October 22, 2015
I am so happy to report on our district’s Strategic Plan. It all started last fall. If you will recall, we entered into a collaborative approach, by engaging every staff member and the community in the process. Creating a Strategic Plan with feedback loops and re-writing proved to be an exhaustive and thorough process.
The leaders of the process were the Task Force Chair Persons:
Alex Murkve, Erin Engness, Emily Rustman, and Richard Kielty, who joined later in the process. These folks were amazing leaders, inspired by leading our district into the future.
We had a phenomenal large group, the Collaborative Strategic Plan Task Force, with membership representing every school; program and union group lead the process. They spent a lot of time bringing information back and forth, from their representative groups to the task force. In groups, they looked at their constituents’ input, analyzed trends and common themes, and wrote their parts of the documents. I so appreciate their work. Here are their names:
The last phase of the work was a community meeting, in which we presented our work, and then we asked them for their input. Their input was invaluable, as they were focused upon our community’s future workforce. Much of their input had to do with soft skills that students would need when they go to work, as well as the need for them to be prepared to use technology effectively on the job. Another advantage of gaining their input was to clearly hear the messages they gave us as it pertained to their expectations of our district. We kept hearing personalizing education, career and college ready, etc.
We took all of that into consideration, and finalized the mission, vision and core values for our district. Our School Board approved these pieces last month. Now the School Board is reviewing our District Goals for the next 5 to 7 years. After they approve those, we will have much to do, to meet our goals. Over the next few articles that I write, I will be breaking down the parts of the Strategic Plan. This time, I am focusing upon our new district mission, or what we do, what we are most focused upon.
Here is the district’s mission: Princeton is an innovative leader in instruction, developing in EVERY learner, the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world.
What does this mean? Princeton is an innovative leader in instruction. . .
Our district is innovative in that we have spent most of the past four years, specializing upon our instructional model. That means that we have implemented a model that engages students in the best, proven instructional strategies. Research shows that putting the most effort in HOW we teach, helps our students to not only learn but to remember what they learn. Our model includes strategies for routine events, strategies focused upon lesson segments (beginning, middle and end of units), and strategies that are enacted on the spot, to be sure that students are engaged. This year we are focusing upon monitoring students, to be sure that they know what we are teaching them, and that the students know where they are on the learning progressions. This is difficult yet important work, and our teachers are doing great work in their classrooms, every single day.
What does this mean? . . . developing in EVERY learner. .
Why is the word ‘every’ capitalized? Maybe you are not aware of this, but a long time ago, when maybe you were in school, and I certainly was, grades were on a curve. The unsaid message was to teach to the middle, and some students were going to fail, and some students either already knew what was being taught, or else it came very easy to them, and they would just glide along.
That is not what happens in education anymore.
In our world today, we cannot afford to have illiterate citizens. We need every single person to be able to read, compute, and be generally educated. To make that happen, we have improved our instructional model, we provide interventions for struggling students, and we challenge our students who either know the material already or learn it quickly. In other words, we expect and focus all of our efforts on what students need.
What does this mean? . . the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world.
Being successful in an ever-changing world is all about helping students to be resilient, to persevere, and to be comfortable with change. These are aspects of success that all of us adults could benefit! These skills, and others, are often mentioned in articles that describe 21st century skills.
Princeton is an innovative leader in instruction, developing in EVERY learner, the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world. This is the district mission that shapes what we do or represent.
Next time. . . our district’s mission and core values.
Julia Espe, Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools