By Megha Khemka, Copy Editor
Overall: Essential Updates
- Campus safety measures have been increased, including school security and a push for vaccinations
- Concerns about student well-being center around math department grading, belonging and social health, and success for diverse learners
- Principal selection surveys sent out, candidate review to begin in February
Principal Updates: Campus safety measures increased, efforts to ensure student well-being
Much of Principal Dr. Shabazz-Anderson’s reports focused on recent measures taken to ensure student and faculty safety on campus. One such change has been more frequent bag checks and other increased security measures, which a number of CPS schools have adopted in the wake of the November 30 school shooting in Michigan (as well as a nationwide and citywide increase in both overall violence and school shootings). Other safety concerns include rising COVID cases, at Payton and across the city, amidst the new Omicron variant and holiday travelling. Dr. Shabazz-Anderson’s shared that 79.8% of the student body is fully vaccinated, with 84.73% having received one dose, and that efforts are ongoing to reach Payton’s goal of a 90% vaccination rate. She also said there was potential for a booster drive (now that booster shots have been approved for those 16 and older) if there was sufficient student interest.
Along the same lines, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson also expressed the importance of social-emotional well-being and belonging for Payton students, especially incoming freshmen. Referencing recent news coverage about the teenage mental health crisis that existed before, but has been exacerbated by, COVID-19, she stressed the need for Payton to address depression and anxiety among the student population. She pointed to an “ugly social media culture here at Payton” as one of the most urgent issues. “There are some really mean things that happen on social media,” she said, “that need to be addressed.” In response, LSC members discussed creating an Honor Code for Payton students in collaboration with StudGov and other student representatives. Other suggestions were the creation of a peer mediation group and/or peer jury to deal with social media and other SEL issues.
In other new business, attendance is currently at 93.99%, slightly slower than last month. The freshmen on track rate is 99.5%. Looking forward, she announced that a letter addressing math concerns would be going out this week (which it has), that the school website redesign is in its final stages and will be unveiled in January 2022. For the next school year, administration is hoping to institute summer math programming for rising freshmen and sophomores (for remediation as well as higher math opportunities).
Student Updates: Continued Work with Math Department
Since the last LSC meeting, students have held two meetings directly with the AP Calculus BC course team. Though people are beginning to settle into the transition back and getting used to the new grading scale, student needs in AP Calc BC and other Math courses continue to be outstanding. The student reps hope to continue receiving support from Ms. Roach and Dr. Shabazz-Anderson so that student requests can be addressed to support students in this school year to the next. More broadly, we’ve reached out to colleges like Northwestern for help with math enrichments, and are working on broadening the SAC to create a direct path for student feedback regarding administrative decisions.
Additionally, work is being done to bring back the student incident form. StudGov representatives met with Dr. Shabazz-Anderson and Dr. Ansari, and will be proposing a format to admin. The final form will be shared via the Payton Pulse and presumably posted on Selenium. An explanation to the limitations as far as admin’s role in administering discipline will also be shared to address student concerns that punitive practices do not go far enough.
PPLC: Teachers unsure how best to serve diverse learners
Mr. Wiggins and Ms. Picard shared that teachers are experiencing challenges with the abrupt increase in Payton’s diverse learners population. Freshmen and sophomore teachers are most impacted, though faculty across all departments and grade levels have struggled. Many report being unsure how best to support the huge range of learning styles and existing knowledge in their classes; some have shared that they are regularly getting up at 2 or 3 AM to create 3 different lesson plans for each of their classes. Faculty need more resources and instruction so that they can most effectively serve all of their students, they said, including more time for general and co-ed teachers to plan. This comes after CPS instituted a 14% DL population for each new freshman class, accompanied by more teachers for each school but little else in the way of instruction of resources to facilitate the change. Apart from immediate changes, Mr. Wiggins and Ms. Picard shared that the school needs to be better designed around its population for the next year, and that efforts to increase inclusion and awareness of diverse learners with the general-ed students.
Principal Selection: Process officially begins after break
Dr. Bauer sent out a survey to each of the departments, asking what traits they would like to see in their next principal. A survey to parents and students should be coming out soon, asking them to rank the importance of those traits. The posting of the position will be up through most of January, and candidate review will begin in February.
Fundraising: Major fundraisers in progress
Friends of Payton reported that the annual appeal fundraiser is at 40% of the goal. This compares to about 38% of the goal reached last year, and around 50% the year before (SY2019-20). They also announced a plan to start monthly ‘popcorn Mondays’ for students, the first of which happened December 13. Freshman PSAT (January 12) will be supported by them as well.