Monday, July 20, 2015

End of the Year Survey Response

We want to say thank you to those who participated in our End of Year Parent Survey!! We know your time is valuable and we appreciate your input! There are a few items I wanted to clarify/respond to so everyone has the information.

1. The Lunch Program – There were many comments about our lunch program. Just to clarify, currently, we possess a license from the Health Department that allows us to distribute food already prepared/packaged. We are not allowed to “cook” food to distribute. We would LOVE to be able to offer more healthy, well balanced and hot options. Currently, our kitchen is not outfitted as a commercial kitchen, which we would need to operate a more traditional school cafeteria. We also do not have the opportunity to use federal dollars for our lunch program, like some private schools, that allow them to use public school cafeteria services with free/reduced lunch prices. We have heard your suggestions, however, and there are a few things we can do in the immediate future:
a.       More healthy side item choices (carrots/veggies with dip, more fruit options, etc.)
b.      We are vetting potential vendors (Adelia’s, Carino’s, etc.) for more options with soups, salads, and pasta
c.       We are trying to get wi-fi/connectivity in the lunchroom so students may check out there and better confirmation of correct orders.
One other item to note – we do our best to police students getting food when they haven’t ordered ahead of time, but they also do not want to have students go hungry. If you have a problem with your child ordering when they are not  supposed to, please communicate with your child’s homeroom teacher so they can help keep an eye on this activity.

2. After School Program – There were many comments about the after school program needing more structure. We want you to know that we added staffing mid-year last year to better accommodate the number in enrollment. We made a point to ensure that we had female and male staff on hand each day. This year, we will have specific homework times and MS/HS will have more of a study hall setting. Agendas will be checked and students who do their work will receive a check mark in their planner showing they completed something under the guidance of after school. MS/HS students need to bring homework with the intent to use time wisely. We will still offer snack time, play time in the gym/MPR and/or playground. 

3.  Security concerns – There have been some concerns expressed about the front middle doors being left open in the mornings when parents are bringing their students in from 7:15-7:45. Mrs. Sims is always in the office, but if she steps away to help someone, people may certainly enter that she does not see. Sadly, we live in a world where evil people do unspeakable things. We would like to think no one would enter in our building with the intent to cause harm, but it would certainly be better if we could minimize the opportunity for someone to do this.
a.       Beginning this fall, the middle doors will remain closed, even from 7:15-7:45. Office staff will be stationed at the door to let people in and to observe that those entering the building are parents/guardians, staff or students. 
b.      During large events like Grandparents’ Day, parties, etc., we will also keep them closed and need to buzz people into the school.
We know this may cause a minor inconvenience for you, but pray that you will understand we only have the security of our students and staff in mind! Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this!

4. Extra-Curricular activities – One of the concerns listed by several parents was for more sports specifically for girls. We are already outfitting our newly restored Girls’ Volleyball team for this year. We have two staff people who will be coaching and we are excited for this team to compete again! Girls’ basketball team(s) are also planned.  PLEASE be sure to let Mr. Weldy/Mr. Sims know if your student is interested in girls’ basketball early! Last year there were not enough girls who said they wanted to play to have a team, but then I heard from several students and parents that they had wanted to play. Tennis, soccer, golf, cross country, cheerleading and dance team are all available to female students, as well!

5. Gifted Program/Step-Up – Some of you are familiar with the Step Up program currently geared towards 4th-8th grade students at TFCA. We use criteria established by the Center for Gifted Studies and the DUKE TIP program to qualify students for participation in this program. Those qualifications include:  90% or better on total battery on standardized testing, 95% or better in reading, language, and/or math on standardized testing, 120 or better on a recognized IQ test, and teacher recommendation. Mrs. Ruth Fitz-Gerald helps coordinate this program and she uses inventories for teachers to fill out on students that address a wide variety of “gifted” traits and talents in addition to the testing data. At TFCA, almost half of our students in grades 2nd-10th grade scored in the 90% in some subject area this past spring. That is the TOP 10% in the nation!! We want to be sure that we are providing challenging, thought provoking opportunities for students inside and outside of the classroom. Step-Up encourages STEM projects, lateral thinking skills, problem solving, investigations, research, and social skills development. There were a few comments by families not understanding what this program was, how students were identified, etc. I wanted to try to convey that information to you. 

6. Communication – We try to do a great job at communicating information to parents and students regarding important events, calendar changes, field trips and more. Weekly email updates, blog posts, the school website posts, Facebook, Twitter and Renweb are all used to communicate school wide information. Teachers do the bulk of communication regarding their grades, tests, homework, field trips, required supplies, etc. We will make a concerted effort to step up the communication from teachers across grade levels this year. We are also working on a better system for responding more efficiently to the many phone calls and emails that come in through the front office on a daily basis!

Thank you again for being a part of our TFCA family! We are gearing up and getting excited for the 2015-16 school year.  

Carrie Beth Tigges, TFCA Principal

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