Progress Towards Goals and Superintendent’s Professional Growth
In the past two weeks I have visited Forest Avenue, Farley Elementary and Hudson High Schools. At the high school our focus was on new teachers. I was very pleased to see actively engaged students in technology classes. One project about typography was so intriguing I wanted to go home and try it. I was fortunate enough to observe writing instruction at the elementary level in both schools. Teachers are in their second year of implementation of the Lucy Calkins units. The stamina of our students when they write has increased dramatically. In second grade classrooms, students are now writing multiple pages where they are supporting their opinions with evidence. I was sincerely impressed with the quality of the content as well. Our fourth grade students are truly using their writer’s toolboxes. They are preplanning their writing using story arcs and can discuss rising and falling action.
Meeting with Entire Faculty
You may recall that I did not do the traditional meeting with the entire faculty on the first day of school deferring until our first full-day of professional learning. I spent an hour with all of the educators in the District on November 10, 2014. We focused on our individual educational purposes answering the question why we are here as educators. We also watched video clips about changing our perspective, thinking differently, and trying something new. I know that I enjoyed the hour and I hope that our faculty members each took something away with them.
Finance and Operations and Facilities
Over the past two weeks, I have held numerous budget meetings with individual administrators, as well as the entire District Leadership Team. We are taking a different approach to budget development this year. Knowing the tight fiscal constraints of the Town, we are looking at our efficacy in the use of the resources that we already have, taking a different perspective and thinking differently about how to deploy or repurpose all resources to make them more effective. The District Leadership Team is committed to thoroughly evaluating any additions that are requested to a level service funded budget to be sure that they are necessary to maximize the return on the Town’s investment in education.
Interest Based Bargaining
The Hudson Paraeducator’s Association expressed a curiosity about the possibility of Interest-Based Bargaining. As you know the School Committee authorized me to see if the Hudson Education Association also had an interest in pursuing some training regarding this approach. I am happy to report that both groups have agreed to attend the initial 8 hour training to see if this is an option that we wish to pursue. I have included this in my report this week to highlight the partnership that the associations are engaging in with the School Committee and administrators to make this District even stronger.
Parent and Community Groups
Assabet Valley – Chamber of Commerce
Sarah Cressy and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a great conversation at Café 641. Sarah shared ideas about increasing the relationship between local Hudson businesses and the Hudson Public Schools. Sarah highlighted the Chamber’s interest in seeing representation from the District on their committees and clearer communication from the District about what our needs are.
Early College and Career Grant Application
Scott Darlington has been working diligently on developing the grant application for the Early College Program. The following is taken from the grant application:
The Future Steps Online Early College Program is a partnership between Hudson High School, Assabet Valley Technical High School, Clinton High School, the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, and Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) that provides dual enrollment for struggling high school students to earn 15 college credits. In response to the problems of rising college costs, remedial courses, and difficulty gaining employment, the Future Steps project was started in the Fall of 2014 to give high school students a foothold toward post-secondary achievement by offering Mass. Transfer eligible courses. In addition to providing college courses online, QCC will make their comprehensive career and college counseling services available to Future Steps students. In order to prepare underachieving students, the 9th Grade SPARK module includes 1:1 Mentoring as well as College, Career, and Community Building Activities to target students that struggle across all three schools. The targeted students include Boys, English Language Learners, Special Education, Low Income, and academically underachieving students. Through a partnership with local business organizations led by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, the program will provide senior students with internships at local businesses and non-profit organizations. The Future Steps grant budget for 2015-2017 is $340,280 with additional partner resources of $160,614 pledged to the project for a total of $500,894.
I am very excited that Hudson is the lead applicant in this partnership. I want to thank Scott for his initiative in organizing this grant, coordinating the partnerships and finalizing the signatures. This is the type of innovative thinking that will make this District even stronger. I will keep the Committee apprised of any developments with this grant and if we receive the funding Scott will come and provide us with more information about this program.
Special Town Meeting
I will be attending the Special Town Meeting Monday evening. I will be able to provide the committee with an update regarding actions taken on the articles related to our school facilities.
Personnel and Celebrations
Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers Presentation
Leslie Knight and Karen Martin co-presented at the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers on Thursday, November 13th to a group of teachers, administrators and curriculum coordinators. The topic of the presentation was “Building the Next Generation of Scientists”. The presentation explained the graduate course Leslie and Karen taught this summer to elementary teachers to develop a deeper understanding of science practices and the new science standards. Karen and Leslie had about 40 people there, and a rich conversation among all participants occurred during the presentation. People across the State are looking for ideas for professional development for elementary teachers on the new science standards. Karen and Leslie filled a need at the MAST conference. They had several people approach them later in the day and ask more questions and comment on how much they enjoyed and appreciated their presentation.
London International Conference on Education
Dr. Mary McCarthy and her colleague, JoAnn Kilpatrick Campbell, principal of Acton-Boxborough High School, had their paper “Bridging the Educational Divide: The Role of School Leaders in Providing Equitable Access for All Students” accepted for presentation at the London International Conference on Education. Dr. McCarthy did not make the trip to present. JoAnn Kilpatrick Campbell, presented the paper at the conference. Their paper is also being published in one of the journals associated with the conference.
In my school visit to Farley, I sat in on a fourth grade teacher meeting with the math consultant, Sue Looney. The teachers were sharing successes that they had with math instruction. One teacher volunteered that she had her students divided into 3 flexible groups for the math workshop: 2 groups of 8 and a smaller group of 5. The smaller group of 5 was the group that was struggling most with the multiplication concept that she was teaching. She conducted the main instruction in the small groups to meet the needs of her students. This was a risk, and a way of teaching differently to better meet the needs of her students. The teacher was applying her new learning from professional development related to the math workshop model. The teacher reported that she had seen great success with all of her students and highlighted the success of the 5 students who began the unit struggling the most. She reported that all students were demonstrating greater success and conceptual understanding of multiplication and place value than they had in the past. This demonstration of the growth mindset, thinking differently and trying something new is what will continue to move the Hudson Public Schools forward.
Into the Woods
I will be attending the High School production of Into the Woods over the weekend. I was able to see a preview of the show during my Forest Avenue visit. The cast is exceptionally talented and I am looking forward to sharing more with you on Tuesday. Performances are Friday 11/14 and Saturday 11/15 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday 11/6 at 2:00 p.m.
Follow-up to School Committee Items of Interest
Kevin Hava will be at the meeting to provide a brief presentation on the Innovation School planning process.
Math Lesson Videos
In response to parent concerns at our last meeting, I uploaded several videos to the District website. These videos depict teaching directly tied to many EngageNY modules and lessons. They can be accessed from the top of the webpage.
All enrollment numbers are up to date as of the writing of this report. They are unofficial numbers. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects snapshots of enrollment data three times per year October, March, and June. I will provide you with monthly enrollment numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.