• 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!



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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!


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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!



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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!


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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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  • A Reason to be Thankful

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 11/20/2018

    When I became Superintendent three and a half years ago, I had a specific vision about education in the Normandy community, in the Normandy footprint. What if our children could envision attending our Early Childhood Center, then Kindergarten, then go to an elementary school, middle school and high school in this footprint, but not stop there? What if there were majors, programs, scholarships, grants, fellowships, and opportunities at the University of Missouri that would support them attending that four-year institution, and then they have an internship and later, a career at Express Scripts, or some other corporation or business in our footprint?

    This vision for our young people exists now and I am incredibly thankful.

    Two months ago, while sitting with an Express Scripts executive and discussing the UMSL Bridge Program, I was informed that this program offers scholarships to UMSL that our students can apply for. To truly appreciate this, the UMSL Bridge program was developed with Normandy students in mind. In essence, it prepares students for success in college and also trains parents in strategies to support their future college students.

    I stood on that hill neighboring UMSL, looking at the foundation and rising walls of the new Normandy Early Learning Center. To the east of the site is Lucas Crossing Elementary Complex, soon to be a 1-8 Elemiddle School. To the north of the Early Learning Center site is the UMSL North Campus. In addition to the four years spent at the high school, at this site, I can see the vision I have for the Collaborative — from early learning to college to career, all within our footprint.

    I am thankful for the privilege to be alive now. At this time, in these challenging days ripe with opportunity, I get to serve as the Superintendent of Schools in the Normandy Schools Collaborative and work with a team of committed adults who refuse to settle for low aspirations for our children. I am thankful for the families who trust us to do the right thing for their children, to find ways to support families and teach children. I am thankful for collaborators and community partners who have come alongside us to do what can be difficult. I am thankful for the chance to make a difference.

    As I stood on that hill looking down at the walls of the new Early Learning Center rising out of the ground, the footprint of the building is clear now. I can imagine the space completed and filled with our youngest scholars. This was the vision: lay a solid foundation for our youngest learners, create an educational experience that both they and their families will value. This is the foundation that will change our future for the better.

    In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to thank each of you for helping make this vision a reality. May your thanksgiving be a joyful start to the holiday season.

    --Dr. Charles J. Pearson, Superintendent of Schools



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  • JEGB Approves Realigned School Attendance Boundaries

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 11/13/2018

    school attendance boundaries map

    Download Attendance Boundary Map


    Dear Normandy Families,

    At its public meeting Monday, November 12, the Normandy Joint Executive Governing Board (JEGB) approved my recommendation for realigning the current school attendance boundaries.

    What does this mean? The current school attendance boundaries are used to determine, based on a student’s address, which school a student in grades 1-6, attends. For example, if an elementary student lives in the Pine Lawn area, the student will likely attend Barack Obama Elementary School. The realigned boundaries may mean some students may have to transfer to another school. These boundaries will also determine which schools our current 7th graders return to as part of the reconfiguration to grade 1-8/Elemiddle schools.

    Why change the boundaries? This change will support the move to a grade 1-8/Elemiddle school model and the re-opening of Bel-Nor as an Elemiddle school. With Bel-Nor available for students in grades 1-8 who live in that part of the district, there will be a certain number of students who will be transferred from their current school to Bel-Nor, or a school that is closer to their home address. One of the goals of the realigned boundaries is to return to a neighborhood school model. With neighborhood schools, students have shorter commutes, and longer and stronger relationships between students’ families, and school teachers and staff.

    Here’s how the realigned school attendance boundaries will support the changes occurring next school year.

    Moving to the 1-8/‘Elemiddle’ Model: Beginning August 2019, the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center will close, and 7th and 8th graders will attend one of the five Elemiddle schools in the district: Barack Obama, Jefferson, Lucas Crossing, Washington and Bel-Nor (the current Normandy Kindergarten Center). The decision to move 7th & 8th graders back to schools serving elementary students was based on extensive research on the academic performance of middle-school students in Normandy and nationally. In Normandy, we examined student data dating back to 2002, and found academic performance stalled for too many of our students in the middle school environment. This has led to many of our students not performing on grade-level when reaching high school, requiring remedial support in critical areas like reading and math. Research has also shown that middle-grade students in a 1-8 setting perform better academically and are better prepared for high school. This change to the grade 1-8 model is our opportunity to improve student achievement for children at this critical stage in their lives.

    Re-opening Bel-Nor as an Elemiddle School: With the closing of the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center and to accommodate the addition of the 7th & 8th graders, we are opening Bel-Nor as the fifth Elemiddle school. Kindergartners will attend the new Early Learning Center, along with pre-school and pre-kindergarten students. The new Early Learning Center is being built at the site of the current N78C. Bel-Nor and the new Normandy Early Learning Center will open for the 2019-2020 school year.

    Families with students currently in the 7th grade and students in grades 1-6 who will need to transfer based on the realigned attendance boundaries will be notified by mail in the coming weeks of their school assignment for the 2019-2020 school year.

    These are significant changes for Normandy, but progress only comes with change. I heard a wise person say, “Five-year plans are for adults. Our children need change NOW.” These are all child-centered changes for the benefit of our students. As adults, we have a responsibility to make the difficult decisions and do the hard work today to better prepare our children for a successful future. We appreciate your support and patience as we work to make changes for a better Normandy.



    Dr. Charles J. Pearson

    Superintendent of Schools

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