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Board elects officers, hears task forces updates

Originally published in ThisWeekNews 

Wednesday January 21, 2015 7:10 PM

At the first Dublin Board of Education meeting of 2015, the Board President and Vice-President were re-elected and online school board meeting agendas were debuted.

The district will no longer distribute hard copies of agendas. Instead, community members are invited to go online to view the agendas, minutes, schedules and more.

Digitizing the agendas will increase productivity and save thousands of dollars annually, according to a district press release.

The school board meeting started an hour earlier, because of the OSU championship game.

Lynn May was re-elected as Board President and Stuart Harris as Board Vice President. Both ran unopposed and were first elected to the Board in 2005.

The facility task force reported that the engineering architectural firm of Garmann and Miller will attend the Feb. 9 school board meeting to answer questions. They will present their findings to the board on Jan. 26. The task force will recommend an architectural firm in Feb. and a construction management team in March. The task force assured community members that the Riverside Elementary traffic problems will be addressed.

The gifted education task force has been sharing the draft service model with colleagues, parent groups, and the community.  Additional input will be requested from middle school math teachers and administrators regarding advanced/accelerated math. The task force hopes to present their final draft to the board in February. They have scheduled three additional community meetings to share revisions and gather feedback. Future community  meetings will be held at 7p.m. Jan. 21 at Coffman, Jan. 22  at Jerome, and Jan. 28  at Scioto.

The middle school schedule task force held several parent forums last week to address questions. They are still on track to make a recommendation to the board by mid-February. They are closely reviewing middle schools in Illinois and Minnesota that appeared on the “Top 10 Best Education Suburban Districts” list.

For the staffing task force, Richard Bailey explained that a more robust and detailed online screener would be put in place to help narrow the candidate pool to only the best possible. This week, the new screening tool will take effect for all new and current applicants.

Treasurer Steve Osborne discussed the Fiscal Year 2014 Audit Opinion and Audit Reports from Plattenburg Certified Public Accountants.  There were no citations or findings for recovery. Osborne said it was a very good report and he thanked his staff.

Dr. Hoadley reminded community members of the State of the Schools at the Dublin Recreation Center on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. and the next Superintendent Community Coffee on Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at Sunny Street Cafe.

The meeting ended with Rick Weininger moving that the district make a statement of support for the Buckeyes as they met the Oregon Ducks in the National Championship game.

The Board meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m.

dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, ThisWeekNews

‘Forbes’ picks Coffman grad as one of its ’30 Under 30′

Originally published in The Dublin Villager. See it online here. 

Wednesday January 21, 2015 11:23 AM

While Partha Unnava was attending Dublin Coffman High School, he broke his ankle playing basketball, spent six weeks using uncomfortable traditional crutches.

He started to think how he could build less-painful crutches.

After graduating in 2010, he started a company, called Better Walk, that makes comfortable crutches.

Last week Unnava was named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 for 2015.

Unnava said he was incredibly humbled and a little surprised by the recognition.

“I actually woke up Monday morning and saw a tweet saying ‘Congrats’ from my friend,” Unnava said.

“I didn’t know the list was coming out, so it was definitely a great way to start a Monday” he said.

Unnava called the award the entrepreneurial equivalent of winning a Grammy Award.

“It’s been a personal goal of mine for a while and so I was very excited,” he said.

Better Walk is getting ready to start manufacturing and incorporating its crutches into hospitals during the next couple months, Unnava said.

He said the company is working to replace standards of care with solutions that make sense.

Unnava said the company has a couple more products that follow this philosophy that are in the works.

The recognition has brought a flood of e-mails to Unnava and has helped him expand his network.

“Being a younger entrepreneur, it can be hard, but having this award to my name improves my credibility,” he said.

Unnava said his Dublin education helped him learn how to work hard inside and outside the classroom.

“During high school, especially through the marching band program, that’s really where I developed a strong work ethic,” he said.

Playing trumpet helped Unnava understand that all those long hours under the summer sun really can pay off.

Jeremy Bradstreet, Coffman’s band director, taught Unnava in the top concert and jazz band.

“Partha was an extremely hard working student around the band wing,” Bradstreet said in an email.

“He was outstanding leader in the marching band,” Bradstreet said.

Bradstreet described Unnava as extremely sincere, dependable and he said he made practices more enjoyable because of his humor.

Inside the classroom, Unnava said he remembered in his AP Physics class how he learned math and physics not through memorization, but by understanding the concepts.

“Teachers like (David) Scott focused on showing us how something worked, instead of making us do a million practice problems for homework,” he said.

Scott, a physics teacher at Coffman said that Unnava was one of the youngest students he ever taught in Physics and in AP Physics.

“Partha was always curious, enthusiastic, and hard-working in class,” Scott said via email.

“Partha finished his science requirements early and completed upper level courses so that he had time to do research at Ohio State while he was in high school,” Scott said.

“Partha got along with students of all kinds and of all ages,” Scott said.

“Although hard-working and ambitious, Partha always considered the needs of others and respected them.

“Partha always showed great respect for me and for other teachers.”

Unnava attended the Georgia Institute of Technology (also called Georgia Tech), where he studied biomedical engineering and was in the jazz band.

He now lives in Atlanta.

“If you had told me when I was on crutches that this would be my life now, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Unnava said.

“I’m so thankful for all the things that have happened in my life.”

aquaponics, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Students learn about sustainable food, environmental science

Wednesday January 21, 2015 11:29 AM
AQUAPONICS LABORATORY
(Photos from Gardner Watkins)

David Dailey drilling holes after school 

Originally published in The Dublin Villager. See online version here 

At Dublin Scioto High School students are learning about sustainable food and environmental science first hand through a new aquaponics lab.

Aquaponics combines raising aquatic animals and hydroponics.

Hydroponics is the growing of plants in water instead of soil.

500 gallon tank

Gardner Watkins, the environmental science teacher at Scioto, said he hopes the aquaponics lab will become a valuable educational tool and a sustainable food source that can provide vegetables and fish to the Scioto cafeteria.

Currently, there are tilapia, oregano, rosemary, spinach, miniature Mexican watermelons, numerous types of lettuce and red, white and blue strawberries growing in the lab.

They grow in eight double beds, which resemble bunk beds where the fish are on the bottom and the plants are on top.

“If everyone tried aquaponics, we would reduce food costs substantially,” said Watkins.

He has involved as many students in the project as possible.

Window garden

Environmental Science students are feeding the fish, monitoring the water quality and studying the growth rate of the fish.

The AP Physics students are designing LED lights and chemistry students are fixing pH levels in the water.

They have already done one harvest and plan on harvesting again this week.

Watkins submitted the idea last year for a $10,000 grant.

The idea made it to the semifinal round, but did not win.

Miniature mexican watermelon vines

“But then a week later, Mae McCorkle, a local philanthropist, heard about what we were doing and awarded us $10,000,” Watkins said.

“That blew us away,” he said.

Once they had funding, Chris White, a senior, asked Watkins if he could help build the aquaponics lab as his Eagle Scout project.

“I was already interested in aquaponics and so I was more than willing to help,” White said.

Tilapia

“With the help of Mr. Watkins and my troop, we made a prototype, calculated the cost, showed it to engineers, and revised the design,” he said.

But the design and building process was far from simple.

“We faced a lot of challenges,” White said.

“All in all we went through 11 design changes before we started building and even when we started building we had to make even more changes,” he said.

“We also faced time constraints so we had to do some of the construction off-site.”

White remains in charge of getting the system up and running.

The lighting and plumbing are expected to be finished this week.

He said he plans on continuing to learn about aquaponics and study renewable energy in college.

Other students, such as David Dailey, a senior, often stay after school to work on the project.

“Right now I’m just drilling a few holes to hold the lights in place,” Dailey said.

“I like building things and I know that this project will help a lot of people so I don’t mind putting in the hard work,” he said.

Watkins described Dailey as his “go-to guy” and praised how he thinks outside of the box and always makes designs better.

They have almost used up all of the grant money but they remain optimistic about the future of the project.

“I’m very grateful to Mrs.McCorkle for giving us the grant and making this possible,” White said.

“Without her, this project might not have happened.”

Page A8 of Jan 22 issue

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Middle school schedule discussed in parent meetings

Originally published here

Wednesday January 14, 2015 11:03 AM

Parents braved the cold weather recently to attend a meeting in Karrer Middle School to discuss possible changes to the Dublin middle school schedule.

Dustin Miller, the Dublin City School District’s director of secondary education, walked parents through what the Middle School Schedule Task Force has been working on and what feedback from the community the task force has been receiving.

Mark Mousa, Karrer principal, said the task force has been “working together with other schools from the region to see what they are doing and what is working for them.”

The task force, which is made up of 13 teachers, four principals and two central office administrators, is not limiting research to only Ohio, Miller said. They are traveling to study some of the nation’s top suburban districts in Chicago and Minneapolis.

The schedule is being examined because Dublin Superintendent Todd Hoadley said he heard repeatedly from parents that they were concerned, the district now has two full school years of data to examine and the district promised to re-evaluate the schedule when the previous changes were made.

Mousa said making changes to the middle school schedule was comparable to “repairing an airplane while it’s flying” because the effects of the changes can only be fully understood years later.

No additional staffing is expected to be needed and Miller said task force members are not looking to limit the number of courses being offered.

Middle school teachers filled out a brief survey in the fall and those results showed they are concerned students do not have science and social studies every day, that courses are often pitted against each other and that they want more time to meet with students.

The task force listened to student feedback, which included comments such as wanting a longer lunch time, study center every day, more choices for related arts, science and social studies every day and shorter class times.

Parent feedback revealed they like the current start and stop times, see the value in offering a study center, think blocks are too long for students, want more choices for related arts and want science and social studies classes every day.

The next steps for the task force include partnering with similar districts, analyzing feedback and data and then preparing a recommendation to Kim Miller, Dublin’s chief academic officer.

Sara Hallermann, a parent, voiced concerns at the meeting about students having a schedule that was too fragmented and could hinder deeper learning.

Miller agreed teachers are not able to “dig deep” within 50 minutes so the district is working to find a “happy medium” concerning class times.

Other parents said they were annoyed some of the language arts class time was being used for 20 minutes of silent reading.

Mousa clarified that silent reading is less regimented and while students are reading, teachers use that time to meet individually with students.

Brian Niekamp, parent of a seventh-grader and a fourth-grader and an Upper Arlington teacher, said he was very impressed with the meeting.

“I heard the right talk from the administrators,” Niekamp said. “They seem to have the middle school students at heart and are not just focused on the test scores.”

Blair Mallott, a task force member and an intervention specialist at Davis Middle School, said she thought the cold weather might have had an impact on attendance.

“I’m looking forward to the other meetings at the middle schools,” she said. “There is a lot of good information here.”

Future middle school schedule community meetings are planned for 7 p.m. at Davis Middle School tonight, Thursday, Jan. 15, Sells Middle School Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Grizzell Middle School Wednesday, Jan. 21.

dublin, dublinschools, grants, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

District receives state grants totaling $85,000

Originally published in ThisWeek News 

Wednesday January 14, 2015 10:58 AM

Dublin City Schools’ commitment to efficiency has earned the district two grants totaling $85,000 from the Ohio Development Services Agency, district officials said this week.

The ODSA awarded the district $50,000 for post-secondary job training and employment programs for students with developmental disabilities.

The district also received a $35,000 grant from the ODSA to assist with improving the efficiency of their printing and copying services.

“By eliminating unnecessary costs and sharing services, communities save money and become more efficient,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The post-secondary job training grant was one of 10 awarded statewide to assist with efficiency and collaboration programs throughout Ohio.

The grant effort was a partnership between the district, Via Quest, and Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association, district officials said.

The program funded by the grant will provide post-secondary transition services such as career oriented job training and employment opportunities.

“We believe through the implementation of this program, Dublin City Schools will better serve our students and meet state regulations in post secondary transition planning, as well as save dollars by providing opportunities for students with disabilities to graduate and gain meaningful, paid employment within the community,” said Todd Hoadley, Dublin’s superintendent.

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Davis middle-schooler’s invention wins award

(Originally published for ThisWeek News)

Wednesday January 7, 2015 8:56 AM


Davis Middle School student Jonathan Steinke won a national award for his invention “The Grab N Gulp,” a handle that attaches to a water bottle.


The award came from the Student’s Ideas for a Better America organization, which is part of the National Museum of Education.  


“I was really excited and didn’t expect to win,” Steinke, a 7th grade student, said.


Steinke won a certificate and a $100 award check.


He competed against 24 other students in grades three through seven.


When he was in 5th grade, Steinke entered his invention in the Invention Convention as the Glove A Bottle, a water bottle with an attached handle, and won first place.  


This invention transformed into the Grab N Gulp, which now has a handle that straps onto any water bottle, is easier to use and has a catchier name, according to Steinke’s mother, Trisha Wright.


His invention came about because he is a hockey player and found it difficult to get a quick drink from a regular water bottle because he had to take his gloves off first.


Steinke said that he likes how inventing allows him to be creative and help solve problems.


He said he will start letting teammates use his invention and he hopes that other teams, even the Columbus Blue Jackets, will eventually use the Grab N Gulp.


He hopes to start selling Grab N Gulp and then work on making other inventions.


Wright said she is proud of her son and is impressed by how he is always thinking.


“I remember one of his first inventions was a contraption to divert rainwater from the roof into a smaller pipe so that the water could generate electricity or be used for another way. He called it the Rain Mill,” she said.


Wright said that Steinke became interested in inventions in third grade and now he keeps a journal of his ideas for inventions.


Joonho Oh, a 4th grader from Dublin, also won in the competition with his “Wash your iPad” invention.


Both Steinke and Oh participate in a program called Bridge the Gap.  


It teaches students about the invention process, marketing, patents and business development.


They meet at Tech Columbus every other Wednesday, under the instruction of Cherylyn Rushton and Tom Carlisi.  


“It’s more than just learning about inventions. They learn how to do an elevator pitch, they learn public speaking skills through pitching their ideas and they gain confidence,” Wright said.


Steinke heard about the Invention Convention contest through Bridge the Gap. He is in his 2nd year of the program and is learning how to write a business plan for his invention.  


Not surprisingly, Wright said that when Steinke grows up, he wants to be either an engineer or an inventor.
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Spring break is March 16-20; graduations are May 30

(Originally published in ThisWeek News)

Wednesday January 7, 2015 8:59 AM

With the winter holiday break now over and Dublin City School District classes canceled Tuesday, Jan. 6, because of a snow storm, many area residents are already looking forward to spring break.
This year the district’s spring break will be March 16-20.

Graduation will be May 30 and classes end June 2 for students in grades K-11.
Other days off for holidays, conferences and professional development include Jan. 12 and 19, Feb. 16 and 27, April 3 and May 25.

District officials said they had considered changing spring break dates to meet Ohio Department of Education deadlines for Ohio Graduation Testing, but an appeal to the ODE allowed the district to keep its March 16-20 spring break and hold the testing sessions the first two weeks of March.
May 30, graduation ceremonies for Dublin’s three high schools will be held in the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.
Dublin Scioto High School’s graduation will be at 10 a.m.

Dublin Coffman High School seniors will graduate at 1 p.m., and Dublin Jerome High School seniors at 4 p.m.
Graduation dates were determined based on the academic school year and the availability of the Schottenstein Center, district officials said.
The 2014-15 school year will end for staff and students June 2.

Calendars are set two years in advance by a calendar committee consisting of administration and staff, according to Doug Baker, the district’s public information officer.

If the district misses more than six scheduled school days, contingency days will be used after the last day of school.

In 2014, the district used six calamity days, one over the allowed five.
They made up the extra calamity day on June 2.
This year, schools no longer have calamity days.
Instead a district has a set number of hours of classroom instruction that must be achieved.

The remainder of the 2014-15 school calendar includes:

• Jan. 7: Middle school schedule community meeting (7 p.m. Henry Karrer Middle School).
• Jan. 9: End of first semester.
• Jan. 12: No school- Middle school and high school teacher work day, elementary teacher professional development day.
• Jan. 14: Middle school schedule community meeting (7 p.m. John Sells Middle School).
• Jan. 15: Middle school schedule community meeting (7 p.m. Ann Simpson Davis Middle school).
• Jan. 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
• Jan. 21: Middle school schedule community meeting (7 p.m. Willard Grizzell Middle School).
• Jan. 27: Coffee with Superintendent (10:30 a.m. Sunny Street Cafe).
• Feb. 6: Dublin Community Night with the Blue Jackets (7 p.m. Nationwide Arena).
• Feb. 10: State of the Schools (6 p.m. Dublin Community Recreation Center).
• Feb. 12: Syntero’s Balancing Act Series (7 p.m. at Dublin Coffman).
• Feb. 16: Presidents Day, no school.
• Feb. 21: Dublin Literacy Conference (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dublin Coffman).
• Feb. 23: Coffee with Superintendent (7 a.m. Panera in Dublin).
• Feb. 26: End of second elementary trimester.
• Feb. 27: No school, Elementary Teacher Work Day MS/HS Teacher Professional Development Day.
• Feb. 28: Dublin PROUD Science Fair (9 a.m. to noon at Willard Grizzell Middle School).
• March 13: end of 3rd nine weeks.
• March 15: Dublin Community Night with the Blue Jackets (5 p.m. Nationwide Arena).
• March 16-20: spring break.
• March 27: district dodgeball tournament (7 to 10:30 p.m. at Scioto High School).
• March 28: Summer job fair for students (9 a.m. to noon at Jerome High School).
• March 30: Coffee with Superintendent (7 to 8:30 p.m. Sumeno’s Italian Restaurant).
• April 3: No school, teacher conference time/ comp time.
• April 11: community champion awards Ceremony (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Dublin Jerome High School).
• April 16: Dublin City Schools family night.
• May 15: Hall of Fame induction ceremony (6 to 9 p.m. at La Scala Restaurant).
• May 22: Last day for preschool.
• May 25: No school, Memorial Day.
• May 30: Graduation ceremonies.
• June 2: last day for students and staff.

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Wonder Project allows students to explore creativity


Wednesday January 7, 2015 8:35 PM
Elementary students are currently doing a year-long Wonder Project, which encourages creativity and is designed to expose students to concepts and ideas not normally found on standardized tests.

Matt DeMatteis, leader of the project and 4th grade Pinney teacher, said that the goal of the project is for students to identify what they are interested in and then have time to wonder about those interests.

“Students develop skills such as creativity, critical thinking and also use entrepreneurship to eventually design, re-design, create, or practice something that is related to their wonders,” DeMatteis said in an e-mail.

He said that this project is “not in addition to their learning, but serves as their learning.”

Each student conducts extensive research that helps them identify gaps which they feel they can create something new.

Jason Blair, Pinney’s art teacher, said that if teachers are being asked to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet, then they need to teach students not what to think but how to think.

“We live in a DIY, Maker Movement, choose-your-own-adventure like society.  So the days of standing before a roomful of students and having them sit back while the teacher tells them everything they need to know to be successful, are long gone,” he said in an e-mail.

DeMatteis said that the project has been a collaborative effort with Pinney’s media specialist, art, music and physical education teachers.  

Sharon Hathaway, Pinney’s physical education teacher said she has enjoyed the relationships the project has helped build.

I see the students throughout the building and they no longer view me as the PE teacher but more as a mentor and coach.  This project has inspired me as a learner to investigate my own wonders and push me beyond my comfort zone,” she said.

Jamie Riley, Pinney’s library media specialist, has noticed a difference in student’s research because they are learning about a topic they chose.

“They are truly engaged in their learning and are working not just to find the right answers, but to learn as much as they possibly can,” she said. “They are working to make connections within their research and their research often leads them to new wonders and discoveries.”

The project started in the fall with several team building activities and will continue throughout the year to help students continue making connections in their learning.

After the student’s research is complete they will work to create something new, like a process or product, that exemplifies what they have learned.  

“Each student will collaboratively share the process of their learning with their parents, and community,” said DeMatteis. “The focus of this exhibition in the spring is to showcase the process of their learning rather than on a final product.”

One of the many skills students learn through the project to be comfortable with ambiguity.

“At first, some students seemed a bit uncomfortable or even fearful because this project does not have very specific outcomes spelled out to them from the get go,” said Sue Casto, a music instructor at Pinney. “As the students have progressed, you can see that are comfortable with the ownership and development of their learning and they are invested in every facet of the project.”

Reid Birkholz, a 4th grade student at Eli Pinney Elementary, is doing his project on why some shoes are expensive.

He examined major shoe companies, like Nike, then brainstormed ideas on creating cost-effective shoes.

Birkholz said he liked the project because he could “apply his outside of school interests in school.”

Another 4th grade student, Isabel Richardson, is doing her project on what people value in a book.

“I love reading and I want to be an author when I grow up,” she said. “This project is very cool because if it weren’t for the wonder project, I wouldn’t get a chance to explore literature.”

One part of the Wonder Project included a class field trip to the Columbus Museum of Art on Nov. 7.

The students visited the “wonder room” at the museum, where kids can create, wonder, design, and collaborate together.

Blair said that creativity is not just something students are born with; it can be developed.  

“Creativity is like a muscle and must be exercised like any other muscle,” he said. “The best way to develop creativity is through open ended problems that require divergent thinking like the Wonder Project.”  

2014, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, hourofcode, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Hour of Code event teaches computer coding basics

Tuesday December 30, 2014 2:57 PM
Students throughout the Dublin City School District got to try their hand at coding and learned some of the basics of computer science, as part of a national Hour of Code initiative.

Dublin participated by having students complete a one-hour introductory course which was designed to take the mystery out of computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics.

During computer science education week, Dec. 8-14, More than 15 million students from 180 countries participated in the Hour of Code, according to the program’s website.

Students in advanced-placement computer science classes participated by traveling to elementary schools and helping students learn coding.

About six Dublin Jerome High School students traveled Dec. 12 to Glacier Ridge Elementary School to teach coding to 25 Latchkey students in grades 1-5.

Dublin Scioto High School students went to Chapman Elementary School Dec. 13 to teach fifth-graders.

The elementary school students could select a project to work on, such as using Javascript to control a knight, build a pong game or animate their name.

Kimberly Clavin, manager of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives for the Dublin district, said it was interesting to see what the elementary school children were able to build.

Clavin said students went beyond building simple games and started doing more advanced coding.
Some students were able to make an interactive holiday card, with moving characters, that they could send to family members.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there is a mix of art and computer science in coding,” Clavin said.
“When the students do it for the first time, they realize, ‘hey this is pretty cool,’ ” she said.
Clavin said having the high school students teach the elementary school students benefited everyone.
“The high-schoolers learn by teaching and the elementary school students tend to take to the high school students more than adults,” she said.

“It’s a pretty neat pipeline for students of all ages to get involved in coding and computer science.”
This kind of “learning by teaching” is important to Anne Fuller, a computer science teacher at both Scioto and Jerome.

“I thought my AP students needed something more and so I suggested the idea to them and they were very excited and enthusiastic,” Fuller said.

She said high school students now want to continue helping the elementary school students and she is planning on how they can do that in the second semester.

“We hope to encourage all the students to explore the world of computer science through the use of Scratch and other programs to promote learning,” she said.

Rhonda Luetje, a Dublin technology support teacher, took the lead on this year’s Hour of Code.
For Hour of Code’s sophomore year in Dublin, Luetje worked to make it easier for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms.

She created a website that housed engaging computer science activities that students could do as a warm-up, during the Hour of Code, or as extension activities.

Luetje said she was very impressed by the authentic learning and deep engagement that took place.
“They just blew me away,” she said.

“When they were solving difficult puzzles, they didn’t give up. They would work together and ask each other, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ to try and figure it out,” she said.

The Scioto Math Club also stayed after school on Mondays and Wednesdays to share with other students various computer programming resources and teach basics.

Other school districts such as Hilliard, Pickerington, Worthington and Bexley participated in the Hour of Code.

Even though the Hour of Code is over, teachers are still excited about it and are continuing it in some of their classrooms, Clavin said.

The Hour of Code makes it easy for teachers to incorporate coding into the curriculum by offering free lesson plans and ideas. 

dublin, dublinschools, newspaper, ThisWeekNews, yearinreview

Elementary school additions, middle school schedules to be addressed

Year in Review
Several initiatives are expected to move forward in 2015 in the Dublin City School District, including two elementary school additions and a revised middle school schedule.
“It’s all about continuous improvements,” said Todd Hoadley, Dublin superintendent. “That’s been a focus of great organizations like ours for a long time.”
Several of the changes will be the result of the district’s growing student population.
Board President Lynn May said change isn’t easy, but the district hopes to bring in more people to the decision-making process so people can feel more ownership about decisions.
Community members can look forward to the State of the Schools address at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Abbey Theater in the Dublin Community Recreation Center.
Most of the district’s upcoming changes are coming as a result of recommendations from the district’s four task forces:
Facilities
In January, the Dublin Board of Education will decide on construction additions for two elementary schools.
Two additions are expected to open in fall 2016 and another three are scheduled to open in fall 2017.
May described how additions to elementary schools are less disruptive than construction of new schools because they don’t require redistricting, they cost less and cause fewer burdens.
The district will use funds originally designated for construction of a 13th elementary school to, instead, build the additions. In the summer, about 20 district buildings will also receive roof work and paving.
Middle school schedule
Three years ago, the district changed the middle school schedule.
An unintended consequence of the change was that students had less choices for music, physical education and art classes.
This fall, a new schedule will be put in place at all the middle schools.
In January, the district will host community nights to discuss the upcoming changes and listen to feedback.
Early in the spring, members of the task force will visit other school districts to study alternative schedules and see which would work best for Dublin.
The task force will present proposed changes to the school board in the spring.
Gifted education
The district has already formed a draft of their new service model for gifted students and presented it to community members.
“We’re currently asking ourselves what a world-class gifted education in Dublin would look like,” Hoadley said.
The task force will meet in January to consider the community’s feedback and then revise the draft.
In the spring, the gifted education task force will present its recommendations to the board for the first stage of changes.
Hoadley said the elementary gifted program is expected to look a little different this fall.
Staffing
Changes resulting from the gifted education services, middle school schedule and growing enrollment will be the driving forces behind staffing changes next year.
Hoadley said the district will continue to look at each position and see if it’s a priority.
“We’re very cautious with the resources that taxpayers entrust with us,” May said.
Hoadley also said the district wants to empower employees with more tools so they can do their jobs efficiently.
The district’s Business Advisory Council plans on partnering with local businesses to bring a diversified workforce and recruit the best talent.
“As our student body changes, we need to have a teaching staff that reflects our student body,” Hoadley said.
Technology
Dublin will continue to make strong investments in technology.
Through a partnership with the City of Dublin, $1.5 million will be invested in technology for the next 33 years.
This is part of the Bridge Street Agreement between Dublin City Council and the school district.
Finances
May mentioned one of the district’s concerns for next year will be the state’s biannual budget for school districts. The budget will be drafted in January and approved in July.
“We can voice our concerns to legislators and try to let them know how we feel, but a lot of it is in their hands,” she said.
May said she believes district officials focus efforts and resources on students.
“I love our students and their families, who care about their education,” she said. “That is why their graduation is the best day of the year for me.”
Hoadley emphasized Dublin’s No. 1 focus will always be to make sure the district operates in a prudent, ethical and efficient manner.