Let’s hear it for students from St. Ignatius School in Portland, Oregon for promoting healthy eating habits. The school’s second graders were being taught about the Food Pyramid when they heard that comedian and talk show host Jay Leno hadn’t eaten a vegetable since 1969. The students wrote letters to Mr. Leno imploring him to take a renewed look at the Food Pyramid and give veggies another try. Their persuasive writing paid off: Mr. Leno ate a veggie for the first time in 30 years on an episode of “The Tonight Show” this week. If you want to see a clip of the show, visit the school’s Web site at http://www.stignatiusschool.org/today.htm. Principal John Matcovich says the entire letter writing project has been “a memorable example to our students of how powerful their writing can be.”
In this week’s Education Week, NAESP’s executive director Vincent Ferrandino and NASSP’s executive director Gerald Tirozzi discuss the digital divide in our nation’s schools and the need to ensure that children don’t get left behind in the digital revolution.
The University of Rhode Island School of Education—with a grant from the National Science Foundation—recently launched a five-year study to examine what prospective and current elementary teachers need to develop their teaching skills using exploratory and inquiry-based science lessons. Researchers will ask student education majors and mid-career teachers to discuss the current teaching of science in elementary schools, their content knowledge, and their readiness to change teaching practices.
The Food Research and Action Center released a report yesterday indicating that a record number of students from low-income families—7.7 million to be exact—are receiving free- and reduced-price breakfast at school. While 40 states increased participation, the federal breakfast program still only feeds two in five children who need it. “Reaching a lot more children with breakfast in schools is probably the most cost-effective and fastest way to improve children’s learning and health, improve attendance and, of course, reduce hunger,” says James Weill, the Center's president.
Check out an uplifting article in the Sacramento Bee about one of our 2006 National Distinguished Principals, Noel Hesser. The article explains how Hesser dealt with the loss of his son by increasing his efforts to help troubled students while he was principal of Gloria Dei Lutheran School. We applaud Noel and we're always happy to share stories about principals making a positive difference in the lives of students.
NAESP’s 86th Annual Convention and Exposition is just a few months away and for the first time will be held in Seattle, Washington. Thousands of principals will convene in "Emerald City" from March 29-April 2 for the largest professional development experience created exclusively for elementary and middle-level principals and assistant principals. NAESP's Convention will feature some terrific speakers, including the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman; author and educator, Jonathan Kozol; and educator, Erin Gruwell.
To register, visit http://web.naesp.org/conv2007/.
A happy student doesn’t necessarily translate to a high-achieving student, a report by the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy concludes. The report’s author Tom Loveless writes that “Despite the call to make schools more relevant, there is little evidence that relevance increases student engagement…Real student engagement is not about keeping students happy, boosting their self-esteem, or convincing them that what they are learning is relevant; it’s about acquiring new knowledge and skills and pursuing the activities that contribute to that attainment.”
The report—“How Well Are American Students Learning?—is based on national and international testing data and evaluates the role that student happiness and confidence play in achievement. Loveless is quoted in the Boston Globe saying, “The implication is not ‘Let’s go make kids unhappy. It’s ‘Let’s give kids better signals as to how they’re performing, relative to the rest of the world.”
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings made a strong showing on last week’s episode of “Celebrity Jeopardy,” coming in second place. But the Secretary wasn’t the only recent educator to appear on Jeopardy. Last month, New Jersey middle school principal Andrew Espinoza appeared on the show. Andrew was a Jeopardy champion the first night after he responded to the clue, “Introduced in a 1981 novel, this big-screen character tops the AFI's 2003 list of all-time great movie villains.” While most of us were thinking Darth Vader, Andrew correctly answered, “Who is Hannibal Lecter? Congrats to Andrew.
Guest blogger and Oklahoma principal Jan Borelli recently told us that we should keep our eyes open for one of the newer forms of technology—podcasting. Today, Jan joins her colleague and fellow podcaster, Arizona principal Steve Poling, with the debut of “Principal Necessities,” a new feature where key education figures, authors, and specialists discuss issues, trends, and concerns that are facing principals and other members of the education community. The first broadcast features popular author and presenter, Dr. Ruby Payne, who discusses discipline strategies for the classroom. You can hear Jan and Steve’s interview with Dr. Payne by clicking here.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and we’re certain that many schools soon will be planning classroom or schoolwide holiday celebrations for their students. But as reported in the December issue of NAESP’s Communicator newsletter, some schools have cut back or completely eliminated sweets and other unhealthy foods from their festivities. Instead of cookies and cupcakes, they will be feasting on fruit and veggies, among other healthy spreads—all for the sake of children’s health. Some schools have even banned food altogether from celebrations. Have these schools gone too far? What effect have the mandated wellness policies had on your school?