As I enter my third year as superintendent of the Sherwood School District, I continue to be amazed by the degree to which our City leaders, community, staff, Board of Directors and parents work together to help ensure the best education possible for the students in our care. There is such a strong sense of community – and by that I mean the larger sense of the word -- that is pervasive in all that we do and truly seems to be “who” we are. For all of these things, my family and I continue to be thankful and are delighted to call Sherwood home.
Over the course of the last two years we have taken a very deliberate approach to being purposeful about our work, in order to create what we hope will be a laser-like focus on teaching and learning – incorporating best practices into our instruction, while also ensuring that the whole child is nurtured with opportunities for athletics, music, art, engineering, FFA – and the list goes on. Our Board of Directors has adopted but one District goal that reads, “Every student will meet his/her individual growth targets in reading, writing and math.” The significance of this goal is multi-faceted, in that it takes our focus away from groups of students, or cohorts, moving through our system and being compared to other groups, and has us instead delving more deeply into the individual growth targets of each and every student. We have identified various measures by which those targets are created and we continue to refine and adjust that model as we gather more feedback.
As we eagerly welcomed staff back to the new school year, with marching band and drumline fanfare, we had the opportunity to talk about the 21st Century Learners who populate our classrooms today and the way in which they learn – a way of learning that is quite different than those of us not a part of that generation. This generation (commonly referred to as Generation Z) was born with technology at their fingertips and, in fact, cannot imagine a world without it. This generation of students self-reports an increase in motivation to learn and improve academic performance when they use technology; they view technology not as an extra, but as an integral piece of their lives. They face some staggering statistics that our team highlighted in the creation of a video (featuring our own Sherwood kids!) which we shared with staff at our back-to-school rally. I invite you to view that video by clicking here.
While we remain aware of the unique needs of the students in our classrooms, we are also staying very focused on three, primary initiatives:
1.Transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
2. Implementation of a Proficiency-Based Model of Teaching and Learning
These three initiatives truly work hand in hand, and the synergy from doing them collectively is what will enable our students to succeed!
Last year I shared with you my focus on instructional leadership, my desire to be in classrooms at least one full day per week, and my continued desire to fortify our strong relationships with our community. None of those priorities have changed; in fact, our schools and classrooms are my favorite place to be and are constant reminders of our dedicated staff, eager learners and our focus on high-leverage instructional practices.
Thank you for the privilege to serve as your superintendent of schools and for your continued support. Please know that I look forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions and questions, and I encourage you to share them with me as they arise.