Tuesday, November 8, 2016

So Many Things To Do 

Griffin News is overpowered with things going on in Student Services right now.  This week we are starting resumes for the freshman class.  They are all assigned a sophomore mentor who will help them formulate their initial resume and update it periodically.  The sophomores and juniors both have upper class mentors to help them with updating as well and the seniors will be polishing their's this month.  This is an ongoing process that will continue throughout the four years here in order to help organize information for college applications and careers following high school.  For some, it is overwhelming but navigable once the process has been started.  I also give them some websites that help prepare them for college and career.  Ask them to show you their accounts and how to navigate these sites.

All the college application deadlines are approaching.  Please continue to finish your applications and let me know of where your transcripts need to be sent.  I can easily send them through Parchment, so you may order them through that service as well.  Continue to update your spreadsheets.  It helps all of us to stay organized.

For those of you getting presidential interviews and notifications, please let Mr. Scholz and I both know.  I will help with the paperwork for any presidential interviews and Mr. Scholz likes to recognize your accomplishments.

Finally, for the juniors, you need to start college visits soon.  Examine the campuses and see what appeals to you.  Look for your next home for the next four years.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Something Must Be Working

As I sat down to write this post, I happened to be in the National Honor Society after school peer tutoring.  I had just talked to a few of the students who come every Monday and every Thursday with no fail.  These students had performed exponentially better on their tests today than ever before and I couldn't help but get excited and revel in the fact that they had improved---something must be working.

The smiles on their faces when they told me said it all.  They were proud of themselves and at that moment believed that they could be successful, they will be.

It made me reflect on what we deem as success.  Is success measured by good grades?  Is it measured by the amount of money we make?  Is it achieving what we deem worthy? Or, could it be feeling good about ourselves and the difference we made today?  Whatever success means to you, for me it is seeing a group of teenagers being able to navigate their way through high school, being a friend to everyone they meet.

Today was a success.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Understanding Grades, Progress Reports, and Semester Report Cards at McGivney

As an educator, this past week is one that is full of late nights discussing the positives and sometimes negatives of a child's education.  This week, Parent/Student/Teacher Conference Week, is one educators look forward to.  We like to speak to you regarding your child's progress, we like to point out things that can be improved upon, and most of all we like meeting and getting to know each and every one of you.  There are some things I have discovered this past week about my communication, the communication by the teachers, and the abilities of your children. 

These conferences are set at a progress report time, a time where your child is able to see their halfway progress and then do what is needed in order to achieve the grade they believe they deserve for the work they put in.  We like to provide you information at this point in the grading period so that changes can be made in study habits, assignment completion, and new skills can be learned in order to achieve academically.  These grades are progress report grades.  They are factored into the semester grade, but they are not yet the be all, end all.  If your child is struggling, there is still time to achieve and reach the academic level wanted.  These are grades in progress, they do not go on the transcript, but are factored in to the semester grade in December, there is still time.

As stated in the handbook, this quarter grade is added to the second quarter grade and then the final exam (10%) is factored in to give us the semester grade.  The semester grade is the one that is permanent, it is the one that goes on the transcript, it is the one that determines Grade Point Average.

Hang in there students and parents, this is only the halfway point of the semester.  If you are where you want to be academically, great.  If not, change some habits, ask for help, use some of the suggested study skills, and go in to see your teachers.  This is your academic career, you own it and only you have control over it.  Just know, we are all here to help, you just need to ask.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Helping My Students Help Themselves

There is a culture present at Father McGivney, one I have not seen at previous schools where I worked.  Upon first walking into the building, you can almost sense something is different, and then when you actually meet the students, talk with them, and watch their interactions you can see that the students genuinely care about one another.
For the freshman class and transfer students, there is a time where adjusting to the academic load as well as a new environment becomes overwhelming.  Sometimes it takes a few weeks for those new students to realize this is actually how our student body is, helping, welcoming, and caring.  I have been to other schools where students are ridiculed for their inadequacies which is painful to see, but not here.  
I enjoy coming to work every day and being with the students, I enjoy helping them learn skills to ask teachers for help, to work out conflict, and to find out who they are meant to be in this life.  I want all the students to know that it is not just me who wants to help them succeed, but also the teachers and administration.  I want them to seek out help whether it be for an upcoming test, a paper, or just some advice.  No one wants here wants anyone to fail and that positive environment radiates throughout everything we at Father McGivney do.
This is who we are, We Are Griffins! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The College Application Process Begins Freshman Year

When I met each one of you, I let you know how fast high school will go by and that everything you do/did from Freshman year on counted in your quest for college.  Last week I discussed the college application process here, in this blog, and felt that I needed to continue with more information this week.

The process of discerning and applying to college will last from your Junior year through your Senior year of high school.  To be successful in this process, you must spend a couple hours each week searching out information, scheduling visits to campuses, contacting College Admissions Representatives, and finally filling out applications.  

The Senior class did a great job last year and this year to visit schools, listen to the College Representatives as they came to visit our school, scheduled college visits, and made final decisions as to where they would like to apply.  The information was given to them each year, just as it is to the rest of you, and they acted.

The Junior class is starting to come aboard the post-secondary train now as well.  Although many of you have just started to express interest in the College Representatives that have come to visit, some of you consistently have listened in hopes of finding that next institution where you will be spending the next few years of your life, your next home.  Visit with the College Representatives, attend college fairs, and research the institutions you find interesting.  SIUe will be hosting a College Fair in October, click on the link to the right to find information regarding that College Fair as well as others in the area.  Check the College Representative Visits link to the right as well.  Click on that to see when institutions you might be interested in will be on our campus and come visit.  I encourage this class to start scheduling visits at campuses, come to the remaining College Representative visits, start the discerning process of where you will find yourself 18 months from now.  

Sophomores and Freshman, it is not too early to start deciding what the next steps will be in your quest for education.  Come listen to the College Representatives, come to my office to get literature, ask the Seniors what they are doing to prepare and search out the right fit for them.

Time does not stand still, it continues to slip by and waiting until you are 'ready' to start this process may not always provide for the best choices or options when it comes to the next step in your education.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The College Process and What You Should Be Doing.

I take all parts of my job duties seriously, but I have to admit that I get the most enjoyment out of helping you determine your next steps in life.  Although we have met and have gone over your plans in detail, there are still some things you need to be doing.

1.  Share your planning document on Drive with me.  This is the way I can see where you are in the college discerning process and help you with needed documents and such.  I can also see what offers you have received from the schools which you are interested.

2.  Attend the college rep visits.  ALL of you, not just Seniors need to be attending these.  This process will be here before you know it and by attending the visits you are able to gain a great deal of information on institutions you may not even have considered.

4.  Successfully complete any remaining graduation requirements.  Keep up the momentum and drive that has gotten you to this point.  Don't give up on classes second semester because failure to pass a required class will result in you not graduating.

5.   Work on polishing your resume.  Although you may think that some of the institutions don't need this, it always looks good as supporting and additional documentation.  You may also need it for some of the private scholarships from the guide I shared with you in May.  In addition, this resume can help you when applying for any paid and volunteer positions on campus next year.

6.  Start to 'adult'.  Make some of your orthodontist, dentist, and doctor appointments on your own.  Call to schedule test preparation workshops yourselves, schedule SAT and ACT tests, start to do some of the things you will need to do on your own next year.

7.  Remember, this is the next step in your life.  Whether military, career, or university, this is YOUR next step.  This is not about me, not about your parents, but all about you.  Figure out where you fit best, what you are looking for in one of the service branches, in a career, or in a university and seek that.

I did go in to some of the Junior classes last week and speak as I am not sure many of you realize that this is the time to figure out which institutions you would like to visit or if you need assistance in determining what your future plans may be.

  • Visit, Visit, Visit as it is the best way to determine where you want to be.  
  • Come and talk with all the College Representatives who are visiting in the next few weeks.  
  • Juniors and Seniors, the College Visit Paperwork is linked now on this blog. 
  • Share your planning sheets with me so that I can assist in this process.
  • Apply for any outside scholarships for which you qualify.
  • Remember, I am here to help every step of the way!

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Struggle is Real; Adjusting to High School

This past week has been one that I have become accustomed to over the years.  Although I am used to the trials of the incoming freshman, they are not.  Knowing this, I ensure that I treat each and every freshman student the same each year.  

At registration, I let every family know that there is a transitional period for the freshman.  Many will come in and will not believe in their abilities to take on the rigor of high school coursework.  Many will believe they will not make it through this year.  Many honestly believe they will not be successful ---- but they will.

Eventually, they will begin to see their freshman year as an opportunity to learn more about themselves and their study skills.  They will learn perseverance and will be able to face up to challenges, both key skills needed for college.

So, what do they need to learn in order to be successful?  They need to know that being a good student means they need to evaluate the way they study and how they process material.  This in itself is more important than just a good grade, it is giving that student the skills needed to be successful when and if they have to work for a grade.  They need to ask questions like how does this relate to what I already know, how does this apply to my life, do I agree or disagree to the concept?  This helps dive into deeper thinking and develops those skills of a lifelong learner.

It will come, I promise.  The freshman will be successful once again and I will start with a new group next year.  In the meantime, help them develop different ways to study, ask meaningful questions, give them study tips, encourage them to get peer tutoring, and support them in their struggle.

We do offer peer tutoring through the National Honor Society.  NHS Tutoring will begin on 9/26.  It will be held on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:35 - 4:15.