TeacherTools: Collaboration and Communication Key to Teacher Success

This year, Westerville City Schools is piloting the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) with full implementation in the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers will be evaluated on their performance and on student growth. After reviewing the evaluation rubric, one standard that jumped out at me was Standard 6: Collaboration and Communication. This standard is mentioned in the “Instruction and Assessment/Classroom Environment” section of the rubric and specifically states:

“The teacher engages in two-way, ongoing communication with families that results in active volunteer, community, and family partnerships which contribute to student learning and development.”

It is also mentioned in the “Professionalism/Professional Responsibilities” section of the rubric stating:

“The teacher communicates effectively with students, families, and colleagues.”

Teachers must consider many scenarios when figuring out the best way to communicate with the families of their students. What tools can teachers use for effective, ongoing communication?  What if a student has more than one address? What if a student does not have Internet access at home? How would a student get in touch with their teacher at night if there was a question on homework? Does the student even have homework support at home?

These questions and many more are answered in a great Edutopia blog post on parent partnerships called “12 Conversation Starters on What Parents Want You (Teachers) to Know”. Reading the post gave me many ideas on how I can help support more collaboration with families in my school.  My biggest takeaway from the blog post was there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to communication. Implementing a variety of thoughtful strategies will result in teachers being successful with the upcoming OTES evaluation.

Jean Trimble

Westerville Partners for Education

Fourth Friday 2014

September’s Fourth Friday was so much fun. We handed over over 300 books to kids! We’ll do it again next September (and we hope to see many of those families at BOO! for Books on October 24!)

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BOO! for Books 2014


Get ready for BOO! on October 24th in Uptown Westerville on College Street.

There are 3 Ways get a 15-minute photo session and print of your child in costume

1. Donate $10 to WPE at BOO!

2. Bring gently used children’s books to BOO! We’ll deduct $1 for each acceptable book off the cost of the session and print ($10).

3. Bring 10 books and your session and print are FREE!

(This is a great way to find a good home for those books on your bookshelves that no one reads anymore.) Proceeds from the event support WPE’s mission and donated books support our Book Bonanza! program in the district.

This program is a partnership between Wes Kroninger Photography and Westerville Partners for Education.

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TeacherTools: Personal Learning Networks


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I like to consider myself a lifelong learner and consistently pursue professional and personal knowledge.  And I think it’s important to model that behavior for children so they understand that learning doesn’t just occur in school.  When I became a teacher, one of my first objectives was to locate and add professional connections to my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have found these connections to be invaluable and recommend a robust PLN to both new, and more-seasoned, professionals.

My recommendations:

  • Subscribe to a website aggregator like Zite. Instead of searching individual websites, Zite will retrieve articles and online information specifically tailored to your interests. The more articles you open and “thumbs-up”, the more focused Zite’s searches for you become.
  • Find a blog that provides you with valuable information and subscribe to its RSS feed (like WPE’s Teacher Tools blog!).
  • Take advantage of all the great webinars on org.
  • Join a social learning network like the Knowledge Building Commons (KBC) of INFOhio.org.
  • Join an educational listserv specifically geared towards your interests.
  • Read! Or better yet, start a workplace book study. (I recommend the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck)
  • Set up a group in a Course Management System (CMS) like Schoology and invite like-minded professionals to collaborate and join online chats.
  • Become involved in community organizations that support the schools like Westerville Partners for Education (WPE), Westerville Education Foundation (WEF), your school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), or Westerville Parent Council (WPC).
  • In addition to attending district waiver days and individual building meetings, try out an educational conference like one listed in the following article: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/09/26-great-conferences-for-teachers-to.html

Whether you decide to try out one new thing or several, the important thing is to keep learning! Not only will you benefit from the others’ knowledge, but others will also appreciate your contributions.

-Jean Trimble

Westerville Partners for Education

Happy Birthday!

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Volunteers from Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis of Westerville brought a very special Birthday Book Bonanza! program to the Early Learning Center on Tuesday. Teachers chose a special book from the Book Bonanza! collection for each students who had celebrated a birthday over the summer months. WPE supplied the Early Learning Center teachers with enough books to ensure that all the preschool students will receive a book from the Book Bonanza! collection to celebrate their birthdays this year. The Birthday Book Bonanza! program at the ELC aims to inspire students to develop a lifetime love of reading by encouraging them to bring the book home, act out its stories with their families, explore the illustrations and discuss the story.

Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis collect gently used books from Half Priced Books and from the community and create book distribution events at schools called Book Bonanza! McGraw Hill generously sponsors this program. There are thousands of used children’s books, in great condition, on shelves in homes and around town. Volunteers collect and repurpose these books, review them to ensure they are in good condition and the material is appropriate, research their AR level, and get them in the hands of kids in the Westerville City School District. To find out more about Book Bonanza! and other Westerville Partners for Education programs (or to donate books!) click here or find us on Facebook or Twitter (@WVillePartners).

Birthday Book Bonanza!

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We’re hosting a very special version of our popular Book Bonanza! program next week! We’re having a Birthday Book Bonanza! at the ELC! We’ll be handing out a “just right” book for every child who celebrated a birthday over the summer months. We’ll be leaving a special stock of books with the ELC teachers to ensure that, going forward, all the children of the ELC receive a book to keep on their birthdays. We hope families will read the book together, explore the illustrations, act out the story and just having fun with their book. We put on the Book Bonanza! program in partnership with Kiwanis of Westerville and it is sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education.

To learn more about Book Bonanza! and other WPE programs, follow us on  Facebook and Twitter (@WVillePartners), and sign up for our monthly newsletter.


TeacherTools: INFOhio – The Amazing FREE Online Resource for Parents, Students, and Teachers


There is so much information online that it’s difficult to not only locate useful resources, but to also keep up with the latest and greatest tools to support learning needs. As a school librarian, one resource I frequently use with parents, students, and teachers is INFOhio.

Since 1989, INFOhio has consistently improved to fit the needs of Ohio K-12 education. This summer, INFOhio overhauled its website and refined its navigation to make it easier to locate information and valuable resources. Students continually benefit from INFOhio’s research tools, online encyclopedias, digital video collection, ebooks, Learning Express Library, and multiple databases. Teachers find useful the online learning networks, webinars, iMatrix, lesson plans, College and Career Readiness resources, and curriculum toolkits. Parents benefit from the Adult Learning Center, Career Center, Job and Career Accelerator, and Computer Skills Center of Learning Express Library 3.0 as well as multiple other resources.

There are so many amazing tools and sources of information available on the INFOhio website and INFOhio offers trained professionals (ICoaches) in the Westerville City School District to teach teachers how to use INFOhio and effectively integrate its plethora of resources into their classrooms. The district’s first Professional Development day for the school year is tomorrow. Students will not have classes on this day while district teachers attend various learning sessions at Westerville Central High School. Throughout the day, District certified ICoaches will provide several learning opportunities for teaching professionals.

If you get a chance, check out INFOhio. Some resources require a username and password to access from home. This information can be obtained from any librarian or teacher in the district. Conveniently, login is automatic when students are accessing INFOhio from school. Regardless of the access point, you’ll be amazed at what’s available at your fingertips. And the best part is it’s all FREE!

For more information on resources for teachers and tools to support education right here in our district, check out Westerville Partners for Education on Twitter (@WVillePartners). You can also see a list of local and regional organizations interested in working with teachers and supporting classroom education through our STEAMHub program (westervillepartnersforeducation.org).


Book Bonanza! at Hanby and Emerson this week!

Volunteers from Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis of Westerville brought the Book Bonanza! program to Hanby and Emerson this week. In partnership with Kiwanis, our volunteers collect gently used books from Half Priced Books and other donation sites (such as the BOO! for Books program in October), research and note the AR level of those books, and create book distribution events at schools called Book Bonanza! At these events, teachers and volunteers help a student choose a “just right book” and students keep the books they select. McGraw Hill generously sponsors this program.

There are thousands of used children’s books, in great condition, on shelves in homes and around town. WPE and Kiwanis repurpose these books, review them to ensure they are in good condition and the material is appropriate, research their AR level, and get them in the hands of kids. The program aims to get more books into the hands of more kids to promote literacy in the Westerville City School District.

To find out more about Book Bonanza! and other Westerville Partners for Education programs (or to donate books!), sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@WVillePartners).

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Pointview Tutoring Initiative

 Westerville Partners for Education is excited to announce a new partnership with Pointview Elementary. This year, we are sponsoring and overseeing a tutoring program for 2nd graders in conjunction with the Columbus Tutoring Initiative. We Tutor Recruitment-1have recruited some wonderful tutors from Westerville Community United Church of Christ and are still in need of others. If you are willing to commit one hour of your time a week and enjoy working with children, please consider joining our tutoring initiative!

Tutors must attend one training session: Sept.11 or Sept. 25 from 11:30-1:00 pm at Grace Polaris Church, 8225 Worthington-Galena Rd, Westerville, OH, 43081.

Tutoring dates: Tuesdays, 11:30-12:30, October 7 through April 28

Contact Julie Nisbet @ 614 657-3028 OR sign up online at: tutorcolumbus.org

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North Starry Night 2015

Starry Night

We’re excited to announce that we’re mixing it up for Starry Night 2015! We’re having the event on April 11 a SATURDAY from 2-6pm. So mark your calendars now! AND we’re moving to North High School this year! It’s our North Starry Night.

Having the event on Saturday will allow our guests, exhibitors, and volunteers to feel more leisurely about their late afternoon and evening with us, instead of rushing back home to prepare for schoodownload (4)l and work the next morning. Moving our location from South to North was a decision we debated extensively. South has been a great home for Starry Night for the past two years-their custodial staff, in particular deserves a special shout out, but the layout of South sometimes challenges our event. We struggled to get our guests through the whole event from one wide end to the other. North’s layout is more centralized, and North provides the event with ample parking. It’s also pretty easy to explain to people how to get to North (once you get past the idea that North isn’t the high school in the north, that’s actually Central issue, which kind of blew me away when we first moved here…).

Our Starry Night Planning Team begins meeting at the end of September, and we’d love to have new ideas and more help. Contact Amy to be added to the contact list for that Team! (araubenolt@westervillepartnersforeducation.org).

And remember, Saturday, April 11, from 2-6pm at NORTH High School. It’s going to be FANTASTIC. 



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