Now that a two month transition has come to a close after the Board of Education approved me as the Superintendent of Schools, it is time to get to work! To say that I am excited would be an understatement. Truth be told, I consider myself extremely fortunate for this opportunity to serve Delran.
The last two months have offered me the opportunity to review how each school and the Board of Education offices function. I have observed what makes the district outstanding and where challenges exist. I have done this in partnership with Interim Superintendent Joseph Miller with the mutual goal of ensuring that November 10th and beyond is seamless and successful.
My time thus far in Delran has been revealing. I can share that the four schools present themselves well. Each school is clean, orderly, well lit and staffed with extraordinary professionals who appear to appreciate the challenge and honor that is associated with working with children. The students are engaged academically and supported in a myriad of ways by the systems that are in place. As their leader I find it encouraging to be walking into an environment reflective of support, intellect and a focus on improving our overall product.
I find it important to engage in processes that plan for school improvement that speak directly to the challenges we face in student achievement, the use of practical instructional data streams (not necessarily those solely from high stakes testing), as well as climate and culture realities. During the coming weeks we will begin the processes that will allow each school to engage in reflective, critical and targeted development of school improvement plans that appropriately challenge all members of organizations to function in a manner that improves the overall product at each of our four schools. We will engage in separate but connected task forces that identify the current state of affairs for each building and outline what challenges them and where successes are found. Those task forces will identify challenges unique to their buildings. They will also forge common areas for the district to target as we progress.
The development of school improvement plans will only serve as the beginning of a targeted, precise administration of our programs. Once developed, the school improvement plans will also be evaluated quarterly both by each school and in peer groups in order to assess progress and offer the opportunity to modify as is needed. The school improvement plans will not only be something of fidelity that stakeholders in each school can take ownership for, but they will also be relied upon to guide decision making processes in a myriad of ways. As a district we need to be targeted in our leadership, our development of school improvement plans as the execution of those plans.
My intention is to align four separate but interconnected school improvement plans with the most recent five year strategic plan approved by the Delran Board of Education on September 10, 2012. The 2012-2017 Strategic Plan calls for goals that span the areas of student achievement, community involvement, climate/culture and finance. My initial work with the district and the Board of Education will assess the current status of the execution of this strategic plan at its halfway point.
The 2012-2017 Strategic Plan endeavors to produce modest gains in the following areas:
1. Institution of relevant professional development with follow up training to meet the needs of all staff members
2. Training on how to read, interpret and apply various streams of student achievement data at the classroom level
3. Create instructional opportunities that differentiate learning opportunities for students of all abilities
4. Establish a long term plan to reduce class sizes
5. Close identified achievement gap in all schools
6. Incorporate benchmark assessments in all schools
7. Increase the number of and diversity of students in all Honors, AP and Enrichment classes
1. Establish multiple avenues to engage parents and stakeholders in each school and the school district
2. Establish an Education Foundation
Climate and Culture
1. Develop a greater sense of collaboration between each school with emphasis on the transitions to grades 3, 6 and 9.
1. Middle School Teaming
2. Restore Full Day Kindergarten
3. Institution of Delran Adult School
4. Infusion of Delran senior population in schools to support student learning and programs
The coming weeks and months will allow for an examination regarding the status and health of the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan at its halfway point. I will address the status of all elements of the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan in the near future and will outline the process of ensuring that all components of the strategic plan set forth by the Board of Education are not only addressed but also serve as hallmarks of accomplishments in Delran.
Why all the talk about school improvement plans and strategic plans? I find them to be interconnected and in concert with each other at every juncture in our roles as educators in Delran, regardless of title or role.
The role of the governance structure is to establish broad district goals that are then supported by a strategic plan.
The role of a school improvement plan is to establish formal action that aspires to address the tenets found within the strategic plan set forth by the Board of Education. The school improvement plan will speak directly to the strategic plan. The strategic plan will, in turn, speak to the goals of the Board of Education. The three are formally connected and will be monitored with great commitment and enthusiasm to ensure that our collective sights are set on the goals that have been set forth prior by the Board of Education.
Allowing professionals the opportunity to be reflective, to be analytic, to be altruistic and to develop a roadmap that supports students first will allow the children we serve to be most successful and, above all, productive citizens in the 21st century and beyond. The institution of the planning processes outlined above will allow Delran to move forward productively and precisely.
I look forward to your feedback at all levels as I begin working with the residents and stakeholders in Delran. I can be reached most reliably through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.