Dear Gahanna Lincoln Students and Parents,
The 2014-15 school year is quickly approaching. The entire staff at Gahanna Lincoln High School is excited about the new year. For those of you whom I have not had the opportunity to meet, my name is Bobby Dodd and I am honored to be the next principal at GLHS.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you and discuss my background and my educational philosophies. As a former teacher and coach for over thirteen years, I believe it is important to create a culture where students believe they have the opportunity to be successful. That being said, students must also take advantage of their opportunities to be successful. Success just doesn’t happen. Success is earned. One of my favorite quotes about success is from Aristotle, “Success is an art earned by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Success, then, is not an act but a habit.” We are going to challenge our students at GLHS. Our students need to respond with perseverance and resiliency. Students will encounter pinnacles and obstacles throughout the year. It is imperative that our students continue to grow when they reach the top and use the feedback given to them when they are struggling to achieve success. It is imperative to grow from our failures. As motivational speaker and author of Shift Your Brilliance Simon Bailey says, “Failure is feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
I know what it is like to have to persevere when confronted with academic struggles. From high school to graduate level classes, I have always had a difficult time adjusting academically. It didn’t matter how good of a school I attended at the time or how good my teachers and professors were, I did not adjust well to new academic situations. My struggles included poor academic practices such as not utilizing my time outside of class effectively, not taking advantage of collaborating opportunities with my classmates, and not utilizing all of the resources I had at my disposal to help me succeed. But in each instance of my schooling, I found a way to confront my academic challenges and eventually succeed. Please understand this didn’t just happen. I earned it, as Aristotle says, with training and habit. Spending the extra time with teachers and professors, maximizing the use of my resources, and working with other people enabled me to succeed. I realized I needed to make these things a habit in my life in order to succeed after I was finished with school.
I believe it is important to use innovative teaching methods to help students grow and compete with other students around the country. You know as well as I do, our society is constantly changing. We need to prepare our students for these changes. Our teachers will use different methods of instruction to help our students adjust and be prepared for the opportunities of tomorrow. As administrators, parents and stakeholders, we need to support different teaching methods that may be different from how you and I learned while we were in school. While our students may struggle at times adjusting to different methods, it gives our students and teachers the opportunity to differentiate their learning. It is necessary for us to embrace innovation and continue to support different methods of instruction that help us continue to be a leader of innovation in our state. We need to continue to focus on innovation in and out of the classroom. This summer, I read Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Confidence in Us All, by David and Tom Kelly which explained the need for continuous effort towards innovation, “The organizations, communities, and nations that thrive are the ones that initiate action, that launch innovation cycles, that learn by doing as soon as they can.” We will continue to focus on innovation to provide our students with the best opportunities to succeed and compete with other students from around the country.
We are extremely proud of our successes at GLHS. Take it from someone who is coming in from another district, Gahanna has an abundance of excellent programs, organizations and teams that set us apart from other schools. A great example of this is the musical production of Hairspray performed this past year at GLHS. It was an amazing production that many staff, students, and parents played a vital role in to make it such a success. It was truly a team effort. You could see in the faces of the staff members, students, parents and community members how proud they were of our students. As my family and I sat in the crowd, it was evident that everyone had ownership in the performance. I still hear people talk about the performance like it was yesterday. That is truly something special. The performance was a great example of teamwork and collaboration. If you look at other groups at GLHS such as our teacher, athletic teams, school counselors, administrators, secretaries and custodians, they epitomize teamwork and collaboration. Our successes are built from the foundation of a collaborative environment where as professionals we focus on our duty to our students and community.
GLHS continues to be a dynamic place with many educational and extra-curricular opportunities for our students. Our vision remains strong as we are educating our students for the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow. One area of opportunity for our students is the new Innovation Generation program recently established in our school district. This program is a new state initiative allowing Central Ohio high school students to gain skills needed for jobs of today. Central Ohio districts had the opportunity to focus on a variety of programs that were beneficial to their districts and communities. Gahanna Jefferson has chosen to focus on advanced manufacturing/engineering and health care due to the industry partners in our area. With the grant funds, GLHS is now equipped with a distance-learning lab where students and staff have the opportunity to connect globally with other classes and schools. In addition to the distance-learning lab, Gahanna Jefferson also has a mobile fabrication lab (Fab Lab) where students and staff have access to laser cutters, 3D printers, and robotics among other technological resources. Students and staff have the opportunity to work with advanced technology and local industry leaders such as DynaLab and other engineering and manufacturing companies to continue to build relationships with the local business community. Innovation Generation has also allowed us to offer a course titled Introduction to Engineering. This course utilizes curriculum from the Project Lead the Way educational engineering program. We are excited about the new opportunities for our students and staff as we continue to prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.
We are continuing our focus on our core values at GLHS of Purpose, Respect, Integrity, Diversity, and Excellence. Our theme this year at GLHS is “Everyone Counts.” We will incorporate each of these values and our theme into our mission of educating students for today and tomorrow. We will use these core principles to guide us as we continuously seek to improve our teaching methods for growth of the whole student, inside and outside of the classroom. We encourage all of our stakeholders to participate in this journey with us by encouraging behavior of our students that focuses on P.R.I.D.E. and communicate with our teachers to learn more about innovative learning opportunities for our students.
The staff at GLHS worked very hard this summer to improve in their profession. We had many teachers who received professional development by attending conferences and enrolling in classes. I believe as a school and community we grow together. If you follow my twitter account (@bobby__dodd) you will often see me use the hashtag #WeGrowTogether. As adults, we need to always search for opportunities to grow, whether it is in our profession or as humans. The best way to grow is by utilizing collaboration and working with others. The education field is no different. GJPS Superintendent Francis Scruci recently wrote about our district staff and how they continue to improve while school is not in session (http://www.thisweeknews.com/content/stories/gahanna/news/2014/07/15/straight-talk-summer-doesnt-mean-break-for-everyone.html). The staff at GLHS takes pride in their craft and is constantly looking to improve to help our students.
Two of our teachers at GLHS, Cindi Macioce and Chris Wagner, recently attended a Broadway Teachers Workshop Conference in New York City. They were able to collaborate with other instructors from around the world and work together to discuss possible changes to their instructional strategies this upcoming year. Also during the summer, Mrs. Macioce earned the 2014 Educator’s Voice Secondary School Teacher by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International (http://www.thisweeknews.com/content/stories/gahanna/news/2014/07/29/educators-voice-macioce-earns-secondary-school-teacher-honor-from-academy.html). This is a great honor for one of our staff members.
The summer allows our teachers time to expand their knowledge and gain useful professional development from a variety of resources. Many of our intervention specialists took part in training this summer to become highly qualified in different content areas. This will enable our teachers to work with students in multiple content areas, collaborate with other teachers, and build stronger relationships with students. We have also hired highly qualified teachers from surrounding districts to fill vacant positions at GLHS. These teachers bring experience to GLHS in utilizing different types of teaching methods and we are excited for them to be a part of our team.
As a member of the GLHS staff and building principal, I feel it is important to discuss how I have been growing as an educator. One area I looked to focus on this summer was communication tools. I wanted to make sure that we are doing everything we can at GLHS to communicate our message and keep our stakeholders informed. I read Eric Sheninger’s book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times last month and it touched on a variety of new useable forms of communication tools that we will use at GLHS. Another area where I am growing professionally is focusing on creativity and innovation in education. We need to continue to educate all of our stakeholders about the importance of innovation in education. By reading different books and communicating with my personal learning network using social media, I believe we can create a vision for GLHS that incorporates all of characteristics that make our community great: the families, industry, leadership, traditions, and passion for the growth of our students.
I enjoy reading different books, blogs, and social media feeds to grow professionally. I usually concentrate my readings on educational and leadership areas. As we know, reading is a great way for all of us to become more knowledgeable and also a great way to relax. When we take time to read, we model for our children and students the importance of knowledge, growth, and education. Some of my favorite books that I have read this summer include Tribes by Seth Godin, The New School by Glenn Reynolds, Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelly (as mentioned earlier), and The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. I suggest reading any of these books as they don’t only relate to education but also they focus on the basic principles of leadership.
One of the blogs I enjoy reading is The Connected Principal which includes posts submitted by principals from all over the world. Another blog I enjoy is Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. It focuses on the different types of technological resources and tools that are currently be used in classrooms. Finally one of my favorite blogs to read is The Principal of Change by George Couros. George focuses his writings on leadership and good teaching, but also writes about experiences we all deal with in life. Books, blogs, and other readings allow me to analyze great minds in education and visualize how we can incorporate different concepts and methods at Gahanna Lincoln High School for years to come.
A group of people who know I love to read is my family. Not only am I thrilled to be a part of the Gahanna Jefferson school district, but so is my family. I have three daughters: one in college at Ohio University, a soon-to-be freshman at Gahanna Lincoln, and an eight year old daughter who will be in the third grade at Blacklick Elementary. We recently returned from our family vacation eager to take the next step in our lives of transitioning to Gahanna. While moving and changing schools are normally arduous tasks, my family and I are using the transition as an opportunity of change. This change allows us to self-reflect and realize how fortunate we are. Sometimes change can be scary and leave people with a feeling of a sense of insecurity. The challenge of change is overcoming those feelings and taking advantage of the opportunity change creates for you. In our case, it is the opportunity to be a part of something special in a great community with great people.
On behalf of the staff at Gahanna Lincoln High School, we are excited to be able to work with your students this school year. As we prepare our students today for the opportunities of tomorrow, we will encounter many different paths along the way. As parents and community members, we need to understand that preparing our students for these opportunities means we will need to change our traditional educational practices. The timing of change is everything as Seth Godin states in Tribes, “Change almost never fails because it is too early, it almost always fails because it is too late” (p. 119). As I stated above, let’s take advantage of the opportunity that change presents and create an educational experience for our students that is unmatched in our area. As educators, we will not be able to do this alone. I invite you to join us in this cause and meaningful endeavor. We need to work together to make a difference in our students’ lives so they will help the Gahanna community to continue to grow and help make Gahanna Lincoln High School one of the best schools in the country.
In order to stay connected with everything going on at GLHS, please remember to follow us on Twitter @GLHSLions, follow me on Twitter @bobby__dodd, like us on Facebook at Gahanna Lincoln High School Lions, and utilize the school website (http://www.gahannaschools.org/Schools/Lincoln_High_School/SchoolLincolnHigh.aspx) to locate important forms and information regarding GLHS. You can also use Remind to receive text messages regarding events and information at the school. Just text the number (424)-543-6350 with the message @glhsinfo in the body of the text message to receive messages from GLHS. Also, please make sure we have your updated email address so you can receive emails from GLHS. Please contact the school counselors if you need to update your email address with the school.
Again, it’s great to be a part of the team at GLHS and the community of Gahanna. Remember to plan on attending our Open House at the high school on Tuesday, August 26th from 7:00-9:00 pm. Please contact the office if you have any questions regarding the start of the new school year.
Gahanna Lincoln High School