Dec 13 2015

Help with College Applications, PE Options, School Goals: School Board Report

Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education meeting of December 9 –

Report by High School Student Megan Wilensky –

On December 9, 2015, the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education met for a regular meeting. The Board of Education meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, unless stated otherwise. At these meetings, the board members discuss goals, problems, and solutions for problems at Beach Elementary, Wildwood Elementary, Havens Elementary, Piedmont Middle, Millennium High, and Piedmont High schools.

At the beginning of the meeting, the participants were told the events that happened during the week and events coming up. Afterwards, students and other audience members had the opportunity to speak about problems at Piedmont High School, or other schools. Anna Morris suggested adding more P.E. options for students to receive P.E. credits such as yoga or pilates noting that other schools have more options other than regular P.E. in which students are more motivated to participate. She stated adding more P.E. classes will inspire students to be active and healthy in their own way.

Another topic was brought up by Chloe Lee Rowlands. She pointed out that at other schools, like Oakland Technical High School, seniors have days dedicated to writing college applications with teachers, counselors, and college counselors available to help out. She stated this would  reduce students’ stress levels and propel them through the college application process faster. I support this idea because I believe it would have helped me greatly when I was working on my own college applications.

A major issue discussed at the meeting on December 9 was the elementary Tri-school instructional design process. Teachers from Wildwood, Beach, and Havens spoke at the meeting about their process of improving the daily schedule at the Piedmont elementary schools. In the past they have found that they barely have enough time to get the kids into their work and finish it, and then transition them to a different subject. The time pressure they are faced with does not give the teachers enough time to successfully engage the children in their learning. At this point, they are not coming up with solutions, however the goal is to have three to four prototype schedules finished by January. These are sample schedules they will test out during the year that will try to solve the current problems by allowing more efficient transitions and empowering teachers to set realistic and reasonable expectations. The group of people working on this project, including teachers, parents, principals, and classified staff, have come up with design principles: the new schedule will support flexibility and creativity, create opportunities for integration of the curriculum, and attend to the well being of the students and staff. Changing the elementary schools’ daily schedules may also help connect the schools to the middle and high schools, and create a nicer flow from school to school.

At the meeting, time was also spent discussing the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 school year goals of Piedmont Middle, Millennium High, and Piedmont High schools. The principals at each school presented these goals to the School Board. Mr. Fletcher, the Middle School principal, noted that their goals are to maintain a positive school environment, support student learning with the common core, support, implement, and evaluate connected learning initiatives, and strengthen communication between teachers, parents, and students.

The Middle School has been looking at how much time it takes its students to complete their homework and how many times they need help while doing it. They have also started using an online program to enter grades like the high schools, and are thinking about the possibility of a new schedule for a later school day start.

Mr. Shaw, the Millennium High School principal, discussed their goals of refining the instructional strategies and tools, like technology use, and strengthening the structure and practice that promote individual goals.

Mr. Daniels, principal of Piedmont High School, said their goals are to promote student engagement and promote programs and technology. A few teachers have started using Google Classroom, an online tool for teachers to use to push out assignments to students and check the completeness. Also, the teachers at Piedmont High School have been learning about what meaningful homework is that actually helps the students learn and is not just busy work.

The School Board then approved of all the goals presented to them. I think all of these goals are good ones to have.

The goals involving technology are improving my learning experience already. When we received the chromebooks last year, I did not expect them to be as useful as they turned out to be since we now have more materials to use in class.

All the topics brought up at the Board of Education meeting by students, teachers, and principals were ones that I see improving the Piedmont school system for next year and the years following.

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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