Elementary schools outline improvement plans

By Douglas McCulloch | Sep 26, 2017

Elementary school administrators plan to up technology, community engagement, and curriculums as part of their school improvement plans.

At the September 25 School Committee meeting, administrators from each elementary school presented their school improvement plans. The plans outline how each school is implementing Superintendent Bonny Gifford’s strategic goals in three areas – teaching and learning, access and equity, and community engagement.

DeMello Elementary School

Last year, administrators focused on mathematics. Professional development was held on mathematics standards, curriculum alignment, and integrating math workshops into classrooms. A new full-time instructional technology specialist brought new technology into classrooms, and more social and emotional support systems were launched for students in need. Extracurricular activities, like a career week and weekend hikes at local nature reserves, invited parents and the community to get involved.

For the 2017-2018 school year, teachers and staff will be working to align curriculums both between classrooms and across grade levels, beef up tools teachers have to measure student growth, and expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics offerings. Officials also plan to introduce more extracurricular enrichment programs and opportunities for parent and community involvement.

Potter Elementary School

Last year, staff at Potter Elementary School bumped up professional development in literacy, mathematics, and science. New “STEM blocks” were added with hands-on experiments, and each classroom participated in a technology block every week. Learning support systems for at-risk students was also improved, and the school hosted after-school events for kid and families.

This year, school officials plan to continue pushing professional development and professional coaching throughout the year in literacy, mathematics, and science, use collected student data to make changes to classroom instruction, and evaluate the school’s new STEM programming. Staff will also receive new training in child protection and trauma sensitivity. Staff will be adding new ways to address students with special behavioral needs through its response to intervention system. Administrators also plan to be more active on social media, including twitter and Facebook.

Quinn Elementary School

Changes last year included concentrating on social and emotional support programs and implemented before-school STEM clubs. Teachers also used more technology for hybrid technology-based and face-to-face learning, created new social media pages for the school, and added new family programs.

"Our objective with the various initiatives within our school improvement plan is focused on how to support the child as a whole, both academically and socially and emotionally," said Principal Kyle Grandfield at the meeting.

This year, school officials are targeting reading and writing for major curriculum improvements, as well as STEM programs with new project-based units. Staff will attend more professional development in those subject areas.

Teachers will increase electronic whiteboard usage, add new digital literacy standards, up Chromebook usage, and introduce blended learning models. A new digital citizenship lesson will be added for all grade levels to teach students Internet safety and social media etiquette. More Twitter posts, a monthly newsletter, and monthly updates to the school website are also planned.

Cushman School

At the Cushman School, staff worked last year to learn new social and emotional learning techniques, revamped the mathematics program, aligned science programs, and introduced more technology to the kindergarten level. Staff also increased use of social media and other digital platforms to keep parents involved.

This year, Cushman staff plan to concentrate on reading and writing for curriculum refinements, continue social and emotional learning efforts, and improve special education assessments in the teaching and learning category. A new technology coach will develop new technology-based instruction, and a bullying unit will be added to the kindergarten curriculum. Frequent updates to the new district website and other platforms are also planned for community engagement.

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