"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Norman named best school district

With the stories about states including Oklahoma requesting exemptions from the 'No Child Left Behind' requirements, I thought I would tout our local district in Oklahoma which has a well deserved outstanding reputation for having very good schools.  We are fortunate to be sitting in the home of the University of Oklahoma where a lot of the athletes/students mentor in the schools.  With the community firmly behind Norman Public Schools, our children have a lot of benefits students don't have in Oklahoma rural or inner city schools.

The rural schools along with inner schools have brought this state down over the years because a lot of the parents just don't care so their students don't care either.  Our new school  Superintendent of Oklahoma Janet Barrisi is out to change that and make all of our schools fully compliant.  She has a huge job ahead with some schools where parent conferences are sparsely attended and the community is not behind the schools.  In some of the Native American tribes, education is not a priority while others like the Chickasaws highly value education where tribal leaders worked hard to get a four-year university in Ada where the Chickasaws are headquartered.  We wish Superintendent Barrisi good luck in turning some of the districts around in order to give all Oklahoma children a good education.

Believe that a good education starts in the home where parents support their children and the schools.  At Norman North, you can wait up to two hours to see a teacher during parent-teacher conferences as so many parents attend.   Only 3-4 parents will show up in the inner city or rural areas parent conferences according to parents from those areas.  

When we were getting ready to be transferred from the San Antonio area due to the Kelly AFB Depot closing, looked at a lot of different school districts because I was concerned that NPS was too large compared to where we came from but discovered that the number of students in the classes were actually less and that the following school year the high school was going to split.  Due to the number of Middle Schools, my daughter was in the same size school as where we left.

In the end we moved to Norman which is about 25-35 minutes from Tinker AFB because of the outstanding public school system in Norman.  The students have their own cable TV channel putting on various programs throughout the day.  The fine arts program is right at the top with districts from surrounding states sending staff into visit to take back ideas for their districts.  Our band and orchestra made a trip to New Orleans to a competition when my daughter was in both -- they won #1 in band and #1 in orchestra competing against schools from Ohio, Texas, Florida, Colorado and other states -- know those because they stayed at our hotel.  Norman North won the overall championship as well.

Of all the schools my children have attended across the Country due to transfers, Norman ranks #1 by far for the administration, teachers, and curriculum including extracurricular activities.  We have a Fine Arts Center which is still fairly new for concerts and plays along with other activities that all the schools in our system can use.  There has only been one bond issue I can remember failing and it was because not enough information was given -- it was passed in the next election which built the Fine Arts Center.  This district has a happy medium between the athletics and fine arts with the backing of the local community.  It also has a large mentoring program for at risk students.

In the end this district is at the top because of the support of parents, University of Oklahoma, community, and some of the best teachers and administrators led by Superintendent Joe Siano in the Country.

Now the state of Oklahoma agrees.
February 9, 2012Norman named best school district 
By Caitlin SchudallaThe Norman Transcript 
NORMAN — Oklahoma Technology Association named Norman Public Schools as Best District of The Year for the 2011-2012 school year Wednesday morning at its annual conference in the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
Factors that were instrumental in the district receiving the award include the Intelligent Classroom initiative, integration of technology in all grades’ instruction, professional development and premier use of a district-wide mobile app with Push messaging. 
Many of these factors, especially the Intelligent Classroom initiative, were funded by the district’s $109 million bond issue, which was approved by voters in December 2009.
“Norman Public Schools has catapulted into the 21st century and beyond,” said OTA President Todd Garrison, calling the Norman school district a “clear choice” for the award. 
In addition to honoring the school district, the OTA also surprised NPS instructional technology director Kathryn Lewis by naming her their Administrator of the Year. 
“It is a big day for Norman Public Schools and our efforts to prepare students for their future in a global society,” Superintendent Joe Siano said . “(To prepare our students) it sincerely takes a team — a supportive, forward-thinking board of education, staff, dynamic leaders like Kathryn, parents, students and the entire community. In Norman, we are fortunate to have all of those players on our team.” 
Garrison also credited NPS’ teamwork in achieving the honor. 
“Superintendent Joe Siano and his team of district leaders have proven that working together ... creates a successful school district that is constantly evaluating and modifying to meet the demands of our world,” Garrison said. 
Source:  Norman Transcript

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