Dear Southern Heights Families and Community,
As the principal of Southern Heights, I am passionate and dedicated to lead all students, staff, and families of this community to accomplish high levels of success. At Southern Heights, we believe that every child that comes through our doors deserves the very best education and experience at our school, for that reason, our goal is to know each student by name, strength, and need. This coming school year, we will continue to strive for excellence and improve our reading, writing, math, and science learning for all students. One of the ways we plan to improve instruction is to continue refining our multi-tiered systems of support and personalized learning approach. In the 2016-2017 school year, many of our teachers implemented innovative strategies around personalized learning in math. This assisted in increasing student engagement, student ownership of learning, and overall satisfaction in learning. Teachers work together to implement instructional opportunities that utilize technological and collaborative approaches to learning. We will again be utilizing technology and online-based programs as part of our strategy to meet the needs of all learners, and will continue to grow as professionals in this area. Our teachers focus on assessing students’ needs and strengths, designing instruction to refine skills, develop concepts, and extend learning opportunities and understanding.
One of our essential goals is to collaborate with our families for student success in academics and social emotional success. At Southern Heights, we believe that families and school staff need to build true partnerships in order to further the achievement of each child. Last year, we implemented a new structure called Parent Teacher Teams or PTT’s. We provided PTT’s twice last year, and will continue with these opportunities in the 2017-2018 school year.
PTT’s have four parts:
We also have a wonderful PTA at Southern Heights that is dedicated to providing students with enriching opportunities and a close school community. There are countless ways that families can be involved in our school community, and we welcome all involvement. We strive to know our students by name, strength, and need, and also know and connect with each of our families on this level.
- Parent networking and community-building activities
- Data sharing (whole grade level data and individual student data)
- Learning activities and practice opportunities to engage students at home and improve student outcomes
- Families set SMART goals for their children
We will continue to focus on Standards-based instruction and bringing the Highline Public School’s vision of Standards-Based instruction to life. The Common Core standards push our teachers and students to engage with a variety of text and mathematical content at deeper levels of complexity and comprehension. Students are asked to think critically, to analyze text, justify thinking, and find text-based evidence. Teacher feedback to students and student feedback to peers is a large part of the learning process when utilizing the Standards-Based instructional approach. Our vision is for students to be utilizing information about their success and challenges in real time, in order to revise their learning to meet success criteria set forth by the standards.
In reading this year, we will continue to implement the Lucy Calkins Reading Units of Study and focus on other Balanced Literacy components such as Shared Reading with informational text. Shared Reading provides all students access to grade level text, and grade level reading strategies supporting their ability to tackle and comprehend challenging text.
In math, we will continue to implement our district-adopted math program, Math in Focus. Teachers plan math instruction that includes a variety of opportunities for student discourse and opportunities for students to share their mathematical understanding. Students learn in a range of formats throughout the math session. Teachers deliver whole class instruction, but also plan for small groups, and personalized learning opportunities through online learning programs such as ST Math, Think Through Math, and utilize Google Classroom.
Supporting the social-emotional needs and growth of our students is a priority at Southern Heights. This year we will be in our 3rd year of implementation of the RULER Approach (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating Emotions) to enhance our students’ learning in regards to emotional intelligence. In the first two years of this work, we have seen positive outcomes for students, and the overall emotional wellbeing of our school. As part of the RULER Approach, each class collaboratively develops a Classroom Charter that prescribes what each class wants to feel while at school, and the actions that each class member agrees to engage in to successfully live up to the charter. At Southern Heights, we have monthly assemblies recognizing Students of the Month from each class who show outstanding performance and/or growth in our four Guidelines for Success (Show Effort and Respect, Solve Problems, and Make Good Choices). We also have “Lunch with the Principal” for our Students of the Month, and students receive a golden student of the month necklace. Students receive Wish Tickets from staff members for showing examples of our guidelines, and classrooms work together for “100 Wish Ticket” celebrations throughout the year. Working towards a classroom goal helps to build strong and supportive learning communities at Southern Heights.
I am honored to work alongside our families, staff members, and students to reach our fullest potential as a community of learners! Please don’t hesitate to reach out in any way.