMU supports 14 charter schools with New School High being its most recent addition. Since its founding in 1849 as a teachers’ college, Eastern Michigan University is nationally recognized for excellence in teacher preparation and graduate studies in education. The board and staff of New School High are thrilled to be working with Director Dr. Malverne Winborne and the entire EMU team. For more information about the EMU Charter School Office see: https://www.emich.edu/charterschools/index.php

School Policies and Procedures

A complete guide to expectations may be found in the updated NSH Code of Conduct, which will be available on our school website at the start of school. Please review it carefully with your child. There will be significant time dedicated to explaining school policies in Advisory classes during the first week and throughout the year, however, we count on our parents to be familiar with the policies so everyone has a common understanding of what is expected. 

Be Nice. Work Hard.

These four words sum up our expectations. 

Be nice: All members of the New School High community are required to treat others with respect and courtesy. Problems or concerns should be reported to a staff member so the question can be addressed immediately. 

Work hard. What does it look like to work hard? Come to class prepared to learn, fully engage in classroom activities, ask for clarification when there is a question, study/review the material at home, take the opportunity to re-do and improve work to increase learning.

Cell Phones

At school, personal technology detracts from learning and from being present in our interactions with others. For this reason, NSH students may not have cell phones or devices with them, even if they are kept in a bag or pocket and out of sight. We encourage our students to leave their cell phones and electronic devices at home, however, if students choose to bring phones or devices to school, they must be stowed in the school office from 8:45 am – 3:30 pm. Students may use the office phone if there is a need to contact home during school hours. 

Food at School

Students are required to bring their own food and drinks to school.  Healthy snacks include fresh and dried fruit, vegetables, protein bars.  We ask that students are respectful of those with serious nut allergies and not bring nuts to school. Caffeinated drinks and soft drinks are discouraged; water and juice are preferred. 

Volunteering

There are lots of ways you can help support our school. Carolyn King, one of our parents, will be sending a communication to all parents/guardians regarding opportunities to volunteer time and resources throughout the school year. 

-Cynthia

Reflecting on Our Values

Reflecting on Our Values

While there are many ways a school year can draw to a close, the way the final days are structured can make all the difference Simply put, how we choose to use our time reflects our values. What are the values of New School High and how do we emphasize these as the school year comes to an end?

First, we believe the school environment must be a safe and predictable place for every student, every day. Our students depend on us to model caring and confidence. While the anticipation of the summer vacation may tempt our teens to push the limits, it is essential that we affirm high expectations. 

Learning must always be kept at the forefront. At the end of the year, our time is carefully structured so there is plenty of opportunity to review, and exams are distributed over several weeks. We dedicate time to debrief after the exams so students get valuable feedback on their performance. Even though final exams may loom large, learning is never limited to coursework, assessments, or demonstrations. We continue to enhance our students’ learning with activities such as practice interviews with the Community Financial Credit Union team, instruction in CPR, and speakers for our Advisory classes. 

Finally, because New School High is a community, we work hard to make the final weeks a time to give service, to reflect, and to express our gratitude for friends, mentors, and family. Working together to prepare the building for the summer break, spending time in nature at Plymouth Township Park, sharing in the pride of our seniors at their graduation ceremony, reaching out to new students joining us in the fall, and shaking the hand of each teacher as the final act of the final day – these are all outward signs of what we value. 

-Cynthia