SRHS End of Year Review

It is hard to believe we have reached the end of yet another school year. For me, this marks the completion of my 11th year in education. For my Sanborn Voice article this month, I would like to reflect on this past school year in order to identify what I am most proud of and what I want to do better. I would encourage each of you to do the same as I believe it is a great way to help you make continuous self-improvement in your own lives.

At the beginning of this year, I set the following personal goal to help me guide my work as your principal:

By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, I will work with my administrative team and my teachers to create a strategic plan of strategies that allow all students to be successful at Sanborn. These strategies may include, but are not limited to the following:

1.      Development of a standards-based grading philosophy
2.      Development of a credit/competency recovery system using NOVA NET and other online tools
3.      Development of a schedule for grade 9 and 10 that supports learning or all
4.      Study of school climate

As I look back on the year, I am most proud of our ability to implement the new Freshman Learning Community model. The “FLC” was a huge undertaking made by a large percentage of our faculty members. I would like to personally thank Mrs. Hadwen for her work in providing leadership and direction for this program on a day to day basis. She is truly the inspiration and driving force behind everything this model has been able to accomplish. I would also like to thank the staff members who have put in countless hours in team meetings to organize and structure this model to best meet the needs of kids. Finally, I would like to thank students for their willingness to accept this change and for their patience as we made adjustments to the model in the early part of the year to better meet the needs of all students. As you all know, the efforts of all of these folks paid off in a big way last month as we were recognized by the National School Board Association with a Magna Award. As we move forward to next year, I want to look at how we can provide more social experiences for freshman to connect with upperclassmen. This is a clear area of concern that both staff and students share. I am also energized to think about what a sophomore model might look like. We have a group of teachers who are now looking at that very issue.

I am also very proud of the work we have taken this year to address our school culture and climate. Many of you will remember that I asked you to respond to a culture survey last November so that we could collect feedback on what we can do to improve our school climate and culture. What you may not know is that since November, we have had groups of parents, teachers, and students studying this data and developing an action plan – recommendations on concrete ways that we can improve our climate and culture. In my six years at Sanborn, I have often heard about how our climate and culture needs to be improved, and over the years we have undertaken various programs to try to make improvements, but they have been met with limited success. At no point did we have enough sense to investigate what it is we see as strengths and weaknesses in our program and use that information to help us develop programs and policies that will lead to improvement. I am excited about the action plan that will be coming forward in the next few weeks.

If I had to identify an area of improvement for next year, based on my reflection of this year, it would be in our school’s ability (or inability) to adequately communicate the purpose and expectations of our new competency-based grading system. As I talk with various stakeholders in our community, it has become clear to me that not everyone shares the same understanding as I do about why we went to this model and what this model means in the context of grades and credit. While I think we have made some great strides in getting this new system implemented, this communication piece needs to be looked at sooner rather than later. Over the next few months while we are all enjoying he summer weather, I will be working with staff members to identify ways that we can improve in this area for next year.

I encourage each of you to spend some time thinking back on this school year. What was your goal at the beginning of the year? What activities did you engage in to help achieve your goal? What worked and what didn’t? How can you use this information to help you develop a goal for next year? We are always looking to make continuous improvement as human beings. Regular goal-setting and reflection on goals is a key to that self-improvement.


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