Dear Parents, Students, Staff, and Community Partners,
Without question, student learning is my greatest priority. Students succeed and excel when the system functions as a professional learning community; knowing this, it is my vision to create such a collaborative culture. As Superintendent, I value and respect this staff. I have observed the passion they have for not only their profession but for the students of Scott County. I truly believe that the teachers and principals we have in place can lead this district beyond proficiency. As much as I believe in the knowledge, skills and talents of our staff, I know, if afforded the opportunity to work collaboratively, these strengths will grow exponentially.
If a true collaborative culture is to become the vehicle for continuous improvement, then we must first recognize there must be major cultural shifts in the way we do business. First, we need to recognize that the very essence of a collaborative culture is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. We must embrace high levels of learning for all students as the purpose of the school/district, as well as, the fundamental responsibility of each staff member. In so doing, we are shifting the focus from “teaching” to “learning” as the fundamental objective of the school/district. I view collaborative teams as the driving force behind our “reculturing” effort. It is the collaborative team whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for all. Thus, there is an obvious shift from teachers working in isolation to working together. Individual teachers give up a degree of personal autonomy in exchange for collective authority. They collectively target learner outcomes and specifically clarify what each student must learn. They collectively write common assessments. They jointly analyze student achievement data, monitor each student’s learning on a timely basis, and provide interventions with additional time and support for those students who struggle. They use learning results as a basis for creating team improvement goals. They support one another and share strategies and resources to accomplish goals that they could not achieve by working alone. They collectively plan enrichment and extension activities for those students who have demonstrated mastery of the learner outcomes. They work together to discover best practices and to expand their professional expertise. Collaborative teams maintain a focus on learning by constantly asking the four critical questions:
1. What do we want students to learn?
2. How will we know if they have learned it?
3. What are we going to do if they do not learn it?
4. What are we going to do for those that have already mastered the skills/concept?
A collaborative culture empowers teachers as leaders. It is my goal to see administrators become a leader of leaders and teachers as transformational leaders. A collaborative culture understands and promotes the power of collective decision-making. Collaborative teams must be viewed as transformational leaders. I believe a collaborative culture with an emphasis on learning for all will increase staff efficacy. I believe that the only way to improve a school/district is by developing the people within it. Collaborative teams permit individuals to have the collective authority to bring about change and continuous improvement and thus provide a greater sense of purpose. The creation of a collaborative culture allows the district to break down the walls of isolation between and within schools. It provides an avenue for the implementation of a common vision- “Educating ALL Students to Succeed”. I am keenly aware that this “reculturing” effort will not occur overnight but I am so inspired by the professionalism and passion I have observed thus far in our collaborative curriculum work. I have witnessed teachers from all schools working collaboratively in vertical and horizontal teams to align and identify learner outcomes. I have witnessed their candid, open discussions and sharing of ideas and resources for the benefit of ALL students, not merely their own classrooms. I have observed their personal and professional growth in the short time they were able to collaborate.
This collaborative culture is not restricted to staff. I envision the board of education and SBDM councils having very focused discussions on student achievement.
I am certain that we will encounter some hurdles in making our vision a reality but imagine the system we can create if the entire school community (parent, students, staff, and community members) all collaborated in creating a system of excellence. I am asking you as a community to partner with us to ensure each of our students is successful.
Our students, teachers, administrators and district employees do amazing work every day.