10-12-2017 Hartford Board thanks Redwood staff; positive outlook of first 30 days; Senior Services

HARTFORD HOMECOMING ROYALTY… Crowned to reign over Homecoming Festivities last Friday was, (left to right): King- Adam Wheeler, Queen- Olivia Ziemer, Princess- Lakayla Wiggins, and Prince- Joel Soto. Winning the float building contest was the Junior Class, followed by the Seniors in second place, the Freshmen in third and the Sophomores in fourth.

Hartford Board thanks Redwood staff; positive outlook of first 30 days

By Jon Bisnett

The Hartford Public Schools’ Board began the month with the staff of Redwood Elementary prior to the October 5 Work Study session. Pizzas served were a token of the board’s thanks for soldiering through the many adjustments of the first month of classes in the new combined elementary campus. Acknowledging a few things that still need tweaking here and there, Superintendent Andy Hubbard joined Redwood Principal Ed Dickenson in saying, “All things considered, I don’t think any of us thought things would go as smooth as they did.”

Redwood Elementary update

The board heard a report from Timmery Fuller, the new Elementary Literacy Coach. Fuller outlined assessments in progress and the subsequent development of individual improvement plans which are now critical in light of the recently enacted 3rd Grade Reading Law, which mandates students to demonstrate grade-level appropriate proficiency by 3rd grade or possibly face retention.

Christine Quist is the new Dean of Students at the Redwood campus. Quist comes with an excellent track record of experience in her field and reported on strategies to encourage and develop expectations of “Safe and Good Choices.” She further explained by breaking down behavior issues into a common sense basis; explaining that despite the popular buzzword, not all bad behavior is “bullying.” She compared definitions she applies with students of the differences of what she characterized as mean, rude and bullying acts. Quist also detailed the application of “Restorative Justice” practices as a positive and practical alternative to the “Zero Tolerance,” now generally eliminated except in the most extreme of circumstances, usually not commonly found in elementary buildings. Electronic logs of behavioral interventions are another new step towards efficient and appropriate actions to be applied when issues occur.

Building Principal Ed Dickenson summed up the first 30 days at Redwood as an amazing dynamic with 700 students ages from 5 to 11. Dickenson commented on the pick-up and drop-off issues stating dismal opening day bus departure time of 3:53 p.m. has been trimmed to 3:05. The computerized pick-up system is not yet fully implemented, pending a needed extension of wireless internet coverage in an unanticipated signal dead zone. Seven hundred students break down into roughly 70-80 cars each morning and afternoon, 30 walkers and the remainder riding the bus system. The wildly popular new city bus route sees a typical average count of 89 students per day. The redesigned parking lots receive parents of 3rd-5th grade from the south via Woodside Drive, while K-2nd graders are reached by a recently extended and widened Spaulding Street from the north end of the building.

Dickenson also commented on the growth of the new Redwood social media presence which has quickly grown to over 600 followers since its recent launch.

Strategic Plan

Speaking to the communication goals of the District’s long range plan, tech guru Rob Sheffey walked board members through the newly redesigned HPSMI.org website. He described the new online product as predominantly informational, with news and photos best left to social media while keeping the website a text-based information source. The new website software addresses the issue of viewing from mobile devices with an intuitive feature that detects the user’s device and instantly reformats the page view to suit the device. Sheffey assured that whether the user is at their home PC, smartphone, laptop or tablet, the site will adjust itself automatically for optimum viewing.

Kim DeBoom briefly discussed the District Newsletter which is now serviced by a new printer offering a high-resolution gloss-stock hard-copy previously unavailable from the District’s prior printer. Going forward DeBoom indicated she will refocus the newsletter to publish mostly information on “coming events” rather than share events that have already taken place.