• Middle School Dance Time!

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/15/2019 3:55:00 PM

    It’s that most wonderful time… middle school dance time!  Tonight is the first middle school dance of the year!  Our Student Council has surveyed students about details and themes, made decorations, and turned our multi-purpose room into a wonderland!  The theme for this first dance is “Beyond the Clouds” which is an outer space theme. 

    dance prep

    We held our first ever dance preparation meeting with the sixth graders on Wednesday to help them prepare for what a school dance is like.  One detail unique to ECS is that phones are banned from the MPR.  Phones are only allowed at the photo booth and are otherwise relegated to the coat room which is supervised by staff members. Photos and video create too much pressure and stress!

    We talked about group dances which are lots of fun for everyone with or without any dance skills! We also talked about slow dances. This is a stressful part of a dance! It is important for us that all students know that it takes courage for anyone to ask someone else to dance.  This courage is to be respected!  We also explained that everyone has the choice of whether to accept or decline a dance invitation, but that this should also be done with great respect and kindness.  We need all our students to be empowered to not agree to a situation outside their comfort zones, but we also need everyone to be kind. 

    Middle school is such a tricky age full of new experiences and opportunities.  We are proud to offer students a chance to experience a school dance under our close supervision in our familiar environment.  Mark your calendar middle school families - the next dance is February 7, 2020!

    Christi Whiteside, MSA

    Director

    Endeavor Charter School

    919-848-0333

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  • Winter Weather!

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/8/2019 4:00:00 PM

    Brrr!  It is cold! Today seems to be the start of winter weather, and I saw some chilly looking folks coming in from recess! So, I wanted to send a reminder to all families to help your kids dress for the weather of the day.  We all know that in NC daily high temperatures can vary dramatically, so please start a daily weather check before your kids head out of the house. We will be outside for recess unless the weather is extreme or precipitation causes us problems.

    As you are preparing for the cold days to come, please take a moment to write your last name inside all those coats and jackets and sweatshirts.  This helps us match lost clothes to the owners who may not recognize their blue jacket from five other lost blue jackets!  

    If you start noticing your child’s closet looking a bit empty, please come check our lost and found bin.  We have many items waiting to be found.

    Have a great long weekend!

    Christi Whiteside, MSA
    Director
    Endeavor Charter School

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  • ECS Launches Say Something & Visit from NC Superintendent Mark Johnson

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/5/2019 3:30:00 PM
    ECS Families,
     
    Today was an exciting day at Endeavor Charter School!  We are one of the first schools in the state to launch the Say Something - Anonymous Reporting System for our middle school students.  As one of the first schools, our launch drew some attention, and we were joined by Superintendent of NC Public Schools Mark Johnson!  We also hosted the Superintendent's Chief of Staff, a representative of the Office of Charter Schools, the Executive Director of the Center for Safer Schools, and several other members of the Superintendent's staff.  Representatives from CBS 17 and WRAL 5 news channels were also with us.  
     
    As I'm sure you would expect, our middle schools were perfect during the assembly!  They were respectful and engaged during the presentation about the Say Something system.  The speaker, Reginald Richardson from Sandy Hook Promise, discussed reasons someone might use the reporting system such as:
    • Knowing or being someone who is bullied or abused
    • Knowing or being someone who might hurt themselves or someone else
    • Knowing about a threat against a person or school
    • Or other such situations
    The message was clear that students often hear and see things that adults don't. Students are also often unsure about where or how to pass that information along. This reporting system provides them a resource when they need one.  Students were reminded that generally our schools are very safe places, and that having such a system does not change that.  The system is something they may not ever need.  However, just like most families have a fire extinguisher they hope they never need, if ever an emergency comes along, it is good to have a plan for action.
     
    The Superintendent, some members of his staff, and some folks from the media also toured our school.  They visited three classes and spoke to a few students. The teachers and students in those classes and in the halls were so impressive!  All our guests were extremely complimentary of our school and our community.  Thank you all for sending us such great kids!
     
     
    Middle school families,
    This topic of this assembly and the need for such a system is uncomfortable for us to think about.  We don't want our kids to ever be in a situation where they know about or need help for such frightening issues.  However, just as we taught them not to run into traffic or touch a hot stove, we must recognize that there are scary things in our world that they might need to know how to handle. The launch of this reporting system can also be the launch of some new conversations with your kids.  It is a simple anonymous system that could provide your child a way to seek help or to save a life.  While this will not be the main focus of our morning meetings or our schoolwide assemblies, this system is a tool we will bring up a few times each year in order to keep it in our students' minds.  We hope you will do the same.

    If you would like more information please go to www.saysomething.net.  Please also consider helping your child install the Say Something app on their devices. Say Something Parent Brochure
     
    Christi Whiteside, MSA
    Director
    Endeavor Charter School
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  • High Fives & Thankfulness

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/1/2019 4:00:00 PM

    Today is the first of November, and we begin our season of thankfulness.  Thank you for all you do to support our school and to support your students.  We recognize that raising a child in today’s challenging world is no easy task, and we appreciate all the extras you do!  We continue to look at ways to support our students at school and have two new initiatives to tell you about.

    This morning our Student Council members greeted students with messages of acceptance and belonging.  Posters with phrases such as: You Matter, You’re Special, and We care About You! greeted the students as they arrived.  Many students also got a high-five on the way into the building!  Student Council has joined a national group called SAVE – Students Against Violence Everywhere.  SAVE has a mission to decrease acts which are violent, unkind, and divisive by making people aware that their words and actions can be powerful forces for good or bad.  SAVE also encourages experiences for our community which make everyone feel valued.  The ECS Student Council is planning one such event each month, so continue to look for them on the sidewalks.  We hope that Student Council will make a difference and bring a smile to our students’ faces!

    student council high fives 110119

    Please help us spread this message of acceptance and belonging by discussing with your students some of the ways they can show that everyone matters.  Kind acts and kind words are so impactful!  In addition, help them understand why teasing and gossiping can be divisive and hurtful even among friends.

    Next week we will join other public middle and high schools in our state in launching an anonymous reporting system called the Say Something – Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS).  This legal requirement went into effect this school year, and we are thrilled to be in the first phase of schools who’ve prepared for the launch.  A representative from Sandy Hook Promise, the host of the system, will come to ECS to speak with our middle school students about the system and how/why it is to be used.  This is a big event for our state and the launch team is swamped, so they’ve not yet confirmed the day or time of our training. Once our training occurs, I will send out a more detailed summary of the information our students received so that you can follow up with conversations at home.

    Have a wonderful fall weekend!

    Christi Whiteside, MSA
    Director, Endeavor Charter School
    919-848-0333

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  • Opening Ceremonies for 2nd Quarter

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 10/25/2019 3:30:00 PM

    Last week we held Opening Ceremonies for grades 3-5 and 6-8.  We introduced two important people students should know about: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Mahatma Gandhi.  In the assembly, students watched a brief video and learned about these world leaders. Throughout the quarter during morning announcements I will share information about these leaders in light of the Positivity Project traits they exemplify.  At the end of the quarter Closing Ceremony, we’ll see how much the students can remember!

    In the assembly, students were able to recognize that both Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Gandhi stood up for the right of all people to be treated equally.  These change-makers championed the issue of equality while the whole world was watching. So, how do we teach our students to protect the rights of others even when no one is watching?  One thing we are doing is helping students recognize that “joking” about differences can be hurtful even among friends. 

    When we think about our ECS community of students, families, and staff, we know that one of our greatest strengths is that we have so many differences.  Those very differences make us a stronger group. As we highlight people like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Mahatma Gandhi on our Positivity Project (P2) Wall of Fame this year, we hope to show students that sometimes being different is the very thing that makes a person strong and that those differences are to be celebrated.  

    Thank you for helping our students grow into the respectful, inclusive future leaders of our community!

    Christi Whiteside, Director

    cwhiteside@endeavorcharter.com

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  • Recess and the End of First Quarter

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 9/14/2019 1:30:00 PM

    We are entering the final week of quarter one.  It seems like just a minute ago we were welcoming you back for Meet the Teacher!  This quarter has brought us new students, new staff, a hurricane, and a heat wave. We began opening and closing ceremonies for grades 3-8 while K-2 continued their house celebrations.  Our teachers launched the new Istation K-3 reading assessment program despite the state providing little time for them to prepare to do so. We’ve held parent conferences, Board meetings, and our first Coffee and Conversation meeting.  PAWs has held picture day, Terracycle collection, and our first quarterly Teacher Appreciation Day. You’ve attended events, supervised lunch and recess, and chaperoned field trips. 

    The biggest change we made this quarter was scheduling each grade level to its own recess time.  This change was important to us as a safety measure for our students. Should we ever need to evacuate the playground quickly, having half as many students outside makes that much easier.  In addition, we’ve heard from many parents over the last few years that trying to maintain control over so many students, half of whom are from another grade level, was a struggle. We appreciate our lunch and recess volunteers and wanted to respond to that concern. Scheduling this change was tough for us because our recess blocks are adjacent to lunch.  We didn’t want students eating lunch at 9:00 in the morning, so we needed some grade levels to have recess at the same time. This made it necessary for us to use the lower field on alternating weeks for some recesses. It also meant we needed some staff members in addition to Mr. Burt to help supervise. The lower field recess has been a learning curve for us all.  Our Foundation is looking into some options for a shade structure for that field, and we are looking for ways to increase activity options. I appreciate the flexibility Mr. Burt and the kindergarten teaching assistants have shown in tackling this challenge.

    This week we will end the quarter by hosting two special guests.  I was contacted by a graduate student writing his dissertation on successful charter schools and also by a principal selected for a charter school opening next year.  Each wanted to visit Endeavor to see what we are all about, ask some questions, and tour our school. I love having the chance to share our lessons learned and make connections with others in our charter community.  Thank you for helping Endeavor grow into the successful charter school it is!

    Christi Whiteside, Director

    Endeavor Charter School

    cwhiteside@endeavorcharter.com

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  • It's been an interesting week at ECS!

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 9/6/2019 4:15:00 PM

    After a long weekend and the Labor Day holiday, we returned to great concern about what Hurricane Dorian would bring.  When severe weather threatens, we go through a few steps. Our informal staff “weather team” watches all the weather channels and talks through the forecasts and the possible impacts to our area – over and over!!.  The office staff and administration talk through the impacts of any potential changes to our schedule and the needs for our facility. For this storm, we spoke with the YMCA to verify their coverage, to PAWS to talk through Café Days and picture day options, Mr. Burt reached out to coaches and competing teams, and sometimes we also have to look at scheduled performances and field trips. This week, for our facility, we removed one of the shade structures based on the forecasted wind strength, loose items from the playground and front porch, recycle bins from the parking lot, and toys from the kindergarten playground. We took down our sponsor banners and tipped our soccer benches. As we look at schedule changes, we always err on the side of caution! The fact that we don’t have teen drivers gives us some flexibility that large school systems don’t have, but we still consider safety.  Our goal is to protect every possible teaching moment while also keeping our staff and families safe. Thank you for your patience as we recognize that schedule changes are tough for our families!

    This week our school report card grade came out for 2018-2019, and they showed great success at ECS yet again!  When we exceed our goal for student growth, we are always thrilled!  

    The full article about scores: https://www.wral.com/what-grade-did-your-school-receive-search-our-2018-19-nc-school-performance-database/18608843/#92S000  

    ECS is recognized as one of only 13 charter schools to make the list of the 119 top public schools in the state! https://www.wral.com/these-119-nc-schools-were-the-top-performing-public-schools-in-2018-19/18609402/  

    This week we also held our first Coffee & Conversation meeting.  This is a new opportunity for us to share information, for our families to ask questions during the year as events unfold, and for everyone to enjoy some coffee and pastries provided by PAWS.  This time we talked about the following:

    • Plans for the hurricane
    • The new lane on One World Way and our obligation to keep the road passable
    • The indefinite delay of the Capital Blvd. expansion project and its impact on our future plans
    • The top priorities from all of our stakeholder groups for expansion: gym, performance space, expanded course offering
    • Our hope to increase course offerings specifically through middle school elective choices
    • The reality that all such expansions and/or improvements must be funded 

    The next Coffee and Conversation is November 20 at 8:30. I hope you’ll join us!

    Christi Whiteside, Director

    Endeavor Charter School

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  • Safety Considerations with Student Check-Outs

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 8/30/2019 2:00:00 PM

    Transition times are the time when safety measures have the most chance of failure.  As we continue to consider our safety, we’ve noticed an area of weakness.  Many parents call the office to ask us to have their child waiting in the office when they arrive in order to quickly leave for an appointment.  We have accommodated such requests in the past.  However, since this year began, such requests have increased significantly creating situations with many students waiting for long periods of time in the lobby and out of class.  This leaves them minimally supervised in the lobby as the office staff handles medical needs, phone calls, students signing in or out, and other situations that arise. 

    One day last week, a parent called the office to have her child ready to go.  As the parent pulled up to the sidewalk, the student waiting in the lobby ran outside alone, jumped in, and the car drove away.  No one signed the child out, and no staff member was able to even verify the driver of the car.  This is an absolutely unacceptable safety risk for us, so we will be making a change.

    Moving forward, we will not call a student out of class until the parent enters the building.  There will, therefore, be no opportunity for the child to be unsupervised or to leave campus without being appropriately signed out. When an urgent matter requires you to sign a student out before carpool, please allow yourself enough time to enter the building, request your child from class and sign them out.  As always, we request that you arrive no later than 2:45 to least disrupt carpool and that you make every effort to avoid early pick-ups to protect our students’ learning time.

    *Many thanks for your patience during the paving on One World Way this week.  The timing of paving beginning while we were welcoming four schools to an on-campus cross country meet was not ideal.  We are not yet sure how this extra lane will impact our carpool as we must continue to be mindful of the others on our roads.  Stay tuned for more information as we see the road changes and their impacts.

    Have a wonderful, safe Labor Day weekend!

    Christi Whiteside, Director
    Endeavor Charter School
    919-848-0333

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  • Recap of Future Plans - Curriculum Night 2019

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 8/23/2019 4:00:00 PM

    Thank you to the many families that attended the Curriculum Nights this week.  We appreciate you investing your time in our school and the many ways you continue to support Endeavor.  In case you missed it, here are a few key slides from my portion of the presentation in the MPR.  

    success slide

    Endeavor is proud of our successful curriculum and consistently being ranked in the top 3% of schools in the state.

      

    national recognition slide

    Endeavor Charter School is nationally recognized by Niche, an online data reporting group that provides community information across the country.  Endeavor's K-5 program is ranked #8th in the state out of 1466 public elementary schools, and our middle school program is ranked 6th in the state out of 676 public middle schools.

     

    timeline slide

    Endeavor's legacy of support began when we opened our doors in 2008 in a rented facility with very few resources.  A plan was soon formulated to begin looking for more space to expand our program and provide our students with more opportunities. In 2014 we were able to make the move to our permanent home on One World Way completing Phase 1 of that plan.  The question for the past several years has been, "What comes next?". Committees of students, staff and parents have met and responded to surveys to help define our community's future priorities.  The Board of Directors has decided that this is the year to finalized those decisions.

     

    future slide

    The Board and Foundation are now exploring a variety of options for our campus and have set an aggressive three-year timeframe to plan and construct campus improvements.  The goal is to be able to graduate this year's 5th graders (the class of 2023) on our campus.  Whether that means we hold graduation in a gym, an auditorium, or in a new building on campus remains to be seen, but we are exploring all of those options.

     

    Every successful year at Endeavor Charter School has been because of our talented teachers, dedicated staff, committed parents, generous donors and engaged students.  We will continue to ask for feedback from each of these stakeholder groups, and I invite you to become involved.  Our next opportunity for Q&A will be on Wednesday, September 4th with our first "Coffee & Conversations", from 8:30-9:30 in the MPR.  Please stay tuned to ECS!  I will continue to communicate updates via the Director's Blog as well as the Weekly Update emails.  As always, you can email me any time at cwhiteside@endeavorcharter.com.  Thank you again for all of the ways you support Endeavor Charter School!

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  • Reading Assessment Updates for August

    Posted by Christi Whiteside on 8/17/2019 9:30:00 AM

    I will warn you that this blog will answer very few questions about K-3 reading assessments and may possibly leave you more confused than ever.  If so, I sympathize!

    If you’ve been following the news since mid-June, you know that the state decided to end their contract with the company who implemented the mCLass reading assessments for students in grades K-3.  These were the assessments we administered three times per year to assess student growth, strengths, and areas of need. We ended last year intending to continue our use of mClass. 

    In mid-June, over summer break, we found out that mClass would not be available to us.  Instead a new program called Istation had been adopted by NC. I-station is a computer based program which means it will require less time away from teacher-led instruction.   We were fine with the idea of a new program, but concerned about the short time available during teacher workdays for the staff to learn how to administer the new program and assess the data it provided.  Mrs. Ventresco headed to Greensboro for a day of training over her vacation time only to learn that there were still so many implementation questions at the state level and few answers!  

    In July, the teachers returned to campus and were provided some options.  

    1. We’d learned that mClass was still available to us until August 23.  We could test on mClass, one last time to get a beginning of year starting point for reading instruction and then move into I-station when it was ready.  
    2. As a school, we could purchase mClass and continue with it despite the state changing programs.
    3. We could wait to assess until I-station was ready.

    As is typical, our teachers decided to do it all!  They decided to assess on mClass as we waited for more information from the state.  As long as that went smoothly, we’d purchase mClass for the year to ensure consistent data for our students, and also implement I-station when it was ready.

    Well, none of that worked as planned.  mClass ended up only being an option for our new kindergarteners.  Returning students’ mClass accounts from last year were not accessible due to the state’s previous ownership of the accounts and their decision to end the program.  As we moved toward purchasing mCLass for the school and establishing all new accounts, we learned that the historical data from previous years was lost, so we could no longer see an individual child’s progress over time. So, we looked ahead toward I-station.  

    During the MANY calls and emails Mrs. Ventresco and Mr. Lundholm (IT) have had with their support staff, far more questions have been raised than have been answered. We believe that we will finally be able to begin those assessments next week.  Students will be trained on the program prior to assessment. However, we don’t yet know what data we will get or how we will be able to share it with you. We also have not yet been provided information about what the achievement levels will mean.  For example, is a “500”, or a “G”, or a “red star” a third grade “above average” score, or a score that indicates concern at another grade? There is also no information yet on how this new assessment, or staying with the old one, will impact third grade Read to Achieve legislative requirements for promotion to fourth grade. 

    Despite all of this craziness, our teachers are doing all the great things!  They’ve pulled out our end of year data from May and June for a beginning level for individual students in grades 1-3. Kindergarteners are assessing on mClass.  Good reading instruction is happening!

    While we wait for all of this to settle down, we are also beginning to get information on the re-norming of last year’s math EOG and this year’s reading EOG and what those changes will mean to student and school scores.  

    We promise to provide you information about our assessments and your child’s individual results as soon as we can.  In the meantime, please be patient! Thank you for your support!!

    Christi Whiteside, Director

    Endeavor Charter School

    cwhiteside@endeavorcharter.com

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