As the summer begins, it is time to reflect and decompress from a fast and furious 2016-17 school year. June was a great time to catch up, celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, and begin preparation for the next school year. Along with the leadership team, we poured through student achievement data, survey data, and assessed emerging issues from the past year. Throughout the first month since school let out, the data has informed us of the following:
● Parent and student survey data points to a high level of satisfaction about their experiences at VJA; particularly high areas pertaining to feeling safe, feeling adults and peers care about them, and the sense of being prepared for life after high school.
● Participation in school activities (clubs, athletics, theater, etc.) remains exceptionally high - around 77% of our entire school participated in at least one activity/sport.
● We set new records in Advanced Placement test participation - our students enrolled in this challenging curriculum realized the value of taking the exam, seeing our numbers of students testing jump 16%!
● After a first semester of fairly flat results, the student academic performance in core, academic level classes (English, math, science, social studies/world language, and PE/Health) saw more students perform at the C or higher level, and less failures - thanks in large part to T-Bolt Time & The Center!
● Increased awareness of importance of 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. Projects like the Andrew40 (interdisciplinary English / social studies course), Project Greenhouse (interdisciplinary special education/science initiative), and more real-world, project-based learning activities - not to mention our student aero-engineering project “Andrew Aviation” where our students built their very own plane!
● SAT implementation, in its first year, was overall a success. Still a lot to learn, but considering we had to make this transition at a time where we knew very little and the “rules” were changing weekly, we felt good about student, staff, and parental preparedness.
● Among these successes, our graduation rate, student acceptance rate, service learning hours, and other indicators that have always been hallmarks of VJA, have continued to be successes!
As always, there are areas of “not yet” we need to continue to improve. They are:
● Our Advisory program (T-Bolt Time / Gold Days) needs to improve. We learned that the original goals of the program were not reached universally.
● Improved communication and collaboration processes with our certified and support staff.
● Continued focus on the SAT implementation, leveraging our own student data to learn about how to improve the results for future T-Bolts.
● Develop programs for at-risk students to have those students realize the same academic, co-curricular and social success we have for all of our students; specifically ensuring academic success and postsecondary preparedness.
● To continue to shift our school to become more relevant in the 21st Century - preparing our students for college AND career readiness…
Specific to college & career readiness, we need to continue to learn about the world in which our students will be entering, more so than the world that we knew as high school students. The 21st Century citizen is expected to be both academically prepared AND have critical skills of collaboration. This summer and throughout the fall, we will continue to dialogue with parent, student, and staff teams to vet our plans to continue to improve Andrew High School.
We also know that 2017-18 brings in some changes at VJA. We are expanding our 1:1 program at VJA which will provide devices for all students - including our Class of 2018. Also, this year, Andrew turns 40! Throughout the year, we will be planning activities for our entire community - but especially our alumni! Keep your eyes out for those special events.
Please enjoy the rest of your summer. As always, I remain both proud and humble to serve as your Principal. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.