Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Strategic Framework

Last night Saline Area Schools began the process of reviewing and updating our Strategic Framework. For those who are unfamiliar with the Strategic Framework, it is a series of five (5) goals that guide the District. Below is a summary of the goals:

Goal 1: All students will acquire the essential skills and knowledge to meet or exceed standards in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of Grade 3.

Goal 2: All students will acquire the essential skills to be lifelong learners and leaders in an ever-changing, 21st Century, global society.

Goal 3: Strengthen family-school relationships and continue to expand civic, business, higher education  and community partnerships that support improved student achievement.

Goal 4: Enhance a positive school environment that promotes students & staff well-being, satisfaction and positive morale.

Goal 5: District shall establish short-term fiscal stability and long-term fiscal solvency.

Our goals with this review are numerous. We will develop a working understanding of the various elements of a sound planning process. We will define appropriate roles for Board, staff and community. We will develop specific action plan elements that will be recommended to the Administration and Board. We will ensure the framework elements are clear and coherent to promote broad understanding. Finally, we will incorporate a calendar for review of progress.

To achieve these ambitious goals we have asked approximately 75 students, parents, support staff, teachers and administrators to participate in the process to ensure we have broad range of perspectives and divergent thought. We must creatively improve the Strategic Framework and developing solid, executable action steps to make it come alive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Present for All

Thanksgiving represents the first significant break during the 2012-13 school year. While the lazy days of summer have faded into distant memory, the hustle and bustle of the Holidays is just around the corner. I'm even told that some have begun planning for Spring Break!

As we approach Thanksgiving, enjoy the moment. Spend time with family and friends, read a book or quietly reflect - simply relax. The vast majority of our lives is spent analyzing the past and planning for the future, with far too little time appreciating what is happening today.

As the old saying goes, "Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Moving Forward

After months of television and radio advertisements, phone calls, yard signs, nationally televised debates and any number of conversations and/or arguments with family and friends, Election Season 2012 is finally over. While the popular vote for President was quite close, the philosophical divide between supporters of the candidates could not be broader. Therefore, it is logical to ask where we go from here?

Regardless of political affiliation and ideology, we owe it to our children to make education a priority now and into the future.  We must focus not just on the rote recitation of facts, but more importantly upon critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity/innovation. In addition, job creation, health care access and cost containment, the security of our Nation and stability in the Middle East are all issues that demand immediate attention. 

As is often the case, I believe we can learn from history. In a speech given the summer after the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy said, "Let us not be blind to our differences - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those interests can be solved." It is time to start solving problems instead of arguing about who created them. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Frame or the Art?

The MS and HS will be evaluating a variety of scheduling models in the coming months. They will take a critical look at their current schedule formats as well as a variety of others. The merits of block schedules vs traditional schedules, of trimesters vs semesters, of 5, 6, or 7 hour days, of zero hours, late start days and summer school will all be discussed and debated. The alignment between the MS and HS schedules, (particularly for those MS students who earn HS credits), the maintenance and creation of elective opportunities and any possible impacts upon class size will be areas of particular focus. However, it is worth noting that if there were a single, best schedule format that promoted student achievement, every school in the nation would adopt it. Rather, a schedule format is simply a reflection of a school's priorities and a series of subsequent compromises.

While discussions about schedule formats can sometimes become emotional and contentious, they need not. Students in Saline will succeed. We have involved and educated parents who have high expectations for their children. We have tremendous teachers, paraeducators and administrators who go to extraordinary lengths to meet the needs of our students.

A school schedule is, at it's core, a frame that students and teachers operate within. It's the art within the frame where the true value lies!