From the Desk of Dr.Fiveash: "The Word of the Year Is..."
The summer months are widely known as a time when schools become dormant, but at Spring Valley our school community sets our sights on the year ahead for expectant growth. It is of utmost importance to us that we continuously, and transparently, share these big plans with our school families and support system from within the greater community.
The word of the year is intentionality.
1. the fact of being deliberate or purposive.
Being intentional in our school community means allowing time and space for deciding our visions for our respective departments, sharing them openly with our peers, and collaborating on an action plan that brings our dreams into existence for the betterment of those we serve. The following are the current top five ways that our school is dedicated to expanding the number of students we serve, the programming that best meets the individual needs of our students, and outreach efforts that generate awareness of our school's mission throughout the Birmingham community and beyond:
1. Re-Accreditation and Strategic Planning: SVS is entering the 5 year re-accreditation process through Cognia. Faculty Member Jocelyn Burrill is working closely with stakeholders as we journey through the process together. Parent, faculty, and student survey responses compiled at the close of the 2021-2022 academic year were used as the starting point for our school's strategic plan. For the first time, SVS engaged a seasoned consultant to assist with this process. She met with faculty, staff, and board for feedback as to where they would like to see our school 10 years from now, and how we were going to arrive. Common-held themes among our school community are outlined below:
2. Wellness Programming: For almost one full year, SVS has successfully engaged an experienced grant writer who has aided in raising over $175,000 for our school. A primary funding focus area has been the expansion of wellness initiatives made possible by the on-boarding of a second Social Worker and our first Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Our goal is to provide a wellness program that benefits both students and faculty alike. Faculty received Social Emotional Wellness training during the August Professional Development series. Additionally, SVS staff representing areas of social work, athletics, research, marketing and fundraising attended the annual LD School Leadership Retreat hosted by Trident Academy in Charleston, SC this July. At the link below, you may download an abstract of my presentation delivered alongside Delaware Valley Friends School and The New Community School on the multidimensional implementation of wellness initiatives in LD schools:
3. Integrated Research Hub: With the vision of moving research into immediate practice, across the curriculum, Dr.Kevin Campbell will serve as Director of Research for SVS. Currently, we are on track to partner with Stanford University to look at a new research diagnostic tool to be able to identify students with dyslexia in earlier stages. At University of Virginia, we are collaborating with a researcher on the topic of Executive Functioning. Another topic of interest shared with Atlanta schools, including one of our partnering LD schools - the Schenck School, is Reading Comprehension. SVS parents will be notified for obtaining consent if their student is specifically given the opportunity to participate in advancing research.
Additionally, the SVS Research Board remains active and Dr.Paul Riccomini (Penn State) is scheduled to visit the Spring Valley campus at the end of August 2022 to collaborate with our math faculty on providing explicit feedback on instruction.
4. Building Improvements: As it was included in the original real estate contract, The Church at Ross Bridge has re-obtained the stained glass windows from the SVS auditorium. A Spring Valley parent and architect volunteered to draw up plans for replacing the side windows (with new windows) and large, round windows (with drywall) to assist with lighting best-suited for theatre productions. Second, two more portable buildings are arriving to campus to house at least 6 more faculty work spaces / classrooms. Additionally, security cameras are in the process of being updated, and Shaw Fence provided a generous discount on the installation of the new fence for our front lot.
5. Advancing Outreach: The Hettie Johnson Institute at Spring Valley has grown its staff and anticipates hosting quarterly resource-based keynote events, designed to provide parents and educators from neighboring schools access to the tools and strategies implemented at SVS that equip LD students to learn without limits. Following Dyslexia Awareness Month (October 2022), SVS will serve as the host of an all-day Professional Development program on the topic of dyslexia for educators within the Alabama Independent Schools Association (AISA) on November 16.
A ground-breaking Media Elective will be offered as a creative outlet for SVS students to grow tangible skills in the areas of media production and broadcast. A couple of headlining projects include pre-recorded morning announcements and a podcast for access by current Spring Valley families.
Please mark your calendars to attend our annual Town Hall Meeting on October 18 at 6pm, at which time our Board of Directors invite our SVS parents, faculty and staff into the conversation surrounding updates on the SVS Continuous Improvement Plan. Thank you for being an integral member of the Spring Valley Family who shares in casting big dreams and visions for the purpose of making possible bright futures for students who learn differently, and remarkably!