Back To School Preparations:
While summer may appear to have a slower pace for most of our District staff, behind the scenes, things are quite busy ramping up for our student and staff return at the end of August.
Our Maintenance crew has been integral in ensuring our buildings and grounds are prepared, safe and welcoming for our students. Many projects have been completed or are underway at most of our schools.
Today was very special with the kick off of our New Teacher Academy. We have over 50 new teachers this year and the energy and excitement in the room was contagious! We are very fortunate to have the collaboration and mentor grants that help support our new teachers with professional development and mentor support throughout the year. Our new teachers and their mentors will be spending most of this week in preparation for the beginning of the school year. Focus areas will be around instructional strategies, positive behavior systems, standards and curriculum support, and integrating instructional technology in the classroom. Corvallis has selected the very best from a large pool of available teachers. We are fortunate to add our newest teachers to an already exceptional teaching staff.
Last week, our Leadership Team spent two days immersed in conversations around equity for all students. Our retreat included all building leaders, teacher leaders and department coordinators. For the past few years, we have focused greatly on equitable practices that will help close our opportunity gap for students of color, students with disabilities, students where English is a second language and students of poverty. We have challenged the status quo by researching and implementing best practices in instructional strategies, we have added AVID at both high schools, we are supporting RTI (Response to Intervention) across our K-12 system, full day kindergarten is offered at every elementary, instructional technology is being used to help shift teaching and learning to be more personalized and engaging, and we continue to look for ways to improve our special education delivery through one educational system of student services. While we have moved forward in these directions as a district, we still have so much work to do to ensure every student’s success.
I believe we are at a pivotal point in our equity work. It is time to take a deeper dive and explore our own personal belief systems and challenge any of our district intentional and unintentional inequitable practices that have become barriers to student success; especially for students who are under-represented.
Our two-day retreat, Beyond Diversity, was the beginning of a journey we will be taking together. Our Leadership Team will be meeting throughout the year and reflecting on the book we have read together, Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools. Additionally, leaders will be engaging staff in our equity work and we will be developing a district transformational equity plan that will support our parents and families in this important work as well. I am energized and challenged by the journey ahead. This is the right work and the right focus to infiltrate everything we do as educators. As I shared with staff in my welcome back letter quoted by Rick Lavoie:
Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing,
it means giving every child what they need.
As we prepare for the return of our students, I am reminded daily of how it is a privilege to work in such a special place with the support and care of our staff, families, and community.
May 5, 2014
April 14, 2014
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February 24, 2014
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December 18, 2013
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August 19, 2013