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Superintendents' Annual Report--June 2017

Regional School District #1
Annual Report
July 30, 2017

Each year, we have the opportunity at Region One to reflect upon the events and achievements for the Annual Town Report. The schools of Canaan, Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon and Housatonic Valley Regional High School are the seven districts that comprise Region One’s 275 square miles.

I now have the privilege of serving as Superintendent of Schools, to follow Patricia Chamberlain, who served in Region One for 29 years. Patricia gave of her time and talent to improve opportunities for students in our schools and I will continue this effort. Our number one priority is to provide the highest quality education possible for our students. We have our challenges, with declining enrollment and state budget constraints, but this will not deter our educational staff from being steadfast in moving forward, as we are developing our next generation of citizens. We must do so, to prepare students for a world that is changing at a pace moving faster than ever before.

In July, Mrs. Lisa Carter began as Assistant Superintendent and we very much look forward to her leadership, as she stewards instructional programs and helps expand new and innovative programs that enhance each and every student’s opportunity to find their path in life- from the time they begin at Region One until the time they receive their diploma. We know that we help hold the key to students' futures and we understand this significant responsibility that we have for their success.

The most significant changes that have come about in 2016-2017 are tied to the four goals in the Region One Strategic Plan for School Improvement. These broad goals are the same in each of our schools:

Goal/Initiative 1: To implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum tied to comprehensive formative and summative assessments utilizing the Connecticut Core Standards, National Content Standards, and the Instructional Core (student, teacher, content).

This includes:

·         Alignment of Curriculum to Instruction and Assessment
o Formative and Summative Assessments Aligned to the Connecticut Core Standards


·         Curriculum and Instruction that engages and challenges students to construct new knowledge and skills

·         Strategies for Intervention


·         Regional Continuum of Professional Practice

Goal/Initiative 2: To improve student achievement, as evidenced by multiple data sources such as local, regional, state, and national assessments.

Goal/Initiative 3: To continue to implement the regional teacher and school leader evaluation plans, with precision, fidelity, and purpose, and aligned to the district’s school improvement goals.

Goal/Initiative 4: To promote positive social and emotional health and well-being for all students.

In the winter of 2016-2017, administrators in all schools came together to update the Regional Strategic Plan. It remains a three-year plan, but we recognized that we needed to re-evaluate our timelines and action steps to determine if we were adhering to the plan and to ensure that timelines and action steps were still in sync with our goal areas. As with most improvement plans in schools, when the variables are many, we found we were “on track” in some areas, ahead of schedule in others, and had some that we were not yet able to address. The revised plan extends our work with updated timelines and action steps and is now a plan for 2017-2020.

Having the seven districts align their plans with that of the Regional Plan has made it possible for all of the schools to maintain a focus on our four common goal areas and align resources (people, time, funding, etc.) with the other schools. Ultimately, we want to be certain that a student can move within the region or move from 8th grade into 9th and not have gaps in their learning. We should not discern differences between schools when it comes to readiness for high school.

Every school district has been able to enact their Strategic Plan with the support of the Leadership Team appointed in each school. Each team was newly formed in 2016; however, this past year each team has become more involved, understands their role to a greater extent, and works alongside the principal in their school to demonstrate the following responsibilities:

  • Engage entire staff around improvement of instruction to impact student learning
  • Shepherd instructional initiatives (facilitate the decision making process, make recommendations, garner support, etc.)
  • Analyze district level data and make recommendations based upon the data and demonstrated needs
  • Plan/support professional development
  • Help lead implementation – change that impacts students/change in culture of school/change in instructional practice
  • Assist with evaluation of district programs and their impact on student learning and achievement
  • Assist with establishment and communication of connection between the Regional School Improvement Plan, the District’s Plan, and teachers’ IAGD’s
  • Communicate, as needed, with Curriculum Council members to ensure alignment of curriculum and professional development to deliver high quality instruction and programs
  • Read and discuss relevant professional literature to assist with continuous school improvement
  • Help coordinate time for teachers and administrators to collaborate and discuss programs
  • Model shared/distributed leadership in the district

Each school’s Strategic Plan is to be discussed regularly at Leadership Team meetings held in each school and communicated to staff. Teachers and administrators have input into the action steps they take to achieve the school and regional goals. The plans are enacted through professional development planning and discussions. It has been particularly gratifying to see teachers present at their local board meetings and share progress they are making with the implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment through a variety of programs. The purpose of each school’s plan is to improve student learning and to verify progress through communication of student achievement data. Data are being communicated and analyzed regularly with teachers and administrators and will be shared with students, parents, board of education members, and the community.

We feel that some of our successes this past year show in the curriculum mapping that all of the schools have worked on together, in order to have common curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Entering all curriculum online enables teachers and staff to be able to know what is being taught in any given unit of instruction, but the curriculum maps still allow for teachers to individualize learning activities according to their students. The ultimate goal in having curriculum maps is to document how we are expecting students to demonstrate mastery of grade level content standards.

Teachers and administrators continue to meet region-wide to revise and improve common assessments in writing and mathematics. Additionally, students in grades K-3 are experiencing Early Literacy Groups (ELG) focused on reading fluency and comprehension. All schools are seeing greater gains in student growth, as a result of the ELG program. Through these review processes and implementation of programs such as the ELG’s, all schools are now seeing the value of how we collect and use data. While we are collecting data on all of our common regional and state assessments and entering these data into the PowerSchool program, we are seeing a need for a data platform that is more responsive to enable teachers and administrators to make better analysis in order to plan instruction, so we are in the process of looking at programs that will help us to do this work.

Other initiatives that we are seeing produce positive results are student led conferences, grading practices and polices, and the evaluation process for teachers. Teachers spent time this year identifying “look fors” in the teacher evaluation rubric, in order to assist teachers to understand how to match criteria to artifacts and observational data.

As we continue into the year ahead, we will be implementing an instructional coaching program in all schools. We expect this program to be great resource for principals and teachers, as we share the belief that coaching is about continually learning ways to improve our practice. This also fits well with the teacher evaluation training that we have been doing with Collegial Calibrations, as every administrator is honing their observation and feedback skills, in order to also be able to support excellence in teaching.

We are also providing Personalized Learning opportunities, with professional development in this area focused in the K-8 schools. We communicate often about the need for all professional educators to stay current with many different kinds of instructional practices K-12, as we need to demonstrate our own ability to be flexible and willing to make adjustments in the delivery of our instruction in order to meet students’ needs.

All of the programs we have been involved with in the last several years are not “once and done” initiatives. These are ongoing and every year we will look for ways to improve what we are doing. In the years ahead, we both understand the challenges and necessity of two-way communication with our stakeholders, sharing the good work that has been done and more work that lies ahead.

Our continual challenge in Region 1, with distance between schools or potential differences in practices, is to be able to find time to communicate with each other, work together, and keep a continued focus on “non-negotiables”—those things that we all agree we must do. We can then allow “defined autonomy” to certain aspects of teaching and learning that enable each school to create its uniqueness, while still ensuring all students are receiving high quality instructional programs.

To keep our schools safe places for learning, budget and infrastructure needs have been attended to, through the oversight of each Board of Education, Building and Grounds Committees in each school, and Sam Herrick, Regional Shared Services Business Manager.

Sam Herrick oversees the districts’ projects. These are the projects that have taken place over the past year:

Lee H. Kellogg School

Boiler Replacement and piping replacement for 8 classrooms including new heating units.  This project also included carpentry and insulation work.  Exterior painting on the south and west of the building was completed.

Cornwall Consolidated Elementary School

Routine maintenance including some window repair; interior and exterior painting; insulated music room with closed cell insulation; six new exterior doors on the gymnasium.

Kent Center School

Extensive amount of exterior painting and waterproofing completed; interior painting completed in the upper wing; gym floor sanded down to bare wood, painted and refinished; library ceiling and cafeteria and teachers’ lounge walls patched and painted.

North Canaan Elementary School

Ongoing ADA modifications made, including playground and building; twelve truck loads of sand delivered to the playground, mulch added for student safety; exterior and interior painting in the front of the building; tree maintenance around the campus completed; gym floor refinished, nurse’s office floor re-tiled; casework in the middle school; re-laminated science tables; bird houses built with cameras for student use, all completed by maintenance department.

Salisbury Central School

Access controls and locks upgrade completed this summer with a security grant; asphalt paving of parking lots for the upper building including walkways; covered walkway at the entrance of the upper building repaired and new ceiling installed over the boiler room below the covered walkway; ceiling and lighting in the main lobby replaced; new doors installed in the cafeteria; work done at the athletic field, including a new athletic shed and fencing; band room painted and re-carpeted.

Sharon Center School

Routine maintenance, including painting 4 classrooms and all doorframes throughout the entire building; one room carpeted; hot water tank replaced.

HVRHS

Renovation of the science wing, locker rooms and fitness center; replacement of faux slate over the library media center and Ag-Ed center with asphalt shingles; replacement of the boiler on the north wing; replacement of the exterior wall on the math wing with new energy efficient wall system and windows; paving in the senior courtyard, reconfiguration of the Information Technology office.

Our commitment to students is never done. We have the excitement of getting to know our new students, finding ways to identify what each needs, and then providing the instruction and support that enables each one to build confidence, to strive to do more, and to believe in themselves as someone who can accomplish more and greater things.

Through the work of our Region One Board, which engaged for 18 months in the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Lighthouse Project, this mission statement was developed and one that we will continue to use as our North Star:

In order for us to prepare each child for what comes next, we must align vision, expectation, and practice among all stakeholders.

The work of the Region One Board that has resulted from the Lighthouse Project has shaped the district’s conversations now and for years to come.

We thank our parents, community members, staff, and everyone who supports our students and the programs that enhance their educational experience in Region One Schools. Our schools and our Shared Services Center will strive to strengthen the lines of communication and build more partnerships between students, parents, community, and staff. All of this is for the benefit of our students and their continual growth that prepares them for their next steps in life.

 

Dr. Pam Vogel