Dr. John Tharp is superintendent of Greendale Schools. Dr. Tharp joined the district in August of 2012 and has 20 years of experience in public education. He previously served as an assistant superintendent in a large suburban district in Tennessee for two years. Prior to that, he was a high school principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach. Dr. Tharp received his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a James Madison Memorial Foundation Fellowship Award winner. He is the author of one book on school reform.
It was exciting to meet 20 older adult members of the Greendale community at Greendale High recently. These seniors participated in our first ever “Senior High” event. Our goal was to welcome back to high school a group of citizens who might not ordinarily have a reason to visit our classrooms, facilities and programs. Overall, the event was a resounding success!
Our high school principal and myself welcomed the group. They enjoyed breakfast treats baked by our ProStart Culinary Arts program students and then spent time observing three different high school classes in action. From AP Chemistry to German 5, our guests were amazed at the interactive manner of high school today.
They commented to me on how different high school is today from their experiences 50 plus years ago. Students then were ‘talked at’, while today’s students seemed more engaged in what they were learning. Personalized learning in Spanish class included groups of students listening to native speakers, interpreting their message and discussing it with fellow group members. A visit to our Project Lead the Way class, Medical Interventions, included topics such as DNA and mapping the human genome. The participants showed such a fascination in the topics that they even expressed an interest in auditing this class!
Our morning included a visit to the semi-annual high school Reality Day event, an activity that introduces students to real-world financial decision making, such as purchasing a house, car, insurance, and investments. Our guests observed students receiving a salary and a life situation (married, single, with or without children), a bank account and traveling from booth to booth to purchase items and make decisions. Lunch in the high school cafeteria featured so many healthy and delicious choices that again amazed the seniors. This was our final stop before they headed home.
It was a great pleasure enjoying a morning with this important group of Greendale Schools’ supporters. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met them and show them what is special about their high school. I think they left the school more than impressed with what goes on in the G.
Dr. John Tharp