Thursday, August 28, 2014

Do you have your clean slate?

It was my pleasure to open the 2014-2015 school year on August 18th.  We celebrated many things including 10 new staff members, 9 internal shifts, positive preliminary district data, and revamped district initiatives.  

My welcome back message centered around the theme - clean slate.  This is not the traditional clean slate - erase the old and start fresh.   Its the type of clean slate that lets us ride the tide of change and reinvent ourselves, building upon the things that work while starting fresh in areas that need refinement.  This reinvention allows the border or frame of the slate to embody our great skills, work, and talents, while the center of the slate is our new opportunity for growth and professional risk.  This is what we do as educators, continually reflect on how to make the good even better.  Working tirelessly to leave our mark on the hearts and minds of our students, families, and community.  

I'm energized with the opportunity a clean slate presents.   I control what is written on my slate as the Superintendent of Mechanicsburg Schools.  My actions, my communication, my leadership, and my commitment to students will dictate the  words and images that will symbolize who I am as an educator in Mechanicsburg.  When I reflect back on this year, I want those words to characterize Mechanicsburg’s #1 priority - Achievement of all students as well as the district’s other goals.  

Jim Mahoney, Executive Director of Battelle for Kids, recently wrote about “August and September as the season of hope”.  You can find his blog here.  This blog reinforces our notion of the clean slate, rewinding the clock to continue what works, all the while adding in the new things that will move the hands of time.  

As educators and leaders, we should challenge ourselves and our staff to find our voice, craft our message, and continue to impact students positively each and every day.  We should also model for others the true spirit of a clean slate.  The events of previous school years, the disagreements, the miscommunications are in the past!  If we commit to a clean slate, we have to commit to leaving those things behind in the chalk dust.  If we carry them forward, we only limit the fresh space we have to reinvent ourselves and craft our new message.  
Take the challenge.  Don’t limit your potential!  Rewind only to pull forward what will have a positive impact on what you do!


Danielle Prohaska
Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools

Friday, August 22, 2014

Required District Posting - Please Read

Federal Court Instructs Ohio Districts to Post Information for Parents 
Concerning Data Release

A U.S. District Court has ordered that 2013-2014 school year records from the Ohio Department of Education’s Educational Management Information System be turned over to Disability Rights Ohio as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, families of students whose data will be released must be notified and given the opportunity to object. The court is instructing all local education agencies to post notice about this opportunity to object on their district websites and in a central location, accessible to the public, in each building that is open to the public.

A copy of the notice – which includes instructions on how parents may object to the data release – can be found here. The court must receive objections no later than Sept. 12.

  • Students’ names, addresses and social security numbers are not part of the information to be released. Ohio is one of only three states that do not allow their departments of education to collect this data, to protect student privacy.

  • Data to be released for each student include student ID number, school name, grade, gender, race, age and disability category. 

  • The records also reveal student performance on the state’s Ohio Achievement Assessments and Ohio Graduation Tests, as well as tests related to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. 

  • Student suspensions and expulsions also are listed.

The data is subject to a protective order, which means Disability Rights Ohio cannot publicize it.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Making Personal Connections

It has been 8 days since I became the superintendent of “The Best Small School in Ohio”.  I have learned so much each day.  Some of those things have NOTHING to do with education but have EVERYTHING to do with supporting the district in fulfilling our educational vision.  Each day I have made a personal connection with someone on staff or in the community.  Asking about their new baby, checking in on the aging parent, visiting the fair, wondering about summer vacations or sharing stories about my own family adventures.....believe me with 3 children we have many especially since our  youngest is a mix of Pig-Pen and Denise the Menace :)  

I have met with the Mechanicsburg Public Library, Bicentennial Committee for the Village, and new teachers to the district as well as every supervisor, director, or administrator in the district.  Busy but important work!

This is not something that I am trying to do but something I want to do.  I am many things in addition to the district’s superintendent.  I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, runner, gardener, and shoe lover.  When we can connect with each other, share a piece of our lives outside of the job, we are more likely to build the trust needed to do the important work ahead of us inside our profession.    

“When you care about others, you are CONNECTED, which builds trust.”  -Ken Blanchard

I look forward to the connections that I will make as the superintendent of schools in Mechanicsburg. I challenge the administrative team, teachers, and support staff to go out on a limb and do the same. The gain is worth the risk we take when we open ourselves up to others.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meet the Superintendent

Hello and welcome back to the 2014-2015 school year.  This is my first official message as the Superintendent of Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools.  For many of you, this introduction is not needed as I have spent the last 7 years navigating teaching and learning alongside a dedicated and talented staff.   However, I feel it is important to build trust and understanding during times of change, which will come as we all learn more about each other.  

My name is Danielle Prohaska and I became the superintendent of schools effective August 1, 2014.  On this journey to becoming superintendent of schools,  I have had the good fortune to have studied and learned from three different but talented and experienced superintendents along the way.  Each leader brought strengths and successes to the district which I will strive to capture as my tenure in the district grows.  In addition to working with knowledgeable superintendents, I have grown alongside several administrators who have been instrumental in the success of our district.  Additional partners include the Board of Education, PTO, Public Library, Battelle for Kids, BASA, and Madison Champaign County Curriculum Directors.  

I began my educational career as a speech pathologist for Triad and Mechanicsburg Schools in 2001.  From there I spent a brief time in Marysville as speech pathologist working with students with Autism before coming back to Mechanicsburg as the Director of Teaching and Learning.  I have 3 wonderful children ages 10, 9 and 5 and a very kind husband.  I enjoy watching and playing sports with my family, gardening, and running.  I am blessed with a strong network of family and friends.  

Since 2007,  the district has been VERY busy refining instructional practices, managing finances, and responding to changes in state legislation.  If I listed it all, you would never read another message from me again!!  This year will be just as exciting, opening a “new” middle school, piloting one to one Chromebooks in 6th and 7th grade, staggering the student start date K-5th grade to better assist student transition and assessment, and taking online assessments to measure student growth.  

Our efforts will continue to reinforce 4 critical questions we began asking ourselves five years ago:
  1. What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  2. How will we know they are learning?
  3. How will we respond when they don’t get it?
  4. What will we do for those who already get it?

As the year begins, I do not claim to have all the answers.  However, I do promise to:
  1. Always put kids first
  2. Ask the right questions and search out the information that is needed
  3. Make decisions based on the most accurate and timely data that is available
  4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
  5. Listen first
  6. Be kind to myself and those around me as we learn and grow together
  7. Continue the excitement and passion for education that is the tradition at Mechanicsburg

Please understand that I have an open door policy and welcome your conversation and feedback.  I look forward to seeing teaching and learning in action in the classroom and watching our students and community grow as a result.  Follow me on Twitter @DanielleMProhas and my blog for important updates and trends in local and state education and additional ways to connect with me.  Also contact me at

Yours in Education,

Danielle Prohaska