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Principal's Message

As the summer begins, it is time to reflect and decompress from a fast and furious 2017-18 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 75% of our entire school participated in at least one activity/sport, nearly 54% participated in more than one activity.
  • After setting a record in 2016-17, we set a new record this year 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 another 11%!  This year, we had 555 students take over 1000 AP exams.
  • Although both semesters saw varied results, we continue to have a positive impact on students enrolling in an academic level grade appropriate curriculum.  We had success in having students in academic, core classes successfully accomplish a C or higher (88%) which was slightly higher than last year.  Additionally, we maintained a below 2% failure rate in those courses.  This allows our students to matriculate their high school courses on time and with grades that reflect master of academic coursework. 
  • Through a focus on revising our advisory program (gold days), we revamped the lessons to make them more relevant for students, aligned our school through common themes, and increased the time spent in advisory to focus on school safety.  Feedback from students (through surveys) and parents (through focus groups) showed we made meaningful improvements last year.
  • Student referrals declined for a second year.  We realized a decline in overall referrals as well as out of school suspensions.  This has been possible through our Intervention Room as well as our alternative to detention program encouraging students to process and reflect versus simply to receive punishment.
  • 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:

  • Closing the Achievement Gap with students based on socioeconomic levels (poverty).  We continue to see a fixed gap in academic achievement that needs to be closed.
  • Continued focus on the SAT implementation, leveraging our own student data to learn 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.
  • Accelerate the shift in our school to become more relevant in the 21st Century - preparing our students for college AND career readiness…

We also know that 2018-19 brings in some changes at VJA.  We are expanding our 1:1 program at VJA which will provide devices for all students.  We have seen the positive impact that interdisciplinary courses, project-based learning opportunities, and alternative teaching spaces has on student achievement and connectedness.  This will continue to be a priority for our school.

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 rnolting@d230.org

Robert Nolting

Principal

 

 

 

 

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