When people see the term strategic plan, it often conjures up an image of some type of mysterious document that is supposed to help meet some future goal. For most people, the details and purpose of this type of plan are not clear, and often of questionable value. However, when used well, a strategic plan is what leads to success for everyone in the district. One way to think about the plan is to envision an orchestra, where the musicians are the students, faculty, support staff, parents, community members, and so on. What allows them to play in harmony is that everyone has a sheet of music that clearly outlines their part, and the music the conductor uses is the "master" sheet of music that displays how all the different parts work together to form a wonderful melody. The strategic plan is the "master" sheet of music from which everyone's individual parts are drawn. It ensures that there are no wasted notes and that everyone knows their role in working together as a team to make the concert a smashing success. It is the roadmap that everyone in the orchestra follows.
Why Is It So Important?
Schools are very complex organizations that have many functions, with people in many different jobs all aimed at helping our children to be successful both in school and in life after they graduate. Unlike businesses, we don't get to choose our customers, and must respond to the needs of every child and family we serve. With that in mind, our goal is that each and every student leaves school with the knowledge and tools necessary to be successful regardless of what they do when they leave public education. Given the diversity of student needs, this is no small task and requires that everyone focus on what's most important for success, and use the resources provided in the most efficient and effective way possible. It's our strategic plan that makes this possible.
What Should I know About the Plan?
The plan was developed with input from members of the whole community whose ideas resulted in four major areas of focus:
Academic Support and Advancement
Culture and Climate
Social Emotional Wellness
Each of the goals has measurable objectives (sub-goals) attached to it, along with the strategies (major work activities and project plans) required to meet those objectives. For example, during the next year each of our five schools has specific objectives concerning student proficiency. In other words, every student has performance targets that are measured with regard to how well they are learning math, reading, and writing.
It's great to have specific and measurable objectives, but objectives can't be met without a commitment to engage in those activities that result in meeting the objectives. These activities are very specific strategies proven by research and practice to enhance student performance.
What Are the Strategies that Are Going to Get Us the Results We Need for Student Success?
Let's concentrate on those strategies that are aimed at improving student achievement. The following are essential practices that have been adopted - or are in the process of being adopted - to improve student proficiency and level of career and college readiness. They are being implemented at each school.
Align all competencies K-12
Close achievement gaps
Implement a K-12 MTSS and MTSS-B intervention program
Deploy Future Pathways and Remote Learning programs.
Enhance professional development for all educators so they are better able to engage learners, meet students where they are at, and increase the rigor of all instruction.
Survey stakeholders about culture and climate.
Respond to survey results.
Develop, promote and expand extracurricular opportunities for students.
Enhance professional development for all educators to increase awareness and offer strategies to promote cultural awareness including equity and inclusion for all.
Identify and provide programs that will strengthen the emotional and physical wellness of students and staff.
Implement SEL curriculum across district K-12.
Offer professional development to enhance the understanding of SEL, wellness, and health related concerns.
Improve student and staff attendance.
Develop Trauma Informed Practices.
Collaborate with partners to support/ expand opportunities.
Engage stakeholders in dialogue about priorities in the district and community.
Develop systems that promote and improve outreach and advocacy
Improve/create opportunities for community partner mentoring programs
Develop a tool for promoting additional partnerships
You are correct if you came to the conclusion that the strategies are a lot to take on and do well. With that in mind a plan is in place on how and when to engage and resource the strategies to ensure they can be implemented in a high quality fashion by staff who have developed the skills to do that well.
How Will We Know if the Plan is Working?
We will know if the plan is working if the metrics/measures of student proficiency rise, and the improvement is seen for every group of students, i.e., the regular population, special education, low socio-economic, and high achieving students. The strategic plan is designed to see that every student benefits.
What Can I Do to Make the Plan Successful?
Thanks for asking! Success is guaranteed when everyone in the community gets behind the plan and stays informed about the teaching and learning activities going on in our schools. Your involvement provides crucial skills, wisdom, resources, energy and the focus necessary to provide the momentum that will keep our plan on track and moving forward. Please keep an eye out for ongoing communications about the district and opportunities to become involved in our Winnisquam community.