Kindergarteners at our on-site dual immersion language academy, Cesar Chavez Language Academy, perform for parents and friends.
Our leadership class presents information gleaned from their 8 week seminar: GREAT. GREAT stands for Gang Resistance Education And Training It is an evidence-based and effective gang and violence
prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The Program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent
G.R.E.A.T. has developed partnerships with nationally recognized organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Families and Schools Together (FAST), and the National Association of Police
Athletic/Activities Leagues, Inc. (PAL). These partnerships encourage positive relationships among the community, parents, schools, and the law enforcement community.
Our students received certificates and t-shirts which all of us present signed. Lots of treats were provided too. In attendance was our Superintendent, Socorro Shiels, members of our Santa Rosa Police Departments School Resource Program, Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Oliveres and
Today our MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) students were treated to a science fair sponsored by the Santa Rosa Junior College and put on by Lawrence Hall of Science. Over 60 students got to spend a couple of hours with geeks, wizards, whirling machines, static energy and more. Students could not stop talking about how much fun it was. Thank you to all involved. What a blast!
As we wind down towards winter break, I am filled with appreciation for being at Comstock these past 2 ½ years. I hope everyone takes a moment sometime during the break to reflect and celebrate as well as to express our appreciation for one another. I want to thank you for everything you do to support our school community. It takes all of our efforts together to provide this rich middle school experience for our students.
We have put so many wonderful things in motion this fall. First, we started the year with the joyful news that our enrollment had increased by 80 students and we were able to add five new sections. I know the word around town was that Comstock was the best kept secret, but it is not a secret anymore. The great work that has been done here by this staff is now being known: you are always growing and reaching to be your very best; you collaborate well and are so motivated and creative. I look forward to spreading the word more and continuing to build our programs as well as our enrollment.
In October, forty students and seven staffmembers were trained as Safe School Ambassadors, working to support positive student interactions. We have also trained the whole school in Comstock Chill Skills.
These skills help all of us deal with stressful situations, by reminding us to “Just Breathe”! Thank you to
all who support these programs.
We also held an election for the first time in many years to create a student government. We now have school officers and a student council that have met twice. Their first foray into decision making has resulted in the development of a few clubs at Comstock; another common school activity that has been missing
Further, our elective and physical education departments are also supporting the development of our students by providing opportunities for them to move, to create and to explore their passions. I believe that, first and foremost, the cultivation of human beings is the backdrop for great academic achievement.
I also believe that we are now on the right path to make this possible for the young lives entrusted to us.
Our core subject departments are collaborating in PLCs and department meetings to incorporate the Common Core. I love seeing the Close reading activities, the MARS tasks in the library and hearing of the great new ideas for Project Based learning and more from Social Studies and Science teachers. Bravo!
Our parent groups are working to provide support for many school activities: 8th grade fun day,
school dances and more. We have had 50 or more parents participating in our meetings every month , which is unprecedented! Although our parents work hard and may not be able to be here much, they care about their children and want to partner with us. We were also able to provide their families with some support as well: The Santa Rosa Community Health Clinics held a health fair at our site; the Santa Rosa Junior College has added two new ESL classes on the Comstock campus!
I can go on and on: Google Apps and Chromebooks, Renaissance Rallies, ALEKS incentives, Novel
writing, MLK Speech contest, music/drama performances, staff and student sports competitions, our Boys & Girls Club, the wonderful Library Techs, Office Staff and Instructional Aides, our hard-working custodians … I’m sorry if I left something out, but you get the picture: we do SO much.
So, please pace yourselves the next couple of days. We’ll go out with a bang on Thursday with our afternoon of fun and then a party that night. Then one more day to wrap things up and you are free!
Enjoy your time this season, at home or on an adventure, with family, friends, four-legged companions, a good book … I hope you have what you desire. Again, thank you for everything; Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Let’s make 2014 the best year of our lives!
Comstock has teamed up with the Santa Rosa Junior College to offer Adult English as a Second Language classes starting in January. Two classes will be offered to parents of students from Comstock and our feeder schools: Biella, Lehman, and Monroe Elementaries, and Piner High School. The SRJC staff led an introductory meeting at Comstock December 10 at 6pm. Seventy adults were registered, assessed and enrolled in these classes. Adults were told: "Congratulations, you are now college students"!
This fall, we trained 30 new students, and retrained 10 students from last year, as Safe School Ambassadors. The two day training helped students create bonds with and empathy for each other. They set their goals and dreams for the ideal campus where everyone feels safe, respected and treasured. Each of our 7 groups of students meets monthly with an advisor to discuss campus culture and how they can contribute to these goals by intervening when they can, reporting issues to adults and modeling great character and behavior.
The math department is collaborating on "MARS tasks": Tasks and assignments aligned with the new Common Core Standards for Mathematics. Teachers are teaming up and teaching students how to problem solve situations that require mathematical thinking. Students collaborate with each other and discuss how to solve real-life problems using the algebraic expressions. They then convey their ideas to the class. There is not one way to get the answer. Students work together to look at the many ways to look at a mathematical problem.
Math teachers started this process in October. At first, students were very hesitant to express themselves, but they soon caught on and were willing to risk being wrong since they were told "there isn't only one way and we are more interested in your thinking at this point in time".
Students are now loving math and think it is FUN!
This clip shows students talking about how to determine what materials to buy to build shelves. Ultimately, they will create an algebraic equation.
Today I am at the Sonoma County Cradle to Career symposium. School districts and supporting partners come together to collaborate and partner to support our youth. One speaker, Jane Quinn, talked about Community Schools which brings support partners on to campuses. We at Comstock are working to bring more partners in as well. Currently we have The Boys & Girls club, Santa Rosa Parks and Rec, SR symphony, SR Health Centers and more.
She also talked about 5 essentials for effective schools:
Principals: drivers of change, inclusive leadership approach
Real family nd community engagement
Ability to build professional capacity
Student centered school climate
Read the post below for more information about our 7 Cs, 21st Century Learning and the Common Core State Standards.
Recently I was asked to comment in writing on the Common Core State Standards and if they can change
students’ lives. Here is my response:
Can we, as educators, really make a difference in a child’s life? Can we influence a community and potentially even the entire globe? I believe we can, and we must! And I am hopeful that the Common Core State Standards as well as 21st century learning skills and practices are some of the vehicles to get us there. These standards address the types of attributes, qualities and content that are needed now as we prepare students to work in a highly competitive, digital, and inquiry based world.
As a current middle school principal, a former English teacher, District trainer, reading specialist and literacy coach, I have seen miracles every day in the classrooms in which I’ve taught, observed, and the ones I now support. I’ve seen teachers touch lives, move hearts, develop student’s capacity, curiosity and creativity. I’ve seen it and we must see it. We must live it. Education is a mission, not just a job, and we must live up to the mission on the noblest level. Our student’s lives depend on it and our world is counting on it.
The Common Core standards came upon California educators seemingly overnight. Reeling from the recession and terrible budget cuts, as well as the restrictive climate generated by No Child Left Behind, teachers tentatively familiarized themselves with the standards last year. At Comstock, it felt like we were coming out from under a rock. The idea of teaching novels again as well as creatively preparing lessons was like fresh air for the veteran teachers, and largely unfamiliar to teachers who began their careers during the
past five years. But they collaborated and the unraveling began. Pacing guides were revamped, novels were dusted off and new titles were purchased. Science and Social Studies teachers joined our English department’s collaborative meetings. Math teachers started working on the Standards for Mathematical Practices and going deeper into what it means to study math and how math is applied in everyday life.
We are also beginning to incorporate 21st century skills and attributes into our development. We have embraced the 4 Cs of Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Critical Thinking. We added two more,
taking the lead from our state assembly: Civic Literacy and Content. And, we added one more for our school: Compassion. We grouped students and discussed our 7 Cs with them. Then we asked them to share what it meant to them and express them both verbally and visually in posters. These posters now decorate classroom and hallway walls. (See above) As a community, we are moving forward together. We are looking at all we do from each of these 7 lenses. It has caused us to change our practices and placed us uncomfortably outside our zone of proximal development. We are now changing our views and our lives as
educators and are preparing our students to face the challenges ahead.
This year California gets a break from standardized testing. My site is not sitting idle. We are upgrading our
curriculum, adding technology, and collaborating on lessons. Many teachers are stepping up as leaders. One teacher is now Google certified and is leading professional development in Google Apps. Another is becoming our Arts Integration specialist. Our physical education teachers are incorporating common core lessons that relate to the four core subject areas. All of this excitement and creativity from the adults on campus is deeply affecting our students. We are celebrating our creativity and so we are inspiring our students’ creativity. In the spirit of inter-connectedness, we are using ourselves as models to inspire our students to stretch as we are doing. Common Core is enabling us to teach in more engaging, student-centered ways. Our students are loving learning because our teachers are loving teaching!
Teachers are now going deeper to study their own instructional practices. We are working in groups to ask ourselves the following questions:
· How do we elevate instruction?
· What is rigor?
· How do we engage students in meaningful ways?
· How do we define mastery and provide evidence.
We are beginning to answer these questions in ways unique to us. We see that for every teacher,
the formula will be personal and we are honoring this. I hope to share the answers to these questions with you in future blogs.
Thanks for listening.
Laura Hendrickson, Principal
I have been with Santa Rosa City Schools since 1998. I was an English, Drama and Reading Teacher at Santa Rosa Middle School. I then worked at the District Office as a Literacy Coach and Professional Development Director and Coordinator. My first site administration experience was at Santa Rosa High School as Assistant Principal. I came to Comstock in 2011 as Principal.