Greetings Eagle Families and Friends,
It has been an absolute pleasure spending time during the early part of this school year getting to know our students! I have especially enjoyed spending time with our student leader groups. Meeting with student advisory groups has not only given me the opportunity to start to develop meaningful connections with our students, but also to hear about Sandburg from our students’ perspective. We make every attempt to create leadership opportunities for our students and give them a voice at Carl Sandburg High School. Each student advisory committee is represented by multiple individuals from each grade level. The student advisors help us take a look at practices and traditions, ask us questions about things that impact their experience, and make recommendations to us about all things Sandburg. The communication and relationship between Sandburg administration and student advisories gives us the opportunity to successfully advance our school improvement goals of learning, interventions, and connectedness. I share some examples:
The first student group that we had the opportunity to meet with this school year was the Student Council Executive Board. Associate Principal Derrick Smith, Assistant Principal Greg Gardner and myself will be meeting with the Executive Board on a monthly basis. I started this first meeting by asking the students to share what they like most about Sandburg. They consistently mentioned the opportunities they have at Sandburg, highlighting academic and co-curricular opportunities. One student talked about the unique and special sense of teamwork that is pervasive at Sandburg. They also talked about the positive influence that their teachers, coaches, sponsors, and advisors have on them and their experience! The students also took the opportunity to tell us about their summer leadership training and their new committee structure, which is more inclusive and designed to give student members a stronger voice. We also discussed homecoming plans. With Homecoming 2018 now in the books, I can share that this group of student leaders under the direction of sponsors Fred Poronto and Meghan Schacht, did an outstanding job of planning and facilitating a phenomenal and spirited week! Student participation and spirit was high all week, and the week culminated with 1,800 students attending the “Welcome to Emerald City” themed Homecoming Dance! I look forward to working with this group as they not only organize major events for our school, but also as they bring specific concerns forward to administration as elected representatives of the student body.
Our Superintendent’s Advisory met with me, Dr. Gay, our Superintendent, John Connolly, Chief Technology Officer, and Mr. Smith in September. Dr. Gay shared with our students that the District theme for the year is “What’s your Story.” He talked about the importance of building relationships and learning each others’ stories. During this meeting, we shared with the students that we will be asking many of them to share their stories and that this will be a focus when we host Superintendent’s Advisory students from Andrew and Stagg for the joint meeting in November! During our time together, I also took the opportunity to ask students about the start to their school year. They shared that it has been an exceptional start and noted that the Superfanz have done an outstanding job promoting school spirit. The freshmen members noted a smooth transition and that it has been easy to adapt to life at Sandburg. The students also commented that the furniture addition to the Steaming Eagle Cafe, a recent donation by the Class of ‘82, enhances the space. The senior members of the advisory shared how smooth the parking pass process was this year. Our conversation also focused quite a bit on technology - How are the Chromebooks? Any gaps in connectivity noticed? How are they doing navigating Gmail and Canvas? Things seem to be going quite well. We are now in our second year of all students having Chromebooks and it definitely feels like this has become part of the fiber of Carl Sandburg. Students are now focused on sharing ways that their use of the devices towards their learning experience can be enhanced - pretty neat!
Late last month, I had the opportunity to meet with our EL Student Advisory. The adults that co-facilitate this group, Division Chair for English/Music/EL Sarah Smith and Associate Principal Brian Klene shared that when this group started to meet two years ago that they were shy about expressing their thoughts and opinions but that last year they embraced having a voice at Carl Sandburg and even delivered a presentation about their cultures to a group of their classmates. During this meeting, we spent our time getting to know each other by sharing something that contributes to each of our story with the group. When we meet in October, the advisory group will continue to discuss how we can improve cultural competency at Sandburg.
It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know the members of our Superfanz leadership advisory over the last few months. Under the direction of Mr. Gardner, our Superfanz meet at least twice a month to organize themes, Freshman Spirit Training, and school spirit activities. This advisory group brings passion and energy to all it does and has an emphasis of connecting all students to Sandburg in an inclusive fashion. The Superfanz leadership group contributes to the positive and spirited culture at Sandburg.
About 100 students participate on the advisory committees, some of which have been described above. We believe strongly that the advisory committee experience is a great opportunity for administration to hear about the student experience first hand while giving our students voice within our school. We look forward to our continued work with all student advisory committees. In October, I will be meeting with select members of the School Safety Advisory, developed last year, as we plan for the implementation of Start with Hello and Say Something Weeks at Carl Sandburg.
I hope to see you at Parent-Teacher Conferences on Tuesday, October 9th from noon to 7pm!
Jennifer Tyrrell, Principal