From the Superintendent: Mistakes+Effort = More Robust and Long-Term Learning

From the Superintendent: Mistakes+Effort = More Robust and Long-Term Learning

Happy New Year! I hope 2021 brings you and your family many blessings.

As we get ready to resume our school year, I’d like to draw your attention to the thematic resources which we add regularly to our Building Atomic Habits site. I think you will find them to be practical tools to support your students academically and in their overall wellness, as you make Headway Every day in Relationships and Outcomes like a real HERO! Please view my most recent Kickin’ it with Kathleen/December Atomic Habits video, the theme of which is that when we make mistakes, it proves we’re trying! As I indicate, studies show that the more mistakes students make in their efforts to learn something, the more robust and long-lasting their learning will be: Take a risk, and if you make a mistake, try again!

Our current academic focus is on increasing reading volume and cultivating a love of reading from TK-12th grade and beyond. We encourage you to focus on reading volume and discussions every day. Read for a variety of purposes and enjoy the wonderful world of reading from newspapers to poetry. You will find tips for increasing motivation and reading strategies to help you support your children with reading every day.

Please take a little time to explore these resources, try a breathing exercise or daily mindfulness technique, and do the same with your students. Don’t forget that this year we are #CallingAllSpringsHeroes and you are a HERO to us!

Thank you for making Springs your charter school of choice. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your school representative.

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: A Year of Building Atomic Habits

As I noted at the beginning of our 2020-21 school year, this is a Year of Building Atomic Habits for our Springs family, during which we plan to introduce new topics each month with resources to help you educate your children. Click on the link and you’ll see topics we’ve addressed in these first few months of school.

Additionally, I encourage you to view the videos in my Kickin’ It with Kathleen video series, in which I offer some suggestions to help you have a successful school year despite the pandemic, and the importance of praising children’s efforts as they learn and thinking about math differently. Among the thoughts I offered include the importance of praising effort in your child and yourself, as when we praise our children’s efforts, it will inspire them to try harder and harder. Also, as many of us may experience anxiety about learning and teaching math, we have some suggestions which may help you to think about math differently.

I encourage you to watch these videos if you have not already done so, and keep an eye out for new videos in the upcoming weeks. I hope you find them helpful.

And, as we approach the end of our calendar year and our winter break, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, a happy New Year, and good wishes for any other holiday you will be celebrating.

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: Building a Better School System

The following commentary is adapted from a speech Kathleen Hermsmeyer delivered at the end of September:

Over the past seven months, the landscape of education has changed dramatically. You could say that we’ve all jumped from the education super highway to the road less traveled. Many innovative educational ideas have been implemented in a hurry out of necessity. It’s been said that real change takes place in deep crisis. The question at this point is: what’s going to stick around in public education after the pandemic is over?  

I’m the superintendent of a network of schools in Southern California that works with parents to provide a hybrid approach to schooling for students. Under non-pandemic circumstances, our kids spend two to five days per week in the classroom with personalized learning, and community learning experiences on the other days. I’ve always believed that our model is the model of the future! The idea that all students need to spend seven hours per day, five days a week in a classroom in front of a credentialed teacher in order to learn, is an outdated factory model idea. We call it “30 in a cell with a bell.” We’ve been doing the work to pave the way for a 21st century model of education for 20 years, while figuring out how best to involve and support parents in their child’s education. A lot of this support for both parents and students has been provided through the internet.

So while the pandemic has forced educational innovation in all public schools, you can’t necessarily gauge the possibilities and success of distance learning by your school district’s response. Some school districts, particularly big school districts, find it very difficult to be flexible and agile.  In this COVID-19 moment, flexibility and agility are vital for successful implementation of distance learning.  When we look at the very large school districts in California and in other parts of the country and their inability to effectively manage this crisis while smaller school districts and charter schools have risen to the occasion, it illustrates the need for systemic changes in our public school infrastructure if we want improved results.  I don’t believe we will see lasting change in the larger districts unless the actual structure of the district changes—but we may see parents opting their kids out of their neighborhood school to make other choices.

What have we learned from this forced experiment?  I believe we’ve learned four big ideas already:

  1. Some students are thriving doing distance learning—particularly those who like to go at a different pace, set their own schedule and avoid the drama that can happen at school.
  2. Distance learning provides students with valuable life skills by giving them real responsibility over their own learning, building their skills in self-direction, self-evaluation, managing time and persevering.
  3. Ed tech software is not the answer—it’s only a support.  The human relationship between learner and teacher is still the key.  Our teachers need to intentionally spend time to forge relationships with students, particularly when doing distance learning.
  4. We must teach the whole child—students need to be taught more than academic skills—they need coping mechanisms for life in the 21st century.  This was a growing understanding even before the pandemic, but has been brought into sharp focus through the stress of these months.

That sums up where we are today with our educational landscape.  In conclusion, here are three educational trends I hope we’ll see take off in our brave new world of education:

  1. Personalized Learning: Like many other areas of society, there is a growing trend towards personalization.  And this is with good reason!  We are not widgets.  We all come to the classroom with a different set of life experiences and attitudes that shape how well we learn new things.  We all have different interests—and the level of interest a student has in a topic directly impacts their retention of new learning.  The more we can modify our learning environments to allow for students to learn at their own pace, with choice of content whenever possible, the more engaged our students will be in their own educational journey.  Personalized education provides an upward circle of success with the student at the center.  Teachers in this model need to be a “guide on the side” instead of the old-fashioned “sage on the stage.”  This change in role from the teacher as the font of all knowledge to the teacher as a collaborator and supporter of student-driven learning not only empowers and motivates students, but it’s also research proven to improve results—which leads to my number two hope for education:
  2. Brain-based learning: Many practices in traditional schools are counter to high quality learning.  Some so-called “tried and true” teaching strategies that we all grew up with and are still in widespread use are not research-proven to be effective.  Even some strategies that are near and dear to many—like underlining in a textbook or article—are not worthwhile. Parents, it might help to relieve your mind to know that worksheet completion has absolutely no correlation to academic success. Worksheets are often used as classroom management tools to keep kids busy while the teacher is occupied with small groups.  What is research proven to increase academic success?  Increasing reading volume—the amount children read of all types of texts, including books, stories, poems and informational texts.  Also, increasing writing volume for a variety of purposes, not just essays.  And, having authentic real-world experiences and discussing them in depth with an adult.  If your curriculum is getting overwhelming, throttle back and focus on the research-proven, high-yield strategies of reading, writing, listening and speaking,
  3. Integrated learning: One thing that we know about the brain is that learning is most long-lasting and robust when it’s integrated.  We can’t merely focus on isolated skills, we need to put learning in rich context for students.  So learning about the science of the atomic bomb while learning about World War II and reading about Hiroshima makes the learning three times more powerful than if we separate the disciplines.  One of the reasons that subjects are usually not integrated is due to the fact that in middle and high school different teachers teach each subject which usually leads to intense segregation of subjects.  There are also textbook adoptions and pacing mandates by district offices that may not allow for integration.  These obstacles can be easily overcome by innovative school leadership.  Integrated learning helps students move beyond a survey course that’s an inch deep and a mile wide and get into the depth that encourages engaged learning.

So as we move out of this crisis and back to more normality in our society, let’s not frantically struggle to restore schools back to the status quo.  Instead, let’s take this opportunity to build a better school system.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: Off to a Good Start

Although state regulations have prevented us from starting the school year “business as usual,” I hope the school year has otherwise gotten off to a good start for you and your students. Though things regarding the pandemic and re-opening schools have continued to change, we hope to begin welcoming students back for in-person instruction this month, as each county allows. I realize that these months have been a difficult challenge for many of our parents, but please know our staff is doing all we can to support you during this time.

In one of our recent “Kickin’ it with Kathleen” videos, I offer some tips for parents; things they can do at home to keep their children’s education progressing. If you haven’t seen it, click here to watch the video.

RIVERSIDE COLLEGE & CAREER FAIR

As a reminder, today, October 1, Bank of America and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce will present a virtual Riverside College & Career Fair from 4-7 p.m. The fair will provide participants information on colleges and universities, financial aid, career paths, resume creation and interview skills and informational workshops. The event is free. Click here to sign up. For additional information contact Nicholas Adcock at (951) 683-7100, ext. 217 or nadcock@riverside-chamber.com. If you have a high school junior or senior living in your home, this event will be a valuable resource.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: New Principals, Vice Principals

Welcome back to the 2020-21 school year!  We are both pleased and grateful that you have chosen a Springs school as your charter school of choice, and please know our staff is dedicated to partnering with you to provide a personalized, top-quality education for your children.

I’d like to introduce you to our new Springs principals: Kimberlee Ballantyne-MorseEric Ballard, and Jennifer Martin.

Kim is the principal of the Riverside Student Center.  She has been on the Springs staff since 2012 and previously worked eight years at the Temecula Student Center.  She is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach; her favorite subject in school is science.

Eric is the principal of Hemet Student Center.  He began with Springs in 2009.  He is a graduate of Concordia University in Irvine, and still takes classes there.  His favorite subjects are math and PE.

Jennifer is the principal of Keys College and Career Prep.  For the past decade, she has been principal of Springs’ Hemet Quest Program.  Among her recent accomplishments was earning her Doctorate of Education, Organizational Leadership with K-12 Emphasis with Grand Canyon University.

Our new vice-principals include Melissa Maguire, Otay Ranch Student Center; Brian Bailey, Renaissance Valley Academy; and Valerie Walker, Temecula Student Center.  Melissa has worked with Springs at the Otay Ranch Student Center since it opened in 2014; Brian and Valerie both joined the Springs staff in 2010.

I am excited about our new principals and vice-principals, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to promote individuals within our organization.  They are quality individuals and talented professionals, and I know they will serve our Springs families well.

I wish you all a successful and productive school year.  Remember we are here to serve you.  If you have any questions or concerns during the course of the year, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate staff member with your program or on your campus.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: New School Year, IGNITE! Conference

I hope you are having a good summer and are preparing for the return of your children to school.  Between the pandemic and state budget-related issues our staff has been working hard to overcome many challenges this summer, but we very much look forward to welcoming our Springs families back in the upcoming weeks.

I’d like to once again encourage you to participate in the 17th annual Springs Parent IGNITE! Conference on Friday, August 21, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  We’re pleased to welcome our keynote speaker Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and publisher and editor-in-chief of Well-Trained Mind Press, which publishes K-12 resources for teaching in the classical tradition.  She will host both a live keynote and two live break-out sessions.

The purpose of the conference is to inspire and encourage our parents and prepare them for an outstanding new school year.  If you register, you will receive a Springs Hero Package in the mail prior to the event.  For additional details and to register, click here.

Thank you for making Springs your charter school of choice.  I realize that our current environment has created stress for many families with school-age children, but please be assured of our ongoing commitment, regardless of circumstances, to providing our students with an outstanding education.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

 

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From the Superintendent: Graduation, IGNITE!, New School Year

I hope you are having a good summer.  Our Springs staff has been enjoying some “downtime” as well, and we’re also preparing to welcome your children back this fall for a fabulous 2020-21 school year!

First off, I’d like to begin by congratulating our 284 graduating seniors.  It was my pleasure to join in a virtual graduation ceremony honoring our graduates; if you missed it, click here to watch the ceremony on our YouTube channel.  We have a wonderful and talented group of seniors we’re sending on to the next phase of their lives.  To our seniors, please keep in touch, and know we expect great things of you!

Next, for those of you with students continuing with Springs in the fall, I’d like to encourage your participation in the 17th annual Springs Parent IGNITE! Conference on Friday, August 21.  Our conference will be online this year, and our keynote speaker will be Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and publisher and editor-in-chief of Well-Trained Mind Press, which publishes K-12 resources for teaching in the classical tradition.  The purpose of the conference is to inspire and encourage our parents and prepare them for an outstanding new school year.  Click here to register and for more details.

And finally, our administrative offices will be reopening after the July 4th holiday as we prepare for school to begin again on August 20.  If you have any questions or concerns I encourage you to contact your school site.  Please enjoy the rest of your summer, and we look forward to seeing you again for the new school year!

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

 

Springs in the News – The San Diego Union-Tribune included an article about Springs receiving an “Above and Beyond” award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Click here to read the article (scroll down).

Temecula Patch included an article about Springs students who received grant awards.  Click here to read the article.

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From the Superintendent: Springs Honored for “Exceptional Work”

It is my great pleasure to announce that Springs has been selected as one of 10 schools nationwide to receive an “Above and Beyond” award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  During National Charter Schools Week, May 10-16, the Alliance honored Springs as one of the “charter schools that are doing exceptional work during the coronavirus pandemic to serve not only their own students, but people outside their school community,” according to Alliance Senior Vice President Debbie Veney.

The Alliance is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and advocates on behalf of millions of public school students either attending or wishing to attend a charter school.  We were recognized for the establishment of our free, online OPEN Classroom for non-Springs students grades K-12.  Besides our students, more than 5,000 non-Springs students worldwide have used the curriculum.  As the state’s classrooms were closing in March, parents contacted us seeking advice on how to continue their children’s learning at home or even wishing to enroll in our Homeschool programs.  While the pandemic prevents us from accepting any new students until the fall, we were able to share our expertise with distance learning by launching OPEN Classroom.

Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, further explained, “When schools nationwide transitioned to distance learning, it became clear to us that charter schools were setting a model for the rest of the nation on what it looked like to step up and care for their communities in the face of a global pandemic.  There are many public schools that served their students well in the face of COVID-19, but the exceptional work of our Above and Beyond Award winners embodies compassion and caring for people outside their school community who also needed help. Their work is a model of servant leadership for the rest of the nation.”

Congratulations to those on our staff who made OPEN Classroom possible.  Our thanks to you for your fine work!

FOUNDATION GRANTS

And, the Summit Springs Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the awarding of scholarships totaling $7,000 to eight graduating seniors to fund higher education.  The winners are:

Summit Springs Educational Foundation:
1. Genesis Carroll, $1,000 (Springs’ Keys High School)
2. Alison J. Thomas, $1,000 (Homeschool)
3. Marisa Casarez, $1,000 (Temecula Student Center)
4. Melanie Maradiaga, $1,000 (Magnolia Student Center)
5. Valeria Yanez, $1,000 (Renaissance Valley Academy)

Adelle Nicely Scholarship:
Zoe Raelyn Collins, $1,000 (Temecula Student Center)

Tammy Sanchez Scholarship:
Carly Grace Peterson, $500 (Homeschool)

Doris Guynes Scholarship:
Evehenia Lemasters Tahir, $500 (Flabob Prep Academy)

Congratulations to our eight grant award recipients.  Each one is a talented and accomplished student, and as they move on from Springs, I am confident that they have a bright future ahead.

And remember, our Foundation needs your support!  It funds grants to graduating students for higher education, and grants to teachers for classroom needs.  Click on the link above for additional information.  We appreciate the help!
CHESS TOURNAMENT

And, finally, Springs held an online chess tournament on May 27, with winners receiving Amazon gift cards from our Foundation.  The winners were:

K-3: Elliot Harrison, 1st place, Drew Gamboa, 2nd
4-5: Alfonso Sanchez, 1stDallas Dixon, 2nd
6-8: Ethan Bennett, 1stMary Mobley, 2nd
9-12: Joseph Greene, 1stCarson Carroll, 2nd

Special thanks to School Counselor Christopher Lowe for organizing the event.  Congratulations to our winners!

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: OPEN Classroom a Success

I’d like to begin by applauding the efforts of our very fine staff and wonderful Springs families as we have made the transition to distance learning during this time of pandemic. We offer hundreds of classes each week that range from phonics and music for younger students, to high school core classes. Our teachers and students have done an amazing job meeting virtually, with our teachers providing support and monitoring academic progress.

I’d also like to highlight the success of our OPEN Classroom, a free public classroom for students in grades K-12. Springs has curated from the many COVID-19 free resources to build daily online educational activities for students in kindergarten through eighth grade; the high school activities are taken from excerpts of our Springs integrated curriculum. OPEN Classroom’s content is aligned with California state standards, with material created and supported by credentialed teachers, and live classes taught by credentialed teachers four days per week. Weekly lesson plans with materials are provided, including parent answer keys and resources.  Subjects covered include math, science, language arts and reading.

Click here to access OPEN Classroom. The program will continue with live lessons through the end of May. In addition to our staff and students, 150 teachers and nearly 5,000 students outside our system have taken advantage of OPEN Classroom, with participants coming from all over the U.S., and as far away as the United Kingdom, France, Australia, India, Japan, Canada, Poland, and Afghanistan.

We will continue to keep you updated on the status of our school closures. Should you have any questions or concerns at this time, please do not hesitate to contact your school representative. We are here to serve you, and provide your children with the best possible education, despite the challenging times in which we find ourselves.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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From the Superintendent: COVID-19, Foundation Grant

First off, let me begin by acknowledging what an unusual time we are in, with our in-classroom education being temporarily suspended at our student center locations in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  As I indicated, the health and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority, so, like most educational institutions across the country, in response to directives from state and national authorities, our classrooms are closed for the time being.  We are daily monitoring health information provided by various governmental outlets, and we hope the virus will have sufficiently subsided soon so that we may welcome your children back to our school sites.  We also hope we will be able to re-start our student-related travel, field trips, off-site studies, sports and after-school activities at this time.

 

I realize that this current situation, which is beyond our control, is creating hardships for some of our families, but I’ve also heard many good reports that while our students used to in-classroom education are home, they are continuing to learn and advance in their academic careers.  We are releasing this April eNewsletter to you early, as the stories collected were written before we decided to temporarily suspend classroom-based education due to COVID-19.  In subsequent communications, we will share with you the many unique ways our students continue to learn in a home-centered, Springs-supported personalized learning model.

EDUCATION FOUNDATION STAFF AWARD

If I may share some good news, I’m pleased to report that Sarah Behney, Educational Specialist from Springs’ KEYS site in Riverside, is the beneficiary of a $1,000 Summit Springs Educational Foundation staff award.  The grant will be used to create a flexible seating environment for students, including the use of seating arrangements as standing tables, bean bags, smaller stools and other alternative seating options besides classical desks. The flexible seating will allow for the students to find comfortable seating that helps to increase their productivity and focus. Research has proven that flexible seating provides the students with choice, comfort, physical health, increased collaboration among peers and community.  Congratulations, Sarah!

We encourage our parents and friends of the school to consider financially supporting our Foundation.  Click here to view a recent meeting I had with Steaven Chan, president of our Summit Springs Educational Foundation, during which we awarded the grant and talked about the work of our Foundation.

 

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Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer
Superintendent

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