from ‘A Student’
The landscape from the second floor of the Bowen building at the Academy that was snapped on Monday.
by Teacher’s Point of View
“What do you think about this Character Counts program? Do you feel it’s helping you meet the State CCT standards any better than you were already doing on your own (prior to three years ago when CC came in)? Are you seeing an appreciable difference in the children’s behavior as a result of Character Counts?
There has been acceptable and unacceptable classroom behavior since I was a student (back in the days of Moses). Teachers never needed a program like CC before. What has changed nowadays and do you feel that whatever it is that has changed, CC thoroughly addresses it?”- Newcomer
I think it’s important to think of CC as just one tool to help us create an ideal atmosphere for learning. In the same way a new math book does not equal a new curriculum (just a different tool), CC does not equal different behavioral expectations, just a different way to get them across. There are a few things I like about the program that improves on conditions.
First, it adds consistency throughout the school. All teachers are using the same language when dealing with children. In math, if everyone is effectively teaching, but covering different topics and using different curriculum, it would be inefficient and confuse the kids. I see character development in a similar way. This program aims to coordinate all of our efforts and add consistency to cut down on confusion and make the instruction for efficient.
Second, students are able to see that the whole school has taken ownership in helping to develop them, not just their classroom teacher. Students in a group may have 2 teachers out of their grade level and a teachers assistant facilitating their activities. They see the community effort in building character.
“If one key reason for introducing this program is to curb a bullying problem, how does this program attempt to do that?”- Newcomer
By developing students’ abilities to think of others, show respect, and take responsibility, you hope to have kids think before acting in a bullying manner. Will this automatically happen due to this program for every kid? No. But I think it will help. It also will help with the bullying issue in another way. When someone is being bullied, there are almost always onlookers. We hope to encourage others to actively advocate for kids being teased or bullied. Read the rest of this entry »
When I have a question about what my children are doing in school I contact their teacher(s). I’ve not had to take any steps beyond that so far, as I’ve found that the teachers in Woodstock have responded to the questions I’ve asked. If I were not satisfied, contacting a building administrator would be my next step. If my questions/concerns were still not addressed to my satisfaction, I would next contact Dr. Baran, and, if necessary, the BOE.
This forum is a great place to exchange ideas and make arguments (in the scholarly sense) about policies and procedures. In the end, it’s just a bunch of people who toss ideas around. I appreciate the fact that Kevin posts here regardless of whether I agree with him. But he should not be expected to make any sort of policy statements – the BOE Chair is responsible for BOE statements and explanation of policies, and Dr. Baran is responsible for WPS public statements and explanation of policies.
I’m pretty confident that Kevin does not need me, or anyone else to stick up for him – but it would be inappropriate for him, when “backed into a corner” to explain BOE policies, curriculum, or any other official position. Again, that is the role of the BOE Chair and/or the superintendent.
It is wholly appropriate for parents and taxpayers to inquire about the WPS curriculum. Read the rest of this entry »
Teacher has expressed a deep sense of frustration with replies to Taxpayer’s questioning of the value of the Character Counts program. One has only to look across the street from the Woodstock Middle School and see an entire educational facility dedicated to the Character Counts philosophy. Hyde School is a prime example of how an entire curriculum is based on the principles of CC education. When I was teaching at a Juvenile Detention Facility in Grafton, Mass. all 200 plus teachers in the Department of Child Services were given training on Character Counts Education with specific goals and objectives to accomplish with incarcerated adolescents in our programs. A program designed by the juvenile justice department in Mass. had several components, some of which were based on trends in popular music and movies. Students identified with these contemporary examples of behaviors that are unacceptable in a civilized society. I hope that Tax’s opinions fail to dissuade teachers and administrators from curtailing CC education in the Woodstock Public Schools.
I don’t know much about this Program and so am giving benefit of the doubt by the ideal suggested by it’s title – and I don’t understand objections to a program like this. What could be more important for young people to learn, develop, acquire, etc., than Character?
Tax says that “this sounds like a program to make us all “feel good”- one that has very good intentions but has no scientific basis, no clear objectives, no clear path for monitoring outcomes.”
That list is merely one (narrow) method to approach any program when there are numerous criteria which don’t fit neatly into such a list – even assuming the statement/list is true (how do we know?) that does not mean the program is good or bad, it means the measurement approach is flawed. I mean, we are talking about a deeply ingrained, ineffable personal quality – Character – which we can all agree is highly desirable, yet often incredibly difficult to detect, measure, ‘grade’, etc. Traditional methodology seems inadequate and inappropriate (is there a Standardized Test to determine if someone is a ‘Good Person?’).
‘No clear objectives…’? What about “doing our best to help young people develop Character”? This is not Algebra and the very paradigm for measuring anything about it – ’success’, progress, etc. – is completely different from most anything else. That ought not be reason to shoot it down, but instead to change our thinking about it all.
And because young people spend about 1/2 of their waking life in school, it seems a very good idea to work on Character during that time – especially considering their activities (and lack of concentration or opportunity for learning) during other waking hours. They deserve it. Read the rest of this entry »
from ’Teacher’s Point of View’
“I’ve heard other parents say that their child has been bullied in one of our schools. One of my children has also been bullied. The handful of students whom I’ve asked about this program report that it’s “so boring” Newcomer said.
If it’s fairly new in our schools (the Character Counts program), I guess we’ll have to track student surveys and student/parental complaints to see if reports of bullying do indeed decline after a few years of implementation. Afterall, any program needs to effectively address areas needing improvement in order to be considered successful. I haven’t yet heard any complaints of our students’ irresponsibility or lack of trustworthiness (2 of the 6 “pillars” of character) being problematic throughout the student body. But the bullying is a problem and we need to stay on top of it. I’m willing to give this character counts program a chance, but if there’s no measureable improvement in bullying reports over time, then I’d be open to trying something else that would directly address a clearly identified area of student behavior that several parents feel needs improvement.”
There are definitely reports of bullying like you stated. And I agree with you that it’s important to address this across the student body. To address only the ‘bullies’ wouldn’t be as effective. All students need to learn to identify bullying behavior so they can advocate for themselves and their peers.
As for character counts being boring, well, to some it is. But that doesn’t make it less important. Many students would describe math or reading as boring as well, but it is still important that we teach it. Whether it’s boring or not depends on two things. One is the teachers that are facilitating the group. I know some students love it and look forward to those days. They find the facilitators to be fun and exciting. The second thing is the attitude the students bring to the group. If a group has even a few students that the class sees as leaders and they’re enthusiastic, it will be infectious. In certain dynamics, students find it fun and exciting, in others, not so much.
Trustworthiness and responsibility needs to be taught and reinforced to pretty much every student in the middle school age group. Are the majority of students not trustworthy? Of course not. But many are. And even the students that are mostly trustworthy aren’t all the time in every situation. There’s always room for improvement and opportunities for discussion in this area. As for responsibility, this is problematic. I’ve seen specific classes accumulate over 200 late homework assignments in a single quarter before. I think there’s is definite room for improvement in the area of responsibility. It’s not a problem specific to Woodstock, it’s a problem specific to this age group.
Taxpayer, I’m only going to address a couple of your questions and answers here.
“3- What exactly is the weekly curriculum for character counts? Answer:There is none. Its “student directed”…which according to the rhetoric above translates to “greater student input and ownership”. For thinking people, this means, “not much is going on”.”-Tax
Just because teachers act as facilitators and allow students to direct character counts sessions does not mean that ‘not much is going on’. Teachers in the room carefully steer and direct students to self discovery and character counts awareness. All ideas are approved by teachers, and students are on task at all times. They’re not just sitting around doing nothing. They’re being directed to stay on course and work diligently toward certain goals.
“4- Shouldn’t teaching “positive behaviors” and “good citizenship be done at home by parents? Answer: YES! And I’m sure that’s where most of the teachers got theirs. Its an insult to assume that it doesn’t happen at home. I wonder if there has been any parent “input and ownership”.” – Tax
While I certainly agree parents should be doing this at home, I also think teachers and schools should be reinforcing it at school. Parents and teachers should be working together to meet this goal. In the same way it’s not solely the school’s job to teach kids reading and math, it’s not solely the parents’ job to teach character. Also, their are many aspects of character that may be specific to a specific environment. Is it not appropriate for schools to teach the students the type of behavior and character they expect to be shown in our own school setting? Is it not appropriate for us to establish an environment we find conducive to student learning and success?
Norwich Bull article. ‘First Selectman Allan Walker said he was “very excited” the proposal passed. … I think it’s the right time to do it because bonding rates and construction costs are low right now,” Walker said. “It’s long overdue.” ‘
ALSO… Many thanks to those who participated with donations to the the Food and Fuel Program! Once again, Woodstock shows it cares!
To raise $2.5 million to repair the salt storage facility, remediate ground contamination, and house highway facility equipment.
If we don’t, the State will at our expense.
Results should be in by 8:30 PM
The margin does not require a recount.
The Naysayers didn’t show up at the poles. They figured they could get the result at the Cafe.
From teachref09: “I just can’t fathom the incongruity of Mr. Powers who has sued the Town of Woodstock and cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees and now has a seat at the BOF table. What is wrong with this picture? The CPS crowd has placed a lot of faith in Mr.’s Schultz, Powers, Richardson et. al. and have come up sorely dissapointed. These “Three Musketeers” have never had one positive contribution to the Town and continue the negative rants in the Villager and elsewhere. When will they learn you get more with honey than vinegar?”
This appeared in the December 4th issue of the Woodstock Villager. Everything is usually forgotten the following week but the Cafe never forgets.
While listening to the WINY Talk Show this morning (Monday)I heard a woman talking about voting down the proposed bonding issue for the salt shed/Town Garage. Is every building project in the Town of Woodstock going to be called a “Taj Mahal?” First it was the new Town Hall then it was the purchase of the Data General Property to build a middle school. The Elementary School Renovations was cut back because it was going to be another Taj Mahal! And now the salt shed/Town Garage is going to be, yes you guessed it, a Taj Mahal! Maybe Woodstock has been relocated to India, like most jobs in America. How come no one calls Woodstock Academy’s building projects “Taj Mahals?” Oh, it’s ok to make Woodstock taxpayers pay for whatever the Academy wants without question, everything else is a “Taj Mahal” when it comes to town building projects.
I don’t know what the average per head cost would work out to be. What I remember from the town meeting was that the increase in taxes that this project would create would work out to about $30 per $100,000 in assessment(…or $2.50 a month) initially. Then in the second year it would be more – about double or $60. After that when the debt we have now phases out, I think there wouldn’t be increases and at some point I believe the cost would actually go down. The proposed financing has been designed so that the increases in taxes are minimized.
by Dean Audet
I would like to address comments made by Craig Powers and the Citizens for Prudent Spending such that people have the facts when they vote on Tuesday.
Mr. Powers’ letter to the editor advocates eliminating the use of sand resulting in “some increase in the use of salt” as his reasoning to vote against the project. I want to remind voters that a “salt shed” is being proposed and not a “sand shed.” If you buy into Mr. Powers recommendations, we will still need a salt shed as he is advocating completely relying on salt.
The Citizens for Prudent Spending ad made several points that were misleading or just plain wrong.
First, lets be absolutely clear, the people that were responsible for the pollution at the salt shed are long gone. To imply that current officials are responsible is not true.
Second, we cannot use grant money to clean up pollution on the site. To imply that you can is simple disregard or ignorance of the facts. Grants are not available to “polluters” to clean up their “pollution.” In this case, the Town is viewed as a “polluter.” The logic goes like this: Polluter saves money by not properly disposing wastes, they then do not get grant money to clean up what they saved money doing.
The total principal that will be financed is $2.48 million over a 20 year period. The financing plan presented on Tuesday night showed the following:
1)We would begin paying off our loan in FY 2011.
2) This year, 0.7 mills of our taxes will go to pay debt service. Under the proposed financing plan, this would increase to a max of 0.77 mills in the FY 2011-2012 and then decrease to 0.50 mills in 2014-2015 and continue dropping.
3) The increase of 0.07 mills that is proposed for that one year is equivalent to $54,760 for the entire Town. I believe that there are more than 10,000 taxpayers in this town (not voters, but people who are sent tax bills). Using 10,000, this works out to an average of about $5.48 per taxpayer (I will double check this on Monday).
The financing for this project has been thought out to minimize impacts to all of us. Obviously, those with large property values will pay more, and those with less will pay less.
Over the next two days, if you have a question that you need answered to help make a decision, please post them here and I will do my best to answer. Once again, I have been working on this Committee and want to make sure people understand what they are voting for.
from the Board of Education
Common sense suggests that students who feel safe, supported, and engaged in school are more likely to learn well. In the last 30 years, a growing body of research has confirmed the importance of the learning climate for students. Compelling empirical research shows that a positive and sustained school climate promotes academic achievement and healthy development. Not surprisingly, a positive school climate also promotes teacher retention, which itself enhances student success.
At the Woodstock Public Schools, our administrators recognize this strong link and have implemented coordinated and sustained programs to foster a positive environment for all our students. Foremost among these is our Character Counts initiative, now in its third year at both WES and WMS. Character Counts underscores positive behaviors that are foundational to good citizenship and respect for all. The program emphasizes six “pillars of behavior” to help guide students toward strong character development: caring, citizenship, fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. Promoting these behavioral traits is embedded in classroom and in school- wide activities and includes encouraging awareness of these traits in self and others, promoting guidelines to model these traits, and recognizing students who consistently reflect these traits. Our staff has received training to promote positive character development, and our discipline procedures have been modified to reflect expectations of good character, self-discipline and accountability in our students. This year the Character Counts initiative was expanded to include greater student input and ownership.
To identify a baseline for our school environment, last spring we administered a “Student School Climate Survey” to all 4th through 8th grade students. Twenty- three questions invited students to respond to topics covering school safety, staff support and respect, teacher and learning expectations, and overall strength of the school community. Read the rest of this entry »
This paper was published on October 8th 2009:
“Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of a statin/caffeine combination against H5N1, H3N2 and H1N1 virus infection in BALB/c mice”
by Liu, Zeyu et al.
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 38:215-223, 2009
“The development of novel antiviral drugs is necessary for the prevention and treatment of a potential avian influenza pandemic. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a novel statin/caffeine combination against H5N1, H3N2 and H1N1 virus infection in a murine model. In H5N1-, H3N2- and H1N1-infected BALB/c mice. 50 mu g statin/200 mu g caffeine effectively ameliorated lung damage and inhibited viral replication and was at least as effective as oseltamivir and ribavirin (two antiviral drugs). The statin/caffeine combination also appeared to be more effective when administered preventatively rather than as treatment. These findings provide justification for further research into this novel antiviral formulation.