Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays from the Owensboro Public Schools

As I reflect this year, I am most thankful to be a part of a great school system in a great community. Never have the blessings that we share been more apparent that over the past several weeks as we have witnessed such pain and hardship with the tumultuous events at home and abroad.  

The Christmas story is about a baby born to two humble people denied refuge on a dark night in an era of oppression and cruelty.  Hanukkah, too, focuses on light prevailing against darkness in a time of conflict.  The two stories are instructive in our current age.  In a time where we witness so much hopelessness from so many, we celebrate this Christmas the hope that OPS teachers and staff provide to the students in our schools through kindness, generosity, and hard work.   I believe the work we do day-to-day in our schools provides hope as a defiant act to confront the shadows of terrorism and inhumanity.   My prayer this Christmas is rooted in the belief that the work we do as educators through the heroic love we offer in serving the students--no matter their background, race, or creed—will make our community and our world a better place.  

Happy Holidays!

Nick Brake

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Increasing number of OPS students entering kindergarten not ready to learn

An increasing number of students entering the Owensboro Public Schools are at a disadvantage for learning before they even start school, according to latest data released by the Kentucky Department of Education.  But early childhood programs like Hager Preschool and the Estes Early Learning Academy make a positive difference.

Only about one-third of students entering kindergarten in an OPS elementary schools in 2015-16 were ready for kindergarten.  The data is based on the Brigance K Screener used in all 173 school districts in the Commonwealth.  The average at the state level was 50.1 percent.

"The steady increase in the number of students coming to us not ready to learn is staggering," said Owensboro Public School Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake.  "This is more than just a school problem, this is a community and societal problem."

Brake said the data  further illustrates the need continue to promote access to high quality early childhood education and daycare programs, like Hager Preschool or the Estes Early Learning Academy.   Students coming from a prior setting in daycare or preschool perform better than those coming straight from the home to kindergarten.

"We cannot let this opportunity gap determine the future for these students," he said pointing out that at the other end of the educational spectrum OPS send two-thirds of students to postsecondary education and graduates two out of three college and/or career ready.  "We are successful in narrowing that gap, but we still have a lot of work to do."

Kindergarten readiness by school: Cravens 27.9 percent;  Estes, 26.8 percent; Foust, 29.3 percent; Newton Parrish, 50.6 percent; Sutton, 56.3 percent; OPS district average, 37.9 percent.

Monday, December 14, 2015

OPS students participate in Hour of Code

Students from the Owensboro Public Schools joined thousands of Kentucky students computer coding starting last week during Computer Science Education Week. As part of the effort, students, teachers, parents and policymakers are encouraged to participate in an Hour of Code, a worldwide, hands-on experience in learning to write computer code.

Engineering students from OMS-N in Lora Wellman's
class participating in an Hour of Code
Owensboro Middle School was one of more than 750 Kentucky schools, businesses and organizations have signed up to participate in the third year of the event.  In 2013, the event’s first year, Kentucky hosted just 30 events. This year there are more than 172,000 events registered worldwide. Since its inception, more than 100 million students in 180 countries have participated in Hour of Code events.

“The Hour of Code is a great way to introduce students to computer science,” Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said. “Coding not only teaches students technical skills, but also fosters creativity and problem-solving skills that students will need in any future career.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that occupations related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels. By 2020 there will be one million more computer programming jobs than students graduating from college with this skill, according to, a national, non-profit organization, which sponsors the Hour of Code.