It was great to begin the conversation with the whole staff and school committee members present. Thank you all for the sharing and listening. 

As this conversation progresses we can see that there are many paths that it can take as it evolves and grows within our community. With this in mind I am aware that we need to both hear the various concerns and points that folks will bring to the table but that we also need to attempt to follow a path of some sort that will lead us to our desired goal. 

And what is that goal one may ask. I have been struggling to try and define it for my own thinking and it has not been easy. Hearing the conversation today helps me define this goal from my point of view. I had previously thought that we were looking for a list of priorities but this did not seem to fit for others so I am looking for a more useful way to describe this goal. Today’s conversation about promotion, relevance, time and excellence brought other ideas and perspectives to my thinking. 

With this comes more questions that need some thought:

What are you passionate about in education?  

What do we do here, or could we do here, that is outstanding, that needs to be shared, or promoted? 

In talking with folks after the meeting there were ideas of “mission statement” creation, how to do it and would it more us forward. After thinking it through and after more conversations I feel that I might not need a mission statement per se but rather have a conversation about a list of items that this staff feels are critical in our learning community. Things that we do that could be shared. Things that we are passionate about in learning. Things that we could do at AVS to continue growing a great school for our children. (Ex. Olweus Bullying program, outdoor education, creativity, experiential education, best practices, problem solvers, high test scores, thinkers, caring individuals, connection to community, environmental issues, etc.) 

So this is my newly defined goal. Let us come up with a list of  items that we feel are critical to our learning community as the education at AVS evolves with all the cultural and political changes around us. 

So what is your passion and what do you think should be on our list?

Thanks for your time and thoughts and thanks for the Wordle inspiration.

 Does this clip speak to you as we look to think about the priorities of what AVS offers our students? Would love to hear folk's reaction to this video. This video has been with me for a few years and I keep coming back to this to shake off the testing world that we work in. Can we address this issue? 
So here it is all in 5 minutes. Chris Lehmann is part of something exciting in education and this video shows why. He has the vision, energy and understanding to make a great learning setting.

What are you thoughts about this video as we think about AVS and where we could go with our leaning environment?

Over the last few days there has been plenty of traffic here on this blog.  These are topics that we feel are important and it is interesting to see how many have stopped by to read, reread, share ideas and comment from your point of view. Thanks to all for getting involved in the discussion.

 A few responses and comments from some of us:

We (the school) are the center of that entity called Appleton. Itry to understand the dollars and cents of it, but to me, the well beingof the children is the focus. My belief has always been that possibilities here are wide open. We can collaboratively build a school where excellence is the expectation. We will need to be open to new ways of thinking about and constructing the educational venue and what happens in it. I have always believed we can create a place where learning, rather than getting by, is the norm. We can build, within the existing walls, a superior learning environment, where success for students is the every day experience.  Wendy

I feel that the town of Appleton also believes that "the well being of the children is the focus" but I wonder if, as a town, we actually can fund that focus. I am hopeful that we can, which is why I am looking to get this conversation off the ground. What do we think are the priorities around education at AVS that can guide us as we begin to make some very difficult decisions for our school and community.

I especially agree with your urge to have us clarify what is really important to us at AVS, before we welcome a new principal and superintendent, whose insight and, perhaps, new ideas will be inspiring, too.  Our desire to be a 'great' school, despite our economic woes, will need to be a 'marriage' of old ways, new ways, and leadership.  We have moved in these directions before and I believe we can continue now.  Nancy

I appreciate Nancy's point that we do not need to totally overhaul things in this process and that there are many experienced parties who need to, and will be part of this activity. I hope that we can simply get to a point where we are all comfortable with the priorities and goals of our school as we move forward in these challenging times. 

I trust that others will chime in, as well.  It's time.  Mary

It is time and I am looking forward to where this may take us. 

Leave a comment here if you have ideas that you want to throw in the mix.

Photo: woodleywonderworks

At this time I am in the midst of the mid winter blues. The blog has had little action, the photos are all from the warmer fall days, and the temperatures are cold. Time to hunker down.

At this time I am working on getting material covered before the February break and I always runout of time. The school has begun looking for a new principal for next year, the budget is in the can, and these coupled with a moral adjustment that we all need has got me in a funk. 

The colds are beginning to set in for longer and longer time periods and folks are just stretching thin. Still a ways to go. 

The sun is around more than it was a month ago!

Other bright spots! The thought that we can be the force for change within the school to create a learning and teaching environment that is sustainable, successful and satisfying. The EduCon 2.2 gathering last week at the Science Leadership Academy, a public high school in Philadelphia, was a some of the finest winter blues tonic. Ten hours of great conversations around being smart, redesigning the class, redesigning the school, using technology, importance of play, schools of caring, and on and on. 76 conversations all together. A real winning combination. 

The students keep my head in the game. Marvelous work for a class using laptops to present microscope procedures. A very dry (boring) topic which most truly turned into a moment of fun, informative media. That is what keeps the winter blues at bay. Thanks. 

The Education Ideas tab of the site is a collection of resources that I am gathering in one place as I think about Appleton Village School's future and dream. Where could it go? What could it look like? How might we get there? Who will help us on this quest for education? These resources I come back to time and time again to review, to tease apart, to reassess and ultimately set off again with new ideas, a new course and possibilities.  

Photo: Horse Trailer - Eric Hart

As we begin to look at the future of education, the fiscal woes that we find ourselves in at this time, the state wide school district consolidation, it seems like we here in Appleton need to pause and have a conversation about the future possibilities for educating our students. We have been saddled with a budget that is going to ask for difficult decisions to be made around our school and the education of our children. 

What are the priorities that we have for our school, the student's education and our local community? Can we afford this school? Do we want to continue to have a school here in Appleton? Knowing that we have to educate our children, what options do we see that we may have and what are the financial out looks for those options?

Do we fund the school at a level that will hopefully allow it remain here in town? Do we make cuts within the present structure and hope for the best? Do we close the school and have our children educated at other facilities? 

Facing the state budget cuts and the state consolidation mandate Appleton seems to be in a very difficult spot. Will consolidation within an RSU make Appleton Village School more vulnerable to closing as it may be the smallest school in the district? By loosing state funding will our town budget not be able to support a school that is successful and therefor vulnerable to closing? 

Clearly I have many more questions than answers but as I look at this situation from my position as parent, teacher and community member I feel that this school needs to remain a successful, vibrant learning center and hub for our small community. With that in mind I propose that we work to make this a great school, a model school and a school that through these tough times will remain; will be supported by the community and teachers and will not be a consideration for elimination when we join a larger district and face future fiscal challenges. I feel that this school should not only be a great school but also continue to provide that hub, that meeting place for the Appleton community. It is part of the glue that binds, as our children bring us together as a community this facility gives us a physical place for us to "Be Appleton".

photo: On Explore - Milad Gheisari