Welcome Back and Happy New Year!
From the perspective of the Superintendent for 2015!
Nowhere is it more imperative of school turnaround more pressing than at the district level. I will continue to face daunting challenges of turning our schools from struggling to successful and I must be able to do so in the face of steep pressure. What are the first steps of turnaround? The super-levers: data driven instruction and student culture. At the district level, at the school level, these foundations will turn chaotic, struggling schools into steadily improving ones. When dealing with our schools, I will make the most impact most quickly by limiting a dysfunctional model. I need to make a marked change not have gradual release. The number one error that school leaders allow is that we do not follow change to 100%, when it gets tough many leaders turn away.
This leads me to the point of our discussion student performance and teacher instruction; as we return after the holiday Break we will be convening a scheduling committee to discuss next year’s schedule. Regardless, of what the “shell” looks like time wise, we must remain cognizant of 90 minute literacy blocks, writing daily in every content area, and using data to drive teacher instruction. Using data to drive instruction is crucial for our performance turnaround. Teachers and leaders must be able to discuss data on a regular basis so that we continue in the right direction!
Feedback is one of the most important methods for improving student performance. Without Common Planning time, daily leader/ peer walk through, and timely feedback; how does one know how they are doing? Creating a schedule that provides a playing field for these types of behaviors will and can only support success. It is not okay to be less than what we can be!
Parent frustrations: “Tell us what frustrates you about our schools”. For example when you asked your children why you don’t like the new schedule and they say “I don’t know” or “No one likes it”? Has that told you anything? Or has it made you wonder? I suspect it has made you wonder. As an educational leader, I base my decisions on best practice and result oriented studies. I came to Whitehall to make a difference for everyone not just a handful. I cannot put blinders on and must view the full scope of performance, change is difficult to understand but it must be done for results!
I implore our leaders, teachers, students, board members and parents to keep an open mind as we move into 2015 because the changes that we implement will profoundly improve learning even in the most challenging environments. Let us put our agendas aside and allow for success of every student that they need and deserve to take center stage!
Happy New Year! Come out and watch our sports programs either at the Elks or center stage on the court. The track team competes at Union College! Stay involved and continue to look at the glass half full not half empty!! I thank you for your continued support of WCSD!