Glenn proud but not resting on accomplishment

WALKERTON — Things are moving right up for John Glenn High School.
In recent numbers released by the Indiana Department of Education the school earned a passing grade from the federal government in their AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) ratings, a commendable progress ranking from the state of Indiana for Public Law 221 accountability, and the school’s 2010 graduation rate was up almost a full percentage point from a year ago at 92.6 percent.
“We passed all the info out for our staff at a meeting earlier in December and it’s useful to give us some idea of how we did,” said William Morton, Principal at John Glenn High School. “It also lets us take a look at how we compare with other schools. All the different data can be confusing but we put together some of the different numbers and it helps us see what we’ve been doing that’s working and let’s us look at places where we need to make goals for improvement.”
At Glenn, the adoption of an educational philosophy that many school’s are using has meant success.
“We do a lot of strategizing and developing methodology to teach kids today. They learn differently,” said Morton. “We work along with a lot of other school systems on developing strategies that work outside of the traditional approach.
“The bottom line is that we have to help every student learn and progress. We can’t just lose people. We can’t afford to lose people anymore. That’s tough on our entire society. We have to find ways to get through to kids.”
One way is by adopting programs that allow students to recover from a “slow start.”
“We’ve put together a program very similar to the program that the Plymouth Schools use for a computerized alternative for credit recovery,” said Morton. “Sometimes kids get behind early — sometimes by choices they make or for whatever reason — this allows us to help them get back on track. It lets us intervene faster and step in and do something to help them.”
The size of John Glenn High School is also a benefit to the school’s success in Morton’s eyes.
“We’re small enough to look at every single student individually,” he said. “From teachers and counselors to administrators we want to know what each and every student is doing and what it’s going to take to make them successful.”
Glenn’s staff is already at work on ideas that they hope will make them an even better school. One of them involves a dedication to one of the traditional “Three R’s” in particular.
“We felt a major goal for us was an improvement in writing,” said Morton. “Every teacher in the high school teaches writing – the music teacher, the math teacher, every single class – and they all teach it exactly the same way.”
There is also an attention to the vast changes in our society brought on by technology.
“You simply have to find ways to get through to kids. They are interested when you put a gadget in their hands,” said Morton. “Starting next semester the Algebra I curriculum is going to be taught on a laptop. The students will have immediate feedback and they won’t be able to continue until they have mastered each step. If they have a problem it will trigger all sorts of tutorials and other help that they will get right there on the laptop. The teacher will be there for guidance and help.
“I really believe that being a good school is a lot more than just the numbers, but these numbers are important. It’s really about doing whatever it takes to give each and every student what they need.”
Complete accountability results for the state of Indiana’s schools are available at /2010/11-November/ayppl221.html.