• Superintendent's Update - Early Learning Center & EleMiddle Schools

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 8/22/2019

         As we begin the 2019-2020 school year, we are sharing an update on two major initiatives. First I want to take this opportunity to update you on the full scope of the Normandy Early Learning Center project and the timeline for completion.

         When this project was approved, an aggressive schedule was developed that would meet several goals in phases.

    • Goal 1: Complete the building to the point where students could enter the school at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers were able to enter the school a full two weeks before school began to allow them time to prepare classrooms. This goal was met.
    • Goal 2: Complete the demolition of the now vacated middle school building. This included three steps: 1) abate the building for all hazardous material; 2) demolish the building beginning with the section closest to the new Early Learning Center; 3) haul away all debris. This goal is on target.
    • Goal 3: Complete all site work, which includes: 1) new roads in and out of the complex; 2) new parking lots to accommodate both ELC parents, visitors and staff; 3) finish landscaping once all of the other site work is completed. These goals were part of the original schedule with the expectation that all of this work would be completed by November 2019.

         Weather had a significant impact on the construction schedule. We responded to the weather delays by implementing an aggressive schedule which continues to date. This schedule ensures that all remaining work will be completed as planned. The current schedule for completion will have sidewalks and pathways done by the end of August. The demolition of the former middle school is scheduled to be complete by mid-September, with the completion of the parking lot scheduled for mid-November. We will keep you posted on the site’s progress as more information becomes available.

           Second is the implementation of the EleMiddle model. We now have five schools, each of which is serving students in grades 1-8. Throughout the year, we will share highlights from each school as we forge ahead to build the educational system our children deserve. Our grade 1-8 schools are the foundation for more nurturing schools and better academic environments for primary, elementary and middle grade students.

          I want to personally thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time. The Normandy Early Learning Center is a state-of-the-art facility designed to prepare our children for academic success as they progress to adulthood. Our grade 1-8 schools are the foundation for more nurturing schools and better academic environments for primary, elementary and middle grade students. Please know the changes we are making are for the benefit of children. If you have specific questions, please contact us at info@normandysc.org.

         Again, thank you for your cooperation and patience as we grow and strive to provide the best for our children.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Charles J. Pearson

    #NormandyStrong

     

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  • Parents & Schools - A Partnership for Student Success

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 8/13/2019

    Monday, August 19 is the first day of school and we can’t wait to see our students and families. As superintendent, my charge is to provide the best education for our students. Our students are intelligent, inquisitive, talented and deserve great opportunities.

    There are some changes for the upcoming school year, changes made to help our students continue the improvements made over the last four years.

    Our state-recognized early childhood program and Kindergarten  are moving to a state-of-the-art facility, the Normandy Early Learning Center. This Center will provide students the strong start we know is important to future success.

    Our five elementary schools have transformed to EleMiddle Schools. These 1-8 schools will provide elementary and middle grade experiences to students in a neighborhood school environment. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) takes on a major focus this year with the addition of renovated spaces in the EleMiddle Schools. We are strengthening our curriculum at the elementary/middle grade levels to ensure our students have a solid foundation in math and literacy.

    We are working with companies and colleges to better align our high school courses with student interests and regional employer needs. There are multiple pathways to success for young people today. Our goal is to ensure students are prepared for many options ahead of them. Each of these changes was designed to create greater opportunity for our students to learn.

    To fully experience a quality education, we need every child at school the first day, every day and all day this year. Attendance matters in children learning, getting to know routines, and building relationships with teachers and classmates.

    If you have questions or concerns about your child’s class or any other school-related matter, please let us know. Principals and teachers are here to work in partnership for our children. You can contact us via email, phone, or through the website. Working as partners for the good of our children is how we will be successful.

    Thank you, and together, let’s have a great school year!

    #NormandyStrong

    Changing Lives Today. Educating for the Future!

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  • The Parent Factor

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 6/3/2019

    “It takes a village to raise a child” is an Igbo and Yoruba proverb that emphasizes the value of family and community in those cultures. This sentiment is reflected similarly in cultures all over the world because of a common understanding: It takes a team of caring adults to ensure that our children grow up safely, learn deeply, and mature into the kind of adults who will make the world a better place.

    As we end the 2018-2019 school year, I want to thank our parents for their support and contributions to the Collaborative.

    Study after study has shown two facts about schools. The quality of the teacher has the greatest impact on a student learning. The teacher’s mastery of the content, and the teacher’s ability to develop respectful relationships with students make a huge difference in the education of children. The second greatest school impact is the quality of the principal. The Principal leads the creation of the culture of the school, implements the systems that support effective teaching and learning, and provides critical feedback to teachers so they get better and better. These are called “in-school” factors.

    son and daughter with mom The most important factor however is an “out-of-school” factor — parents. As a parent, you send children to school from loving and nurturing homes, homes where the values of the family have been communicated. You send us your best, your hope for the future. The opportunity we have each school year is to make sure that there is a home-school learning connection. Children must be supported in seeing the connection within the village. They must see the adults in their lives outside of school, and the adults in their lives in schools, as part of the same village.

    Parents play a vital role. Here are some tips to help encourage year-round learning. Students will progress further and faster and benefit from healthy relationships.

    • Talk with your children from birth, and keep talking to them. Language is learned through conversation and interactions.
    • Talk about how much you value education. Share how you continuously work to learn more each day.
    • Talk about high aspirations. Say, “Do your best, aim for an ‘A.’ You can do it, and I am here to help!”
    • Talk about “future” aspirations. Say, “When you go to college, or when you own your own business, or when you own a home, not ‘if’.
    • Ensure your child reads and does some math every single day. This is the best way for children to progress. Read to them. Read with them. Talk about what is read. Make counting games at the store, at the movies, while they help you around the house.
    • Use positive words about school, even when you are experiencing a challenge with a school. Children need to know that the adults are working through their challenges. Children will then focus on learning.

    Educators, families, institutions like the library, social services, businesses, churches, and law enforcement are all the village. Collectively, children will be well if we, the village, truly work together.

    In August 2019, the new Early Learning Center will open, creating a new space that brings our youngest scholars together. These children will experience effective teaching that gets them ready for elementary education. All five of our former 1-6 schools will become 1-8 schools. This will ensure that these schools operate more like neighborhood or community schools. Children will experience fewer transitions, develop longer relationships with the adults in the school, and have more nurturing environment in the middle grades while still experiencing the most effective middle grade instructional practices.

    This is a significant amount of change. It is both exciting and high stakes. We believe, however, that these changes will be more supportive of students having the quality educational experience they deserve.

    As Superintendent of Schools, and a fellow member of the village, I thank each of you for sending us your best!

     

    #NormandyStrong

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  • Teacher Appreciation Week - Thank You for Riding the Wave

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 5/9/2019

        This week we join school districts across the country to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week! This time is set aside to express gratitude to each of our teachers for their commitment to excellence to our children.

    surfer riding a wave      We began this school year discussing the “Surfer” metaphor. We talked about the qualities of the great surfer. The surfer equips himself or herself for the wave by practicing until their technique is perfected. The surfer does not control the wave. Rather, he or she chooses a big wave as it roars in, and rides it. The ride is uneven, high risk, loud, and fast. The surfer is at different positions on the wave throughout the journey. If the surfer washes out, he is tethered to the surf board for a quick recovery. Then he gets back on the board to ride again.

         Our teachers have shown themselves to be tenacious “surfers” -- this year in particular. These educators have demonstrated the growth mindset to keep getting better. For that and so much more, and to them I say thank you!

         On behalf of the Joint Executive Governing Board, I salute our teachers for their continued commitment to doing what is morally right for our children!

    #NORMANDYSTRONG

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  • A Balanced View of State Assessments

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 4/15/2019

         One of the great challenges in today’s world of education is to balance the reality of state assessments and the weight they carry, against the work that we do each and every day with children.

         Normandy has just completed its first week of MAP, the state’s annual round of assessments in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Students in grades 3 through 8 are tested in English Language Arts and Math. Students in grades 5 and 8 are tested in science. High school students are tested in four classes: English I, Algebra II, Biology, and Social Studies. The high school exams are called End of Course (EOC) Exams, but serve the same purpose as the MAP. In many circles, these test results determine if we have been successful in our efforts to provide a sound education to our students. These assessments will stretch over a four-week period, so we have three more weeks to go.

          I mentioned the word “balance” earlier. While our children and our schools will be judged on how they perform on these assessments, it is vital that we all see this as just a part of the daily work that we do. Our expectations must always be high. Our actions must always be intentional. Attendance must always be a focus. Getting rest for school and having a sound nutritious meal must always be a priority if we expect our students to do their best. Our students must always understand that they will be judged by how they perform in the world—as with any other job or career. They must also know that they are smart, capable, resilient, and equal to anyone else they encounter. They have what it takes to be successful!

          We will continue to give these messages to our students on a daily basis just as you will give these same messages at home. We will continue to maintain a learning environment at school as you continue to encourage learning at home.

          And our children will demonstrate who they are and what they know. Thank you for your continued partnership with the district!

     

     #NORMANDYSTRONG

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  • Confidence in What We Hope For

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 4/5/2019

    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

    —Hebrews 11:1 NIV

         I was prompted to think about this powerful statement earlier this week. As we approach MAP testing and EOC exams, and as I was standing in the newly completed libraries at Washington and Jefferson schools, this verse came to my mind.

         Two years ago, all we had was our faith that the additions to these schools would happen. We had plans. We had drawings. We had resources and expertise; but it was still an idea. We could see it intellectually, but the libraries, and offices, and new entrances were not there yet.

          According to Hebrews 11:1, we do not need faith to see the construction now. It’s there. We can walk through it. We can touch it. But we still need significant levels of faith for future accomplishments.

           We need faith that our young scholars will perform well on the state assessments. We need faith that they will be resilient, that they will remember what they learned in classes with our hard-working staff. We need faith that our students will push through challenges in their lives and come each day prepared to demonstrate what they know. Our students are bright and intelligent but for whatever reason, this is sometimes difficult for them to show on a standardized test.  We must encourage them and see for them what may not be readily apparent. We must exude this faith as we walk and talk with our students in the remaining weeks of school.

         We must actually have so much faith that it becomes contagious for our students and colleagues!

         Today we do final preparation for the state assessments that will begin on Monday. Faith requires us to act as if we know the successful outcome, even when we have not seen all the evidence. Let’s work to make the environment ready. Let’s create spaces that support our young scholars in doing their best. Let’s use language that continues to equip them. On the days we are not testing, we must keep teaching, keep focusing upon their learning.

    choir director and students on stands

         

         Last night, my faith was rewarded when I attended the Spring Concert and Senior Showcase at the high school. As I watched different groups enter and exit the stage — Normandy 7/8 Grade Center Orchestra, the Normandy High School Concert/Jazz Band, the High School Chorale, soloists, guitar students, dancers, the alumni who returned to perform with their former classmates — I realized that 100 students must have crossed that stage last night. The faith we have in them is now evident! We can see what they have accomplished.

          Let’s leverage our relationships with children to support them in having faith in themselves, because they too must learn how to live by seeing what is not yet tangible. Let’s remember the paradox of our work. Let’s focus on the good works of our children to fuel our personal faith in them all — and in our future!

    #NormandyStrong

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  • A Month to Remember the Innovation, Perseverance of a People

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 2/28/2019

    We have come to the end of our annual recognition of the contributions of African Americans/Black people to not just American culture, but the world’s culture.

    The reason for this annual commemoration is something we need to remember year-round. Black History Month is more than a celebration of a moment in time or recognizing the many innovations that the African-American/Black culture has made in the lives of others. February is a reminder of the inventiveness, the innovative spirit, the perseverance, and character of individuals who have made the quality of life better for others through the solutions they developed.

    Black History Month is also a testament to the sheer will to excel that so many have demonstrated. This celebration is a reminder that we as educators, must exemplify that will, teach and reinforce exemplary character traits and inspire the current generations to aspire to the same greatness as our ancestors.

    pearson with student in library Earlier this week, I spent time with this second grader, our future. Behind me are pictures of men and women from earlier generations. Each of these individuals left an indelible mark on the world. We must inspire this second grader and equip her to be a part of this legacy. We must help her to know that the purpose of her life is to make life better for others, and that she has the mind, strength, will, and the character to make a difference.

    We must teach her that no one is better than her; that no one has greater value than her because of the color of her skin, or her gender, or the zip code she is growing up in. Then, one day, she too will see problems that need to be solved. She will apply herself with the same confidence that she approached me to read with her, and the world will be better for her having lived.

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  • State APR Score Continues Trend for Future Growth

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 2/1/2019

    Normandy Families, Staff and Community –

         The Normandy Schools Collaborative scored 81 of a possible 120 points on the 2017-2018 Annual Performance Report (APR). This score equals 67.5 percent of the total points possible and places us in the range of “Provisional Accreditation.” This score keeps us on track to perform in the fully accredited range (70 percent or higher) by the 2020-2021 school year. We remain committed to achieving that target over the next two years.

         Due to changes in state legislation (which resulted in a change to the state’s learning standards), districts are not able to compare this year’s results to previous year’s results. Missouri has experienced four new tests in five years. As such, the scores from this year’s tests are to be used as a baseline for districts to use to review future APR results.

         Despite the changes, we are able to compare our scores to other districts statewide. We are also using this data as a starting point to measure future growth. You may have heard your child or his/her teacher talk about STAR testing in English Language Arts and Mathematics. STAR is one of the internal assessments we use to guide our classroom instruction, and we can also use the STAR test scores to determine student academic growth and where they need additional supports.

          Even with the unique circumstances of the recent testing, we are encouraged by the baseline scores in Academic Performance, Graduation Rate, and Subgroup Achievement. (Details of the APR score are available on the DESE website, www.dese.mo.gov.)

         Our current results provide a strong foundation for the exciting updates and additions coming next school year. Thanks to the community’s support of our 2017 bond issue, we will open our new Early Learning Center for our early childhood and kindergarten students this fall. And though we will bid farewell to the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center, we are confident the move to our ‘EleMiddle’ configuration will help improve student academic performance, and help us better address some of the behavioral/social emotional issues that occur with this age group. We are also expanding our career and college readiness programs to provide more career opportunities to our high school students, seeking out more partnerships with local businesses and education institutions.   

          We are embracing these student-centered changes as an opportunity to do more to improve student academic achievement. Your support and cooperation are needed to continue the progress made so far. Our community and – most importantly – our children deserve the best.

         Again, I thank each of you for your support and commitment to our students. #NormandyStrong! 

     Changing Lives Today. Educating for the Future!

     

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  • Prelude: State to Release APR Scores Feb. 1

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 1/30/2019 8:00:00 AM

    Normandy Families, Staff and Community –

         On Friday, Feb. 1, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will release the 2017-2018 Annual Performance Report (APR) for districts statewide. The APR is the tool the state Board of Education uses to measure academic performance in school districts throughout Missouri. Normandy has made consistent progress in the APR with the points earned in the last three years due to strategic efforts to improve the literacy and math skills of our students, while implementing systems and methods to ensure the district functions in an efficient and effective manner.

          However, the way we examine the results are different for districts this year. Because of the changes in state legislation (which resulted in changes in the state’s learning standards), Missouri has experienced four new tests in five years. As a result:

    Districts are not able to compare this year’s results to previous year’s results.  
    The scores from this year’s tests are a starting point for districts to use as a baseline for future results.
    The state also did not include the Science score in this year’s calculation of points, which accounts for the reduction in the total number of possible points a district can earn.
        Despite the changes, we are able to compare our scores to other districts statewide. We are also using this data as a starting point to measure future growth. Another tool we are using is the STAR testing in English Language Arts and Mathematics. STAR is one of the internal assessments we use to help determine student academic growth and where they may need additional supports.

         Normandy will continue to focus on increasing the literacy and math skills in our students as these are the foundation for academic success. We will look for ways to bolster our science and social studies curricula and student performance in these areas. To do this we will provide additional professional development for our teachers as well as seeking out partnerships to expand resources to improve student aptitude in these critical subject areas.

        We have a lot to look forward to! Because of the community’s support of our 2017 bond issue, we will open the new Early Learning Center for our early childhood and kindergarten students this fall. And though we will bid farewell to the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center, we are confident the move to our ‘EleMiddle’ configuration will help improve overall student academic performance, and help us better address some of the behavioral/social emotional issues of this age group. Normandy is also expanding career and college readiness programs to provide more career opportunities to high school students, seeking out more partnerships with local businesses and education institutions.    

          We are embracing these opportunities to improve the student academic performance of our students and families. Our community and – most importantly – our children deserve the best. Again, I thank each of you for your support and commitment to our students. #NormandyStrong! 

     

    Changing Lives Today. Educating for the Future!

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  • A Time to Reflect

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 12/20/2018

    To the Normandy Community,

         Wow! It is the end of the first semester and the beginning of Winter Break. With all that is going on, it is difficult to imagine that we are now half way into the school year. I again thank each of you for the spirit of partnership that you share with us each day as we work to change the lives of the children we serve. Please take some time to celebrate in whatever tradition that you honor, enjoy family time, reflect upon goals to set for the New Year, and celebrate this gift called life.

         Teachers will return from Winter Break to two days of professional learning experiences, January 3 and 4, 2019. We are being very intentional in using this time to tend to the learning of the teachers themselves. Everyone in a successful school system has to be a learner, always working to become better at what they do. This is true of both the adults and the children.

         People often laugh at the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, but I use the beginning of a New Year as a time to reflect upon what I have learned, what to celebrate, and where I can improve. Adults have to model this type of thinking for young people and share with them.

    In this first semester, we saw:

    • Several schools recognized as Healthy Alliance Schools
    • The introduction of Breakfast in the Classroom at elementary schools to support better nutrition for our students
    • Five of our students selected to participate in the City of Music All Star Chorus
    • Two students who were winners in the Metro St. Louis Metroscapes Art in Transit Contest
    • Three high school students already notified that they are receiving full-tuition scholarships from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to continue their education as members of the UA Marching Band

    As we reflect on these moments and more, there is much to celebrate, to be thankful for, and so much more to do!

     happy holidays

    In the spirit of this holiday season…and best wishes for you and yours in the New Year!

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