Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Year Progress Report

School/Community Relations:
During the summer of 2009 the district hosted a Reframing the Schoolhouse forum with several successful CEOs regarding the deficiencies of public education. The session was recorded and podcasted for the entire school community. A similar venue was used for the H1N1 Stakeholders forum, which was also posted on this blog. This blog has provided a wonderful format for community feedback. My Twitter account has provided opportunities for broadcasting instant information.

Our recent Principal/Director of Curriculum search included students, teachers, parents, administrators and the presidents of the Senior Citizens, HTEF, PTO and Vision Council. The Vision Council continues to serve as a sounding board for district administration and Board of Education policies. Our district continues to host a Senior Citizen breakfast every spring and is looking to provide computer classes taught by students.

The Observer Tribune has served to highlight several of our district happenings during the past two years. We also posted the HTS student newsletter in an online blog format (refer to the side toolbar). A successful student learning environment is synonymous with a community that is involved in the process of reflecting, discussing and articulating the shared vision of the school.

Fiscal Prudence/Shared Services:
The district possessed three SmartBoards upon my arrival in Harding. Thanks to a multitude of grants, we attained a SmartBoard for every classroom (including small Special Education resource rooms), Senteo clickers, document cameras and five SmartTables without a penny from the district’s budget. District professional development offerings have been geared towards technology integration. Turnkey presentations from district staff members have empowered even veteran teachers to use tools such as podcasting, blogs and wikis.

The district has gained tremendous ground in the area of shared services. Board Member Mrs. Macaulay and I launched a shared services agreement with the Township Committee in January 2009. During the QSAC monitoring process, the County Executive Superintendent recognized Harding as one of the leading public school districts in the area of shared services. The list of shared services includes maintenance of buildings and grounds, custodial services, snow removal, sharing teachers with three different school districts and technology.

The reduction in state aid and defeated budget presented quite a challenge this year. The implemented cuts minimized instructional impact and sustained the after school sports and extracurricular programs. Upon receiving the results of the budget, I volunteered to forgo my salary increase.

Professional Development:
Rather than providing a plethora of new initiatives, teachers registered for professional development strands related to technology integration. Submitted lesson plans, classroom observations, assessment portfolios and teacher Professional Development Plans highlighted technology integration. Feedback from professional development surveys has been extremely positive.

In regards to new staff, we match new teachers with model educators who believe in the district vision of education. I have the opportunity to meet with new staff members monthly throughout the course of the year for professional development and guidance. At the New Teacher Orientation, each new staff member writes themselves a letter, encloses it in a sealed envelope and submits the letter to me. Towards the end of the year, we send the letters back to the staff members with a note stressing the importance of reflection in education. This year the New Teacher Orientation will feature two new offerings; communicating effectively with parents (Lisa Werner) and recording lessons through the SmartBoard (Sandy D’Angio). The orientation will also include the school community treasure hunt.

Recognizing Student Achievement:
The Harding Township Board of Education has recognized student achievements through Board resolution. 2010 achievements included four Junior Solar Sprint awards, Model United Nations, a county gifted and talented consortium spelling bee champion and the Middle School Leadership Award. 2009 achievements included Art bookmarkers, Model United Nations, World of Free Enterprise awards and the Middle School Leadership Award. The recognitions were not solely focused on academic achievement, but rather highlighted the diversity of student abilities in Harding. We are extremely proud of our students!!!

District Curriculum Council/New Offerings:
Upon my arrival in Harding, we established a District Curriculum Council. The Council meets monthly to discuss student achievements, instructional concerns, curriculum and professional development. This year, the council finalized a new curricular format that includes 21st Century skills, essential questions, technology integration and cross-curricular connections.

To better meet the needs of our logical-mathematical learners, the district is implementing a new middle school STEM course as a graduation requirement. The course will be offered to all 7th and 8th graders as a cycle for the 2010-2011 school year. This year will also mark the inception of our new pre-school program. The formation of this program will meet the needs of our special education population in a fiscally prudent manner. The district has been sending students to pre-schools outside the district at extraordinarily high costs. Ms. Fraida Yavelberg has spearheaded the entire program that will meet the needs of our school community and better provide for our special education children through an education with similar peers.
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