Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Schools

I was on the Jenks' website and saw a link to the Great Schools website.

It is interesting. I encourage all Jenks' families to visit the site and submit reviews. 2008 was a good year for the school and the scores in Math seem to be consistently strong. Reviewing the scores did make me reflect on the variables that may affect the scores in any one year... teacher changes, administration and of course parents. I have control over my positive involvement in the school and I will continue to support and improve our school in any way I can.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

After School: What are the options in Chestnut Hill?

On days I am “parent pick-up” there is always lots of activity at the Jenks Playground (The Children’s Park). Moms, Dads, Grandparents, care givers all watching their kids expend some energy. This is a nice time to connect with others at the school and create a sense of community. Those parent pick-up days are very special for me, but our daily requirements are typically a need for care after school hours. For us, it was an easy choice to send our daughter to Christ Lutheran Child Care Center after-school program, our son is in preschool there. I love that our daughter gets to play in the playground for at least 45 minutes to an hour after school. Then they head over to the center for some “homework” time. An easy “one stop shop” solution for our family.

But there are other options in the neighborhood. Many kindergarteners head to the Water Tower Recreation Center but below are even more options. One not mentioned below are the new clubs that are offered to the Jenks’ students. The following link details the extracurricular offerings at the school for the Primary, Intermediate and Middle School Academies.

Primary Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Homework Club

_____ Green Club _____ Sing Out Loud

Intermediate Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Homework Club

_____ Chess Club _____ International

_____ Charm Club _____ Jr. Fire Patrol

_____ Community Service _____ Math 24

_____ Design w/ K’NEX _____ Think Green

_____ Garden

Middle School Academy

_____ After School Art _____ Marketplace

_____ Girls Career Club _____ Math 24

_____ Charm School _____ Stock Market

_____ Hip Hop Dance _____ Tech Club

_____ Jenks Newspaper _____ Yearbook

Chestnut Hill After School Programs:

Chestnut Hill Branch Free Library, 8711 Germantown Ave. LEAP. M-F. 3-5 p.m. Drop-in. Homework help, computers, library skills, enrichment activities. 3-6 p.m. M&W. Contact: Children's Librarian, 215-248-0977. ASAP Chess.

Christ Lutheran Child Center, 8300 Germantown Ave. Child Care & After School. M-F. 3-6 p.m. $239/mo. Homework, drama, art, character building and snack. Contact: Melissa Delaney, 215-247-1330.

J.S. Jenks School, 8301 Germantown Ave. M-F. Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis. 215-248-6604. ASAP Chess.

Our Mother of Consolation, 17 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. C.A.R.E.S. After School. M-F. Snack, homework help, prayer time and organized activities. 215-247-1060.

Water Tower Recreation Center, 209 E. Hartwell Lane. M-F. 3-6 p.m. $30/wk. Recreation Dept. supervises homework, sports, games, visual and performing arts. 215-685-9296.

Size Matters

I was recently asked the class size in kindergarten at Jenks and when I said my daughter’s class was 21 with a student teacher, the individual was shocked. It was thought that class sizes were around 30. As far as I can tell the districts' limit is 30 in younger grades but both K classes at Jenks are under 20 (we had a few students move recently).

Furthermore, Dr. Ackerman has reduced class size to 22 for K-3 in the “Empowerment Schools”

From my perspective class size does not seem to be an issue at Jenks. Although class size should always be a consideration and parents should be aware of changes within the district and the school.

I also think there is a lower limit (although I am not sure what that number is), kids seem to love to work together and learn quite a lot from “peer mentoring”. If discipline is not an issue, lots of kids seem to produce a creative environment. I also think that kids need to learn to work alone and try to figure out problems. Trying a solution and failing is not a bad thing to learn in school, as long as there is follow-up and encouragement to try another solution.

I am very happy with the classroom environment at Jenks thus far.

P.S. Here are some comments from the National Education Association website concerning class size.

Goal Should Be Student-Teacher Ratio of 15 to 1

Princeton University
According to Alan Krueger of Princeton University, who served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Clinton administration, lowering class sizes in Tennessee narrowed the achievement gap between Blacks and Whites by 38 percent.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
In a four-point plan to ensure that all children are educated to their full potential, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching President Ernest L. Boyer called for reducing class size to "no more than 15 students per teacher" for the early elementary grades.

National Association of Elementary School Principals
The NAESP has revised its class size policy statement from a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 down to recommending a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1.

Department of Education
According to the U.S. Department of Education, "A growing body of research demonstrates that students attending small classes in the early grades make more rapid educational progress than students in larger classes, and that these achievement gains persist well after students move on to larger classes in later grades."

Given the strong support of parents and teachers — and the demonstrated effectiveness of smaller classes —Americans should urge their elected representatives at all levels to support continued class size reduction. It's education reform that works!