Learning never stops. Each and every year, Donaldsonville High School teachers and administrators are consistently engaging in new learning experiences, researching best strategies and practices, and using what works to improve student achievement. This summer, all four administrators attended summer conferences geared towards individual and collective professional growth. The purpose was to enhance their knowledge and skills that will help them become better practitioners when making decisions as leaders for Donaldsonville High School and the community it serves.

This summer, Donaldsonville High School’s Principal, Marvin Evans, and Associate Principal, Nicole Elmore, tackled the East Coast and attended the National Principals Conference 2017 in Philadelphia. This was the first joint conference between Pre-K through grade 12 school leaders.

“The conference allowed us to explore ways to increase professional capacity among all faculty and staff members. We soaked up knowledge on creating a trusting culture, building a strong community support system and engaging in advocacy. It allowed us to examine and focus on providing students with a variety of opportunities and setting them up for whatever awaits them after 12th grade,” stated

Associate Principal Nicole Elmore. “These are ‘our’ kids. Everything we do is to help our students build brighter futures for themselves.”

The National Principal Conference presented administrators with the opportunity to network with school leaders from around the country, which provided DHS leaders with ways to better improve the innovative educational opportunities at DHS. After attending the conference, Principal Evans and Elmore have improved their efforts to advance school-to- home communication, and they are also creating a plan to ensure stakeholders are aware of the amazing opportunities and innovative teaching that is taking place at DHS.

Across the globe on the West Coast was Assistant Principal Michael Hilton. Hilton attended a conferenced in San Francisco entitled Family and Community Engagement (FACE): Transformational Moments & Sustainable Practices Conference. According to Hilton, the conference provided him with new insights that will assist the DHS team in their endeavors to build relationships & trust, build adult capacities, enhance parent leadership, advocacy and community organizing, and how to ensure equity and create opportunities for families. One of the most impactful lessons focused on dual capacity approach to building family-school partnerships. A dual capacity approach focuses on the school’s

endeavor to build the capacity of the family/community members to become a part of the decision making process in the educational options for their children, school, and community while simultaneously building the capacity of the school’s staff to honor & recognize families funds of knowledge, connect family engagement to student learning, and create welcoming & inviting cultures. This will be another targeted focus for this school year, where Hilton is currently finalizing a plan that

will put this endeavor into action.

He states, “My personal goal for this year is to use the Dual Capacity Framework to Build Relationships, Trust, and Parent Leadership within our school community.”

If interested in partnering with DHS in this endeavor, please contact Mr. Hilton at 225-391-7904.

With DHS administrators on the East and West Coasts, Dr. Charie Worley, assistant principal, was down South in San Antonio. She attended an in-depth workshop with trainer and well-known author

Eric Jensen. The training was devoted to and entitled “Teaching and Engaging with Poverty in Mind.” This workshop focused specifically on increasing achievement with students who struggle due to outside factors stemming from poverty.

“Not only did this workshop provide strategies that work with struggling students, but it provided researched-based evidence of why certain behaviors occur and how to look at it through a different lens. This is my 13th year serving in an area where income has been a life challenge. I’ve seen so many devastating conditions, situations, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors, which peaked my interest in how poverty contributes to the ideas previously mentioned. Research has demonstrated time and time again how poverty affects student achievement, but it is not something that is on the forefront of the educational agenda. This has always puzzled me,” stated Dr. Worley.

She expressed that she plans to collaborate with her team to ensure that they continue to balance the world of academics with the social world that focuses on people and conditions that affect them.

“We all love what we do, and we always use our new learnings to plan bigger and brighter futures for our students,” states Worley. “Our collective knowledge is how we succeed. We are constantly focused on improving, and the best part is, we get to share so many stories of success.”

“We must tell our own story. It is one that is unique in nature. It is one fill with so much joy, lots of laughter, and sometimes pain. No one can tell our story better than we can. It is our story… “The Story of the Westside.”

Contributed Report