School of One/Every 1 Matters

Today’s trivia question asked about a book written by GCS staff members approximately 12 years ago. The book Building a School of One: One School’s Journey was written by GHS Principal Jim Kirkton and GHS Assistant Principal Phil Lederach (with contributions from many GHS teachers). As stated in the front cover of the book, this was “Goshen High School’s efforts to increase rigor and support every student”.

The book was sold for $20.00, and all proceeds have gone to benefit students who do not have the resources to participate in the opportunities offered by GHS. There are still some books available at GHS for those who may be interested. For information or to purchase a book, you may contact GHS Principal Dr. Barry Younghans at byounghans@goshenschools.org

Information about the book: “This is a practitioner’s book with a message that teachers in our country ARE making a concerted effort to help students. This book shares the success and failures our staff experienced while walking through the murky waters of raising expectations for students through creating a personal environment for students in a school that is rapidly changing into a diverse, urban high school. Faced with the challenge and the strength of the largest English Language Learner population in Indiana, Goshen High School staff has been on a journey to improve the learning opportunities for our students. This book shares only some of the efforts we have made, but it does show how following a learning model, working in professional learning communities, and creating a small school climate for students plants the seeds for increasing academic rigor and ultimately, increased academic performance of students from all backgrounds and cultures. Building relationships with students and building relationships with teaching peers fuels the engine of our school.”

The original School of One concept continues at GHS today with Student Resource Time (SRT) built into the weekly schedule. SRT meets twice a week for 90 minutes (broken down into two sessions). SRT gives students opportunities to receive help with homework, to use resources in the media center, to make up tests or assignments they may have missed, to meet with their SRT teacher to go over their grades, to practice music in small groups or sections, and to provide time for clubs and other student organizations to meet. The goal of SRT is to ensure that every student feels supported and is offered every chance to be successful. For students who are busy in the evenings with extracurriculars such as athletics, music, or drama, SRT also provides time during the school day to work on assignments. Students stay with the same SRT teacher throughout their GHS career, ensuring that they have one person who knows them well, who monitors their academic work, who often supports them in their extracurricular activities, and who is there to embrace them as they walk off the graduation stage with their diploma. Because SRT is such an important part of GHS, and because GHS teachers are just so amazing, some retired GHS teachers have even come in on their own time to serve as a resource for students during SRT.

In addition to SRT and focused, continuing professional development opportunities for teachers, Dr. Younghans works hard to build relationships with students and staff, and to create a culture of caring and inclusivity that welcomes everyone to Goshen High School. And while this particular book focused on Goshen High School, the ideals have definitely been embraced and incorporated into all of the GCS school buildings.

At the opening day meeting for the 2017-18 school year, the GCS administrators presented the staff with a theme for the year, Every 1 Matters. The theme continues the School of One concept, and challenges all staff to do their best to support each other as they work together to help every student succeed. Our guest speaker for the day was 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year Kathy Nimmer, and she asked the staff “What would it look like if you took a pledge of allegiance for the school year ahead, to your school?” She gave a speech that elicited episodes of both laughter and tears, but by the end everyone was inspired to start the school year and do their best for students. The staff took her Pledge of Allegiance for the school year, reading the following several times, with growing conviction: I pledge to bring the best of me every single day to the classroom and beyond, because our students deserve it…no matter what.

And that is why GCS is committed to every single student; why we believe that Every 1 Matters. We made a pledge to be here for every student, and no matter how hard it may be some days, our teachers and staff members are committed to making sure our students know we care about them and that we want each of them to be successful. That is why we are here!