School Initiative/Welcome Letter to Parents

August, 2010

Dear Happy Hollow Families:

Hello to all my old friends and welcome to all newcomers with a wish that you will soon be my new friends! I hope the summer has brought fun, relaxation and many, many treasured memories! As always, we summer employees have been taking turns around the district to vacation, attend classes and professional development and working hard to get ready to begin the new year. There is so much to tell you and as always, I can’t wait to see you all and hear about your summer experiences. I will do my best to give you all the information so that you can transition back or join us for the very first time.

Some of the year’s endeavors will include:

Richard DuFour is a well-known educational reformist who has written and directed educational and school reform for years. He and his wife have led workshops on how to help educators use a collaborative approach and he is a leader in the legislative initiative known as response to intervention or RTI. This movement is being embraced by districts across the nation and most especially, leadership districts are looking to benefit from the model. In summation, it sets the stage so that every child at every level of learning is challenged and moved along to ever-increasing levels of proficiency across curricular areas.

DuFour says, “Educators will integrate the RTI initiative into their existing, well-defined improvement processes and use it as a catalyst for enhancing both student and adult learning. Working collaboratively, learning together rather than in isolation, creating systematic responses to address problems, and using evidence of student learning to drive continuous improvement are deeply embedded in the culture of these schools. Most importantly, educators in these schools acknowledge and embrace a shared purpose for helping all students learn at high levels and take collective responsibility for achieving that shared purpose.”Soooo, this is how our district has spent a great deal of our summer work time! We have been in the process of becoming an RTI district. Although we’ve been working toward this end throughout the past few years ~ last year piloting some aspects of the program at HH ~ we are moving to the next step this year!

Many staff were trained over the summer including those who teach kindergarten right through high school. We had a huge turnout from Happy Hollow and under the facilitation of Austin Buffum, another leader/author in the RTI movement, we received some excellent training/instruction for how to continue to implement the model. I will be talking more about the exciting implications and impact that RTI will have on our school community and I will even be asking for parent volunteers so that teachers can plan in “Professional Learning Communities” ~ a crucial part of the program’s success. Most importantly, your children will receive the benefits. We are really excited about this endeavor!

Our School Council is helping us to develop a Happy Hollow Grade-Based Community Identity Program where we will use our existing social competency program and content learning to give our students an ever-growing sense of belonging, community and purpose. We will also talk more about this in the months to come.

So many fantastic things are set to begin! Our staff is talented and skilled. Our students are the best around and our school building is clean and ready to go! We are set for a terrific year!

James P. Lee, Principal