Dear Delran Colleagues,
I have spent nearly thirty days as your Superintendent and have found the Delran Township Public Schools to be in strong academic shape and to have actively engaging environments whereupon students are supported and encouraged to develop. I want to thank you for welcoming me into your classrooms and engaging with me in order to welcome me to Delran, to acclimate me with your specific roles in the District as well as allowing me to celebrate your successes while speaking about your professional goals. The first days in Delran have, indeed, been positive and have foreshadowed much to come.
As we move forward, I would like to share my transition plan for the district. Below you shall find goals that are both short term and longer term in nature:
Purpose of Transition Plan
- Examine critical challenges of the system’s past to see how these issues have been handled; identify the norms that will affect how the system will function in the future.
- Become familiarized with the people and programs of Delran Public Schools as fully as possible in the briefest period of time.
- Identify and prioritize the tasks that must be accomplished, the time frame in which they must be accomplished and the persons to whom those tasks should be assigned.
My goal is to develop a positive, professional and trusting working relationship with all constituent groups inside and outside of the district. The process of meeting with each group (or a representative) will afford me the opportunity to understand critical issues that face the district from the perspective of the various groups. The ultimate outcome is to develop, with the Board of Education, both short and long term goals that are consistent with the district’s values, beliefs and mission statements. My general goals of leadership include but are not limited to the following:
Learn first-hand the perspectives of different stakeholder groups across the community regarding:
- Expectations for student achievement
- Successes/areas for improvement in the academic programs
- Perceptions relative to the need for change
- Key issues in the school systems’ past
- Important tasks that need to be completed and rank them in order of priority
- Learn the status of the district’s financial operation while developing a positive working relationship with the Business Administrator
- Begin to develop relationships with key people at Delran Public Schools and in the community inclusive of members of the Board of Education, the district administration and staff, leaders of collective bargaining units, building principals and assistants, supervisors, secretaries, clerical and support staff.
- Begin the process of developing a cohesive leadership team through the development of common language, perceptions on how to manage the process of teaching and learning as well as the perceived organizational and leadership needs in order to usher in large scale growth.
The First Month
The first weeks will be about the superintendent as a learner. I will have a high degree of visibility in the buildings and in the Delran community. My goal is to put names with faces, to listen and to be seen by all staff and students. Steps to meet this goal include the following:
- Visits to the buildings with embedded time to record observations and key information
- Meet with the Board of Education to begin dialogue on the development of operating principles and communication structures
- Promote structures to establish baseline data for current trends
- Spend time with a custodian in each building
- Formal meetings with stakeholders asking two questions:
- What would you like to see sustained in the district?
- What would you like to see changed? How might you go about it?
- Hold the first meeting of the District Supervision Team to begin the process of clarifying roles and communications
- Meet with district administrators and building principals individually to get to know them and their personal/professional goals
- Meet with representative groups of students; ask the following questions:
- What would you see sustained in the district?
- What would you like to see changes? How would you go about it?
- Establish a plan for scheduling routine meetings with the team of building administrators and teacher leaders
Review of Key Aspects of Transition – Appointment through Month 1
- Communicate the need for the Board of Education to focus on establishing a vision
- Speak to the need to focus on maximizing resources for the district and identify my role therein
- Articulate the need to continuously improve teaching and learning
- Demonstrate how data are used to drive decision making
Months Two through Five
This time will be about continuous learning, while beginning the process of shaping the future goals and actions of the district:
- Establish structures to evaluate opening of 2014-15 school year with a vision towards the 2015-2016 school year
- Conduct a complete review of student performance data with instructional administrators
- Continue making connections with different school, parent and community groups
- Schedule meetings with government officials and community leaders
- Hear and address issues that arise as part of the learning and leading process, making sure to let the problems be solved as close to the source as possible
- Keep abreast of personnel changes and the potential need for recruitment
- Be present at concerts, plays and sports events
- Attend special events
- Establish structures to review student performance at the end of each quarter – examine evaluations from instructional administrators while sharing my observations
- Continue to engage in finance and budget development through conversations/work with the Business Administrator
- Consider which Delran based clubs or service organizations to join
- Model continuous learning
- One Hundred Day Report
- Plan a Board of Education workshop near my 100th day to share my work and general observation and impression.
- This forms as basis for shaping of goals, allocations of resources and systematic improvements.
- Operations and Financial Planning for Growth
- Student Intervention and Support Plan
- Primary Level Task Force
- Middle Level Task Force
- Secondary Level Task Force
- Formative Assessment Program and Diagnostic Support Review
I have asked the four Principals to begin the process of composing a Task Force at their individual school and have charged them with reporting on the following: academics, climate and culture and the use of data at the classroom and leadership levels. Additionally, each Task Force is to make recommendations relative to their individual school with the intent of improving the overall product in each of their schools.
Once those Task Force reports are compiled – initially in April and in final version prior to Memorial Day – they will serve the guide the official goal setting and establish, in part, a strategic plan for the entire district.
During the winter and spring months, each Task Force may also endeavor to solicit information from staff members in order to establish a baseline from which the Task Force will use to make decisions that will support and underscore their recommendations. It should be noted that any surveying of staff will be anonymous, free of bias and seeks only to allow for data to drive the decision and recommendation making process.
As we continue to progress as individual organizations and as a District as whole, it’s important that you know that I believe in the teacher and their ability to influence instruction. Further, I believe that it is my responsibility to create environments wherein you can flourish as educators and support children to the best of our collective ability. I believe that it is my role to offer you direction, guidance and leadership in all areas of education in order to allow you to best serve our collective students. Lastly, I believe that it is important to listen, interpret and act appropriately in order to continue the goal and interest of moving our District forward. It is my hope that as the coming days turn into weeks that you and I have the ability to connect one on one.
I look forward to working with you and to serving as your Superintendent of Schools.