Hawk Talk

HEHS Principal's Blog

HawkTalk Principal Blog September 20th, 2016

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is something we believe in strongly as a staff.  We’ve spent a year studying it and have begun introducing it to your students this year.  It’s based on the work of Stanford professor Dr. Carol Dweck, who suggests that most people operate from either a fixed or growth mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe they are either smart or dumb, talented at something (art, music, sports, math) or not. Those with a growth mindset believe that success is the result of effort not just natural ability.  Through persistence and effort, anyone can achieve greater levels of success, and the way students perceive their abilities plays a huge role in their motivation to give effort and achieve academically. During the first weeks of school, I was able to speak with each student about what it means to have a growth mindset, and how their internal thoughts and beliefs about themselves can impact their external success.  As educators at HEHS, we believe that ALL students can increase their intellectual abilities, and have committed to the following ideals related to growth mindset:

Embrace Challenges

Persist in the face of setbacks

See effort as a path to mastery

Learn from feedback

Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

We will continue to find ways to incorporate the ideals of growth mindset into our classrooms, school, and community.

Academic Rigor & Student Learning

Believe it or not, this week marked the midterm of the first quarter! We continue our focus on increasing rigor among our content, instructional methods, and assessments. This week I had the opportunity to observe many classes, and I was impressed to see so many teachers and students collaborating to solve complex challenges. I watched with wonder as our students engaged in critical research and problem solving to find answers to real world issues. These classrooms showed me we’re making progress on one of our goals this year which is to increase the type and number of situations that challenge our students’ thinking in new and interesting ways.  We will continue to challenge each student to a more sophisticated understanding of fundamental ideas and principles presented throughout our curriculum.

Principal’s Spotlight

Every Hoffman Estates High School student and staff member is fortunate enough to be provided a 1:1 device by Township High School District 211.  These devices allow transformative learning processes to occur both in and out of the school building.  This week I would like to spotlight the team of HEHS staff members that support all of our students, staff, and parents by ensuring that our technology functions flawlessly day in and day out.

Our technology staff works tirelessly to ensure that our 1900 students have devices that are properly functional, have the latest apps and software, and can connect to our school network flawlessly each and every day.  They provide our students the opportunity to learn in a next generation environment.  In addition to this, our technology staff also ensures that our 130 classrooms are enriched with up-to-date technology that will allow all staff to integrate current instructional practices in every course.  We would not be able to educate our students at such a high level without this group of intelligent and dedicated staff members.  Perhaps their most important role is to facilitate professional learning experiences for our staff so that we can continue to grow our instructional practices and engage students in next-level critical learning experiences.

We our proud of our technology staff, pictured below.  We would not be able to provide the transformational learning environment that we do without the help of Christina, Scott, Paul, Karen, Jeff, Will, and Kelly.  We are honored to feature their team as this week’s Principal’s Spotlight.


HawkTalk Principal Blog September 7th, 2016


SOAR at the Door Celebration

One of our favorite traditions at HEHS, a special staff “SOAR at the Door” welcome to the students, took place again this year on Wednesday, August 17th. Students got off the bus and were met by enthusiastic cheers, high-fives, and even a cowbell as our staff did their best to make sure all students know that this is not just a school, but a close-knit community where everyone is welcomed, safe, and valued. The welcome continued down each of the hallways, with staff cheering our students on and wishing them a great day and great year. This warm welcome is one way of introducing our new students, and reminding our returning students, of SOAR, our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention System) acronym that describes some of our most important values:

Show Respect

Own your Actions

Accept Differences

Realize your Potential

We will continue to implement SOAR throughout the school year with school-wide activities, lessons, and celebrations marking students’ growth and success in demonstrating these important values.

Academic Rigor & Student Learning

You’ve probably heard the word ‘rigor’ mentioned many times in reference to education.  We are focused on increasing the rigor of our content, teaching methods, and assessments.  We do this by “creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels and each student demonstrates learning at high levels” (Blackburn, 2008).  Each week this blog will feature classrooms that are creating environments that allow our students the opportunity to learn at high levels.

Principal’s Spotlight

This past Thursday night we held our annual Parent Open House night.  Over 500 parents took advantage of the opportunity to walk through their student’s schedules, meeting teachers, learning about the classes they’re taking, and better understanding the classroom policies and grading procedures.  Many of you also met with a counselor, purchased candy grams, taffy apples, or spirit apparel, and joined our parent organization, HELP.  I want to thank each of you who took time out of your busy schedules to invest in your students by attending Open House. A special thank you to everyone who joined HELP, as your membership provides funds that enable the organization to support our clubs and activities and also provide scholarships for students.  I also want to highlight a group of amazing people who work behind the scenes on Parent Open House night and every other day and night to ensure that our building is clean and functional.   Our custodial and maintenance staff did double duty on Thursday, coming in early to thoroughly clean and prepare the building for Parent Open House night, and then doing it again after everyone left so that everything would be ready for the students in the morning.  They are an amazing group of individuals who care deeply for our school and our students.  I’m honored to know each of them and work with them on a daily basis.


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