Monday, February 26, 2007

Blog Bits

Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program Winners

Recently, Lilly announced four Plymouth teachers as recipients of the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program. Michele Holloway and Deb Wise were announced as first-time winners. Judy Harness and Vickie Cook were announced as second-time winners.

The Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program began in 1987 and is committed to help Indiana become an even more rewarding arena for seasoned teachers and other education professionals. The program supports creative projects that are personally renewing and intellectually revitalizing. While personal renewal is the main goal of this program, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate how their proposed projects will affect their students' engagement in the learning process.

Michele Holloway and Deb Wise wrote a proposal entitled, "O-Live! Live Strong! Live Well! Live Long!" They describe it as a study of the Mediterranean diet and Italian lifestyle. They plan to spend most of July in Italy investigating olive oil production, taking cooking classes, hiking in the Dolomites, and seeing the sights. Viva Italia!

Judy Harness and Vickie Cook’s proposal was entitled, “Both Sides of the Santa Fe Trail!” They will travel the Santa Fe Trail to examine the westward expansion from the pioneer woman’s perspective as she endured the trek west for new beginnings, from the American Indian woman’s perspective as settlers invaded and seized her land, and how the two cultures modified each other’s art and traditions.

Congratulations Michele, Deb, Judy, and Vickie! Enjoy your summer adventures! We are all very proud of you.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Principal for a Day

Greg Jaggers was Principal for a Day with Cathy Deardorf at Plymouth High School Greg is a business consultant and a motivational speaker.

If you would like to be involved in Principal for a Day next year, contact Dan Tyree at

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Plymouth Schools are Closed Today

The conditions have not improved enough to transport students this morning. Plymouth Schools are closed today.

Plymouth Schools on 2 Hour Delay

Due to the fog, Plymouth Schools will be on a 2 hour delay. Kindergarten will be on the delay schedule. Conditions will be re-evaluated at 8:00 AM.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Principal for a Day

During our 7th Annual Principal for a Day, Rusty Nixon spent his day at Riverside Elementary with Donna Burroughs and Jeni Hirschy. Rusty is a freelance writer and the baseball coach for Ancilla College.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Blog Bits

School Board Highlights

Last evening the board met in regular session at Jefferson Elementary. In addition to its regular business, the Board of Trustees heard a report on the Jefferson School Improvement Plan from Mr. Remenih. A great number of Jefferson staff were present and the board greatly appreciated their efforts and their presence at the meeting. The board approved summer school programs for the coming year. Course offerings will include economics, government, U.S. history, biology, algebra, geometry, credit recovery language arts, jump start language arts, and jump start math at the high school. There will be a 4 week jump start program at Lincoln, migrant jr. high and high school program at Lincoln, and 1 section jump start program for students entering grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 at the elementary. Federal breakfast and lunch programs will be offered at both Lincoln and Washington. Exact dates for summer school will not be established until there is a break in the weather. The board scheduled executive sessions for staff evaluations on March 8th, March 12th, and March 15th. The next regular board meeting will be held March 22nd at 7:00 p.m. at Lincoln Junior High.

Blog Bits

The New 3R’s

Dr. Ernest Morrell is an assistant professor in the Urban Schooling division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the UCLA. He suggests that the 3 R’s, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, are no longer enough. Now, schools must also ensure the fundamentals of the New 3R’s to educate all students in the Information Age. So, what are the New 3R’s? They are Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships.

Rigor is more than memorizing, reciting, and restating. Students must become adept at deep understanding, applying knowledge, solving problems, and analyzing.

Relevance includes relating to student interests and needs, involving them in real-world situations and contexts, and linking them to a global economy and democratic life.

Relationships ensure that each student feels connected, that educators care about students and provide a student-focused environment, and that there is support for struggling students.

Dr. Morrell is one of the new speakers for the HOPE Foundation’s Failure is Not an Option Institute. HOPEfully, we can all agree that in Plymouth Schools Failure is Not an Option!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Make-up Times and Dates

In discussion with PEA, children will attend school all day this Friday, weather permitting, and Monday, President's Day. A summary of make-up days is as follows: February 19, April 6, May 25, and May 29. There will be no in service day, Friday, February 16, students will attend school the entire day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Closed on Valentine's Day

Due to the inclement weather, Plymouth Schools will be closed February 14.

Plymouth Schools are Closed Today

Plymouth Schools will be closed today. Road conditions will continue to deteriorate throughout the day. All evening activities are cancelled.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blog Bits

School Board Highlights
In addition to its regular business last Thursday evening, the Board of Trustees honored those who volunteer their services to the school district. They also adopted the school calendar (a link below will take readers to the 2007-2008 calendars). The next regular school board meeting will be February 15, 2007 at Jefferson Elementary at 7:00 p.m.

Legislative Priorities
Each long session, several bills are introduced that will impact education. The following are priorities for our district as legislators conduct their work:
a) During the first half of calendar year 2007, there is a 95 million dollar shortfall in the appropriation for state support of schools. The impact to Plymouth Community Schools will be a $360,000.00 shortfall during the first six months. Previous legislatures have corrected the shortfall prior to building the new budget. We encourage our legislators to do the same.
b) The 2% circuit breaker goes into effect during calendar year 2008. We have viewed various studies regarding the impact of the circuit breaker on Plymouth Community Schools. One study suggests the impact will be as little as $5,000.00, while other studies put the impact near $250,000.00 shortfall each year. The $5,000.00 shortfall is based on the assumption that accessed valuation will grow at the rate of 25% per year. We believe that the actual growth factor is much less. Legislation is needed to replace lost revenues to maintain the level of services that we currently have.
c) Textbooks – there will be bills introduced to provide free textbooks for all students. We think this conceptually, is a good idea. The bill that has been currently introduced, funds textbooks at $95.00 per student; our current fees average $120.00 per student. That current level of funding would require Plymouth Schools to dip into the general fund monies approximately $122,500.00 per year. We believe the highest priority for our legislature should be to fully fund the cost of books for those students who are on free/reduced lunch. The state currently refunds the local district at 58% of the cost.
d) Increase in school support - We are a growing school district. Our health insurance, utility costs, and cost of labor are increasing. The governor has recommended a 3% increase in state funding. The Department of Education has recommended 4%. We believe we can live within those recommendations.
e) Full day kindergarten – There is a lot of discussion of full day kindergarten in the legislature. Two bills have been introduced. The one in the house requires every district will offer full day kindergarten with no corresponding funding. The one in the senate phases in full day kindergarten and its funding over a period of time. We have several students who currently participate in extended day or full day kindergarten activities. Our staff sees a great need for many of our students. We support full day kindergarten as long as the requirements are fully funded and full day kindergarten is optional for parents.

Please check out the Plymouth Speech and Debate blog. It is highly animated. Former team member Heidi Dickson is in charge of maintaining the site.

Weather Button
A weather button has been added to our blog. A double click on the weather button will lead to a site containing current weather conditions. Office Manager, Amy Pratt, installed the feature on the Plymouth Truth.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Blog Bits

2007-2008 School Calendars

The 2007-2008 school calendars for the Plymouth Community Schools are available online. Please visit the following site

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Blog Bits

Educator Stephen Peters has tracked the main influences for students throughout the years and his findings should have important implications for educators and parents. His findings might just explain why “kids aren’t like they used to be.” According to Peters, in the 1960’s the top five influences in a child’s life in rank order were (1) home, (2) school, (3) church, (4) peers, and (5) media.

The 1980’s brought about changes in our society and culture, and with those changes, came a new order to what influences students. The top five influences in the 1980’s in a child’s life in rank order changed to (1) school, (2) church, (3) media, (4) family, and (5) friends. Most noticeably the disintegration of the family had a major impact on our children in the 1980’s, but fortunately, school and church continued to provide strong influences on our children.

As we’ve reached 2007, we now see an even greater change in what influences children. The top five influences in a child’s life in rank order now reads (1) friends, (2) media, (3) school, (4) church, and (5) family.

So, as parents and educators, what can we derive from the changes that have taken place in the last 40 years? First, we can try our best for our families, schools, and churches to regain the major influences on our children. Second, we can’t hide our heads in the sand and wish for the good old days to return. That probably isn’t going to happen. Third, we need to recognize the powerful influences that the media and our children’s friends have on them. Since we can’t completely control our children’s lives, we need to steer them towards appropriate media and friends who will be positive influences on them.

As an educator and a parent, the importance of programs such as peer mediation, peer tutoring, and peer mentoring is very clear. If these programs aren’t in every school, they should be. If we can’t be the ones that influence our children, then let’s direct them to sources of influence that promote positive messages for them as they think their thoughts, choose their actions, and live their lives.

Stephen G. Peters speaks nationally for the Hope Foundation. He has also authored the book Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? His work helps frame the research behind the six principles of effective schools in Alan Blankstein’s book, Failure is Not an Option. To read more from the Hope Foundation visit

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stay Tuned for Tommorrow's Announcement

Current forecasts show the snow ending at 12:00 PM this evening. The highway departments should have ample time to open the roads. In addition to monitoring temperatures, our transportation team will be driving the roads in the morning. If an announcement is needed, it will be on the TV and radio stations shortly after 6 AM.

Make-Up Days

The two cancelled days will be made up on April 6 and May 25. All future cancelled days will be added to the end of the year. Thank you for your patience.

Plymouth Schools Closed

Plymouth Schools will be closed today.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Feb. 6, Plymouth will be on a 2 Hour delay

Projected wind chill is -20 tomorrow morning. Plymouth Schools will be on a 2 hour delay. The 2 hour delay Kindergarten schedule will be followed. Please monitor tv channels (16 and 22 ) and local radio stations for further updates.

Blog Bits

Do Students Just Want to Have Fun?

In a perception survey conducted by Victoria Bernhardt, ten thousand students were asked, “What has to be in place for you to learn best in the classroom?” Overwhelmingly, the top three answers included, (1) the teachers show that they care for me as a person, (2) the teachers make sure I learn, and (3) the teachers assign work that is fun.

So, what does fun mean? Does it mean that teachers have to be a stand-up comedian to reach children? Do teachers have to dress up in costume to teach a Civil War unit? Or maybe fun means that the only successful teachers are ones that play fun games in class.

Fortunately, Bernhardt was forward-thinking enough and also surveyed students’ on their perception of what fun meant. According to Bernhardt’s survey, fun had two distinct definitions. First, fun is a class where the teacher provides rigorous work for his/her students to be engaged in every day. Secondly, fun is a class where each student can point to, touch, or hold a product as the direct result of the rigorous work that was assigned by the teacher.

So, if that’s all it takes, let our children have fun.

Victoria Bernhardt speaks nationally for the Hope Foundation. Her work is part of the research that supports the six principles of effective schools in Alan Blankstein’s book, Failure is Not an Option. To read more from the Hope Foundation visit

School is Closed Today

Plymouth Schools are closed today.

2Hour Delay

Due to the wind chill factor, Plymouth Schools is on a 2 hour delay. Kindergarten will run on the 2 hour delay schedule.