January 2019 Newlsetter Update
Welcome to 2019 and the start of the 2nd semester here at Hinckley-Big Rock High School! I hope the Holiday season was an enjoyable one for all. We are back in the “full swing” of things. We continue to focus on academic achievement and creating a rigorous, appropriate learning environment for ALL of our students.
One of our exciting January events is our January 11 Wonder Day. In fact, as I type this, students are beginning to arrive to begin their pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding in an area of interest to them and chosen by them. Today, January 11, is an opportunity for them to have control of their learning process and learning targets. For many of our students, this has been an exciting and challenging process leading up to today. For them, the world of possibilities was so large that they had a hard time deciding what path to take. The beauty in this is that there is no wrong path…because it is their path. For some of our students, the challenge was a bit different…”I am not sure what interests me enough to spend an entire school day exploring it.” I am excited for those students as well as it is my hope that this process, with all of its challenges, will spur a new found interest. Who knows? Again, it is their path…
I hope that when your student arrives home he/she will have something “wonderful” to say about today’s activity. We plan to share with you some of things our students experience and create as a result of today. Stay tuned…
Thank you for your continued support of Hinckley-Big Rock High School!
November 2018 Newsletter Update
It is November, traditionally a time to reflect and give thanks for all that we have been blessed with. While I have so much to be thankful for, I would like to take this brief space to share with you some of my reflections on what I experience from my position as Principal of Hinckley-Big Rock High School. In this regard, I hope you had the chance to read the Community Blog Post from Friday, 11/16. I drafted the post in order to give you a brief glimpse into our philosophy of a high school education. If you haven’t had the chance, feel free to look it over and contact me if you have any comments, questions, or observations…they are always welcome!
As Principal it is my responsibility, among other things, to constantly ask the question: “are we the best we can be?” It is a simple question in that the answer is straightforward…no, we are not. To accept that we cannot continue to improve, to do things better, to get it “right,” is simply not in my make-up. You will never hear me say “mission accomplished,” as that would be just another way of saying we give up. Leaders and exemplary organizations never give up when it comes to the mission at hand. Our Mission is to deliver a quality education that meets the needs of each and every student. Some would say, based upon societal and economic factors beyond our control, this goal is unreachable. I say it doesn’t matter. It is about doing things right and, more importantly, doing the right thing. The rest takes care of itself.
Another unique opportunity I have is the chance to work with, and learn from, people who have a very different job description than I. Being a life-long learner is something we strive to create in all of our students. Modeling this behavior is one way that we do it. When I arrive each morning, I am fortunate to have “informal” meetings with an office staff who take great pride in their work. While I may not answer phones and oversee the many facets of the front of the office, I get to watch Debbie Murphy handle multiple tasks at one time. I may not have to arrange referees and schedule sporting events, but I get to observe Kim Halverson as she keeps hundreds of details straight. I may not handle dozens of activity accounts that require precision and organization, but I do observe Jenn Porter keep the finances of the building running smoothly. I may have access to student data, but I am amazed by Matt Kantor’s ability to manage it. And, while I have been where he is, I am constantly learning from Brandon Kriesch’s thoughtful approach to the assistant principalship.
So, as we move into this Holiday Season, I want to take this time to thank you for the faith that you show in the professionals in this building. I want to thank you for your willingness to work with us as we seek to carry out our Mission. Lastly, I want to thank you for sending us some amazing young people that you have worked so hard to raise. As a parent myself, I truly appreciate the job that you do.
October 2018 Newsletter Update
Collaborative Intervention and The Student Assistance Team: Providing Additional Support to Students
At Hinckley-Big Rock High School we strive to meet the individual needs of each student so that each student is able to achieve to his or her highest potential. One of the new ways that we are supporting students who are struggling with the demands of high school is through the Collaborative Intervention process. In this process teachers meet in teams regularly throughout the school year to identify students who are struggling in their courses and brainstorm ways to provide additional support for these students. Our goal is to reach more students with support and to provide an intentional context for teachers to share ideas that may positively impact these students. Another important component of this process involves communication between these students’ families and the high school. We want you to know that we are here to support your child and to know the steps that are being taken by the teacher team so that you can reinforce this support at home.
In this new Collaborative Intervention process teachers are working closely with the Student Assistance Team (SAT). The Student Assistance Team is comprised of the Assistant Principal, Director of Special Education, School Psychologist, School Counselor, and School Social Worker. This team responds to the needs of students who are struggling in a variety of areas. The areas of concern for a particular student may include academics, behavior, or social-emotional needs. These areas can impact a student’s immediate success in the classroom and future success beyond high school. Through an increasingly coordinated combination of the work of this team and the work of the teacher teams we strive to ensure that each student receives the support he or she needs.
Mastering academic and life skills in high school is critical for ensuring that our students are well positioned to pursue their career plans after graduation. We want every student to take responsibility for his or her own learning. Our goal is for every student to have the confidence to ask for help and to know where to go to seek support when it is needed.
If a team of teachers is working with your child you can expect to be contacted regarding their plan to support your child. If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s progress please reach out to his or her teacher. The teachers’ email addresses can be found in the staff directory on the high school website.
September 2018 Newsletter Update
Thanks to everyone for a smooth opening to the 2018-19 school year! Our staff’s professionalism and our students’ enthusiasm have combined to get us off to a great start.
For me, the summer months were a great time to ponder the question: “What makes a school a success?” There is no one right answer, and opinions can vary. As a Principal, I want the school I work at to be all things to all students. Of course, because of the uniqueness of every child, “being all things to all kids” is a great goal, but not an easy one to measure. In my eyes, a successful high school seeks to have programs, policies, and practices in place that will likely create a safe and productive school climate that helps kids reach their maximum potential academically, socially, and emotionally. Easier said than done. We constantly look at all kinds of data to answer the question: “how are we doing?” Test scores, surveys, participation levels, attendance, and discipline records are just some of the things we consider when setting targets for success.
At this point, while I am proud of the fact that HBR continues to have great success in the area of standardized test scores, I think I am most proud of the fact that the faculty here has agreed to commit to focusing on the climate and culture of the building, and making HBR a great place for our students. We have adopted The Harbor, a program for helping us help our students navigate some of the very challenging issues young people face today. By creating an open forum for students to explore some of these issues, we have committed to focusing on their social and emotional well-being. We are excited about the impact The Harbor can have, and I look forward to sharing with you my observations.
As you can see, we are excited to open this year with continued high expectations for student growth and preparing all students for life after high school. Our commitment to continuous improvement means that we seek cooperative and collaborative relationships that support student performance. While a large majority of our students excel in their schoolwork, we continue to work to accelerate achievement for a number of our students. Parents can help by expecting students to study hard and be in school every day on time. I urge parents to discuss your child’s progress with his/her teachers and counselor on a regular basis.
Partnering with our parents and families, improving communication between staff and families, and building strong school/community relations are several of my goals for this year. I look forward to working with you.
May 2018 Newsletter Update
We are fast approaching summer vacation and I wanted to take a moment to review the past year and preview next year.
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has made my ninth year at Hinckley-Big Rock High School another wonderful experience. We are fortunate to have an excellent faculty, staff and administrative team who work together to educate our students. We also are extremely fortunate to live and work in a very supportive community that holds high expectations for students’ success in all areas of their education and development. We have great students and families, and a dedicated and hard working School Board who takes their role of stewardship for students’ education and community interests very seriously.
While we are very proud of ALL of our students, I would like to take a moment to celebrate the achievements of our Seniors. The HBR High School Class of 2018 is about to go from being students in our schools to alumni of our school. As they get ready to accept their diplomas, they have a right to feel very proud of their achievements and contributions to the school and community. A large measure of our success as a community is how well we have prepared each student for the next step in their journey; whether it be a large university, a small liberal arts college, community college, trade school, military service, or a break from formal education in order to pursue a dream. The Hinckley-Big Rock community has much to celebrate as we send these soon to be graduates out into the world.
Lastly, while there exist many unknowns in the future of public education, financial and otherwise, I can assure you that we at Hinckley-Big Rock High School will continue to provide an excellent education for all of our students. The working relationship and strength of our faculty, staff, administration, students and families will ensure that we overcome our challenges and develop a stronger school community. We will continue to expect nothing less than the best from ourselves and our students and we know that you share those same very high expectations.
Thank you again. Have a wonderful summer…
March 2018 Newsletter Update
This year, on April 10th, all high school juniors across the state will take the SAT test. Because of the high stakes nature of this test, we run an alternative school day schedule in order to create the best possible testing environment. As part of our plan to make this a valuable day for all of our freshmen and sophomores as well, we will be having an All School Testing Day. Please make a note of the following as they may impact your child(ren):
All juniors report by 8:40am and are excused for the day when testing is complete (approximately 1:30).
-Please note that a hot breakfast will be available to all students, at no cost, beginning at 7:45am
-All Juniors should bring #2 pencils and an appropriate calculator
-Snacks will be provided during breaks from testing
-DO NOT bring cell phones or other electronic devices
-Taking the SAT is a State requirement for all Juniors
All freshmen and sophomores report by 8:40am for the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) which will provide them with great experience as a “pre” SAT. This series of assessments, while not only giving our students exposure to the high stakes nature of the Junior year SAT, provides us with a wealth of information, including your child’s current level of college and career readiness, that we can and will incorpo-rate into our curriculum. All freshmen and sophomores will be dismissed at 3:05.
All Seniors are excused for this day. We highly recommend using these days for col-lege visits or to prepare for post-high school plans.
Please note that there are no changes to our transportation schedule. Juniors who need to ride the bus home are welcome to stay until 3:05.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
February 2018 Newsletter Update
Late Winter/early Spring is a very busy time of year in our building. There are many things in progress for both this year and next as we move forward to find the best educational solutions for all of our students. For our Seniors, Prom and Graduation are right around the corner. For our Juniors, they face the challenge of the SAT college entrance exam that is so important, not only for their future plans, but also as a way for us to measure the quality of our academic program. While there are so many fun and interesting things going on, I also recognize that everyone in the building, including our students, teachers, and staff are feeling the challenges that come with the ever increasing demands of the educational system. Yes, “stress” and “burnout” are real things.
For our students and their parents…Please watch for and recognize the warning signs of burnout that may be coming on as a result of constant and/or increasing stress. Students, are you feeling overwhelmed? Exhausted? Feeling like you have nothing more to give? Maybe even feeling a bit depressed? Parents…are you seeing signs of this? Increased negativity in your son or daughter? Are they less productive? More resentful? Perhaps you see them having trouble attending to necessary tasks? If any of this is the case, it is important to recognize and acknowledge it, and then seek to manage the stress by getting support. We are here to help. We in the Main Office, Ms. Tauer, Mrs. Neidigh, Mr. Kriesch, and myself are here to listen and help to the very best of our ability. We understand the challenges you as students and parents face. It is not easy to be either, and we want to provide you with the support you need. Lastly, do not forget to attend to your physical and emotional health…it is the best way to build up your resilience to stress.
Teachers and staff members are not immune to the challenges of stress and the potential for burnout. I encourage all of our staff members to continue to look for the positive impact they have, help each other out, have faith and trust in our students, and attend to their own physical and emotional health. Our strength is in our ability to rally around each other and face challenges as a team. So, let’s be there for each other and look forward to the few remaining months of the 2017-18 school year and the potential that they hold!
While there are many things to do and much to think about in order to continue to make 2017-18 successful, we have already started thinking about the 2018-19 school year. Ms. Tauer has met with all of our students and has completed the course selection process. She and I will now start to build the Master Schedule for next year. As always, the choices our students make will drive the courses we offer. We truly appreciate the time and effort that you put in to help your son/daughter make the best choices for their future goals.
I am very proud of the education we offer our students. In this fast changing world it is even more important that we teach students to think and be continuous learners, not just gatherers of facts. That is the only way they will successful in the competitive world they face upon graduation. Thank you for being our partners in this most important undertaking.
November/December 2017 Newsletter Update
The Holiday Season is a wonderful time to reflect upon the year that has passed, and look forward in anticipation to the year to come. In the past, I have found it quite easy to rush around and somehow manage to miss some of the magical moments of this time of the year. This year, I have promised myself to slow down a bit and take in all of the sights, sounds, smells, and “feel” of this festive season.
Amazingly, our first semester will soon come to an end. Our Freshmen have been a tremendous addition to our student body and our Seniors continue to show, one more time, how close they are to being ready for life after HBR. Our teachers have shown, once again, why they are true professionals. In short, we have come together at HBRHS to get the 2017-18 school year off to a tremendous start.
Like you, I look forward to the promise of 2018 and the New Year. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy our successes from 2017 and maximize the short time the year has left. To close, I would like to take this time to extend my very best wishes for a warm, joyous holiday season to all in the HBR community and family.
I look forward to serving you in 2018.
With Royal Pride,
October 2017 Newsletter Update
Welcome to another edition of our Newsletter. Our goal is to keep you well informed of the tremendous number of activities and programs offered at HBRHS. We truly appreciate you taking the time to read this issue, and we hope you will find it packed full of information that will help you and your student get the most out of their HBRHS experience.
In my corner of the world, the Principal’s Desk, not only is it my goal is to keep you informed, but also to use this space to develop relationships and improve communication between all of us who have a stake in this wonderful high school. Toward that end, I invite you to comment and provide feedback directly to me on topics raised in my column. See the link at the bottom of the page. I look forward to hearing from you!
As the First Quarter has now come to an end, this is a good time for me to remind all parents of the importance of building strong relationships with our staff. There are many opportunities to stay informed of the progress of your student(s) and to build these relationships. We hope you are taking advantage of the many ways to communicate with our staff, including the upcoming Parent-Teacher conferences scheduled for October 26th. The staff of HBRHS welcomes the opportunity to be partners with you in the education of our students.
The first quarter went exceedingly well! Our students are very enthusiastic and have proven to be quite ready to embrace the challenges of this school year. Their conduct and cooperation have been extraordinary. Our freshmen have made an excellent transition to their new school, and our seniors have proven themselves to be exemplary leaders. Overall, I have been quite impressed by our entire student body. I would like to thank you for your role in helping our students to be so well disposed for success. Your support makes our job so much easier.
The excellence that we strive for at HBRHS is a direct result of the collective and individual efforts of every student, parent, and staff member. I continue to urge all of us to always put forth our very best effort, every time, in every situation. Thank you to everyone as we continue to make Hinckley-Big Rock High School a great place to be, and a great place to be from.
With Royal Pride,
September 2017 Newsletter Update
Thanks to everyone for a smooth opening to the 2017-18 school year. Our staff’s professionalism and our students’ enthusiasm have combined to get us off to a great start.
We are excited to open the year with high expectations for student growth and preparing all students for life after high school. Our commitment to continuous improvement means that we seek cooperative and collaborative relationships that support student performance. I am proud to report that this commitment, and these partnerships, have lead to Hinckley-Big Rock High to continue to be recognized regionally and statewide for the levels at which our students achieve, and their preparedness for the career path of their choosing. While a large majority of our students excel in their schoolwork, we continue to work to accelerate achievement for a number of our students. Parents can help by expecting students to study hard and be in school every day on time. I urge parents to discuss your child’s progress with his/her teachers and counselor on a regular basis.
As always, September promises to be a busy and rewarding month. Our Soccer, Volleyball, and Golf teams are off to a competitive start and, undoubtedly, will be exciting to watch. Come on out and cheer them on as they represent the Royal spirit! Academically, our classrooms are busy and our students are hard at work challenging themselves to excel in all subjects. Fall testing begins with our Juniors taking the PSAT in October, a prelude to the high stakes SAT test that they will take in April. We are very proud that our testing program finds a nice balance between over-testing and, well, not testing enough. Getting test data, particularly in the area of PSAT for all grade levels, gives us valuable information and our students valuable practice.
Our Clubs will be busy getting together and planning a variety of activities. Our first Blood Drive has already taken place. Leadership Retreat takes place the weekend of September 9th. Of course, Homecoming Week is an important time at HBRHS and begins on September 25th, culminating in our Parade, Taste of HBR, and Pep Rally on September 29th and our Soccer game and Homecoming Dance on September 30th. Please join us for the festivities during this fun-filled last week of September. See the school website to check all dates and event descriptions.
On a personal note, I look forward to an exciting year in which we can make Hinckley-Big Rock High School the very best it can be. I encourage each of you to visit the school, and I thank you in advance for supporting your children and the staff at H-BR as we take this journey together.