Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. Fortunately, there is a lot going on in the schools to keep our minds off the gross weather.

Technology Showcase: Nordonia Hills City School District will be sharing how teachers have transformed their classrooms using technology on March 3 at Lee Eaton Elementary School. We have nearly 70 colleagues from Northeast Ohio school districts scheduled to attend our Technology Showcase to learn from a number of teachers, administrators, and our media specialist/technology integration specialist. We are also being scheduled to take our "show" on the road to Akron Public Schools on March 2. We have had several school districts contact us this school year to hear about the transformation of our classrooms.

Preschool at Ledgeview Honored: The state of Ohio was an early adopter of a Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) for licensed childcare providers. Because Ohio recognizes the importance of a well-defined, progressive pathway to improving the quality of early learning and development programs, the state expanded its comprehensive rating system to rate and monitor all early learning programs, including programs in school districts, child care facilities and family child care homes licensed by the Ohio Department of Education or the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. This expansion will improve the quality of all early learning and development programs that serve high-needs children from birth to 5 years (earlychildhoodohio.org). SUTQ is a five star rating system which recognizes and promotes quality early learning programs.

The Summit Preschool Program located at Ledgeview Elementary recently participated in the SUTQ ranking process with reviewers from the ODE completing both a desk audit of policies and procedures along with an on-site visit to evaluate learning environments. The Ledgeview Elementary site has been awarded a 5 star ranking, the highest available. Desk audits on an annual basis will continue to monitor the program's quality performance.

Nordonia Readiness Coalition: Last month Ledgeview principal Kris Cottrell, Northfield kindergarten teachers Gina Kitchen and Katie Patterson, Rushwood kindergarten teachers Dawn Soukup and Amanda Juhasz and I attended an event sponsored by the Summit Education Initiative. SEI is a nonprofit organization working to increase the educational attainment of individuals and their families living in Summit County. One of their goals is to increase the number of students ready for kindergarten success. You can learn more about SEI at the website: http://seisummit.org/

Last month was the Transition Skills Summary Kickoff Event at the Akron Civic Theater, which was the start of their project to develop a "Readiness Coalition" in every Summit County school district. Basically, a Readiness Coalition is a group of preschool directors and staff with elementary principals, kindergarten teachers and others working with young children in the community designed to improve school readiness and inform kindergarten programs throughout the county.

At the event we were presented a $500 check to help form our readiness coalition. The funds are intended to support coalition projects or start-up activities.

The key idea is to begin opening lines of communication and conversations between the district, the preschools that feed our kindergarten programs and other key partners and community players in a way that makes the most sense to Nordonia, and to continue that dialogue on an ongoing basis.

From a bigger picture perspective, we envision that Nordonia's "Readiness Coalition" will meet a few times per year and is ultimately representative of the school's community, local childcare/preschool providers, and other stakeholders such as librarians, home visiting professionals, faith community leaders, business community, etc.

As a first step, SEI is asking each district that receives money to set a date for a community conversation on early learning/school readiness. We are working to firm this up. I am happy to report that other attendees to the event last month included Nordonia teachers as well as representatives from several community-based preschools, our local YMCA, Head Start and the library.

District Emergency Management Plan: Effective January 2015, Ohio law required school administrators to develop and adopt a comprehensive emergency management plan for each school. It also requires that administrators file their emergency management plans with the Ohio Department of Education. The emergency management plans for all of our buildings have been found COMPLIANT after review by Ohio Homeland Security. They will remain compliant for three years before needing to be resubmitted.

Each school is required to conduct an annual emergency management test. We also need to certify an annual review of our plan. This is to be completed between Jan. 1 and July 1 of each calendar year.

Hopefully you can see that the Nordonia Schools are working hard to improve instruction, build partnerships, and keep your kids safe.

As always, thanks for supporting the Nordonia Schools, have a great month, and remember to follow me on Twitter @DrJoeClark.