From the Superintendent's Desk by Jeff Ferguson: Summer work prepares Tallmadge staff for new school year

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Summer may be known as a time to relax and recharge, but for teachers and staff in Tallmadge, it's also a time to work on improving the way that we do business. To maintain our commitment to excellence in education and efficient operations, many members of our Tallmadge staff took the summer months to enhance their skills in preparation for making the new school year even better than the last.

Teachers all across our school district use the summer to take advantage of professional development opportunities. It's a time where our teachers can discuss and present best practices to continue getting better at the art of teaching.

A District leadership team took part in a state program for designing inclusive practices for every child. The program is bringing research-based best practices back to Tallmadge. The program is being funded by a grant from the Ohio Office of Exceptional Children.

In addition, many of our staff members teach summer school for those students in need of remediation, and others offer educational camps for our students that want to learn more about subjects they are interested in.

A highlight this summer was Camp Invention for grades 1 through 6. The weeklong STEM course offered intensive, hands-on exploration of the five senses for 53 students. The team-based activities included creating and re-engineering gadgets, disassembling electronics and upcycling waste materials. The District will continue Camp Invention next summer as well as Club Invention during the school year.

Not only are our teachers working hard over the summer, but our administrative staff also used this time to improve on operations. Steve Wood, director of business, recently attended an intensive weeklong LeanOhio Boot Camp to learn about real-life business practices that have been proven to save money.

This training, which is an offshoot of the Lean Six Sigma managerial philosophy, is used by many private sector companies to improve performance. Tallmadge City Schools was awarded a $2,000 grant from the state to participate in this program.

With this training, our administrative team is now armed with new tools that will generate positive results in efficiency and effectiveness. We are employing the ideas from manufacturing to become better at maintaining and operating the buildings. We are employing ideas from service industries to improve our use of data to make decisions as well as how information is exchanged and shared with our families.

In Tallmadge, summer has taken on a different meaning and we must continue to evolve to meet the needs of our students. We still certainly view it as a time for our students to take a break from the daily routine of school, but it also an important time to focus on enhancement and improvement. As we look forward to the upcoming school year, residents can be confident in knowing that Tallmadge staff members are better prepared than ever to keep up with the demands of today's learning environment.

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