LRHS making positive strides

By Ted Finn
Lake Region H.S. Principal

Lake Region High School is completing Year One of a three-year school transformation plan. I’m very excited to report that in the past 10 months, the school has successfully completed the following objectives:

The hiring of six Teacher Leaders. These individuals — Don Weafer, Barry Johnson, Sandy Arris, Linda Freese, Roger Smith and Jamie Riel — have served as the principal’s immediate advisors. They teach every other day, and on non-teaching days they are researching best practices; working on our new school model/structure; doing informal classroom observations; and working with the various technical service providers to improve the quality of teaching and learning at LRHS.

• Laker Pride Night. During the first full week of school, we hosted a back to school open house that we called Laker Pride Night. More than 250 people attended this barbecue and informal meet/greet of faculty and staff. It was a great opportunity for the community to meet the new principal and to hear what was in store for the 2010-2011 school year.

• The development and implementation of an Action Plan. This 24-point Action Plan was designed to serve as a road map for us as we navigated through the first of a three-year School Improvement (SIG) Plan.

• The hiring of a Student Advocate. Jamie Riel was hired at the start of this school year. In addition to serving as a Teacher Leader, he works daily with students (9-12) on social, emotional, and academic issues serving most times as a mediator between students and staff. He is responsible for hosting the three Showcase Days that we’ve done to date; the final Showcase Day was May 25. These were great opportunities for community members to come into the school to experience LRHS for themselves.

The formation of the LRHS Advisory Committee. This group was assembled last summer and consists of 22 parents, community members, school board members, staff and administrators. The purpose of this group is to receive updates on the high school transformation and to offer advice/suggestions to the principal on improving school climate; parent/community relations; data collection and dissemination; curriculum and instruction; and technology. The group meets once a month with five subcommittees that meet in between the full Advisory Committee meetings.

Four Public Forums. These forums were opened to students, parents, staff, and community members and took place in November and December. Numbers in attendance ranged from 12 to 82. The purpose of these forums were to inform all stakeholders of the work that had been done in researching a new approach to teaching and learning.  A final presentation was delivered to the SAD 61 School Board back on Dec. 20, and they approved our recommended model/structure for next year. For further details, please go to the high school’s webpage (www.sad61.k12.me.us) and click on the “LRHS Transformation” link. There, you will find a PowerPoint presentation, articles and video links, and the new brochures of our new “Studios” (for grades 9 and 10) and “Academies” (for grades 11 and 12).

The unveiling of the “Studios” and “Academies.” On May 10-11, LRHS presented the new Studios and Academies that will be in full swing by the start of next school year. More than 200 community members attended the presentation. As mentioned above, the community is encouraged to check out our school webpage (www.sad61.k12.me.us) and click on “Lake Region High School.” Once you have arrived to the high school webpage, please click on the “LRHS Transformation” link to learn all about our new approach that we firmly believe is going to make our school a model 21st century high school!

Optional SAT Prep. At the start of the second semester, all juniors were given the opportunity to take an online SAT Prep course. More than 40 juniors enrolled and approximately a dozen stuck with the program. Initial information we received from those students who dropped the course indicated that students didn’t find the online program as “helpful” as they had hoped. We have taken this feedback and are in the process of designing a new (and mandatory) SAT Prep approach for all juniors beginning next school year.

In additional to what has been mentioned here, Lake Region High School (through the SIG funds) has received technical support from the Great Schools Partnership; Boys to Men; Kids Consortium; David Heckman (a math consultant); Brian Doore (a data consultant from U-Maine); and training from the Research for Better Teaching (as we adopted the Skillful Teacher evaluation system K-12).

Eleven teachers will be joining the principal to attend the Model Schools Conference in Nashville, Tenn. from June 25-30. This is a national conference with teams from all 50 states in attendance (over 5,000 educators) learning about what it takes to be a model 21st century school.

All high school teachers will be required to participate in three structured workshop days this summer, which will focus on differentiating instruction; interdisciplinary teaching and curriculum design; fundamentals of project-based learning; and protocols and strategies for team development. Teachers will also spend time working within their assigned Studio or Academy to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running on day one of next school year.

We are always looking to improve in the area of communication with parents and the community in general and are hoping to have that area addressed by using some from of public relations assistance. More details to follow on this initiative.

I understand how tough things are for all of us (economically speaking), which is why I want to take this opportunity to thank the SAD 61 communities for your continued support. On behalf of the students, faculty and staff at Lake Region High School, “thank you!”

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