Robert Bolden, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Bob)
2009 Oregon Principal of the Year
I am sure that you are aware that our 2009-2010 academic year was very successful. Newsweek recognized Sheldon as one of American’s best high schools. Out of 27,000 public high schools, Sheldon is ranked in the top 6%, and #2 in Oregon behind one Portland area school. We were also successful in meeting our federal AYP (Annual Yearly Progress). That success would not have been possible without your strong support of every facet of this school’s programs and processes. I am very pleased how our staff and community rallied around making sure that regardless of the tough economic times that we are experiencing in our country, state, community, and school district, we continue to do whatever we can to ensure that our students are receiving the very best education that we are capable of providing.
Over the years, our Sheldon community has demonstrated that we all want the very best education for all of our children regardless of what part of Eugene they reside, whether their income levels are high or low, regardless of culture, ethnicity, primary language, or gender. We continue to excel academically and score well above district, state, and national levels on the SAT and ACT in every component. We continue to have a contingent of National Merit Scholars, National Honor Society Members, and we are pleased that 90% of our students go on to post secondary education.
All of our students benefit from being a citizen of the Irish Nation. Being a citizen has its perks and privileges. One of the main perks is the “Luck of the Irish.” The late great film maker Samuel Goldwyn has provided clarity and definition to our understanding of what the” Luck of the Irish” really is. Mr. Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. We have taken those sage words of wisdom to heart at Sheldon High School. Therefore, we have put together student support systems that complement our rigorous and relevant curriculum.
Welcome incoming 9th Grade students and families
On behalf of the Sheldon faculty and staff, I want to officially and cordially welcome you to Henry D. Sheldon High School. In just a few short weeks your middle school student will be an incoming freshmen taking his or her rightful place as a citizen of the “Irish Nation”. We trust that the transition process continues to be smooth, supportive and helpful.
It was a pleasure welcoming you to our 8th grade orientations that were held on April 27st for Cal Young Middle school, and April 28th for Monroe Middle School. We were pleased with the great attendance from both schools and the upbeat atmosphere and inquisitive questions about our various programs. As you know at Sheldon High School, we make learning personal. Our personalization goal is to ensure that every student has the high support that enables them to meet our high expectations. To that end, one of the contemporary issues that we continue to work on is, “High Expectations and High Support.” As our students are expected to achieve to the highest standards, a significant number of them may need increased support to reach those standards and benchmarks. The problem exists for a variety of reasons which broadly fall into two main categories:
1. “Habits of Mind” issues, including, personal responsibility, intrinsic motivation, the development of intellectual, critical thinking and work-related habits and skills. Many of these students also seem unaware of the problems and consequences of poor performance early in high school, and in many cases have difficulties engaging in trusting and respectful relationships with teachers and other adults.
2. Issues around the strong basic skills in reading, writing, math, and science needed to be successful and meet high standards in high school core curriculum areas.
Our basic strategy to address this concern has been to proactively identify incoming “at-risk” freshmen to provide them with a support system designed to increase performance in core classes and meet high expectations, thereby reducing the need for remedial and credit recovery classes.
The identified group of at-risk ninth graders is supported during their freshman year by placement in a specially designed course, which they take either prior to, or concurrent with enrollment in core classes. For some students this has meant delayed entry into one or more of their freshmen core classes. This proactive component has been an expansion of, and an addition to, a basic program to assist 9th and 10th graders with math and writing that is already in place at Sheldon High School, while including study center classes to provide ongoing support and tracking of academic performance as long as it is needed. In addition, Sheldon teachers continue to work with these students to “voice” ideas for how to engage them in their learning, and work with Best Practices (differentiation, projects, and community mentors) to ensure that the High Expectation/High Academic Support Program is learner-centered, relevant, and achieves the desired outcomes.
The curriculum of the freshmen support classes have been designed specifically to address the two areas where support, encouragement, and monitoring are needed, i.e., “habits of mind,” and basic core area skills and knowledge. Costa and Kallick (www.habits-of-mind.net) define a “habit of mind” as “…having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known.” According to these authors “habits of mind” attend to various aspects of learning, including, value, inclination, sensitivity, capability, and commitment, all defined specifically within the context of employing a pattern of intellectual behaviors. Drawing from research on human effectiveness, descriptions of remarkable performers, and analysis of the characteristics of efficacious people, they present a list of 16 desirable “habits of mind,” many of which, if not all, directly apply to the learning environment of students entering high school. To quote Costa and Kallick:
“These Habits of Mind transcend all subject matters commonly taught in school. They are characteristic of peak performers whether they are in homes, schools, athletic fields, organizations, the military, governments, churches or corporations. They are what make marriages successful, learning continual, workplaces productive and democracies enduring.
The goal of education therefore, should be to support others and ourselves in liberating, developing and habituating these Habits of Mind more fully. Taken together, they are a force directing us toward increasingly authentic, congruent, ethical behavior, the touchstones of integrity. They are the tools of disciplined choice making. They are the primary vehicles in the lifelong journey toward integration. They are the ‘right stuff’ that makes human beings efficacious.”
We see it as a vital component of our freshmen support program to foster good “habits of mind” in these students. Because of the transcending nature of “habits of mind,” we emphasize this kind of thinking and behaving in all of the new and existing support classes in reading, writing, and math. This allows us to address many of the challenges of these students, particularly as they relate to study skills and motivation.
Again, welcome incoming students and families.
Dr. Bob Bolden