Friday, January 10, 2014

Squish. . .Squish. . .

So glad I am no longer hearing "squish. . .squish" as I walk into my office. We've been back in school after the big snowstorm and arctic temperatures, but not on time any day this week. I was greeted by a flooded office on Wednesday morning when I arrived, due to a frozen sprinkler system in this area of the building. The water flow wasn't full force, as it was frozen, so the alarm didn't go off to warn maintenance, as it is set on a flow meter. The early childhood lab's storage closet was still in inch deep or more water when I arrived there, and spreading out into the lab. After unloading the closet to dry things out, my boots and jeans were soaked, so I am glad I live close by to run home and change clothes. Luckily the flooding was confined to our office area, and ECE. The water at one point was baseboard high in my office and the hallway out to the reception area. THANK YOU, maintenance and SERVICE MASTER for acting quickly to begin the clean up. WHAT  A DAY!

So while the good news is the water damage is only in two areas, the bad news is the walls in my office had to be cut a foot up, to pull out the soaked insulation. Repair work will start when a contractor can get here, estimates coming this morning. I am camping out in the District Conference Room for now, as use of my office is impossible. We are not enjoying the lull of the fans blowing to dry the floor out in most of our work areas, but we are tolerating the disarray of moved furniture in the hallway and fans everywhere. Maybe next week will be a normal week--whatever that is! For now, Today Matters, and I will have to get as much done as I can in the temporary set up.

Friday, January 3, 2014


What a quiet building it is when all the students and staff are home on the holiday break. Given the weather predictions for this weekend, it is unlikely school will start on time on Monday, if at all.

I have had much difficulty since we changed to "all things Google" with signing into my blog--I have seriously tried to write several times since my last post, but couldn't access it. Thanks to a quiet day and being caught up in most other work, I finally asked for technical assistance! Problem solved--Thank you, Luke Compton!

Luke joined the staff last July when Eric Vennekotter left to accept a promotion with the Pandora-Gilboa school district. Luke has hit the ground running at Vantage. I am glad he had some time to help.

In past weeks we honored our new student inductees to the National Technical Honor Society. Every associate school had at least one staff member present. It was a great evening with students and their parents. Now we are gearing up for the annual Open House/BBQ Dinner on February 10. For many years, this has been a VTO scholarship funraiser, and for the past few years, a Citizens For Vantage levy campaign fundraiser. In 2014 all dinner ticket proceeds will go to assist with student events and activities at Vantage. Staff members are asked to purchase or sell 5 dinner tickets, and many of us are seeking sponsorship donations from area businesses. The challenge is on to see who can get the most sponsors!

Since it's January 3, are you making resolutions for the new year? I have made a few, primarily for achieving better health and connecting more (even if it's electronically) with my sisters. Without boring you with my new health regimen, I will say that I have already tried several new foods and committed for the past 2 weeks to a new exercise regimen which suits both me and my schedule. BTW: Kale and almond milk are not as bad as I thought. The best time is now--Today Matters!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

For the Greener Good. . .

Lots of people have been asking about our new solar array. I thought I would answer some frequently asked questions here, and follow up with a brief  "take away" card to give to staff and visitors to Vantage. These will be placed in our school offices, easily accessible by visitors and staff.

Here are the Solar "FAST FACTS"!

Curricular interests are the main reason Vantage pursued solar power. We have an obligation to train a skilled workforce in alternative and renewable energy, particularly since we are located within utility scale wind farms.

1. The 4200 panel solar array is located on 3.5 acres of school property.
2. Vantage leased the site to Solar Planet, and in return we buy the solar power generated for 25 years.
3. Vantage has the option to buy the array, at current market value after 10 years and thereafter during the
4. The average power estimate is 50% of the power Vantage uses daily, 80% at peak generation and usage.
5. The largest cost saved is distribution charges for electricity on the utility electric bills.
6. The price per kWh for solar power is slightly less than current utility electric rates and will remain so for
     length of the agreement. The price will raise incrementally every few years throughout the agreement.
7. The only cost to Vantage is for the power we purchase and the legal fees incurred for the contract.
8. The solar array was planned prior to the recent construction project, and is not a part of the project.
9. Roof top arrays were considered. The existing structure was unable to support the array's weight.
10. Real-time generation records can be accessed via internet-based software in the school's office areas.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inspired Blogging

I just returned from a classroom impromptu visit. Some Vantage instructors in the English department are delving into ideas to change up their teaching methods and improve student learning. I observed a practice session of the Socratic Seminar, one of the first ways this dedicated group of instructors is seeking to accomplish their task. The underlying concept:  students must improve their "how to learn" before they can actually learn the critical thinking skills necesssary for success in our world.

What an enjoyable experience the Socratic Seminar was! I looked at the clock when the students started, 10:10, and became so engrossed in what they were doing that when I next thought to check the time, it was 10:31 a.m.! While 21 minutes may not seem like much, it can be an eternity to any student of any age when they are in a boring class. Teacher Sonya Yenser-Hammon facilitated the group, encouraging, reinforcing, complimenting, and steering the students' participation. The effect was a serene learning experience, in a supportive environment, where even the most timid student would not have left the room dreading to come to class the next day. Making this even more fantastic for me, was that I had observed this teacher almost 10 years ago, for a High Schools That Work technical assistant visit, (before coming to Vantage as superintendent). The classroom I saw then, and the classroom today were worlds apart.

Of course, I loved the lesson itself--art-based, with students focused on interpreting a Magritte painting, not knowing the title, and vocalizing their observations, responding to others' feedback, and offering names for the painting. Each student had been given a one-page summary of Magritte's life the day before, and focused on an image of the painting projected on the screen during class.

I hope to see more of this student-centered instruction in all of our classrooms. The old roles of "sit and get" or teacher as "the sage on the stage" are not methods which engage students today. Congratulations and good work, English department! You tried something new, and I like it. Hopefully our students will, also!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time slips away. . .It's October!

Perhaps I should share my blog posts on Google+, to give me added pressure to blog regularly. The feature notifies my contacts that I added a new post. It may push me to 'micro-blogging' --yes, it's just what it sounds like--very short blogs! (Not sure I can do that . . .) I should at least start a new routine and blog first thing in the morning, (and not log into email), which jumpstarts the day in other directions!

September's gone, but I love October. The colors of fall are beautiful already and it promises to be a terrific season. Much of our activity at school is seasonal, too--particular student activities and topics in each curricular area definitely fall into a routine or sequence of instruction.

Another seasonal activity at Vantage is our annual advisory banquet and committee meetings. This event was held last week, and area employers, former students, and fellow teachers met in many training areas. Vantage values the input received at this meeting--curriculum and equipment, and teaching methods and resources are areas where we must have current information. Because we are an entry-level job training school, it will always be important that we meet the needs of employers. We must teach current aspects of each trade and know the expectations our students have to meet in their career fields. Through advisory committees, we also build relationships.

Our teachers are the most important link in this area. A successful advisory committee is built by a teacher who is connected with area employers continuously. A good meeting focuses on gaining insight from the employers and colleagues present, reviewing curriculum issues, and sharing current student accomplishments and community connections. To keep current, at least one new member should rotate into the group, annually to ensure a diverse perspective.

Vantage has some great advisory committees, which help convey our school's image of teaching quality workforce skills. We also have some work to do to bolster some committees and involve new employers. If you are interested in serving on an advisory committee, contact Vantage and find out how you can help. We are willing to change our "routine" for this important event to better accommodate employers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vantage at the county fair!

August 28, 2013--It's my favorite time of year again--the approach to autumn starts with the county fair in Van Wert. Vantage participates annually with a booth and school information. The most popular brochures remain our Adult Education course listings. I enjoy helping visitors learn who to contact and what may be viable program options for them to consider. (I also LOVE our location, right next to Carolyn Pruden's cake decorating booth)!

In case you are wondering, no, I don't review what I wrote the year before at this time. But if I did, it wouldn't surprise me to see that I wrote about the fair last year too! My family was a 4-H family and my siblings and I practically lived at the Defiance county fair. I recently had the privilege of visiting Hicksville for the Defiance county fair with my kids and grandson just last week. The evening went by way too fast!

Looks like I will be at the fair in less than 2 hours--I had better wrap up and make Today Matter!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Back to School Time!

August 19--Back to School!

We're all back! After taking a summer hiatus from blogging, I will continue my weekly (and perhaps, daily) blog about Vantage Career Center. Today our staff returned for the annual teacher work day, followed by our new junior class coming tomorrow for the first day of school. Seniors come to Vantage again on Wednesday, and our year will be in full swing.

As a district, we look forward to the release of our new CTE district report card later this week. It will provide information for us to target and strategize improvement. It also tells us what we do well--and I am pleased to say that we are doing a lot of things right. The credit belongs to our staff who provide individual attention and in general, care about students! Even though our physical footprint is much bigger than Vantage has been in the past, we strive for--and have maintained--a small school atmosphere. It is my belief that daily connections with students, from all staff, help students feel at home here and find their strengths.

During this first week of school, I would like to thank the parents in our community for supporting Vantage by sending us your students--we pledge to do the best job possible in educating your teenager.

Looking forward to the 2013-14 school year! Today Matters, more than ever.