Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interview With Queen Anne Elementary Principal

From the Queen Anne blog, an interview with current Coe principal, David Elliot, who will become the principal at the new Queen Anne Elementary. From the interview:

At first Seattle Public Schools said that Queen Anne Elementary was going to be a Montessori school. Now it is going to have a "technology" focus. How did that change come about?
In the design team survey that was taken in late February assessing Queen Anne and Magnolia interest in different kinds of schools, there was interest in a technology or elementary STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] program for the new school. We need to attract families from our cluster into this school to relieve the overcrowding we see in our elementary schools right now, and there was a concern that a Montessori program wasn't going to do it.

Plus, it is very difficult to find enough highly qualified Montessori teachers within the District. There were teachers who might be willing to do Montessori training over the summer, but that is not the same as someone who is well versed and practiced in Montessori teaching.

36 comments:

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I think the second answer was probably the deciding factor. At Graham Hill, we always had a very difficult time finding Montessori teachers for grades 1–5. The teacher training for those grades is different than that for preK and K, and there are actually only a handful of schools across the country that offer the training (one in in Kent, I believe).

Now that the District has a few K-5 Montessori programs, I can imagine the qualified teachers (those with the Montessori training and experience AND state certification) have been snapped up.

jamie said...

I'm having a hard time imagining the Seattle family drawn to elementary tech, for some reason. Is anyone here interested in that kind of program?

Most families I know attempt to reduce overall screen time, and the children are as adept with technology as we allow them to be.

On the other hand, I think Montessori would be a big draw, and I agree it was probably the teacher shortage that killed that, or possibly the start-up material costs.

Sully said...
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Sully said...

I would not be drawn to an elementary tech school. In fact I'm a bit adverse to it. I think todays kids get plenty of exposure to technology at home between laptops, Ipods, Xbox/DS/WII/game boys, cell phones......

I think a tech focus school is completely appropriate for kids high school, maybe even middle school, but not elementary.

And, once again, this sounds a lot like Jane Addams. All talk but no walk. MGJ is opening a "tech" school but is not alloting any additional resources to make it a tech school. They get the same lump of dollars for technology that Sandpoint and Macdonald get, use the same math materials. Excuse me while I yawn....

It's just hard to get excited about that.

Now, MGJ might be able to take advantage of families living in areas that had a neighborhood school with a bad reputation, I could see them choosing a new tech school. But how many families will be lured away from high performing, tried and true, Coe and Haye? How many families volunarily left View Ridge, Bryant, Laurelhurst, or Wedgewood for Jane Addams, an environmental school in name only?

What I'd like to see is some tranparency. How many surveys did the district actually receive that expressed an interest in technology?

Dorothy said...

I do not know about an elementary STEM. However, I know that both Sand Point and McDonald Steering committees polled their neighborhoods and Montessori was not one of the favored models.

For Sand Point, the favored models were language immersion or Spectrum. For what specialists were favored for PCP, in addition to the usual of PE and Art and Music, a computer class did rank high.

I don't know how much technology is needed or desired for elementary school kids, but a school focused on science and engineering (ie, building things). Well, that would be a draw. the NSF Inquiry science kits are OK, but not enough. If you focused a lot of time on inquiry based science and some engineering, with teachers specially trained... that could be quite a fascinating school. It doesn't have to be a lot of screen time.

jamie said...

A science or engineering focus would indeed be interesting, but they are calling it a "technology" focused school, and I'm pretty sure they mean more computer ed by that, but I guess we will see.

Dorothy said...

Yup, Jamie. That's true. But who knows, really. One factor is money. There's no money for any fancy technology.

Lisa said...

I came here to say what Dorothy is saying. A strong inquiry-based science program with lots of experimentation, field trips and building things would be great and very attractive to families. Along with this, a math waiver would be great so these kids who are being encouraged towards scientific and engineering studies won't have to contend with the vagaries of Discovery Math.

I don't think there is any need at all for additional computer time during the elementary school day, although this school would be a natural for a fun, optional afterschool technology program of the type Digipen offers. And many elementaries have a computer animation afterschool offering that the kids seem to enjoy.

jamie said...

sorry to go a little off topic here:

I went to the Sand Point open house (where I was forcefully informed that I wouldn't be allowed to enroll from neighboring VR cluster, no matter how much empty space there was.)

They mentioned that they would have a laptop cart with 30 computers plus at least 6 computers in every classroom, which is really quite a lot, especially for a kindergarten class. For the record I wasn't tempted in the slightest to send my kids there, whether or not it would be allowed under the NSAP.

When I inquired how the ALO there would work, he mentioned believing in enrichment rather than acceleration, and when encouraged to flesh that idea out as it would pertain to math, there seemed to be nothing there.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What was the reason you were told you couldn't enroll?

jamie said...

It was in the context of a discussion about class sizes, I something about a cap for out of area students taking available spots after open enrollment and the principal claimed that there was no choice except for option schools at the elementary level. I told him that was contrary to my understanding of the NSAP and he was very certain that he was correct.

Julie said...

Off topic, but please see Rep Reuven Carlyle's blog about the new "parent tax" here:
http://reuvencarlyle36.com/2010/03/21/the-seattle-public-schools-parent-tax-is-one-step-too-far/

ParentofThree said...

I also recall from that survey that a language school was actually the number one choice of parents, but MGJ said no because there was already a language emersion school nearby, which of course was completely silly since nobody outside of the boundry line can go to that school under the NSAP.

Again, another example where there is a program, language emersion, that seems very popular and successful but not being replicated even though a the data from a parent survey said this the program that we would enroll our children in.

If they can't start a Montessori school, then they can't do it. That does make sense, but to go so far in the opposite direction from the survey results is just, well, so typical, at this point.

Personally I would never enroll a 5year old in a Technology school.

ParentofThree said...
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TechyMom said...

One of the things I liked about Montlake was the wonderful techology class there, which taught creative use of multimedia, closely tied with the general curriculum. I was moved to tears by a student-made movie about polar bear habitat destruction I saw on the tour. Programming is building things, and has often been used in gifted pull-out programs. It teaches logic an the sort of algorithmic thinking we no longer see in math at SPS. There are quite a few excellent programming systems for kids, including Lego Mindstorms robotics, which are popular at private elemenataries.

Queen Anne has is home to many people who work at Microsoft and other local tech companies. (walk around and look for yellow Microsoft parking tags on windshields) I bet there are quite a few local families who will be excited about this school. And, let's not forget that most of the local tech workers do pretty well. I can see a scenario where geeky parents do a lot of the heavy lifting to design and equip the school.

For every local family that limits screen time, there's another that embraces the "digital lifestyle."

Central Mom said...

That Sand Point principal is 100 percent wrong. SP has a number of kids that it has to accept. The District has mandated the number. If kids from the draw area do not fill it, any kid can. And if the principal said that, go back, dial Tracy Libros' number and listen while she tells the principal directly.
Sheesh.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Interestingly...the principal at West Seattle HS had a similar take: out of area kids would be restricted to the number of option slots and that's it. I have no idea if it's true or if principals are just assuming the District won't fill their under-enrolled slots with kids from outside the attendance area. Dontcha love all this predictability!

jamie said...

Techymom, just for the record, we are one of those tech industry families you speak of :).

Central Mom said...

SolvayGirl...At the HS level, the attempt has been put into the SAP to leave 10 percent of seats open at the high school level for choice. There is no "teeth" behind it, and I don't believe it will happen in the most popular schools, but that was the Board's intent.

The difference at the elementary level is that there is no target for leaving open seats. Each school now has a target number of enrollees from the District. If the District guessed wrong on drawing lines around the neighborhood schools, or if some schools remain unpopular, then there may be open seats which anyone in the District could fill. (Transportation has a different set of rules.)

In summary, elementary and HS operate slightly differently on leaving seats for choice. But in no case should an elementary principal claim that people from outside the draw area cannot enroll. Of course, in some crowded areas, a principal may be telling people that pragmatically there will not be space, that they know an overenrollment issue will be a problem for the near term from within the draw area itself. That is a different nuance.

TechyMom said...

Me too, Jamie. If we were picking a school this year, and lived closer to Queen Anne, we'd look at it. And, we'd consider donating computers, Mindstorms kits, and volunteer time. If they're teaching PowerPoint and spending a lot of time with webkinz or club penguin, I wouldn't be impressed. But, if they're learning to program, building robots or web sites, creating art on Photoshop, and making movies, well, that could be a great program for the right kid.

Jellyfish said...

Will there be any "S", "E", or "M" in this elementary STEM school? Or is the unique focus exclusively computer technology?

What about other types of technology, such as that used in a laboratory? There was no mention of this.

Anyone know if this is simply a "T" school in the STEM model??????

dan dempsey said...

my thought about:
"Along with this, a math waiver would be great so these kids who are being encouraged towards scientific and engineering studies won't have to contend with the vagaries of Discovery Math. "

Given the total detachment of TEAM MGJ (and I include 4 board members as part of that team with rubber stamps in hand) from reality.

The only way I see much Math Change happening is with A or B:

A... The Federal Court looks at over 10 years of discriminatory evidence as says GAME OVER ... see ==> HERE

B... After the WA State Supreme Court looks over the Writ of Mandamus which will be filed on Friday 3-26-10 (served at school board meeting by Tom Leonard during time ceded from my testimony) and acts (no idea how long it takes to act but it is supposed to be quick as public officials are not doing their job at both the school board level and King Count Superior Court level so this is an ASAP action and not a wait your turn at the end of the line action). If the action is positive for the plaintiffs' side,then we have evidence not just of misfeasance but malfeasance as well. Thus getting a recall petition approved at the King County Court level is a SLAM DUNK certainty. So we can be off collecting 32,000 valid signatures each for the recall of Maier, Sundquist, Martin-Morris and Carr. Then comes the recall elections with positive results the school board is reduced to 3 directors until fall 2011. The new mini-board can then fire the superintendent with cause for facilitating an ongoing violation of RCW 28A 645.020 during her administration. No Buy OUT just call a cab and good bye.

Then we get new math programs, whose selection will be based on research and a history of proven successful results (rather than astrological signs and the pH of full moon rain water or however the CAOs & Seattle Math Program managers guide these selections).

Needless to say Attorney Scott Stafne has put in enormous hours and been paid very little so far. This guy is one fine writer and he comes up with great ideas.

Speaking of Great Ideas:

Somebody needs to get on with major fund raising ideas. If you have a plan I can ship you a Wells Fargo account number to deposit the funds into.

Also (if you have the $$$ and the inclination) act now and send a check (or even a few pennies) to: HERE

Thanks for considering a donation.

Also consider ideas for an enormous victory parade and parties with a "Public whips Oligarchs" theme.

Cheers,

Dan

Maureen said...

Following links from Reuven Carlyle's blog, I came across QA parent Suzi Levine's blog with a (long!)post called "Thinking about the school I want for my kids" with lots of links -- Including Reinventing Schools and Microsoft Education. I don't pretend to have followed all of the links or even read Ms. Levine's post very carefully, but I do wonder if she could be part of a QA group that supported making QAE a tech school?

She says in part:
....Fundamentally – the very core to having a high quality school/classroom isn’t the technology in the room. It’s the teacher engaging the students (even if that teacher is 3000 miles away). So – as you look through these videos and resources, also bear in mind that the most successful programs are also steeped in teacher training, best practices and a pursuit of excellent teaching.

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts, ideas and other references....

Karrie said...

We live on QA, have a child at Coe and will have a kindergartner in 2011. Our closest school will be the new QAE ... and we are strongly considering it because of David Elliott's leadership. No matter what type of program the school has, under his leadership, I am confident it will be a great school for all kids, be they from QA/Magnolia or other parts of the city.

The survey of QA/Magnolia families indicated a very strong preference (~70%) for a language immersion/ international school in order for parents to be willing to take their kids out of John Hay or Coe. Given how successful those two schools are - moving to QAE is a big "ask" if they are your reference area school. I think the biggest carrot SPS has now is David Elliott himself and his track record of building a successful school.

Time will tell...

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I think the biggest carrot SPS has now is David Elliott himself and his track record of building a successful school."

This is how powerful a good principal can be.

Also, Karrie, FYI, we're calling them attendance area schools now. (Just so we get the terms right - we have to wean outselves off the old ones.)

gavroche said...

Blogger Maureen said...

Following links from Reuven Carlyle's blog, I came across QA parent Suzi Levine's blog with a (long!)post called "Thinking about the school I want for my kids" with lots of links -- Including Reinventing Schools and Microsoft Education. I don't pretend to have followed all of the links or even read Ms. Levine's post very carefully, but I do wonder if she could be part of a QA group that supported making QAE a tech school?

She says in part:
....Fundamentally – the very core to having a high quality school/classroom isn’t the technology in the room. It’s the teacher engaging the students (even if that teacher is 3000 miles away).


Yes, I have heard that S. Levine has been somewhat involved in the discussions that lead to QAE becoming a 'tech school.' (I don't happen to agree with the notion that a teacher can or should be "3,000 miles away," though.)

Future principal D. Elliott is genuinely excited about the tech focus, so this seems more organic than the sudden grafting of STEM on Cleveland.

Meanwhile, though, it's March 22, with only 9 days left of Open Enrollment, and as far as I know, both Queen Anne elementary schools -- Coe and Hay -- remain principal-less for 2010/11.

Has anyone heard who will replace David Elliott (Coe) and Dan Warren (Hay)? Seems rather unfair to expect families to select a school without knowing who the principal will be.

Melissa Westbrook said...

See my School Board notes for principal updates.

gavroche said...

OK, found it, but how is Supt. Goodloe-Johnson's time-frame as outlined here, acceptable?

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson then gave her remarks which were about principal selection. I missed her first few sentences but she said that they are using attributes to get to 6 candidates and that school teams could pick 3. She said then there would be a "learning walk" thru the school with each candidate and she would make the decision with announcements in April. She said Center School had picked 5, Madrona had 4, and that Coe, John Hay and McGilvra still were working through the selection process.

Parents have a deadline of March 31 for open enrollment. The Supt. has known since last year that the District planned to reopen 5 schools. Why can't families know NOW who is going to be heading all the schools that are losing their principals to the reopened schools, as well as the other schools with temporary principal assignments?

Maybe families don't choose a school based on who the principal is, but that surely is a factor. Look at what a disaster the recent principal at McGilvra turned out to be. Look at how the District is using Coe's popular principal to lure families away from Coe and Hay to Queen Anne Elem.

So much of this "Strategic Plan" is rush, rush, rush. And then in other places, people aren't given enough information to make informed decisions, as the District drags its feet withholding info and data.

Overall, this plan isn't being rolled out very strategically, in my opinion. Unless, of course, the "strategy" is to create chaos and confusion for parents and kids.

How did Supt. Goodloe-Johnson's "Strategic Plan" work in Charleston? Was it more successful than this?

grousefinder said...

Friends and Colleagues: This is the honest truth about science curriculum in SPS:

1. The District science curriculum is not aligned with State Standards (save for those few classrooms with innovators). It is dismally aligned, in fact. Successful teachers design their own curriculum, but do not collaborate with other schools. Why? Nobody gives them the time!

2. The District has not formed a committee to address the new State standards by which the students will be evaluated next year. I find this borderline malfeasant. The new standards are five months away and nobody has begun the process of adjusting curriculum. Wow! (BTW...I am not talking about tweaking NSF/Foss kits...they are generally ignored by teachers at elementary level due to time constraints.)

3. The District spends a fortune warehousing and refilling elementary science kits and supplies, which are so poorly aligned that nearly 50% of elementary (and 50% of middle school) students fail the Science WASL.

4. The Coe Principal says: "...and we will use all the same materials (EveryDay Math, FOSS science kits) that the other schools in the District are using." FOR A STEM SCHOOL?!? This is a sure path to mediocrity. Hard science requires focused mathematics. EDM won't cut the mustard when students are calculating the load capacity of those bridge projects that engineering schools are so fond of these days.

STEM in name only...why do I cynically say to myself..."this is another 'feel-good' project for SPS"

gavroche said...

Grousefinder, I particularly agree with your 3rd point. In fact, it has been suggested to the Coe/Queen Anne Elem. principal that if QA Elem were to offer Singapore Math (which has been approved by the District, btw) instead of, or alongside EDM, THAT might make QAE more of an appealing choice for parents -- especially those who are concerned about their kids' math education in SPS.

(Right now it's not clear that QAE's 'tech' focus alone is going to be enough of a draw to relieve QA/Magnolia overcrowding.)

In fact, QAE would be a perfect place for the District to do a pilot study of Singapore Math. Again, this is not a radical idea -- Singapore Math was approved by the District and Board the same time as EDM (I believe; Dan and others can correct me if I'm amiss here on the exact timeline). But for some reason, the District has not chosen to invest in the Sing. Math resources (books, etc.) This would be a good opportunity to do it.

grousefinder said...

gavroche...you are absolutely correct about Singapore Math. Has the STEM principal been down to observe at Schmitz Park? I am sure they would welcome parents and teachers to see some lessons. If you or other community members are interested, call the Schmitz Park Principal at 252-9700.

Schmitz is the only 100% Singapore Math school in the district. They have a waiver. They also had the highest Science WASL scores in the District last year.

lendlees said...

The issue with using Singapore Math is that the school would have to fund the materials...and a school without students is without $$ from the PTSA to fund the materials. SPS is not going to pay for the school to get the Singapore math books.

Chicken and the egg. Can't attract the students without the materials and can't get the materials without the students.

gavroche said...

lendlees said...

The issue with using Singapore Math is that the school would have to fund the materials...and a school without students is without $$ from the PTSA to fund the materials. SPS is not going to pay for the school to get the Singapore math books.

Chicken and the egg. Can't attract the students without the materials and can't get the materials without the students.


I hear what you're saying. But then, how is SPS going to create a 'tech' school to attract 109 families without spending some money? Clearly the District will find the funds to buy computers and other 'STEM' items for the new school. Why can't it also find money for Singapore Math textbooks?

It's a matter of priorities.

lendlees said...

Gavroche--the issue is that while Singapore math is approved by the district, they have stated that schools may get waivers, but they have to pay for the 'non-standard' materials themselves.

Under the QAE website it states they are using Everyday Mathematics. (just like MacDonald and Sand Point)

I don't disagree that the district should pony up the $$ for the school, it's just that they won't go against their policy--especially when it costs $$.

evision said...

WORK AND STUDY

Anonymous said...

@gavroche Queen Anne Elementary is currently using Math in Focus. It is a Singapore Math curriculum, though it has been Americanized.

QAE is full, full, full from K-3, so the school has already done the job that MGJ and the Board tasked it with--alleviating capacity. The school was originally supposed to have max out at 300 kids, but now has about 340 kids and will get three more classrooms in the next 2 years. (we ran out of classrooms this year)

And a majority of the families are from the schools' GeoZone. This was true before SPS changed the GeoZone last year.

And the "tech" focus is not a primary focus of the school. The staff prides itself on being a Project Based Learning (PBL) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) school. Technology is a part of the school, but not its reason for being.

QAE parent