Dear Maynard School Community,
Every summer I get excited about the upcoming school year and this year is no different. This year the summer reading for our district is "The Energy Bus" (Gordon, 2007). It is a quick read and I had the good fortune to be able read it on the first couple of days of a relaxing family vacation this year. It really renewed my optimism.
Throughout my teaching and administrative career, I had always claimed to be an eternal optimist. After a decade of being a superintendent I began saying I was a realist because I liked the following quote: "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects the wind to change; and the realist adjust the sails" (William A. Ward)
However, after reading "The Energy Bus", I realized that the entire Maynard School Community could be even greater if we were optimists together. Together we need to follow our community's vision and goals for the school district. We need to understand the larger purpose that the School Committee vision represents in their role as agents of the state and their legal obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education for all children.
Recently Jeff Riley, DESE Commissioner of Education, said that Massachusetts is number one in test scores but is also number one in achievement gaps. Unfortunately his statement is true for Maynard student achievement as well. Upon analysis of state MCAS data, the Maynard High School data team discovered that our top 50% of students outperform the state average student achievement but our bottom 50% of students underperform the state average student achievement. Analysis of the data for all of our schools is similar. This doesn't mean that we have not done amazing work for many students, just that we have to make sure all students get the foundation they need as measured by MCAS.
The Maynard School Committee Vision and Mission are:
All students achieve their full potential in an interconnected technological world.
The Maynard Public Schools are committed to a superior academic experience for Maynard’s students that prepare them to be productive citizens in an interconnected technological world. We will achieve this through incorporation of 21st century learning skills and opportunities across disciplines and establishing high academic standards that encourage students and teachers to achieve their full potential. We will ensure that the professional staff, the curriculum, and the facilities function in unison to achieve the best possible learning environment for the students. We will also provide an educational environment that is supportive of individual differences where all people are valued and respected. Parents and community members are our partners in the educational process and require frequent communication on the state and activities of the Maynard Public Schools. We will constantly pursue a path of continuous improvement in all of our efforts to keep pace with an ever changing world.
In the past the School Committee annual goals have been focused mostly on increasing transparency with the town to secure adequate funding and marketing all of the positive aspects of the Maynard public Schools while developing programs in a small school system that rival our neighbors with larger school systems. Together the community and staff members have expressed desires for innovative programming and worked collaboratively with the administration over many years in developed outstanding programs including (but not in total):
- Athletic and extracurricular offering increases
- Computer Science offerings k-12
- Excel-Fasc Programs
- Foreign Language offerings for all students K-12
- AP offering increases
- Band and Chorus Award winning programs
- Best Buddies Chapter
- Green Communities Club
- Latin Club
- SAGA Club
- Senior Project
- Service Learning in Guatemala
- Sister School in Tomares Spain
- WAVM After School Club
- WAVM During School Chapter 74 Vocational Program
- Band instrumental instruction during the school day
- Latin in grades 6, 7, & 8
- Latin Club
- Natures Classroom
- Spanish Immersion
- Strings (violin, viola, chello and Bass) instrumental classes during the school day at Fowler
- Walking Classrooms
- Full day Kindergarten
- NAEYC accredited Preschool and Kindergarten
- Grace Vernal Pool second Grade Science
- Spanish Immersion
This is not a complete list of initiatives but it is the innovative practices we have highlighted on the Leading the Nation Website. We will continue document more programs on the Leading the Nation Website in the upcoming year. I encourage anyone who is feeling down about the Maynard public Schools to go to the following website to feel better and reinforce that Maynard Public Schools do offer a broader array of programing than some of our more affluent neighboring communities:
This year, at their summer school committee meeting, the school committee has decided to adjust the district goals to focus on communication improvements and academic achievement for all students to improve our accountability ratings for each school and the district. While the School Committee understands that test scores are not the sole measure of academic excellence, test scores do measure academic achievement for all students and how our school district performs on those measures in relation to other districts.
I am very excited for the 2018-2019 school year to begin because we have added tools for teachers and administrators to help increase academic achievement. The high school has been leading the way with the Senior Project and increased Advanced Placement (AP) course offerings. Their expectation that all students can participate in the Senior Project sends a message to all students that we are holding high expectations for all of them. At the Fowler and Green Meadow schools, the recent changes in the schedule will allow teachers and administrators more collaborative common planning time to focus on academic improvement.
I hope everyone gets a chance to read the energy bus and participate in the book talk in the fall. At the end of the book there is an eleven step action plan. We already have the first 3 steps completed:
1. Create your Vision - The Maynard community and had the opportunity to participate with the School Committee in their visioning and strategic planning process.
2. Fuel you vision with Purpose - The school committee goals and the DESE Commissioner of Educations new focus on closing the gaps through accountability are the fuel for our community's vision.
3.Write down your Vision/Purpose - This has been done for us in the School Committee Policy #005
The next steps for our school department are:
4. Focus on your vision
5. Zoom Focus
6. Get on the bus
7. Fuel the ride with positive energy
8. Post a sign that says "No Energy Vampires Allowed"
9. Navigate adversity and potholes
10. Love you passengers
11. Have fun and enjoy the ride
We are all human and I know that I have made my share of mistakes. I truly hope that we can get to steps 10 and 11 this year. The fun really begins when our students arrive and we are all working in concert for the betterment of the next generation.