UPDATE: Field Trips at ECSPosted by Christi Whiteside on 1/18/2019 4:00:00 PM
Much time and thought has been put into field trips over the last several months. In the fall, the Board of Directors’ Student Life Committee (now Community Engagement Committee) extended an invitation to interested staff and parents to come together to talk about field trips. This committee provided a great opportunity for many stakeholders to share their opinions, experiences, and concerns about field trips with one another. I am grateful to all participants for their time and input!
One core focus of the group was to consider the reasons for field trips. At ECS, we believe that field trips should provide a learning experience that cannot happen in the classroom or that will be greatly enhanced by the field trip experience. Some of the reasons we take field trips include: educational experiences, expanding the established curriculum, hands-on learning, team building, and community service.
As our staff has continued to examine our trips, we have come to accept that our sixth grade Space Camp field trip no longer aligns with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study Science curriculum. When the state rewrote the curriculum, the space goals that were once part of the sixth grade curriculum were rewritten such that those goals were no longer focused on at Space Camp. Accordingly, the trip no longer serves the educational benefit it once did. For this reason, we have made the difficult decision that this year will be the last year we participate in a Space Camp trip.
In preparation for this change, the sixth grade teachers have been seeking new trips which better meet our criteria for field trips. The trips planned for next year include:
- Duke University- Students will experience learning in a college environment through demonstrations and experiments in the Physics, Chemistry, and Math departments led by professors and a tour of Duke University led by a current college student.
- Project Catch - Students will go fishing at Falls River to identify parts of the ecosystem in the lake. They will also identify what fish they caught and what part of the food chain that fish fits into. The site staff is working with our staff to determine a second ecological activity for this trip.
- NC Museum of Art - Students will first participate in a scavenger hunt around the museum with the Goose Chase app encouraging students to closely study the art while experiencing a new technical tool. Then, a docent will instruct students in the exhibits for Ancient Egypt, Rome, and China which are the focuses of much of the 6th grade Social Studies curriculum.
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center- Students will experience a planetarium show about the colors of the different planets and how scientists use the Electromagnetic Spectrum to learn more about the planets. They will participate in an activity on the Science Stage named “Phenomenal Physics” where there are demonstrations and hands on activities about physics and a discovery class named “Solar Systematics” where students are able to closely look at and study planets using tools and materials similar to NASA. A restaurant lunch on the way home will focus on calculating percentages for tips.
- Betsy-Jeff Penn 4H Center - This environmental education center has a recently expanded selection of course offerings. Students will participate in an astronomy class at night with telescopes to look at the stars and planets. They will canoe to locations in the natural environment where they will observe and identify parts of the ecosystem. They will also participate in a plant class where they will identify the different parts of plants and then identify the plants in the forest. All of these classes directly correlate with the 6th grade Science goals.
Thank you for supporting our teachers and administrators and for believing in our ability to plan educational experiences for our students that meet the criteria outlined above. As an administrator, I appreciate the time and energy all of our stakeholders put into field trips. I would like to thank PAWS, our Community Engagement Committee members, and our parent chaperones for all the time and energy they have put into the field trips we have had and all those to come. I would also like to thank our talented teachers who put tremendous thought and research into planning field trips for the benefit of their students. We learn by doing!
I am glad to further discuss our thoughts about field trips. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christi Whiteside, Director
Endeavor Charter School
New Procedures Focus on Food Allergy AwarenessPosted by Christi Whiteside on 1/11/2019 2:00:00 PM
We are always looking for ways to improve our student safety. In December, we were made aware of a weakness in our food allergy safety. In the rush of MANY students coming into the office for “emergency” food, a student with a food allergy accidentally took an item containing her allergen. Fortunately, her reaction was not life threatening, but she was quite ill for a period of time. We’ve looked at our protocols and will be making two changes beginning immediately.
- Only students who need lunch food will be provided food from the office. Previously, we’ve also allowed students who want a snack to come to the office. Decreasing to providing lunch food only will significantly decrease the number of students and make it even easier for us to supervise who is taking what food.
- Moving forward, we will only be offering 4 items which are all nut, dairy, and egg free: applesauce, fruit cups, individual bags of UTZ pretzels (this brand only), Nutri Grain Cereal Bars (this brand only). While we know these are not the only allergies in our building, they represent the vast majority of our allergic students and make it easier to address specific allergy needs.
As we transition through this change, we have separated these “clean” foods from the previously donated items. We will offer those other items to students who do not have known allergies until they run out.
While this system does not address every scenario, it will help us improve our system.
As you consider whether these changes will impact your family, please have a conversation with your child to determine how often he/she has needed food from the office. Sometimes we find that students have grown and need more than they used to. We also sometimes find a parent packing a good lunch that the child doesn’t like. Sometimes what used to be a big enough Café Days order now could use some supplemental food from home. We also see students who pack their own lunches may or may not pack an appropriate amount of food. Please talk to your children about how lunch is working for them to ensure that the amount packed is appropriate and appealing!
We are open to feedback on our emergency food procedures. Thank you for your support!
Welcome 2019!Posted by Christi Whiteside on 1/5/2019 4:10:00 PMWelcome to second semester, ECS families! It’s hard for me to believe that we are already at the mid-point of the year, but here we are! As I look ahead through the quarter, I am reminded of our odd spring track out and wanted to take a minute to explain the calendar. At the end of this third quarter, we will have a ONE week track out. We will then start fourth quarter and have three weeks of classes. We will then have another ONE week break. When we return we will have approximately five weeks of classes before End of Grade testing begins, and our year will end.
This is an odd calendar. We had a similar calendar two years ago. To be honest, none of us love it. However, this calendar is important for a couple of reasons.1. When ECS opened we committed to trying to match WCPSS holidays as much as possible to support our families who also had children in those schools. Having a common spring break is an important part of matching those calendars. Wake County’s spring break always aligns with Easter, so in years like this one where Easter is late, their spring break will also be late.2. One option we considered was delaying our entire two week track out to align with this late Easter. However, this would create a very long third quarter which would be exhausting for students and staff alike. Even more problematic is that it would also create a very short fourth quarter. For our upper grades, it would be very difficult to have a good balance of grades during an extremely short quarter. With too few days and too few grades, each grade would become very heavily weighted and report card grades could be negatively impacted.For these reasons, we opted to compromise. One week off acknowledges the end of third quarter, provides everyone a well deserved break, and supports our academic calendar. The other week supports our families with children in Wake County schools and allows them a chance to spend time together as a family.We are excited to start the second half of our year. We have much to teach and many great experiences to share! Thank you for being a part of our adventure!Christi WhitesideDirector, Endeavor Charter School
How do we make decisions about schedule changes when extreme weather situations occur?Posted by Christi Whiteside on 12/14/2018 1:00:00 PM
First, please know that our priority is always the safety of our staff and students. We watch weather forecasts from multiple sources to best understand the weather situation before, during, and after the event. We look to our local leaders and official weather statements for guidance as well.
Whether the impending storm is snow, hurricane, tornado, etc. we try to plan ahead as much as possible and prepare our campus for the wind or precipitation to come. Loose items are brought inside, canopies are removed, doors are sandbagged, shovels and ice melt are gathered, snow plows are reserved, and more.
After the storm, staff members are asked to report the conditions in their neighborhoods. This serves a few purposes. Our teachers live in Durham, Apex, downtown Raleigh, Rolesville, and everywhere in between. They are representative of where our families live and what conditions they might be facing. These staff reports give us a personal view of road conditions across the area. They also gives us an idea of which staff members will be able to safely attend school under their conditions. If the majority of teachers can’t safely make it to school, we must close.
Next, we consider the condition of our campus. Were we able to get snow plowed? Did standing water freeze or flood? Do we have power? Is the campus safe for driving and walking? Someone from the office staff will visit campus and report their findings.
The impacts of a schedule change to school calendar and events must also be determined. Will the change impact a school performance or field trip? Cafe Days? Sports? YMCA? Before care? All impacts must be determined and families, staff, volunteers, and vendors must be notified.
Finally, we spend some nervous time and often a sleepless night hoping we’ve made the best decision for our community. We know that schedule changes are difficult for working families and for our teachers’ plans. We don’t take such changes lightly and respect each family’s decision about when they can safely return to school.
Thank you for your patience and support as we move through the weather yet to come!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Thankful 2018Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/20/2018 2:15:00 PM
Fall at ECSPosted by Christi Whiteside on 11/9/2018 9:30:00 AM
Fall is finally here! This is easily my favorite time of year! The trees are changing, and the holidays are coming! As we move into this cooler season, please consider a few suggestions below for keeping life as positive and productive as possible!
- Be sure your child dresses for the changing weather. Temperatures vary significantly this time of year. Check the weather each morning so your child is appropriately dressed for outdoor recess each day.
- Don’t forget to label those coats and jackets so we can return them to your child if they are lost!
- It’s flu season! Be sure your child is washing hands frequently and showering each evening to remove all those germs accumulated during the day.
- Please also wash water bottles daily!
- If your child runs a fever, vomits, or has diarrhea, they must be fever free (WITHOUT MEDICATION) and symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school. We want your kids to share everything except their germs!
- Double check your child’s school supplies and make certain there is still enough paper, pencils, etc. for success.
- As you schedule holiday events, please be mindful of homework and sleep needs! Consistent routines during this busy time of year help all students maintain their focus and their academic progress.
Thank you for your help in making this fall a healthy, happy season for all at ECS!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Hurricane Florence Recovery CollectionPosted by Christi Whiteside on 9/18/2018 8:50:00 AM
We were so very lucky to have been spared the brunt of Hurricane Florence. The storm seemed to be aimed straight at us, and we prepared for the worst. This week, as we dry out and recognize our good fortune, we also see our neighbors to the east suffering tremendously. We’d like to help. Yesterday as we discussed how to get involved, I was contacted by one of our parents, Liz Mahoney - CJ(6), Emma (4) and Grace (K), who has been in contact with several local charities to determine their biggest needs. For now, the charities are seeking:
- non-perishable foods (canned fruits, vegetables, meat, and soup - Pop-top cans and low sodium a plus!)
- whole grain pasta, brown rice, dried beans, and cereal
- peanut butter
- for infants: pedialyte, infant cereal, diapers (sizes 0-5), baby wipes, jarred food (cannot be loose, jars must be packaged together, no glass)
- snacks such as: fruit cups, juice boxes, granola bars, crackers, popcorn
- hygiene items
- paper products (towels, plates, etc)
- cleaning products (bleach, disinfecting wipes, etc.)
- bath towels
- new underwear for boys and girls.
If you would be willing to donate any of the items listed above (no other items, no glass containers), Liz will arrange delivery this weekend. ECS Student Council members will be on the sidewalk this week during morning carpool on Thursday and Friday to help carry items from your car. We will also accept items during the Fun Fest on Friday.
Each donation will receive two raffle tickets for Friday's Family Fun Fest!
Thank you for supporting those in need and for setting a great example of service to your children! We appreciate your generosity!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
#OtherPeopleMatterPosted by Christi Whiteside on 9/13/2018 10:00:00 AM
“I can sum up positive psychology in just three words — Other People Matter. Period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people is going to make you happy.” -Dr. Chris Peterson
The Positivity Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping America’s youth build stronger relationships by recognizing the character strengths in themselves and others. Their vision is to create citizens and leaders who will enhance our communities and country by internalizing the belief that “Other People Matter.” Positive psychology’s scientifically validated 24 character strengths serve as its foundation. Positive psychology teaches that people have all 24 strengths within them – and that character is not just skills or behaviors, but rather an intrinsic part of each of us. – posproject.org
A few weeks ago, five members of our staff had the opportunity to hear Mike Erwin, President and Co-Founder of the Positivity Project (P2), talk about the science behind positive psychology. While we’d spent last year beginning our adventure with P2, learning about the traits and teaching them to the students, our team had the chance to dive deeper into the idea that through focusing on our character strengths and those of the people around us, we can help build strong, respectful relationships. We talked about the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. We also talked about the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they want to be treated.
We know that healthy relationships are a big part of a healthy life. During our workshop we talked about the care and attention that it takes to build and maintain healthy relationships. We also talked about the challenges that students face today in developing those relationships. Social media provides a false sense of relationships and of ways people should interact. It is so easy to be mean through a screen! One of the changes to P2 this year is a focus every few weeks on #otherpeoplematter. During these weeks we will try to view the strengths through the experiences of real people.
To personalize our focus on the character strengths, each staff member has taken the assessment and we are posting our top three character strengths outside our doors. We hope this will be a way to connect with students, parents, and colleagues alike.
We hope that you will seek opportunities to talk about these character strengths and strong relationships with your students throughout the year and in the years to come! As we assess the impacts of Hurricane Florence this weekend, we will all I’m sure there will be many opportunities for us to show our belief that other people matter!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
School attendance is a predictor of future success.Posted by Christi Whiteside on 9/7/2018 2:50:00 PM
School attendance is a predictor of future success.
Last year at Endeavor, there were 70 students with 6 or more unexcused absences - 14% of our population! Last year 20 students of those students had 10 or more unexcused absences - 4% of our population! Those are staggering numbers which represent a tremendous loss of education. Those numbers prompted us to set a school goal focused on decreasing such excessive absences.
Goal: At the end of 2018-2019 less than 10% of our students will have 6 or more unexcused absences.
We recognize that many absences coded as unexcused may have actually been excused, but the school was not notified. This year, please notify your child’s homeroom teacher or the front office if your student is absent for an excused reason. Absences are considered excused for the following reasons:
1. Illness or injury 2. Quarantine 3. Religious observation 4. Death in the immediate family 5. Medical or dental appointment (with a note from the doctor) 6. Court proceedings 7. Absence related to military deployment activities 8. Educational experiences equivalent to what will be missed and that have been approved by the Director two weeks PRIOR to the absence. Please refer to the Family Handbook for more details.
As per NC Compulsory Attendance Law, families must be contacted when their child’s unexcused absences become excessive. This year, Mrs. White, our Student Assistance Program Coordinator, will contact you if your child reaches 3 or 6 unexcused absences for the purpose of offering support to ensure your child attends ECS regularly. The first batch of those letters goes out today. Our goal in these letters, other than in complying with the law, is to share our concern and offer support.
If a child reaches 10 unexcused absences, I will reach out to schedule a meeting with that child’s family and our new truancy committee. The purpose of this meeting will be to offer the family the opportunity to explain the reason for the excessive absences. The committee will determine whether your child will need to repeat the current grade level, whether we will need to involve the district attorney and/or the director of social services of the county where the child resides, or whether there is an alternative. As a committee, we will also consider whether the absences warrant requiring the child to repeat the current grade level.
Why is it so Important to attend every day?
• Learning is a progressive activity; each day's lessons build upon those of the previous day(s).
• Reading the material and completing work independently does not compensate for the loss of insight gained during class discussion or the loss of competency acquired through explanation or supervised drill.
• Many classes use lectures, discussions, demonstrations, experiments and participation as part of the daily learning activities, and these cannot be made up by those who are absent.
• Relationships with teachers and other students are built through shared experiences. Missing school means missing those experiences.
• Regular student participation in daily classroom activities plays a significant role in a student's school success.
• Regular school attendance patterns encourage the development of other responsible patterns of behavior.
• Students who develop an "on the job" attitude toward school will be more desirable to future employers.
This year as you make decisions about your child’s school attendance, please consider the experiences and opportunities in each school day. Schedule your child’s appointments and vacations for track out days rather than school days. Notify the school of the reasons for your child’s absences.
Look forward to a year of great attendance!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Rain or Shine!Posted by Christi Whiteside on 8/3/2018 2:50:00 PM
Have you ever seen so much rain? I cannot remember the beginning of a school year ever being so wet! Thank you for being patient and kind to our carpool staff who’ve worked so diligently to keep everyone safe in this crazy weather! To those of you who’ve offered umbrellas and said supportive things, we thank you!
For those of you who are new to ECS, I want to give you a few reassurances.
1. The sun does usually shine on our campus! You just haven’t seen much of it yet.
2. Our carpool staff members do own shoes! They’ve just been barefooted in the recent flood waters.
3. If you and your child have been able to handle these torrential days of carpool, you’ve survived the worst of it!
The beginning of the year is always our slowest carpool, even in good weather. Our kindergarteners and other new students are learning our system. Many new families are also still figuring out carpool. However, the biggest reason that the beginning of the year carpool is slow is that many families have
not yet joined a carpool group. If you are a parent who only drives your own children, please consider joining a carpool! Less cars in our line makes carpool faster for everyone. For help locating ECS families near you, go to the Volunteers tab on our website. Locate the ECS Family Carpools option and the Carpool World choice on that page. Enter your information and you will be matched with families near you.
We are happy that you are a part of our community! Hopefully, we’ll enjoy some sunny days together soon!
Director, Endeavor Charter School