The Importance of Community Input

April 12, 2017

As an educator for more than 20 years I know that great schools involve their residents in the decisions and happenings of the school district. From advisory councils, to senior citizen’s groups and even a facility taskforce, it is imperative that residents understand the ongoing issues impacting their schools. This is how both the community and school district grow stronger.

For example, Mariemont City Schools is currently looking at possible solutions to significant problems with our high school facility. The school structure is presenting us with many challenges as it ages and regardless of which solution the district chooses to address these challenges, more money will be needed to address the structural, mechanical and academic issues in the current space.

The district has done a significant amount of research; we’ve engaged experts in architecture as well as mechanical and security systems. We are exploring options that range from basic mechanical updates all the way up to a full building replacement. Yet we are also engaging our community. It is important that we understand their voice in this process.

As an educational leader, I know that schools are the heart of many communities. Beyond the tax dollars paid to schools, residents take pride in their schools. From Friday night football games, to choir concerts, theater performances and art shows, the public is an integral part of the school community.

Also, research shows that schools are a driving force in maintaining strong property values and are a high priority for families moving to a new community. The only way to ensure that residents understand what is happening in their school district is for the school leaders to engage directly with the public. Newsletters, social media posts, websites, blogs, podcasts, community chats, online discussions and just having a conversation with members of the community are all great examples of how schools reach out to local residents. Regardless of which options your school district uses, the important thing is to make sure you are getting the information you need to be up to date about what is going on in your schools.

As for Mariemont City School's high school facility project, we continue to seek community input through design workshops and online surveys. If you are interested in learning more about this process or sharing your opinion regarding the proposed solutions, please be sure to keep an eye on our website


Steven Estepp
Superintendent
 

 

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Sharing Financial Insight With Our Community

March 02, 2017

Our financial annual report is an important document for us to share each year with our community. It provides information on the financial health of our district; it highlights a few of our achievements; and it gives our stakeholders an idea of the direction we’re heading both academically and financially.

Strong community involvement, commitment and engagement have long defined the work of the Mariemont City School District. And this has never been truer and more important than it is today.

You have likely heard that we will soon need to make important decisions regarding the long-term plan for our high school facility. These are decisions that we do not take lightly and will only make with a tremendous amount of research, feedback and input to ensure we make the best decision for our community. This is why we have defined an extensive process to drive our conversations over the next year to finalize a Master Facility Plan for Mariemont High School.

Today’s students are different; technology is different; colleges and employers expect different; and the world outside of school is different. We need to make sure we continue to prepare our students to be leaders of tomorrow at all grade levels and in all of our buildings.

It’s a great time to be a part of the Mariemont City School District! Our staff is committed; our students are learning; and the partnership with we have with our community is strong.

My hope is that you spend some time reviewing the annual report and continue to believe that the Mariemont City School District is worth the time, talent and treasure so many of you share with our students and staff.

Thank you for your continued support!

Steven Estepp
Superintendent

 

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Providing a Positive Environment for All Students

February 15, 2017

In my work as superintendent, I have many priorities to ensure we’re creating the best experience for all of our students. One of these priorities centers on the social and emotional well being of the children we serve.

I want every child in Mariemont City Schools to succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally. To make this goal a reality, we make a variety of support programs and services available to all of our district students.

At the elementary level, we use the OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program, a nationally renowned, whole-school bullying curriculum aimed at grades K-6 on a school, classroom and individual level. At both of our elementary schools, we implement a number of programs and activities to educate our students about standing up for themselves and for each other. Each month, the schools focus on an anti-bullying-related theme associated with a piece of children’s literature that is read and discussed at all grade levels. The counseling staff also creates a monthly calendar related to the theme, with daily suggestions on how the students can demonstrate the theme.

Starting this month, each teacher will show a video clip during a class meeting to generate discussion around empowering their students to stand up when they see bullying. There are ongoing class meetings with students, as well as staff meetings related to bullying prevention topics and planning; and in each building, the Student Kindness Committee organizes activities throughout the year. Additionally, both schools participate in the Great Kindness Challenge each year and all 5th grade students participate in a Kindness Retreat, which aims at empowering our kids to include and be respectful of others.

At the junior high and high school levels, we maintain the lessons and themes from OLWEUS and use the knowledge and insight that students at this age can give to continue to guide the program. For example, at the high school, Campus Life is an inclusive group that students can join at any time and the club works to plan fun events and activities for students. And at the junior high, Climate Council provides treats with personalized notes for occasions such as Halloween, exam week and Valentine's Day. Studies show that as student stress levels decrease, so does the frequency of bullying.

It is my hope that, by putting programs in place and raising awareness about this issue, we can strategically ensure that bullying prevention is a major area of focus district-wide, and, in turn, provide the most positive learning environments possible in our schools. I encourage you to listen to our next ConnectME podcast to learn more about this important work.

As parents, community members, teachers and administrators, we all share a common goal of wanting our students to feel safe and supported. Teaching our children positive life habits and that it’s OK to ask for and offer help is just another way we are guiding them to become better Leaders of Tomorrow.


Steven Estepp
Superintendent
 

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Engaging Our Community and Raising Excitement

January 24, 2017

Last week, we hosted our district’s 7th Annual State of the Schools Address, in which I discussed our schools – our accomplishments, our success stories, our challenges and our future. The goal of the address was to inform as well as engage our community and to raise excitement and pride for the work our students and staff are doing every day.

This event included a few firsts for us – we streamed the address and over 120 people watched the address live from the comfort of their homes, we engaged the audience using Menti.com to gather immediate and direct feedback, and we provided engagement guides for the audience to follow along and jot down notes, if they felt so inclined.

Below are a few of the key messages I shared during the address:

  • Space matters. Eight years ago, this school district embarked on a project to replace and renovate three of its four buildings – and the same reason why we have started a similar conversation about our high school facility.
  • Destination 2026, the instructional blueprint and strategic plan for our work, is a vision that celebrates and expands the tradition and innovation that has long defined our school system.
  • Today’s students are different; technology is different; colleges and employers expect different; and the world outside of school is different.


If you did not have the chance to attend or stream this event live, I encourage you to take time to watch the address, participate in the menti.com questions throughout the address and then take the post-event survey. Your involvement is critical to the ongoing conversation we are having about the Mariemont High School Master Facility Plan.

We have six in-home chats scheduled beginning next week to continue this important conversation and hear from you. If you’re interested in attending a chat, give us a call for more information. The only thing I ask is that you please watch the address prior to attending the event, so you feel informed and ready to engage in the next step. You can view the dates on the district calendar.

Also, everyone is invited to join the Building Team this spring and participate in design workshops, where we will discuss possible solutions for the challenges we know we face with our high school facility.

I hope that, by this stage in the process, you feel energized about the work ahead of us as we ensure our children at all grade levels, abilities and interests are getting the best educational experience possible.


Steven Estepp
Superintendent

 

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Providing Opportunities for Our Students to Explore, Expand and Discover

December 07, 2016

If you have a fifth or sixth grade student in our school district this year or if you know one, chances are you’ve heard about our new Explorations program.

Launched this school year, all district 5th and 6th grade students begin each week with a 90-minute, interest-based course that takes place on Mondays for nine weeks. Courses being offered include Printmaking Palooza, Spanish Theater, Kids that Code, Popular Sports, Golf and many more. The goal of Explorations is to amplify the curriculum and stimulate student interests.

As a parent of a fifth grader, I experienced firsthand the excitement of our students as they selected course options and kicked off the school year with these new opportunities. Cameryn and her friends look forward to Monday mornings every week. She loved honing her artistic skills creating her pet sculpture in the first quarter, and now she’s applying her knowledge of design thinking and skills in problem solving in the course “Design Squad.”

Explorations is part of our Warriors BEyond program. Since the launch of Warriors BEyond last school year, the opportunities we provide our students during and after the school day to explore, expand and discover interests beyond the traditional curriculum have really blossomed at every level. In addition to Explorations, we now have the Master Class series at the high school, a growing Expeditions program at the junior high, student travel opportunities and an even bigger list of after-school enrichment offerings.

The high school Master Class series is an opportunity for students to develop the curriculum. Students are encouraged to tell the instructor what they want to learn during the classes in this series, which, this year, include Rock Band, UTrain, Italian and Shark Tank. The Master Class series is not teacher-mandated work and it’s not graded. The direction of these classes is driven by student ideas and interest.

This year, we’ve also added 18 new courses to the Expeditions program at the junior high to accommodate ever-changing student interests, needs and passions. Students have already logged over 266,880 minutes of ungraded, hands-on experiential learning so far this year!

Additionally, hundreds of our elementary students are participating in after-school enrichment this school year. Our eighth graders will be touring Washington, D.C. in June, and over 40 of our high school students will be traveling internationally in 2017. All thanks to Warriors BEyond!

I want student learning to be enhanced through diverse curricular options and enriching experiences that drive deeper understanding and skill development and support global competency. As a school district, we have put substantial effort into recognizing the changing needs and expectations of our learners to help our students become competent, gracious and empowered global leaders of tomorrow.

Steven Estepp
Superintendent

 

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